Computer Numerical Control machining, typically referred to as CNC machining, is a manufacturing process in which preprogrammed computer software regulates the movement of tools and machinery. Several different industrial machines can be operated via CNC, including grinders, lathes, mills, and routers. Using CNC, cutting tasks can be accomplished in a single set of prompts, allowing for speedy, streamlined processes.
The language behind CNC machining often is referred to as G-code. First, a CAD drawing (either 2D or 3D) is created, and a code is created that the CNC machine will understand. The program is loaded, and an operator runs a test of the program to ensure there are no problems. With software controlling all of the machine’s parameters — such as speed, feed rate, and coordination — and running them in repetitive, predictable cycles, little human involvement is needed. CNC machining is used in the manufacture of both metal and plastic parts, used across multiple industries and applications.
Properties and Functions of CNC Multi-Spindle Machines
CNC is well-suited to a wide range of machines, including multi-spindle screw machines. Often referred to as multi-axis turning machines, multi-spindle machines are essentially turning machines with multiple spindles, as their name implies. Each spindle — with typically four, five, six, or eight total per machine — can be fitted with a cross-slide tool, an end-slide tool, or both. As the spindle rotates, the tool or tools at each station perform their functions a step at a time, resulting in a continuous flow of finished parts. Multi-spindle screw machines are often used for the series production of precision parts, but they’re also well-suited to small batches thanks to their extremely short setup time. This, in turn, also results in low piece costs.
As a more specific example, consider a multi-spindle automatic lathe. These machines offer a range of capabilities; multi-spindle automatic lathes can complete boring, turning, chamfering, threading, grooving, and drilling jobs. All of these actions are accomplished by moving the workpiece among six or eight positions in the machine. In this way, a single process is divided into six or eight different actions, speeding up production and keeping operations running smoothly and efficiently.
Multi-spindle screw machines can produce parts for a wide array of industries. Temperature controls, lock controls, and air control valves, for instance, can all be manufactured using multi-spindle screw machines. Adjustable nuts and interchangeable screwdriver bits are also well-suited to multi-spindle machining. These versatile machines can also turn out a wide range of fasteners, such as set screws, cap screws, square head screws, and self-locking nuts. Manufacturers producing oil, pneumatic, hydraulic, and grease fittings often turn to multi-spindle screw machines for reliable, speedy production. About one-third of all screw machine parts produced in the United States are used for the assembly of automotive parts, such as shock absorbers, needle valves, and spark plug components.
The Benefits of CNC Multi-Spindle Machines
CNC multi-spindle screw machines offer unique benefits, the most obvious being less reliance on humans and minimized labor needs — which can reduce production costs and thus benefit companies’ bottom lines. Other key advantages include:
Very high production output rate
Drastic reduction in idle time during the turning process
Ability to streamline similar or complementary operations in a single station
Boosted efficiency and accuracy
Enhanced facility efficiency
Fewer labor needs and reduced expenditures
Ability to program feed rates and spindle rotation speeds on a per-station basis, allowing speeds to match cutting operations
Deciding on a Multi-Spindle Machine
If you’re considering investing in a multi-spindle machine, carefully evaluate your business and assess specific goals. If you own a small shop and never know what kind of orders will be coming in, chances are that a multi-spindle machine isn’t the best option. But if you’re a larger-scale manufacturer whose equipment is at capacity year-round, and there’s a possibility you will get a request for a family of parts in the 1 million to 2 million unit range, you can probably benefit from investing in one or two multi-spindle machines.
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