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What is Your CNC Machine’s Hourly Rate?

Jan 29, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Manufacturing, Products, Software, Techniques  //  2 Comments

Do you have hourly billing rate figures for all of your CNC Machines?  It’s handy to know what you need to be able to bill out a machine at to pay for the cost of having it sitting on your Shop Floor.  G-Wizard Calculator includes a super simple Machine Hourly Rate Calculator that makes it easy to come up with good numbers to use for your hourly rates.  I’ve just uploaded a new video as part of our G-Wizard University series on this:

The Hourly Rate Calculator is part of the CADCAM Estimator module for GW Calculator, which makes it easy to put together machining feature-based quotes of your Jobs.  If you haven’t tried GW Calculator, check out our free 30-day trial.  If nothing else, you can use the 30 days to calculate hourly rates for all the machines in your shop.…

How Can I Calibrate the GW Editor Run Time Estimates for My Machine?

Jan 27, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments
SimTimeAdjust

Each machine requires a little different calibration.  In G-Wizard Editor, you have the following adjustments available:
Max Rapids
How fast can your machine rapid?  This is the value GW Editor will use (acceleration adjusted) in its estimates.
Spindle 0-max rpm time
How fast does your spindle change speeds?  GW Editor factors in a time based on this number every time you change spindle speeds.  You can measure it easily enough with a stopwatch if you don’t have a spec in your machine manual.
Tool Change Time
Every time the tool is changed G-Wizard charges this much against the clock.
Coolant On/Off Time
Likewise, every time you turn coolant on or off, G-Wizard charges this much against the clock.
Acceleration
Acceleration has a huge effect on simulated timings, but is one of the hardest parameters to get an accurate value for.  If your manufacturer won’t quote a number (and even if they will–it can differ from machine to machine depending on a variety of factors), you’ll have to measure the acceleration.  The best way is to test with interpolated holes.  Use G-Wizard Calculator’s Interpolation Mini-Calc to see what acceleration is required for a particular hole.  See if the recommended feedrate results…

Total Guide to CNC Router Workholding

Jan 26, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Router, Techniques  //  No Comments
Oil-Sealed-Liquid-Ring-Vacuum-Systems

Just posted another installment in our CNC Beginners Cookbook series:  The Total Guide to CNC Router Workholding.  In this article we delve into everything from vacuum tables to T-Tracks to using polymer nails for CNC Router Workholding.
Enjoy!…

Goodbye User Forums, Hello CNC Question Exchange

Jan 21, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  No Comments
QuestionX

We’ve officially switched from our original User Forums, which we had called our User Club, to the CNC Question Exchange for Customer Service and other CNC-related questions.  We were never completely happy with the BBS (Bulletin Board) software we had used, and knew for quite a while it needed to be replaced with something.  The Question Exchange (accessed via the “QuestionX” menu at the top of every page) is a substantial upgrade.
Going forward, if you have a question about our G-Wizard Software, or really anything CNC or machining related, please use QuestionX for the best service.  As mentioned, you can get to it via the QuestionX menu.
To get QuestionX ready for you, we’ve been answering as many Support Questions as possible via the Question Exchange.  In other words, if you send email to us with a question, or if you use our Customer Portal Trouble Tickets, we look at your inquiry and try to determine whether it could possible affect more than just you.  If knowing the answer to your inquiry could be helpful to others, we’ve added a sanitized version (names removed to protect the innocent) to the QuestionX along with our answer.   We then respond to…

Spindle Power Curves in G-Wizard Calculator

Jan 20, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Products, Software  //  3 Comments

I just uploaded a new video to the G-Wizard Calculator University pages that explains Spindle Power Curves:

Spindle Power Curves let you compensate for changes in your CNC machine’s spindle output at various rpms and they can also downrate the power on small machines to compensate for their lack of rigidity.…

Results of our 2015 CAD Survey

Jan 20, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  11 Comments
CAD2015Mainstream

The results are in for this year’s CAD survey.  We got over 300 responses as I write this.  They’re still coming in briskly so, we’ll probably get many more, but I wanted to go ahead and do the analysis and get the numbers up.
Just like our 2013 CAD Survey results, we’ve divided things into various segments:
–  Mainstream/Overall:  This is every package that got a 1% or better share.  There will still quite a few below 1% that got 1 or 2 votes, but they’re not statistically valid against the bigger numbers.
–  Pro:  These are the more expensive packages like Solidworks.
–  Mid:  These packages are charged for but are typically not as expensive as the Pro packages.
–  Free:  There’s always a market for Free, and these tools get better every year.
–  CAM:  Another way to save money is to use the CAD that comes with many CAM packages.
Let’s drill down into each category and see how things look.  We’ll also do a little retrospective on what’s changed since we surveyed in 2013.
Mainstream/Overall

This is our best estimate of overall market share without trying to segment the market…
This chart gives our best estimate…

Give a Friend a Gift

Jan 14, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  No Comments
Image: Senorhorst Jahnsen via Flickr/Creative Commons

Are you a G-Wizard CNC Software customer?  Do you like the software?  We hope so, and we do see lots of letters from you that say very nice things.
If you do like the software, why not share it with your friends?  In fact, why not give them a gift while you’re at it?
We’ve just introduced our Refer a Friend program.  Every G-Wizard customer received an email in the last couple of days that introduces the program and includes a special personalized link.  If you have a machinist friend who you think would like our software or even just our blog, email them the link along with a note explaining what they’re getting.  If they click the link, they’ll be taken to a signup for our CNCCookbook blog newsletter–most of you are receiving it already, so you know exactly what it is.  If they choose to signup, they’ll get a digest of our emails once a week.  If they don’t they’ll be left off the list and nothing further will happen.  We’ll never even know you sent them a link–that’s why we do it this way, it’s your link and your friend.
If they sign up and they choose…

Take the CNCCookbook 2015 CAD Survey

Jan 11, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Products, Software  //  2 Comments
Cad_crank

We love to do surveys at CNCCookbook, and our readers clearly love them if their page statistics are any indication.  Our most popular surveys are on CAD and CAM usage, and we do these on alternate years.  This year we want to survey which CAD packages are most popular, so et us know what you’re using:
Click here to take survey
Once we get a few hundred responses, I will collate and present the results in a later blog post.  I’ll also discuss how the market shares have changed since we last surveyed CAD in 2013–the trends are always interesting to see over a little longer timespan.  Be sure to sign up for our email blog newsletter so you’ll see the results of the survey–you can sign up to the left or at the bottom of this article.
Some of the packages are a bit specialized.  Blender, for example, is really only useful to the 3D printing community.  I’m sure there will be many choices I didn’t think of, so be sure to use the “Other” category to explain what you’re using that I missed.
If you’d like to see the results of some of our other surveys, be sure…

Results of Our 2014 Workholding Survey

Jan 11, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Manufacturing, Techniques  //  1 Comment
TSlotToolPlate

Our last survey of 2014 (we barely got it in by launching it December 31st!) was all about what methods folks were using to affix workholding (vises, clamps, fixture plates, and so on) to their milling machine tables.  Here’s the result:

How do you affix workholders (vises, clamps, fixture plates, and so on) to your milling machine tables…
Not surprisingly, the most common method was T-Slots at 68%.  I had expected this number to be higher, but some 26% use a method that allows for extremely rapid change of setup on a machine.  In a low volume high mix situation, common for job shops, being able to rapidly change your setups is worthwhile competitive advantage.  The less time a machine is down before it can start on the next job, the sooner you’re making money with it again.
The other category largely involves CNC Router situations (spoil boards and vacuum tables) which this survey was not very well set up for.  We should do a separate survey for the router crowd and I’ll bet we’d find interesting results there too.
For more surveys and results, try our CNC Survey Home page.…

3D Printing News: Formlabs Gets New Supports, Higher Resolution, Flexible, and Castable Resins

Jan 8, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Cool  //  5 Comments
formlabs_new_supports

It’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) season and we’re seeing tons of 3D printing news around that.  I’ll be doing several posts to bring the highlights of this news to CNCCookbook’s readers so you can see what’s significant without wading through all the other press about it.  For this installment, I want to focus on some great new developments from FormLabs, makers of a resin-based high resolution printer originally launched on Kickstarter.
First, a confession–I almost pulled the trigger and bought one of the original Form 3D Printers on Kickstarter.  Boy do I regret not having done that–Form has come a long long way and a recent perusal of their web site leads me to believe they have a lot further to go.  Let’s recap the progress since then, not including the new items for this post:
–  The 2nd Gen Form 3D Printer is 2X Faster
–  It has 4X more power–not sure what that means
–  Kickstarter deal was $2699, a new Form 1+ is now $3299.  You can upgrade the original Form 1 to a Form 1+ for $1200, so a new one is still a good deal it seems.
–  Resin was $129 per liter on the…

Total Guide to Milling Machine Workholding

Jan 6, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Manual, Products, Techniques  //  1 Comment
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just posted another installment in our CNC Beginners Cookbook series:  The Total Guide to Milling Machine Workholding.  There are so many ways to hold your workpiece on a mill that we can’t cover every possible variation, but this page will give you a pretty good survey of the more common methods and perhaps some ideas you haven’t tried yet.…

The Book Giveaway is Back!

Jan 5, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog  //  No Comments

Our last book Giveaway was so successful we’ve decided to run it again to give 4 new winners a chance at these books.  Details are in the giveaway box to the left or just click here.
We’re giving each of 4 winners one of these books when the Giveaway ends January 31.
Here are the books we’re giving away:

CNC Programming Handbook, Third Edition
Peter Smid’s tomes are the best books available for learning to program in GCode.  They’re very Fanuc-focused, which is fine, it’s one of the most popular controls out there and most other dialects share a lot of the basics with Fanuc.  It’s a textbook, so it can be a trifle dry.  I recommend combining it with our own Free G-Code Tutorial.   Read a section of our tutorial, and then go read the corresponding section in Smid’s book.  Seeing the material presented in two different ways will make sure it sinks in good.  By the time you finish both, you’ll have a solid background in programming CNC machines.
 

Machine Shop Trade Secrets by James Harvey
This is a great book and was the first good Tips and Techniques book I came across for machinists.  I was…

Check Out Our New Guide to CNC Milling Cutters

Jan 4, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Manual, Products, Techniques  //  No Comments
Face_Mill_Index_01

I’ve been putting together a new Cookbook–Cookbook’s are our in-depth article compilations that focus on particular subjects and dive deep.  We have Cookbooks on Feeds and Speeds, G-Code, CNC Manufacturing and Shop Operations, and DIY CNC.  The new area I’m working on is designed to make it easier for CNC beginners to come up to speed. I have started a special homepage for CNC Beginners in the DIY CNC Cookbook.  If you start there, it will take you through the essential foundational information you’ll want to understand to make all the other stuff relatively easy to add to that foundation.  This is something I never had starting out, and it’s hard to get it by osmosis.  Really the only alternative was either long hours, finding a good mentor, or finding a community college CNC course to get me up to speed.  These days you might also try a Maker Space, although I’ve heard pretty mixed reviews on how complete the learning you’ll get from one might be.  Hopefully the one in your area can do an excellent job.
Meanwhile, try our resources here.  They’re free and they’re fairly comprehensive.
The homepage for beginners shows the material already available on CNCCookbook…

Total Guide to Lathe Workholding

Jan 1, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Manual, Techniques  //  3 Comments
lathechuck

I’m preparing a set of guides to help beginners come up to speed quickly on tooling and workholding for the various CNC machines.  We already had two nice articles along those lines:
–  Guide to Lathe Workholding
–  CNC Router Cutter Types
I just completed a substantial rework and updating of the Guide to Lathe Workholding, so if you’ve never taken a gander at it, this is a good time to have a look.
One of the things it does is to organize lathe workholding into a matrix that compares each technique on the basis of Precision, Repeatability, and Convenience.  I always find having a framework of some kind to organize a bunch of concepts can really make it easier to learn and use the concepts.
There’s also a basic description of each of the workholding techniques and some other useful information like a 2-part Haas video series on the right way to make and use Soft Jaws.
Future articles will include:
–  CNC Mill Cutter Types
–  CNC Router Workholding
If you have suggestions for some other very basic guides you’d like to see us do, let me know.…

Thank You for Making 2014 an Awesome Year for CNCCookbook!

Dec 31, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  2 Comments
Thanks2014

Thank you for making 2014 an awesome year for CNCCookbook–we couldn’t have done it without you.
Here are some of the highlights:
–  We are now at a run rate of nearly 2.5 million visitors a year.  CNCCookbook is by far the most popular CNC Blog on the Internet.
–  About 35,000 of you have used our G-Wizard software.  We appreciate that–it’s what pays the bills for us and lets us keep producing great articles for you to read.
–  Speaking of articles, we added 188 new blog posts, bringing our total on the blog to some 914 posts.  We were averaging 4.9 posts a week, which is not bad considering I write all the material and all our software too.  That does not count new pages outside the blog, such as our various Cookbooks which are more in-depth than a short blog post can ever be.
–  We surveyed you to find out what the most popular CAM packages were and compared the results to our CAM survey of 2 years ago so we could discuss market trends.
–  We got the CNCCookbook Tormach CNC Lathe up and running.  You’ll see a lot more CNC Lathe content going forward…

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