Poll reveals CNC likes and dislikes

Author Michael C. Anderson
January 15,2018 - 10:45am

CTE’s “CNC Chef,” Bob Warfield, polled the readers of his CNCCookbook blog in September on what they like and dislike about their CNCs. 

On the dislike side, he reported that those surveyed mentioned these shortcomings:

  •  “inadequate work offsets or other features needed to control the coordinate system”;
  • “inability to monitor the control via the web”;
  • “lack of features related to tool data management”; and
  •  “missing features [such as conversational CNC] that make shop-floor programming easier.”

CNC Engineering Manager Paul Webster of FANUC America Corp., Rochester Hills, Mich., sympathizes. All the capabilities longed for by survey respondents are available in FANUC controls but not on every FANUC-controlled machine, he said.

Image courtesy FANUC America

“When we sell a control, we sell it to a machine tool builder. Machine tool models are differentiated based on performance and cost. Builders compete against each other and differentiate among their own lines on those bases,” he said.

Webster explained that machine tool builders look at a full menu of CNC options and choose the ones they want based on where they plan to position a given model in the marketplace.

“The machine comes with the control capabilities the builder expects that user will need. And they can’t necessarily foresee everything the end user is going to do with a given machine in the future,” he said.

What end users may not realize, however, is that if their machines lack certain features that are needed or wanted in the future, these features probably still can be added.

“If someone buys a lower-end machine but then finds that they need some capability that wasn’t standard,” Webster said, “they can usually have it added for a price—and not a high price for most features.”

He offered work offsets as an example: “You might get a machine in your shop that doesn’t have adequate work offsets for what you want to do,” Webster said, adding that FANUC offers expanded work offsets.

The company has an aftermarket support team that lets users know whether what they want is an installed option that just needs to be activated, is something that can be purchased and installed, or isn’t available for the control they have.

So if your machine tool is missing a needed CNC capability, you still might be able to get it and take control.

Related Glossary Terms

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.


Former Senior Editor

Michael Anderson, former senior editor at Cutting Tool Engineering magazine, holds a master's degree in written communication from Eastern Michigan University. He has been professionally writing about manufacturing technology since 1998, including more than 10 years at the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.