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NewPathwaysCTEC

Plastic
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Jan 12, 2024
Hi friends,
I am director of New Pathways Tech LLC, a non-profit machining school in Culpeper Virginia. We focus on NIMS Certification for Mill and Lathe, both manual and CNC. In the past, some local manufacturers have donated manual mills and lathes, some of which are older than I am, and I have retired twice.
We have been doing well so far supplying CNC operators for local manufacturers. I have been getting feedback from local manufacturers that they need our students to program G-code. This isn't anything new, but our problem is that in the past (I am new to the position) we have not focused enough when purchasing machines. We do have a DMG Mori mill and a HAAS TR2 toolroom mill that both use g-code, but we also have a TRAX LPM mill and TRAX lathe that are conversational and can't be programmed directly using g-code from the operators panel, unless you all can tell me otherwise.
My question, and where I need help is what are the better brands of CNC machines, both mill and lathe, that use primarily G-code programming from the OP? Also, what would be a good place to look for good quality, used machines that we can use to teach our students? And then the Pie in the Sky question, does anyone here want to donate a machine to a 501-3c non-profit?
Thank you all in advance for your help. We are just trying to fill a void in the industry.
Joe Parker
New Pathways Tech LLC
9440 James Madison Highway
Rapidan, VA
434-602-2735
 
Best wishes for what you are doing.
As regards g-code training for Fanuc or a similar lathe, you may download my FREE eBook. Details available in another thread
 
We have a local vocational school that uses some sort of desktop Haas simulation and they had multiple stations that a few students could use. The one student that I have now said they aren't using them anymore and he wasn't sure why though.
 
We have a local vocational school that uses some sort of desktop Haas simulation and they had multiple stations that a few students could use. The one student that I have now said they aren't using them anymore and he wasn't sure why though.
Any chance of getting information on this school. Sounds like a good option. Thanks
 
Yea, the Trak "conversational" lathe programming is pretty unique and in my opinion a terrible kluge. There is one of these locally and I had to just walk away when the owner showed me how he has to program it. Teaching students to program it would be like also training them to hunt buffalo. Stick to any machines with Haas or Fanuc like controls and your students will be just fine. Let them learn programming in whatever manner you can, but basic understanding of G Code and being able to read and understand a CAM generated program is vital.
 
I would prefer that students were NOT taught conversational programming. It's brand specific, severely limited in the complexity of work that can be done with it, and when you hit that limit, it's a dead end. You have to backtrack to learning how to do basic stuff in gcode and CAM, before proceeding to do complex stuff in gcode and CAM.

I use NCPlot when I want a gcode simulator, like for proving out more complex macro programs.
 
My opinion would be to focus on the goals of the program and what skills you want the student to offer when they walk out.
  • What is your budget to get this going right now?
  • How much of your ongoing annual budget can be dedicated to new tooling and equipment each year? Is this something you want to do over a number of years?
  • How many students per class? Number of classes per semester? How many semesters? Two semesters? Four? Eight?
  • Do you have a computer area where they can be working on programming and online simulation and not all bottle-necked waiting for a machine?
  • Does the program include CAM training? Which one?
If you have 20 students per class and each student has to complete an exercise in three hour increments, twice a week, for twenty weeks, there is a practical lower limit to how long each can take on a machine.

I would keep the sample parts and exercises small and the machines small if you can. It would also be a huge hassle to have a hodge-podge of donated machines, each with their own control and idiosyncrasies. It will be necessary to get them through the program with limited machines and tools.

Start them off with the absolute basics on a simple cnc lathe: program and cut a toy spinny top. Or a chess pawn. Or something similar. Basic, one op turning, maybe with a canned cycle.

Next move them to milling. I saw an aluminum fidget spinner yesterday. I think it was on the Reddit machining sub. Perfect for students. Engrave it with their name and the year. Back on the lathe: make a turned and threaded button to go in the center (advancing to multi-ops: turning, threading, parting). On the Mill: make a rigid-tapped decorative nut with finger indents for the other side of the center button they made. That's four simple parts they could make with not a lot of cost. The skateboard bearings are almost free in bulk.
 
How many students do you have? Next, what are these companies willing to pay....

Also, you mention operators. They don't need to program. They just load parts. Tons of companies say "need programming ability" then they and up using students as organic auto loaders. No training needed. And those jobs are rapidly disappearing as companies automate. Generally companies need very few actual programmers
 
Haas are very common in tech schools and community colleges, largely because they offer them to schools with dramatic discounts. They have controls that are very similar to Fanuc and therefore pretty close to universal for learning g-code. The standard textbook for teaching g-code would be "CNC Programming Handbook" by Peter Smid. I took a 3 quarter sequence that worked through this book...would highly recommend the book. I would also highly recommend that you get licenses for Vericut and setup a machine simulation that matches your machine setup. This will allow your students to simulate their gcode without crashing a real machine, and allow them to do trial and error to learn. It also lets you as the instructor do final QA on each gcode program, which in turn allows the students to proceed to cut parts on the real machine....an invaluable experience, which I would STRONGLY recommend you incorporate into the class. Having students do hands on run of their programs and learning how to setup tool and work offsets, and push the buttons, etc makes for a hugely more valuable end result in terms of experience.
 
Not sure if they still do it or not, but Trak used to make a plug-in so you could run G-code on their machines instead of just event-based programming. I don't think you could edit the program on the machine (since there's only a number pad), so you'd need computers for the students to type in text files or program in CAM. Might be able to get you by until you can acquire the machines you're after.

Also - mhajicek mentioned NCPlot - incredibly handy when writing programs by hand.
 
New learners may take hours to write and prove a program. Machining would be just a few minutes. Therefore, it is desirable to have a large number of PCs with some offline simulation software installed on them. One or two machines might be adequate.
 
Best wishes for what you are doing.
As regards g-code training for Fanuc or a similar lathe, you may download my FREE eBook. Details available in another thread
Sir, Could you direct me to the thread you mentioned? I am interested in your e-book. Thank you
joe Parker
 
Sir, Could you direct me to the thread you mentioned? I am interested in your e-book. Thank you
joe Parker
Unfortunately, the free offer is over by now. It will be offered for free again after three months. If you need it write away, it can be purchased for $2.99 from amazon.com (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CR9DXP4T)
Paperback and hardcover versions are also available, but these cost more, because of manufacturing costs.
 
My opinion would be to focus on the goals of the program and what skills you want the student to offer when they walk out.
  • What is your budget to get this going right now?
  • How much of your ongoing annual budget can be dedicated to new tooling and equipment each year? Is this something you want to do over a number of years?
  • How many students per class? Number of classes per semester? How many semesters? Two semesters? Four? Eight?
  • Do you have a computer area where they can be working on programming and online simulation and not all bottle-necked waiting for a machine?
  • Does the program include CAM training? Which one?
If you have 20 students per class and each student has to complete an exercise in three hour increments, twice a week, for twenty weeks, there is a practical lower limit to how long each can take on a machine.

I would keep the sample parts and exercises small and the machines small if you can. It would also be a huge hassle to have a hodge-podge of donated machines, each with their own control and idiosyncrasies. It will be necessary to get them through the program with limited machines and tools.

Start them off with the absolute basics on a simple cnc lathe: program and cut a toy spinny top. Or a chess pawn. Or something similar. Basic, one op turning, maybe with a canned cycle.

Next move them to milling. I saw an aluminum fidget spinner yesterday. I think it was on the Reddit machining sub. Perfect for students. Engrave it with their name and the year. Back on the lathe: make a turned and threaded button to go in the center (advancing to multi-ops: turning, threading, parting). On the Mill: make a rigid-tapped decorative nut with finger indents for the other side of the center button they made. That's four simple parts they could make with not a lot of cost. The skateboard bearings are almost free in bulk.
Thank you very much. I have gotten great information and ideas from this thread. Much to think about and discuss with our board.
Thanks again.
 








 
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