Legacy CNC Machines
Tuesday 03 July 2012
Ever considered using a computer controlled machining centre? Wayne Mack shows us how
Our thanks to Wayne Mack and Roger Phebey for giving us a thorough demonstration of Legacy CNC machines. We would strongly advise anyone looking for a new business opportunity to see what the Legacy range has to offer. Wayne and Roger give an explanation of the process below.
The code matters
In simplistic terms the CNC machines comprise three components/processes. The first is the hardware that machines the material. The second is the computer with its operating system and the machine interface. These normally, by way of user screens present the machine controls and a graphic representation of object being machined. Finally there is the software which takes the designer's thoughts and aspirations and turns them into instructions that generate driving instructions for the machine, these instructions are presented as G code.
Many people take one look at a machine, see the computer and say that is not for them. The truth is that CNC machines are simple, the hardest part is appreciating how the operator's interface user screens works; and even that is comparatively easy to learn.
The Mini Arty is a 5-Axis CNC machine, four axes are CNC controlled and the fifth is manually adjustable. It has a fixed maximum machining width of 460mm and the ability to do flat work and rotary work up to 460mm in length and 150mm in diameter. Well that is what the specification indicates but it is possible to mill flat workpieces of wood longer than the machine length. This can be achieved by manipulating the start or origin position within the software when designing the project; training to do this can be given, and so the Mini Arty could produce a sign 1,270mm long by 460mm wide.
Mini Arty uses an industry standard machine operating system called MACH III which runs on Microsoft Windows software. MACH III is the operator interface and Legacy has developed its own set of user screens for MACH III that greatly simplify the operation of the machine.
Legacy supplies with the Mini Arty a portable PC to provide the computing power. The customer should use this laptop only to run the machine and not connect it to the internet or for any other purpose. It can affect the stability of the machine if other background software is running at the same time as the CNC is processing a job.
MACH III and the Legacy range of machines require G code, this is similar to one of the original computer programs called BASIC.
To help the operator write the G Code there are a number of CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software options available. For the purpose of this article we will use those that have been developed bya company in the UK called VECTRIC, who have won a Queen's Award for their products and exports. For more information, please see their website.