Every so often, I like to present a few Web sites I’ve come across that are of special interest to CNC users. While some of the Web sites I mention have products to sell, they also have free information about CNC.
It’s getting easier and easier to find CNC-related Web sites. A search in Google (or any other search engine) for “CNC,”,“CNC training,” “CNC Programming,” “Parametric programming” or just about any CNC-related topic will render countless results. Here are a few of my favorites.
- The Virtual Machine Shop (virtual.kanabco.com/VMS/): Funded by the U. S. Department Of Labor, this learning site has great animated articles about many facets of manufacturing, including CNC. You’ll need a fast connection (DSL or faster) to view the animated articles. Current major categories include milling machines, engine lathes, other machines and manufacturing processes, CNC/CAM, measurement, and machine shop processes. There are currently about 40 active articles, but according to the site, this will eventually grow to more than180.
- techspex online (www.techspex.com):This comprehensive machine tool database (the Web site claims more than 7,000 models) provides specifications for machine tools built by hundreds of machine tool manufacturers. Nicely categorized by machine type, this database should be one of the first places a new machine buyer goes to compare key features and specifications. In addition to machine tools, other main categories include tooling and accessories, software, controls, inspection, and machinery dealers. While you must register to get in, this service is free to CNC users.
- CNC Freeware, Shareware and Trialware (www.wokingham.demon.co.uk): As the name implies, you’ll find free and share software to help with CNC usage. Categories include CNC text editors, multi-function software (such as Mr. Machinist, Machinist Toolbox, Machinist’s Companion and Machinist’s Mate), program manipulation software, visualization (verification) software, communications software, and mathematics and calculation software.
- Programming Unlimited (www.programmingunlimited.com): This site has some great free information about custom macro B and user tasks 2 (Fanuc and Okuma versions of parametric programming). Anyone wanting to know more about parametric programming should check out this site. From this Web site you can also buy inexpensive manuals and text editing software for custom macro.
- alt.machines.cnc: This is one of my favorite Internet stops. In this newsgroup, you’ll find discussions related to just about any conceivable CNC topic. Many knowledgeable CNC people participate, asking and answering questions, exchanging ideas and, in general, discussing CNC. Not every post is appropriate, but it’s nice to know what others in your position are talking about. Are you thinking about buying a new CNC machine? Do you wonder what people think about that CAM system you’re about to buy? Do you have a question your machine tool builder can’t answer? Post a question to this newsgroup; I can almost guarantee you’ll get a response. Note that this is not a Web site. Again, it is a newsgroup. If your Internet service provider does not give you access to newsgroups, you can access the group from the Google Web site (among many others). From Google’s home page (www.google.com), click the link for “groups”. From the search page that comes up, enter alt.machines.cnc as the search criteria. You’ll see the 25 most recent posts.
I’ve excluded my company’s own site (www.cncci.com) from this list. We also have some great information for CNC users, including a schools page, a jobs page, two free downloadable technical newsletters, tips for CNC users and articles related to CNC.
Other CNC Web sites to check out:
CNC Gurus (www.cncgurus.com/forums): This site features great forums for CNC users. Included in the “Programming” forum, you’ll find discussions on CNC-related software and macro (parametric) programming.
CNC Times (www.cnctimes.com): This is an online periodical containing articles of interest to CNC users.
Deepak Manuel’s CAD/CAM/CNC Web site (www3.sympatico.ca/deepak/cadcam): This is the ultimate CNC links page! Categories include CAD systems, CAM systems, CNC machines, CNC controls, post processors, NC verification, jobs and miscellaneous.
Cadem Technologies Pvt., Ltd. (www.cadem.com): While this company sells CNC-related software, you’ll also find free software for a distributive numerical control (DNC) system.