Newbie in trade school learning CNC : Which control (Haas, Fanuc, Heidenhain)?
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    Default Newbie in trade school learning CNC : Which control (Haas, Fanuc, Heidenhain)?

    I was just admitted into a Technical College's Machining program. Aside from manual machining, we will be taught CNC machining , including writing G & M code to make our own parts.

    I have only meager previous machining expereince, all of it at Tech college. Just over a year ago I took 1 semester of machining, with the 1st half on a manual Bridgeport and the 2nd half on a conversational CNC Klausing Kondia. The course was everyday from 7am to 1pm. I also have taken 2 Solidworks courses.


    This time I am enrolled in the machining program. So it is full time , everyday.


    I am taking the course to make my own parts, nothing high precision. Some things I would like to make: aftermarket automotive accessories, only cosmetic in nature. Custom spectable frame, Some custom tools etc..I do not intend on a career working in a Machine shop. Schooling is to gain the skills to start my own business.


    With that in mind which control is most noob friendly / intuitive?
    Haas? , Fanuc? , Heidenhain ? , Siemens ?

    If I design something in Solidworks, do I still need to know G & M code to get a CNC mill to make the Solidworks part?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    If I design something in Solidworks, do I still need to know G & M code to get a CNC mill to make the Solidworks part?
    Yes and no. Anyone who is working with CNC machines professionally needs a good functional understanding of G code, even if you are rarely writing it directly. You should absolutely be able to knock out simple programs by hand, even if you need to sit there with graph paper and work it out slowly. This is more so you can look at CAM produced code and have a clue as to what is going on.

    What is probably not a very high ROI skill is the ability to stand at a control and bang out anything of any complexity by hand. Even on-control programming schemes (Manual iGuide in Fanuc, Haas VPP, everything Hurco) are getting less and less relevant as CAD/CAM skills go up and costs go down. I'm not saying Finger CAM has no use or is outdated, just the number of environments where that skill is put to regular use (outside of basic turned parts) is small and diminishing. So in the end? Definitely take this opportunity to learn G coding by hand, but don't think that if you become the hot shit Top Gun Finger CAM master of your class that this skill will mean much in the real world.

    Absolutely focus on CAD/CAM skills. Those investments in your time will have a massive payoff.

    For controls? The question is defined by the market you want to work in. Haas is the largest volume seller of machine tools in the US, being fluent in older and next gen controls is a base level skill. Fanuc runs a somewhat distant, but very clear, second. I wouldn't bother with Heidenhain; by the time you have enough industry experience under your belt that someone would loose you on any machine with a Heidenhain controller? You will have forgotten everything you learned about it years ago in tech school. Same with Siemens. I would take the opportunity to work on these controls for a little bit so you can understand the broad differences and retain enough to not be totally lost when you are standing in front of one 5 years from now, but mastering them will take away from higher ROI skills you should be learning ASAP.

    Focus your school time with on-machine skills that you can't learn off of YouTube. Anyone with a little gumption can learn any CAD system, and most of the CAM systems, off of YouTube (I did). What is much harder to get is access to big capital assets that folks will let you use. Your money in school is absolutely best invested in hands-on skills. It is absolutely wasted on CAD/CAM classroom time (beyond whatever their base level requirements are). You can download educational versions of all that software and learn it at home for free.

    Learn how to use a grinder properly. Learn basic TIG welding if you get the chance. Take literally every opportunity to tram in a vise and fully line in a 4th axis with a dial test indicator - those are under-appreciated, basic, critical skills that fucking save the day in actual machine shops, and lots of folks suck at it.

    Also, when you are done with the trade school? Take some god damn accounting classes ASAP if you want to run your own business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    Yes and no. Anyone who is working with CNC machines professionally needs a good functional understanding of G code, even if you are rarely writing it directly. You should absolutely be able to knock out simple programs by hand, even if you need to sit there with graph paper and work it out slowly. This is more so you can look at CAM produced code and have a clue as to what is going on.

    What is probably not a very high ROI skill is the ability to stand at a control and bang out anything of any complexity by hand. Even on-control programming schemes (Manual iGuide in Fanuc, Haas VPP, everything Hurco) are getting less and less relevant as CAD/CAM skills go up and costs go down. I'm not saying Finger CAM has no use or is outdated, just the number of environments where that skill is put to regular use (outside of basic turned parts) is small and diminishing. So in the end? Definitely take this opportunity to learn G coding by hand, but don't think that if you become the hot shit Top Gun Finger CAM master of your class that this skill will mean much in the real world.

    Absolutely focus on CAD/CAM skills. Those investments in your time will have a massive payoff.

    For controls? The question is defined by the market you want to work in. Haas is the largest volume seller of machine tools in the US, being fluent in older and next gen controls is a base level skill. Fanuc runs a somewhat distant, but very clear, second. I wouldn't bother with Heidenhain; by the time you have enough industry experience under your belt that someone would loose you on any machine with a Heidenhain controller? You will have forgotten everything you learned about it years ago in tech school. Same with Siemens. I would take the opportunity to work on these controls for a little bit so you can understand the broad differences and retain enough to not be totally lost when you are standing in front of one 5 years from now, but mastering them will take away from higher ROI skills you should be learning ASAP.

    Focus your school time with on-machine skills that you can't learn off of YouTube. Anyone with a little gumption can learn any CAD system, and most of the CAM systems, off of YouTube (I did). What is much harder to get is access to big capital assets that folks will let you use. Your money in school is absolutely best invested in hands-on skills. It is absolutely wasted on CAD/CAM classroom time (beyond whatever their base level requirements are). You can download educational versions of all that software and learn it at home for free.

    Learn how to use a grinder properly. Learn basic TIG welding if you get the chance. Take literally every opportunity to tram in a vise and fully line in a 4th axis with a dial test indicator - those are under-appreciated, basic, critical skills that fucking save the day in actual machine shops, and lots of folks suck at it.

    Also, when you are done with the trade school? Take some god damn accounting classes ASAP if you want to run your own business.

    I took a beginner Tig course and an Autobody welding course. In autobody we did Tig, Mig, Stick, Flux Core, Oxy Fuel welding & cutting and Plasma cutting. I just graduated from an Autobody collision repair and paint program.

    In the milling class, we trammed the Mills every day, because the evening class would always knock it out of the tolerance. We also used drill presses, bandsaw, grinders, optical comparator, various metrological instruments, tapping machine. My lathe expereince is limited, having just taken 1 intro course 3 years ago.

    I can't stand accounting but fortunately my sister is an accountant.

    I have no expereince with CAM. Does Solidworks CAM software convert the CAD drawing into code that a CNC machine needs to machine the part?

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    Focus your school time with on-machine skills that you can't learn off of YouTube. Anyone with a little gumption can learn any CAD system, and most of the CAM systems, off of YouTube (I did).
    Yea, but you are a nerd that geeks-out on this stuff!
    Now, don't take that the wrong way. Take it as a compliment.
    As, I am totally jealous of your aptitude for things CNC!
    Some of us are not tech savvy at all. I struggle every dang day, STILL!, even on the haas controls sometimes.
    Definitely in my CAM if trying to figure out something new (which I have been using for 15 years).
    The Brother? I have just scratched the surface (after two whole years). The Fanuc on the lathe? Forget it!
    This is not for lack of wanting to know everything about everything. Because, I do!
    It is more my mental capacity for "tech" is lacking. My personal mental alignment is leaning heavily to the mechanical side.
    So, I would be one example of somebody who would do well doing exactly the opposite of what you stated above.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelieking71 View Post
    Yea, but you are a nerd that geeks-out on this stuff!
    Now, don't take that the wrong way. Take it as a compliment.
    As, I am totally jealous of your aptitude for things CNC!
    Some of us are not tech savvy at all. I struggle every dang day, STILL!, even on the haas controls sometimes.
    Definitely in my CAM if trying to figure out something new (which I have been using for 15 years).
    The Brother? I have just scratched the surface (after two whole years). The Fanuc on the lathe? Forget it!
    This is not for lack of wanting to know everything about everything. Because, I do!
    It is more my mental capacity for "tech" is lacking. My personal mental alignment is leaning heavily to the mechanical side.
    So, I would be one example of somebody who would do well doing exactly the opposite of what you stated above.
    I am not knocking you, everyone is different and we need everyone’s skills and perspectives to get things done. But for the OP’s question specifically I’d say that gkoenig gave some excellent advice.

    I’d emphasize his point that while CAM is great and can save a ton of time, don’t shy away from learning and writing (at least simple) gcode. It will make you a better asset to your employer and yourself. You need to understand what the CAM generated code does and be able to manipulate it by hand at times.

    His advice on controllers is good as well. Do not think because you learned and know Haas that it is the best or only way of doing things. If you learn one controller, with some time, you can step up to and use a Fanuc or Siemens or whatever. Like anything learning a different system is just getting used to it’s idiosyncrasies and practicing it.

    Bottom line is, keep an open mind, and be willing to spend the time learning new things!

    -Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by tome9999 View Post
    I am not knocking you, everyone is different and we need everyone’s skills and perspectives to get things done. But for the OP’s question specifically I’d say that gkoenig gave some excellent advice.

    Bottom line is, keep an open mind, and be willing to spend the time learning new things!

    -Tom
    I agree. His advice was great.
    I was just using myself as an example to express, without knowing each individuals strengths/weakness's?
    How can you give universal biased advice?
    His points were all very valid. I wasn't arguing that at all. It was a hell of a response actually.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    For controls? The question is defined by the market you want to work in. Haas is the largest volume seller of machine tools in the US, being fluent in older and next gen controls is a base level skill. Fanuc runs a somewhat distant, but very clear, second.
    What? Haas controls are only on Haas machines and have been around since 1988. Fanuc controllers are on too many brand machines to name and if their website speaks the truth they first shipped an NC controller to Makino in 1958. Note the OP asked which control to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    What? Haas controls are only on Haas machines and have been around since 1988. Fanuc controllers are on too many brand machines to name and if their website speaks the truth they first shipped an NC controller to Makino in 1958. Note the OP asked which control to learn.
    Very little of what you say is relevant to the OP's needs. He needs to be familiar with the control that are most prevalent in the machine shops he will be seeking employment in. In the United States? Haas is the home team and they sell more machine tools than anyone else, by a country mile.

    If the OP was in Asia? I would tell him to learn Fanuc and Brother.

    If he was in Europe? Fanuc and Heidenhain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    Very little of what you say is relevant to the OP's needs. He needs to be familiar with the control that are most prevalent in the machine shops he will be seeking employment in. In the United States? Haas is the home team and they sell more machine tools than anyone else, by a country mile.

    If the OP was in Asia? I would tell him to learn Fanuc and Brother.

    If he was in Europe? Fanuc and Heidenhain.
    As an aside, if you learn the Haas control well, Fanuc and Yasnac aren't too much of a stretch (on vmc's I have run) to learn. Mostly ease of use on a Haas vs a Fanuc/Yasnac. Homing sequences, menu navigation, but alot of the same g-code, same (more or less) program formats, etc.

    To me, the Hedinhain(?) is the outlier. I've never used a machine with one, but have done programming for one and the code is really strange IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    What? Haas controls are only on Haas machines and have been around since 1988. Fanuc controllers are on too many brand machines to name and if their website speaks the truth they first shipped an NC controller to Makino in 1958. Note the OP asked which control to learn.
    The OP asked which controller was the most user friendly/easiest to learn. In my mind that's Haas hands down.

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    You don't need to know G&M Code if you're programming in CAD. However if you want any chance in understanding what's happening or need to troubleshoot you should know the basics. For anything else a quick reference card at the machine can get you out of a bind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheelieking71 View Post
    So, I would be one example of somebody who would do well doing exactly the opposite of what you stated above.
    This is a solid point!

    Most folks in tech school I've seen are younger, and they tend to have a high native technology aptitude, while the instructors are older and assume higher mechanical aptitude. So you wind up with a bunch of 20 year olds rolling their eyes at an hour long lecture on how to save a file in Windows, while the instructors blast through the subtitles of reading a dial test indicator.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1974 View Post
    As an aside, if you learn the Haas control well, Fanuc and Yasnac aren't too much of a stretch (on vmc's I have run) to learn. Mostly ease of use on a Haas vs a Fanuc/Yasnac. Homing sequences, menu navigation, but alot of the same g-code, same (more or less) program formats, etc.
    Agreed. Learning Haas is like learning SolidWorks - a solid environment that teaches you the basic concepts easily. Once you get that down, a lateral transition to another control is relatively straightforward.

    If one is really ambitious though, and if the trade school provides the opportunity, learning how to be a Renishaw Inspection + code ninja would not be a bad idea. Not a lot of machines have Haas's graphical probing interface, and getting to know manual probe coding is a ++good skill to have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    This is a solid point!

    Most folks in tech school I've seen are younger, and they tend to have a high native technology aptitude, while the instructors are older and assume higher mechanical aptitude. So you wind up with a bunch of 20 year olds rolling their eyes at an hour long lecture on how to save a file in Windows, while the instructors blast through the subtitles of reading a dial test indicator.
    Yep, exactly. When I was transitioning from MasterCAM to featureCAM 15 years ago, I needed to be up to speed on it quickly.
    I was struggling really bad. Ultimately, I broke down and took a basic class to learn it.
    I was the first guy in class every day. The last guy to leave. And, asked more questions than all the other guys combined.
    Which was hard for me! I am a sever introvert, and really can't deal with speaking in front of a bunch of people.
    Especially when all I am doing is revealing my inadequacies.
    Final test day, I am pretty sure the instructor was pretty pissed at me, as I was over a full hour to finish later than the rest.
    We were the last two people in the school! LOL
    I aced the test. And, went on to get really proficient with featureCAM. The class taught me the basics, and that is exactly what I needed.
    But, it would have taken me years of Youtube to accomplish what a few weeks of night classes did.

    Had I been there for "machining"? Even with no experience. I would have been the guy with no questions, and first to leave.
    Learning a CNC control is someplace right in the middle I feel. I also feel basic G-code is very important. Maybe not being able to write it.
    But, being able to read, and understand what is happening is a must.

    I also agree with your hierarchy of which control to learn.
    I also feel not only are legacy haas controls the easiest to learn. They are also the easiest to teach.
    Not only how to navigate/use. But, CNC machining in general. My current employee started with zero experience.
    I don't train him on the Brother. I train him on the haas's. Because, it is there he stands the best chance of learning.
    I have also said this before: the haas manuals are excellent teaching tools!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gkoenig View Post
    Agreed. Learning Haas is like learning SolidWorks - a solid environment that teaches you the basic concepts easily. Once you get that down, a lateral transition to another control is relatively straightforward.

    If one is really ambitious though, and if the trade school provides the opportunity, learning how to be a Renishaw Inspection + code ninja would not be a bad idea. Not a lot of machines have Haas's graphical probing interface, and getting to know manual probe coding is a ++good skill to have.

    This. And Macro B

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    Quote Originally Posted by AARONT View Post
    You don't need to know G&M Code if you're programming in CAD. However if you want any chance in understanding what's happening or need to troubleshoot you should know the basics. For anything else a quick reference card at the machine can get you out of a bind.

    I am confused with this "if you're programming in CAD" .

    The only think I am familiar with in Solidworks is sketching a part per the Instructor's print. Generating orthographic drawing from the 3d sketched part. Building assemblies and 3d printing with the SW file imported to STL format. I didn't do any programming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    I am confused with this "if you're programming in CAD" .

    The only think I am familiar with in Solidworks is sketching a part per the Instructor's print. Generating orthographic drawing from the 3d sketched part. Building assemblies and 3d printing with the SW file imported to STL format. I didn't do any programming.
    Technically it would be the CAM side of the CAD program. That's my bad. I use Camworks for programming which is integrated into Solidworks.

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    Spud, here's two VERY BASIC videos breaking down CAD/CAM and running the program: YouTube & YouTube.
    DISCLAIMER- HOBBY MACHINE TOOL CONTENT. This isn't recommended for anyone else, it's just to get Spud on the same page.

    For controls to focus on- learn Fanuc, so when you get to run a Haas or Brother life will be easy....

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    Quote Originally Posted by LOTT View Post
    Spud, here's two VERY BASIC videos breaking down CAD/CAM and running the program: YouTube & YouTube.
    DISCLAIMER- HOBBY MACHINE TOOL CONTENT. This isn't recommended for anyone else, it's just to get Spud on the same page.
    It is important to note that that is a part you could probably hand code if you wanted to. CAD/CAM would be faster, but nothing about that part is particularly complicated.

    But that part is starting to get on the cusp of where hand coding would be competitive. Any component with just a bit more complexity and programming in CAM will be astonishingly faster. If you are making consumer products, and you are doing them with even a modicom of aesthetic sensability, you need things like curvature continuous arcs, fussy radii, 3D deburring... stuff that is simply not possible to hand code without becoming some sort of a G-Code Monk who will take days to program a part I would have done in 20 minutes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spud View Post
    I have no expereince with CAM. Does Solidworks CAM software convert the CAD drawing into code that a CNC machine needs to machine the part?
    Technically no it's not that cut and dry. You have to create the toolpaths and tell the software the speeds,feeds, depth of cut, etc...
    It doesn't just convert a model into G code.


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