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Four Methods of Ensuring Consistent Cutting Depth in CNC Parts Processing

November 22, 2022

Four methods to ensure consistent cutting depth for CNC parts processing, and four methods to ensure consistent cutting depth (even on flat surfaces): As far as your CNC is concerned, the world is all sunshine and roses: your cutting tools will never deflect or wear, your clamps are rigid, free of vibration, and the surface of the workpiece is completely flat. However, those of us who have gray matter in the real world know that the truth of the situation is just perfect - tools are worn, clamps are bent, and the surface you want to cut is as flat as the good earth itself.
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Define flatness:
Simply put, the term "flatness" is used to describe the area where the surface must lie between two parallel lines. This specification usually works with other dimensions on the print to describe the range of possible positions for a given surface:
As you may or may not realize now, no surface is completely flat - in fact, few surfaces are even close to perfect flatness, and flatness costs money when it comes to manufacturing parts. Therefore, if it is not necessarily flat, or the printed matter does not define it as flat, then you have to assume that it is not flat. Depending on what specific surface you need to make, its flatness (or lack thereof) will need to play a key role in the milling strategy.

Consistent cut depth method 1: Limiting the surface
Keep the surface flat before other milling or engraving processes.
If you can do this, ranking the surface is far from the simplest and most sure way to ensure that the surface you are going to use is fairly flat and true. The surface treatment of a surface is just a strange mechanical expression. When milling the whole surface, only a few thousand orders of magnitude can be extracted at a time, until the whole surface is reasonably uniform in flatness. The qualification pass is usually the first step you see when you watch the milling process in the workshop or online for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is to ensure the flatness of the surface.

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Starting from a square billet or green billet, the qualification of a surface is almost always an option, generally speaking, it is just good mechanic practice. However, sometimes it is not an option to qualify the surface. For example, when using die-casting materials, forging processes, or other finished parts, only marking or serialization is required. In these cases, different strategies are needed to achieve good results.
Consistent cutting depth method 2: engraving tool with spring machining
You can use the spring engraving tool to maintain the depth of the engraving.
If you only need to do basic engraving or part marking work, and your surface is a bit "all over the map", then the spring engraving tool may be exactly what the doctor ordered. There are several different types of spring loaded tools, the most popular of which are the spring loaded version of the traditional split handle carving tool and the spring loaded "drag carving bit", also known as the "scribing" tool.
Spring loaded engraving tools are used for engraving on uneven surfaces.

Spring loaded engraving tool: This tool can help you keep the ballpark in basic engraving operations.
Spring loaded engraving tools contain a compressible mechanical system between the spindle interface and the cutting tool. These tool assemblies typically have spring travel from 0.20 "to 0.40", so they can absorb considerable changes in Z height while still maintaining a consistent downward pressure on the workpiece. The spring loaded engraving cutter head uses a cutting handle engraving tool with a tip, so it can produce various engraving widths and depths. Drag engraving or scribing tools are literally dragged across a surface, and are not designed to incorporate rotating elements into the process. Therefore, the scribing tool is really suitable for marking very shallow parts.
Although these tools are not very helpful for milling or drilling applications, they are very good for marking shallow to medium depth parts. However, this kind of tool has some disadvantages: the general handle size of these tools is 3/4 ", which may be too large for some spindles. Moreover, because these tools are mechanical components, they are usually limited to a maximum of 10000 RPM. This limitation may force you to slow down the feed speed and increase your cycle time.

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Therefore, if you need as many as thousands of cast aluminum alloy parts, spring loaded tools will be possible to complete this work. However, if you plan to complete the milling or drilling process, or if the work requires depth, width, or complex/high-quality carving, you may need to turn to other methods to complete the work.
Consistent cut depth method 3: Mapping irregular surfaces using a touch detection system
You can use touch detection to help maintain a consistent cutting depth in these applications.
Depending on the type of milling machine you are using, the detection system can be used to touch the workpiece multiple times to "map" the surface. The surface mapping of the probe can be one of the faster and more elegant solutions to this problem, because it uses the technology in CNC machine tools to compensate for the irregularity of the Z height of the workpiece. This means that you can really limit the introduction of new variables in your process and stick to using proven real cutting tools, jigs and feedrates.