Accessorize with common sense
Knowing what a CNC machine can do also means knowing what it can't do. That's where accessories come into play. Many CNC machines are equipped with add-ons or enhancements such as probing systems, tool length measuring devices, post-process gaging systems and automatic pallet changers. The secret to accessorizing is knowing what a particular application demands. Some CNC machine accessories are made and supported by the machine tool builder and are documented in the machine tool builder's manual, while information about aftermarket accessories is in a separate manual.
Get with the program
When getting acquainted with a CNC machine, a programmer first needs to learn which functions of the CNC are programmable and what commands control the programmable functions. Many machine functions must be manually activated. With some CNC milling machines, for example, the only programmable function is axis motion, while all other functions--from the spindle speed and direction to coolant delivery method and tool changes--are performed by the operator. Conversely, with full-blown CNC machines, almost everything is programmable and the operator may only be required to load and remove workpieces.
Start with the machine tool builder's manual, which will state what functions of the machine are programmable. Following are some common programmable functions, along with their related programming commands:
Programmable functions vary from one machine to the next, as do the programming commands. For best results, check the M codes list in the machine tool builder's manual, which are commonly used by the machine tool builder to provide programmable ON/OFF switches for machine functions.