CNC Machining Centres

CNC machining centres (Computer Numerical Control) have been around for a very long time now and they have become the workhorse in many manufacturing environments. Capable of exchanging a wide variety of tools through the use of automatic tool changers, and controlled by precision ball screws driving all of the axes of the machine, these machine tools are capable of performing highly complex work very quickly as compared to manual machine operation.

Machining centres, not to be confused with other types of CNC equipment such as grinders or lathes, are available in horizontal and vertical spindle styles. Typically horizontal style machining centres will be provided with a rotary 4’TH axis table (either positional or in more complex cases with a full rotary axis) whereas vertical machining centres will often have the 4’TH axis feature as an option.

Generally designed to perform milling, drilling, boring, and tapping functions to form raw materials such as steel or aluminum into finished parts, machining centres can be found in a variety of sizes from as small as a drill press up to very large boring machine styles. These machine tools have complex computer consoles that are programmable and once programmed these machines will run from start to finish without any operator intervention.

With the high levels of computing power available on these machining centres today, these machine tools are capable of producing a very wide variety of parts from components pieces to very large dies for stamping or molding. Very complex physical features such as a spiral spline, very complex mold contours and cavities, thread milling, back boring, and a whole host of other operations can be performed with some programming creativity.

Capable of machining with continuous motion along the cutter path, intricate and complex surfaces can be machined that would be close to impossible to make using manual equipment with a manual rotary table, indexer, or sine block. Positional accuracy inherent within the machine tool itself allows highly accurate positioning and blending of complex surfaces that would not be available without huge difficulty and special tools in a manual machining environment. Therefore, these types of machine tools lend themselves to performing proto-typing work as well as production work.

Programmable spindle speeds and the ability to easily vary the spindle speed for the cutting tool is also another important factor that is built into CNC machining centres. Spindle speed adjustment is quickly made through the program so the best speeds and feeds for a given cutting tool are easily maintained within a constant surface speed recommended for the cutting tool in the spindle.

Most CNC machining centres are also equipped with flood, mist, or through the spindle coolant features that allow the cutting tool to receive much needed coolant for maintaining the proper temperature for the cutting tool while in the cut. Tool wear as a result of too much heat can be disastrous to the overall life of the cutting tool and on the resulting surface finish produced on the machined part.

Because of the inherent reliability, consistency, and repeatability, CNC machining centres are often run on the plant floor as a group of machines operated by a single machine operator that loads and unloads parts while checking on the finished quality of the part coming off the machine. Advanced machine tools are available that have automatic part loaders, unloaders, and inspection probes that can further reduce the need for a machine operator to intervene in the machining process thereby creating an unattended machining environment.

Repairing Your Own Machine Components

Many industrial concerns have workshops of their own. For the
repair of worn shafts, the lathe machine is excellent. Keyway
slots can be machined by using a milling machine, while a
shaping machine can do machining of large flat areas. A
drilling machine does drilling of holes.

A skilled Maintenance Engineer should know how to use all these
machines in order to make his own repairs in a safe manner. Very
often he has to supervise machinists. The information below
should be useful for that purpose.

Lathe Machine

The lathe machine uses a single-point-cutting tool for a variety
of turning, facing, and drilling jobs. Excess metal is removed
by rotating the work piece over the fixed cutting tool to form
straight or tapered cylindrical shapes, grooves, shoulders and
screw threads. It can also be used for facing flat surfaces on
the ends of cylindrical parts.

The work piece is clamped onto a horizontal rotating shaft by a
3-jaw or 4-jaw chuck. The latter chuck can be used to cut
off-centered cylinders. The rotating horizontal spindle to which
the chuck is attached is usually driven at speeds that can be

The cutting tool is fixed onto a tool rest and manipulated by
hand. It can also be power driven on straight paths parallel or
perpendicular to the work axis. This is useful for screw cutting.

Internal turning known as boring results in the enlargement of
an already existing hole. The holes are more accurate in
roundness, concentricity, and parallelism than drilled holes. A
hole is bored with a single-point-cutting tool that feeds along
the inside of the work piece.

Shaping Machine

The shaping machine is used to machine flat surfaces, grooves,
shoulders, T-slots, and angular surfaces with single-point tools.
The cutting tool on the shaper oscillates, cutting on the forward
stroke, with the work piece feeding automatically toward the tool
during each return stroke.

Drilling Machine

The drilling machine is used to cut holes in metal with a twist
drill. By changing the cutting tool, they can be used to do
reaming, boring, counter boring, countersinking, and threading.

Milling Machine

The milling machine uses a rotating cutting tool to cut flat
surfaces, grooves, and shoulders, inclined surfaces, dovetails,
and T-slots. Cutters of many shapes are changed to cut different

Cutting Tools

Metal-cutting tools are classified as single point or multiple
point. The lathe and shaping machine use single point cutting tool
while the milling and drilling machines use multiple-point-cutting

Metal is cut either by moving the work piece like in the lathe or
by moving the tool like in the shaping machine, drilling or
milling machine. Clearance angles must be provided to prevent the
tool surface below the cutting edge from rubbing against the work
piece. Rake angles are often provided on cutting tools to cause a
wedging action in the formation of chips and to reduce friction and

Tool Materials

In order to remove chips from a work piece, a cutting tool must be
harder than the work piece and must maintain a cutting edge at the
temperature produced by the friction of the cutting action.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel tools even though comparatively inexpensive tend to
lose cutting ability at temperatures around 400 degree F (205
degree C).

High-Speed Steel

High-speed steel, containing 18 percent tungsten, 4 percent chromium,
1 percent vanadium, and only 0.5 to 0.8 percent carbon, permits the
operation of tools twice or three times the speeds allowable with
carbon steel

Cast Alloys

Cast-alloy cutting-tool materials containing cobalt, chromium, and
tungsten are effective in cutting cast iron and retaining their
cutting ability even when red hot.

Cemented Tungsten Carbide

The hardness of Tungsten Carbide approaches that of a diamond.
Tungsten carbide tools can be operated at cutting speeds many times
higher than those used with high-speed steel.


Ceramic, or oxide, tool tips consist primarily of fine aluminum oxide
grains, which are bonded together. These are very hard.

Cutting fluids

An overheated tool can become blunt and soft very fast. Therefore
very often, cooling fluids cools the cutting points of the tool. This
serves to lubricate and cool.

Water is an excellent cooling medium, but it corrodes ferrous
materials. Sulfurized mineral oil is one of the most popular coolants
as it can both cool as well as lubricate. The sulfur prevents chips
from the work from melting on to the tip of the tool.

What Are The Machines A Tool And Die Maker Should Learn To Use?

A tool and die maker is an extremely efficient person with strong expertise in die making and die cutting. Their experience allows them to design and manufacture die making and die cutting tools without any supervision. As a result, tool and die makers are one of the most valued employees of an organization. This is the reason it is important for an aspiring tool and die maker to know how to work with various machines – the tools that are a part of his daily work life.

What are these “important” machines and why is it so vital for a tool and die maker to know how to work with them? Let us find out:

Machine Tools

Precision machine tools get used by a tool and die maker to create tools, dies, and molds. As the machine tools aim at achieving high level of precision, lathes and milling machines are always the first choices. A lathe is a popular machine tool that works at a circular axis and cuts metals at high speeds. It is possible to pre-determine the speed of the lathe. In spite of these benefits, a tool and die maker must look after the cutting blade of the machine, as it needs frequent maintenance. A milling machine also produces high precision while cutting metals. However, it cuts vertically and horizontally along all three axes. And, the blade of a milling machine does not need a high level of maintenance.

Measuring Tools

As machine tools get used for achieving precision, it is also important to measure this preciseness. This work gets done by measuring tools such as micrometers and calipers. A micrometer comes in handy in measuring round stock, and a caliper helps in measuring straight objects. These tools are available in different sizes. Among them, the caliper is more popular because of its efficiency. There are two types of calipers – outside caliper and inside caliper. As these names suggest, the outside caliper measures the outside of an object and the inside caliper measures the inside of an object.

Hand Tools

Hand tools help a tool and die maker in working with machine tools more effectively. For example, a mallet firmly secures an object to a machine tool. Similarly, a hammer can help in banging a metal surface to smooth out imperfections. A hammer along with a chisel can chip off unimportant pieces from a metal surface. One should not also forget about the screwdrivers and wrenches. They play significant roles in assembling and repairing various objects.

Anton Donald lives in California. He is a tool and die maker by profession. He is also an avid blogger. In this article, he talks about the machines a tool and die maker should learn to use efficiently.

Great Information and Ideas About the Rubber Molding Machine

The basic concept of the rubber molding machine was lifted from the process of manufacturing to be able to create parts from thermosetting plastic and thermoplastic materials, also known as injection molding. The system is being utilized by various industries such as aerospace, automotive, plumbing, medical, consumer products, construction and packaging.

The Evolution of the Process

The first plastic that was made by man was first shown and demonstrated publicly at the International Exhibition in London in 1862. It was created in 1851 by Alexander Parkes and gave it the name, Parkesine. The material was made from cellulose. It can be molded, heated and maintain its shape once cooled. It still lacks finesse because aside from being expensive to create, the Parkesine is highly flammable and is prone to develop cracks.

From such an idea, John Wesley Hyatt tried to improve Parkes’ invention and in 1868, he came up with a plastic material that he referred to as Celluloid. John and his brother, Isaiah, got the patent for the first injection molding machine in 1872. This may be very basic as compared to the newer versions of rubber molding machines but it was able to pave the way for the acceptance of this kind of technology all over the world as time progressed.


There are many kinds of applications where the rubber molding machine can be used. This can produce packaging, wire spools, pocket combs, automatic dashboards and almost any kind of plastic items that you can see around you. The process is preferred by the manufacturing industry because it can be utilized in coming up with similar objects in high volumes. The process has repeatable high tolerances and it also has low labor cost. It can be trusted to come up with high production rates and this can use many types of materials. Less effort and expenses are required to finish the parts after these had gone through the molding process.

Its main disadvantage though is the fact that it is very expensive. If you are new in the manufacturing industry, you may have to weigh the pros and cons and look at the big picture to know when is the right time for you to invest on this kind of machine. Not only this is expensive, it also has a potential of high running costs.

The integral parts of the machine include the material hopper, heating unit and injection ram, which can also be a screw-type plunger. These machines can also be referred to as presses. These are able to hold the molds where the materials are shaped, after which the presses are rated by tonnage. It may look very complicated for the people who aren’t working in the kind of industry where presses are used, but these are very helpful to many industries and manufacturing firms.

If you intend to invest in a good rubber molding machine, you must make sure that you only buy the product from the best providers. The money that you ought to spend on this venture is going to be big, so you have to be certain that the item will be very worthy of what you have invested in order to acquire such.

Useful Guide in Choosing Sewing Machine Needle Sizes

Even if it is only a hobby or sewing is your main source of income, you have to be briefed about the sewing machine needle sizes before you try and buy the pieces that you need. Before pointing out the different sewing machine needle sizes, you may want to know more about the parts of a needle.

These are the parts that constitute any of the sewing machine needle sizes. First off, the shank is the one that is secured to the needle holder of the machine. The shoulder is where the thick shank shrinks onto the shaft. The shaft gives out the ideal length to make it easy to thread through the pieces. The groove helps in assisting the hook or shuttle in picking up the thread. The scarf gives extra room for the movement of hook or shuttle. The eye is responsible in holding the thread and the point cuts a hole or parts the thread so that it can then go through the material that is being sewn.

Various Kinds of Points

All the sewing machine needle sizes come in different point types. The regular point is said to be the finest and this can part the thread of the materials that are already woven. The ball point is used for knit materials because this is able to minimize cut threads. The chisel point is used at leather materials because this can punch holes as the work continues.

Guide about the Sizes

The numbers are very important indication when it comes to sewing machine needle sizes. The type with the lowest number is actually the finest type. When it comes to American sizes, number 8 is the finest and the needle with number 19 is the thickest. Other sizes include 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 18 and 19. The sizes for European needles include 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 90, 100, 110 and 120. This means that the finest one is the number 60 and the heaviest and thickest is the number 120.

The numbers presented here do not mean that European needles are bigger than the US types. These are basically the same. The number 8 needle in the US has the same size as the number 60 European needle and so on.

In choosing the sewing machine needle sizes, it is vital that you know the type of fabric that is going to be used. The lighter and the thinner the fabric is, the more you need to choose needles that are fine. This way, you will be assured that the fabric won’t get damaged and the work will be done without any hassles.

Determining Laminators Dimensions and Different Types of the Machine

There are many types of laminators, that is why you have to state which ones would you want to know more about when searching for laminators dimensions. The core function is the same though for all kinds and range of laminators dimensions, and that is to unite two or more layers of pieces together.

In its simplest forms, laminators dimensions talk about the process of placing a material in between layers of plastic and applying heat or pressure to glue all the materials together. The process can also refer to a technique that is mainly used in electrical engineering, which aims to lessen unwanted heating effects of currents or transformers.

Common Uses

You can find various materials and products around you, which have been laminated. This may be the reason why more people are getting interested to know about laminators dimensions. For example, photos can be laminated in order to help these from deteriorating due to creases and exposure to sun, stains, fingerprints and many more. Credit cards, ATM cards and identification cards are also usually laminated with plastic film, while certain kinds of containers are given UV coating type of lamination. The process can also be applied on materials that are made from resin or wood.

Aside from the stores that carry out the products, you will likely find the answer to laminators dimensions on most printing businesses. Most of these businesses offer commercial lamination services for many types of materials. The most common kinds of laminators that are used for digital imaging include pouch, cold roll and heated roll laminators.

Sample Sizes

To get a clearer view about laminators dimensions, you may want to look at these related products that can be used at home or businesses. The Xyron 145611 ezLaminator, which is ideal in creating scrapbooks and in laminating pictures, measures 15.9 x 10 x 8.2 inches and weighs 7 pounds. The Scotch TL901 Thermal Laminator, which can be used at home and is ideal in creating crafts, measures 15.5 x 6.75 x 3.75 inches.

The QuikFinish PL150, which can do foil, hot and cold lamination, measures 22 x 8.3 x 5 inches and weighs 9 pounds. The Fellowes Saturn SL, a handy tool that can be used at home or offices, measures 8 x 21 x 4 inches and weighs 9 pounds.

The measurement of the tools varies depending on its type and functions. Bigger machines are perfect for businesses, while compact and handy ones are fit for homes and personal use.

Why Would You Machine Your Enclosure?

If you are in need of an enclosure for your electronics and debating the pro’s and con’s of what to do, then here are some points for you to consider based on the latest machining techniques that may provide you with a better solution for no extra cost.

What do you do when you need something more than a customised off the shelf enclosure?
Have you considered a bespoke enclosure manufactured to your exact requirements?
Do you know that Casting and Moulding are not the only options for a bespoke enclosure?
Have you considered utilising the latest machining techniques to manufacture an enclosure for your electronics?

Why should you choose CNC machining for your electronics enclosure?

The latest CAD CAM systems and machining technologies have revolutionised what can be achieved cost effectively by the machining process and this has allowed companies to reap the benefits of the process at a cost that many would have thought impossible only a few years ago. Here are some of the advantages of the process.

Unique and Stylish Design

Modern machines can produce any shape even 3-Dimensional forms quickly and easily, so no longer do machined parts need to be angular and simplistic. Complex shapes can now be machined as cheaply as very simple profiles.

Reduced Capital Expenditure

Casting and moulding techniques require expensive up front tooling. The machining process requires a much lower initial set up cost.

Design Flexibility

When using the machining process for your components there is a negligible cost implication when making design changes as your product matures. Even significant changes at the design and prototyping stage can usually be accommodated with minimal cost or lead time.

Thermal Performance

A machined enclosure can satisfy all your thermal requirements. Complex heatsinking and cooling features can be designed in with the minimum of thermal interfaces.

EMC Performance

Particularly if an enclosure is machined from solid the enclosure will have excellent EMC performance simply by reducing the number of interfaces. Depending on your requirements a variety of concepts can be used from simple metal to metal contact to a sophisticated tongue and groove solution which takes advantage of the accuracy which can be achieved by the machining process even on very complex profiles.

Environmental Integrity

If a component is machined in one piece it significantly reduces the potential for leakage and sealing features such as o ring grooves can be accurately added.

No Additional Processes

Unlike the casting process machined components are completed in one hit. There are no expensive extra processes required to ensure accuracy or sealing integrity.


The Machining process can easily and without any additional cost achieve accuracy of important features which could never be achieved by casting or moulding. Typically an overall tolerance of +/- 0.2mm can be achieved with ease over the entire volume of the part

And finally some myths expelled

“Machining from solid is very wasteful of material”

Machining a box from solid does require significant material to be cut from a single block, however the difference between this and machining individual panels is usually less than you would first imagine. Also the cut material is recycled so nothing is actually wasted.

“Material Removal is slow and costly”

Using modern machines and tooling machining of aluminium and plastics can take place at previously unimaginable speed. This is just one of the advances which has made this into a viable process for production enclosures.

“Programming the machines is very time consuming so only viable for large volumes”

CAD CAM has revolutionised this process. The same 3D models used in the design process are used to create the tool paths for the machine. There is no time consuming manual programming of machines followed by a slow step by step proving of the program. Tool paths are created off line, simulated on the computer and then electronically downloaded to the machine.

Hugh Watson founded Innova Design in 2001 with a vision to provide the service designers require by fully exploiting the 3 dimensional design and manufacturing process. As design engineer himself Hugh felt that much time and money could be saved by building the company around a fully electronic workflow, enabling many of the frustrations of prototype and small batch machining to be overcome.

What Exactly Is Precision Machining?

For the average person who has little knowledge of engineering or manufacturing, precision machining can be a tricky process to understand. Here we’ll explain what it is and why it’s used in a way that everyone can understand.

Precision machining is part of the fabrication process where parts are created by removing certain areas of a material such as aluminium, steel, bronze, graphite and glass to create detailed and complex items. This can include hollowing out a solid shape or simply cutting slots. Another way to look at it is to compare the process to that of a stone mason carving a statue. You start with a large solid object before chipping, cutting and polishing it until you reach the desired result. In short, if an object consists of parts, it was made through machining.

Quality precision machining means following extremely accurate and specific blueprints made by either CAD (computer aided design) or CAM (computer aided manufacturing) programs and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. The programs produce complex 3D diagrams or outlines that are used to manufacture items such as tools, machines, winches or any other objects. By using CNC machines, the process of machining is much more controlled and accurate and therefore helps to achieve better results when machining metals. These days, it’s the use of these programmes throughout the process that help make machining so precise and accurate. As computers are used throughout the process in the design stage and the machining stage to create extremely detailed and accurate items and parts, the element of human error is removed.

Precision machines use different methods to shape material but they all use at least some sort of basic cutter technology. This usually involves milling, boring and turning but recent technological advances have seen the introduction of lasers and water cutters. Laser cutters work by heating or melting the material until it forms the correct shape whereas water cutters direct a high pressure jet that slices through leaving behind a high quality finish without damaging the structure. The items that are created through precision machining are used in countless fields throughout the world including shipping and aeronautics.

Now we know what precision machining is and how it works, but what sort of items does it actually produce? Cars, planes, ships, alarm clocks all have parts that have been produced by precision machining. Machining creates the threads for nuts and bolts, plumbing fittings are usually machined as are high pressure valves and computer parts amongst other things. These specialist industries require uniformity and quality with all their products and this can only be achieved through precision machining.

Precision machining specialists create and sell these high quality items to other companies for use in the design and building of their products. When searching for a company for your machining needs, ask for samples of previous work and make sure that the company can provide the quality you’re looking for.

A Brief History of Precision Machining

Precision machining has been around for over a hundred years, dating back to the industrial revolution which allowed manufacturers to produce extremely accurate parts. This precision machining technology enabled the Victorians to produce sophisticated farming equipment, ships and machines. One of the main benefactors was Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the legendary mechanical and civil engineer who built docks, bridges, ships and railways.

Whilst Brunel had to make do with unreliable calipers and heavy machinery to build his masterpieces, today’s precision machining workplace is extremely different. Technology has changed to the point where it’s unrecognisable from the Victorian era, the introduction of computers, water cutters and lasers make a work shop more like the base of operations of a Bond villain than an industrial factory.

Lasers are used as both incredibly accurate measuring tools and also for cutting and shaping the metal. Laser cutters work by heating or melting the material until it forms the correct shape whereas water cutters direct a high pressure jet that slices through leaving behind a high quality finish without damaging the structure.

Computers which control the lasers have been perhaps the biggest breakthrough. Quality precision machining means following extremely accurate and specific blueprints made by either CAD (computer aided design) or CAM (computer aided manufacturing) programs and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines. The programs produce complex 3D diagrams or outlines that are used to manufacture items such as tools, machines, winches or any other objects required by the customer. By using CNC machines, the process is more controlled and accurate and therefore helps to achieve better results when machining metals. These days, it’s the use of these programmes throughout the process that help make machining so precise and accurate. As computers are used throughout the process in the design stage and the machining stage to create extremely detailed and accurate items and parts, the former threat of human error is now removed.

CNC and modern precision machining first appeared shortly after the Second World War as a result of the aircraft industry’s desire to produce more accurate and complex parts. The ability to create these parts reliably and efficiently helped nations rebuild after the devastation of the war.

The cost of precision machining has also fallen over the years, now that designs can be saved on computer, the cost of setting up the process is reduced enabling skilled machine workers to produce high quality items cheaply and efficiently. This ensures that precision machining technology has a long life ahead of it as it continues to deliver large volumes of precision parts at low prices. It is likely that more and more products, especially computers, phones and tablets will be made with this machinery, rather than the plastics traditional used which are prone to breaking, for example MacBooks are milled from a solid block of aluminium.

All in all, the process of precision machining has changed beyond recognition from when it was first invented but it’s principles and the legacy that it’s built on has given rise to the latest advance in digital technology; 3D printing.

Large Machining and Your World

You take advantage of large machining every day, possibly without even knowing it. But whether you know it or not, large machining has impacted your life as long as you’ve lived it. From the machines in the hospital where you were born, to the lasers and automated robots used to cut, form, and weld the components of the car that you drive and the building you live in.

First, consider the fact that you take advantage of tools and machines every day. You may think, “No I don’t, I work in an office!” But regardless of who you are, where you work, or where you live – you most definitely benefit from large machining every day. The computer you work on, the car you drive with, and the house you live in are all the modern result of years upon years of innovation. To learn more about the large machining that made them possible, read on.

It’s obvious that machines make a difference in our world. For instance, without machine tools – the industrial revolution would have never happened and the pioneers of industry wouldn’t have done things like mechanize manufacturing or send a locomotive across the country. Back then, the large machining that created manufacturing equipment introduced new products to the world with speed, precision, and quality that the world had never seen before.

Before the industrial revolution, all businesses had to rely on were hand tools used to laboriously cut, shape, and form raw materials into finished products like ships, furniture, cooking utensils, everyday necessities, and more. However, after the steam engine fully entered the industrial arena in the late 18th century, the necessity of hand tools slowly faded, creating a world of opportunity for industrialists to take advantage of for years to come.

Today, large machining influences you in more ways than you imagine. Large part machining, for example, is the source for large parts in everything from the products you use every day, to the machines that manufacture them. But where did it all begin? The first tool to provide large machining was the cylinder boring machine. While we have upgraded this machine substantially, the cylinder boring machine has been continuously utilized since the industrial revolution. Back then the cylinder boring machine was used as a critical tool to continue to advance the industrial world by boring the large cylinders used on early steam engines. Today, horizontal boring machines are used for everything from rock drilling and auger boring, to hollowing out large holes in metal pieces. Think of all the cylindrical tools, products, and components we rely on – from pipes to auto parts, they’ve all seen the business end of a horizontal boring machine.

So next time you see anything large and metal, think about the history behind it. The minds, hands, and intellects behind transforming small hand tools into large, fast, and mechanized machines that have shaped our world for centuries since. Without them we wouldn’t have the machinery, tools, and luxuries we’ve come to rely on every day.