Companies can use software to support customer visualization as well as the machining process. Photo: Cabinet Vision
Companies can use software to support customer visualization as well as the machining process. Photo: Cabinet Vision

If you’re the owner of a small shop, you may think that CNC machinery and the software are only for the big shops. But making the leap to CNC can be just as beneficial for your size shop.

In addition to CNC software helping to expand a company’s resources and allow it to attract more and larger jobs, small shop owners also find it helps save time in the office. And in most cases, there is a fast return on investment.

The benefits of integration

The best solutions are those that offer new and better ways to help you turn out high-quality products with the most efficient methods. For example, software capable of rendering realistic drawings of finished products supports the visualization process, which helps attract and excite customers. If you consider that this same software also is capable of automatically generating material data, assembly sheets, cutlists, and more, you’re looking at savings linked to reductions in both material waste and human error.

Today, it’s easier than ever for users to integrate CNC tooling within their design software and output geometry directly to the CNC routers. If you factor in nesting functionality and other strengths, the capabilities of software and CNC machinery can make all the difference. The benefits of adopting a CNC machining/software solution are many, including:

• Programming is created in one seamless, fully integrated application.  The information is then transmitted to the machine automatically, thus eliminating operator error.

• Parts are less expensive to produce due to reduced labor, reduced error and material savings.

Finding what you need

Here are some questions that you must ask yourself as you compare options: 

• Is the software processing time efficient? If you have to wait a significant amount of time for the software to perform vital calculations, you aren’t saving the kind of time that you could be. Make sure that the software maximizes your time.

• Is the software set up to provide accurate detailed part geometry? After all, this is the nuts and bolts of the whole shebang.

• Does the software automatically generate machine-ready code for standard and custom parts from the design? This is where automation can really shine — and increase your efficiency significantly.

• Does the software company offer top-notch support? Bumps in the road do occur, and your software supplier should be there to dust your knees off when you trip and fall. If the software firm does not offer support in a timely manner, keep looking for one that does.
Once you’ve vetted your options and selected the software, integration can begin. It’s important to note that growing pains are part of the process, so keep in mind that integration takes a little time, but is ultimately worth the effort. Here are some tips to help streamline and ease the process:

• Take delivery of your software three to six months ahead of your machinery. This gives you and everyone in your shop the opportunity to learn the software before the machinery arrives.

•  Participate in the training process offered by vendors. Formal training is a financial investment and, like the software, it tends to pay for itself. Training also helps you learn how to maximize all of the features at your disposal, which ensures that you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

• Have more than one software and machine operator. This may not be possible in very small shops, but back-up is always a good idea. If the only person who knows the software leaves the company, this puts you in a bind until someone new can be hired, trained, and able to work without supervision.

Source: Stacey Wiebe is a PR communications specialist for Vero Software. For information, contact the company at (205) 556-9199 or visit VeroSoftware.com.

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