You may have considered a CNC upgrade if you own a lathe machine. And for a good reason, as all small and medium-sized machine shops are transitioning to CNC machining for high-quality workpieces. Indeed, it is CNC machines that give larger industries a competitive advantage by bringing about precision and efficiency.
A CNC lathe machine used in an industrial production unit is typically massive. It is so large that it can take up your store’s entire length and width. Furthermore, these machines are unsuitable for producing small parts because their tools are designed for larger work holdings.
A lathe CNC machine should be an ideal solution for your smaller lathe shop to have the same capability as an industrial unit.
A CNC conversion kit can be a game-changer because it allows your existing machine to be upgraded to CNC capability for less than half the price of new CNC lathe machines.
And we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you get acquainted with these lathe CNC conversion kits.
What exactly is CNC conversion?
CNC conversion is a simple process of converting your old machines (lathes, mills, grinders, drills, etc.) to use CNC technology. Converting your manual machines to CNC gives you all of the benefits of a CNC machine without breaking the bank.
Simply put, CNC conversion enhances the performance of your manual machines by automating their functions using motors and software. But how do you convert your old machine into a CNC machine? Continue reading to know.
What exactly is a CNC Conversion Kit?
A CNC conversion kit is a collection of tools that you can integrate into your existing machine to convert it to CNC.
A typical CNC conversion kit includes new hardware components, motors, and up-to-date software to keep everything running smoothly. A new control unit, home and limit switches, and a motor control system are also included.
Some CNC kits are designed specifically for specific machines, while others can be used in various machines. CNC kits also differ in terms of the features they provide. Some CNC kits are quite comprehensive, including complete electronic packages, control units, and software. Others are more basic, offering only hardware and motors to make your machine CNC-ready.
Here’s a little more information on the CNC conversion kits available on the market:
A standard CNC conversion kit for an older milling machine includes a wide range of components as well as an installation manual. In addition, you receive hardware such as motors to automate your machine’s movement along the X, Y, and Z axes.
Because the control packages, software, limit switches, and other components for your CNC lathe machine are included in the conversion kit, you won’t have to worry about them.
There are, however, some things you should know about CNC conversion kits. Some conversion kits, for example, are designed specifically for a specific machine type or manufacturer.
Even though the conversion kits are designed to work with older machines, a one-size-fits-all approach is not possible. As a result, you should choose a CNC conversion kit that is compatible with your milling or router machine. Rest assured that the CNC conversion kits keep their promise of making all machines CNC capable.
How Do CNC Conversion Kits Function?
Before you begin converting your manual machines to CNC, you must first understand how a CNC conversion kit functions.
Conversion kits are supplemental components for machine automation. A CNC conversion kit typically does not add new axes or movement to the machine. It automates the existing ones. CNC lathe conversion kits automate the machine’s current layout.
When you purchase a CNC conversion kit, you will receive a number of hardware components as well as a control unit and software. Most conversion kits include detailed instruction manuals that will be useful when converting the lathe machine to CNC.
You must remove certain components from your machine before using any CNC conversion kit to make it CNC-ready. DIY conversion kits include step-by-step instructions, allowing hobbyists and small-scale owners to convert the machines themselves.
If you want to convert your lathe yourself, make sure to order any DIY CNC lathe conversion kit, which will come with easy-to-follow instructions.
Having said that, there are numerous factors that could go wrong when converting machines to CNC using a CNC conversion kit. If you are not careful, there is a chance you may damage your current machine and waste the conversion kit.
Prior to using the CNC conversion kit, make sure to assess the machine’s backlash and general serviceability to ensure that it will function effectively and efficiently once the conversion is complete.
A typical CNC system includes the following parts:
- Parallel Port
- G-Code Interpreter
Advantages of Using a CNC Conversion Kit
A CNC conversion kit is an excellent choice for people who want to increase production and improve machining capabilities without investing in a full-fledged CNC machine. The primary reason for using a CNC conversion kit is that it is much less expensive than purchasing a new CNC lathe machine.
Furthermore, a CNC conversion kit allows you to resurrect an old machine with improved performance. CNC conversion kits enable you to perform the conversion yourself. Most CNC conversion kits include detailed instructions for performing the conversion yourself.
Some of the benefits of CNC conversion kits over new CNC lathe machines include the following:
- Understanding the machine
You are the most knowledgeable about your machine. When you spend many years working with a machine, you develop an uncanny familiarity with it. When you convert an old machine to CNC, you are more likely to be familiar with its capabilities than when you purchase a new CNC machine.
- Increased Productivity and Accuracy
CNC conversion kits allow you to improve the performance of your old machine at a low cost. You can get your inactive machine up and running more efficiently and accurately than ever before by integrating external components.
- Manual labor has been reduced.
One of the most beneficial factors of converting your machine to CNC is the elimination of the need to spend hours finishing a product. Automation allows you to program your machine and have it do the work for you. A CNC-converted machine can produce three times as many products in an hour as you can in a day.
Why do you require a CNC conversion kit for your lathe?
You need a CNC conversion kit as a startup owner or small entrepreneur to grow and expand your business. You simply cannot compete on quality and quantity unless your machines are CNC-capable. Even though a new CNC machine may sound appealing, you don’t need to invest heavily unless you intend to expand your operations.
CNC conversion kits, you see, are ideal for scaling up production and increasing efficiency in small-scale workshops, especially if your machine is tried and true. When we talk about the CNC conversion process, it can appear intimidating and time-consuming. Indeed, the problematic CNC conversion may have prevented you from making your machine CNC capable. However, the benefits of CNC conversion make it completely worthwhile.
Wrapping it up
Whether you should buy a new CNC lathe machine or convert your old ones using CNC conversion kits is determined by your needs. If you run a large machining business or work for a large manufacturing company, a new CNC lathe machine will be more suitable.
However, if you are a beginner or a hobbyist, CNC conversion kits are a more practical and cost-effective option. Converting your old machines to CNC allows you to upgrade your machining capability while keeping your old machines operational.
Have any questions or need assistance?
You can reach out to us for the best CNC solutions for your machine shop.