Category Archives: New Stuff

Driven Tools (Live Tooling) Milling on a CNC Lathe

Category : New Stuff Useful Stuff

This article is about driven tools (sometimes known as live tooling) on a CNC Lathe and how we use G12.1  (G112) to mill shapes.

At the CNC Training centre we have a three day course which covers all aspects of driven tools on a CNC Lathe. You will learn about machines with a Y axis and machines that use a virtual Y axis. There is also a lot of advanced CNC Turning material too and you get to test it all out on your own virtual CNC machine.

Everything we do is demonstrated on a real machine.

  • Sub Spindle Machining
  • Y axis machining
  • Using a B axis
  • Axisl and radial drilling
  • Part transfer to sub spindle
  • Everything you wanted to know about mil turn machining but were just too embarassed to talk about.

If you want to apply for this classroom course, then don’t  bother reading this article.

By all means read on, in fact you’ll probably not need to do the course and waste your money!

A new CNC Machine is a very expensive investment even a simple two axis X Z lathe would represent a large investment to most companies.

If you want your lathe to be able to do milling with driven tools as well, then it will cost considerably more.

driven tools

First of all you will need special holders for the driven tooling. That means the tools in your turret can rotate so you can have drills end mills taps all sorts of shit spinning around in your turret. Not all at once mind.

And you will need special holders for  your driven tools like this to do axial holes (holes in the front face).

driven tools

You will need a holder for driven tools like this to do radial holes.

driven tools

So now when you turn a part you could mill some flats on it or maybe drill and tap some holes in  the front face of the job.

You could even mill a radial slot or drill some radial holes.

This machine will need a rotary axis. Well it already has one its called the spindle and it has a great big chuck stuck to the end of it.

On this type of machine you will be able to lock into your spindle and it becomes a rotary axis. On your position display you will see X Z and C.

The C is the rotary axis.

You can even engage your handwheel and rotate it manually.driven tools


It is usually known as a C axis (Because it runs through the Z axis)

This works just like any other axis except it is programmed in decimal degrees. C90. is 90 degrees. It works as a simultaneous axis so that means you could program a move along with a C move.

G1 Z-30. C1080.

Your C axis would do three full turns (360 x 3 = 1080).

Meanwhile your Z is moving 30mm that is 10mm every turn.

That gives you a spiral with a 10mm pitch.

driven tools

You can program angles down to .001 of a degree like C123.456

By the way these are all machines that don’t have a Y Axis.

Get live demonstrations as well as hands on experience on this course.

Y Axis

Crudely (and I am known for being crude) a Y Axis means your turret can go up and down.

So when you are milling on the front face of your part the machine behaves just like a milling machine cutting in X and Y.

Here is what milling a hexagon looks like when you have a Y axis machine.

driven tools

Having a Y Axis is awesome the options are endless. But before you get too excited these machines come with a government bank balance warning.

driven tools

You got it they don’t come cheap.

And…. in any case that’s not what this article is about.

Lets forget the Y axis for a minute just buy one of these with the money I’m gonna save you.

There is another way to machine that hexagon (I never wanted a stupid Y Axis anyway)

Take a look at this.

driven tools

What’s happening you ask? Well there is some clever shit going on here.

Get live demonstrations as well as hands on experience on this course.

(Horay who needs a fuckin Y axis?)

The X axis is moving in and out and the C axis is rotating and magically the hexagon is produced.

Soooo…. no Y axis?

Sometimes known as Cartesian to Polar Coordinate Transformation.

Google it if you don’t believe me and no it’s not a sex change or something out of Doctor Who.


Thanks to

You would be forgiven for thinking you need a CAD/CAM system to produce this result.

The answer is yes and no. A CAD/CAM system would produce a bucket full of code to do this.

But actually you don’t need it.

This is what you need………

G112 and G12.1

G112 (G113) or G12.1 (G13.1) comes to the rescue. It kind of turns your lathe into a virtual milling machine.

Once you activate G12.1 or G112 (depending on your control) you can write a program just like on a CNC milling machine.

Now this does vary from one control to another so please smart arses back off. I’m just trying to make an honest living here.


If you want to go feed the cat at this point I’ll forgive you.

A gratuitous silly animal picture for all you pussy lovers. (David please, please save this crap for Facebook. No one laughs at your childish sexual inuendo either )

This is the program.



T0505 (16MM ENDMILL)

G97 S100 M4 (Start Spindle 1000 RPM)
G0 X100. Z-5. C0. M8


G1 G42 X50. C-14.433 F500.
X0. C28.867
X-50. C14.433
X0. C-28.867
X50. C-14.433
G40 X64. C14.433
Z3. F2000




Ok so it’s a bit hard to get your head around.

So let’s first of all see how it would look if you programmed it in X and Y on a CNC Mill.

driven tools

Ok so I’ll go make a cup of coffee while you digest the above.


cnc macro programming training courses

I’m back now.

So all you do is double all your X figures (because you are in the diameter mode).

Then you put a C in the place of Y.

And you have what is below.


driven tools


Stupid you say. Why do they do that? Well you better write to Mr Fanuc and ask him. Some machines like Mazaks just let you program it in X and Y just like it’s on a milling machine.

Hitachi Seiki is the same.

But sorry it’s what we are stuck with.

Template Program

So once you get your head around how all this works I suggest you make a template program.

Once you have a program that works in your machine it’s real easy to come back to it and modify it for another job.

Also there are lots of things, like changing from feed per rev to feed per minute, that you need to remember to do. If these are all in a template program you won’t get into any of those annoying situations.

You could put all the stuff you need in a sub program and call it before you start using your driven tools. That way you could use it each time you use driven tools.

Get live demonstrations as well as hands on experience on this course.

On-site Training

The CNC Training Centre (that’s me David) recently trained some guys at a company I can’t mention for legal reasons.

They had a couple of really nice Matsuura Machining Centres and this baby below.

It’s a Nakamura – Tome CNC Lathe with a C Axis and driven tools.

This is a sample part. They are producing some real high precision parts for racing motorbikes on this beast. This is a test program we ran on it.

So back to driven tools (live tooling). So if you don’t go for a Y axis you save shit loads of money and you get to buy a Lambo.

There is more to it though. If you don’t have a Y axis there are restrictions on what you can do radially.

Like this slot.

driven tools

You couldn’t do this without a Y Axis. You would only be able to slot sideways by moving your Z axis. That means you need your cutter to be exactly on centre and if it’s over size then your stuffed I’m afraid.


So if you have a Y axis you have choices but it does work out to be an expensive machine.

When you have a Y axis you can program with or without it. For larger profiles on the front face of the job (Axial) you more than likely won’t have enough movement on your X and Y axis to cover it. The G12 option is then going to be best.

All Without a Y Axis

If you want one of these I can make you one. Would look nice on your desk.

A Few Disadvantages

Driven tools need holders and they are expensive. Oh and you will soon run out of stations if you are doing lots of drilling and tapping for example.

Radial Holes

1 Spot Drill
1 Drill
1 Tap

Axial Holes

1 Spot Drill
1 Drill
1 Tap

That’s six holder!!!

A lot of cash.

These guys may help you. This is like the Arnold Schwarzenegger of turrets armed to the fuckin teeth.

Machine Tool Supplies

You can even get multi station ones like these. (Make sure you look to see if you need a Y axis or not.)

EWS Tool Technologies

More Disadvantages

You need a high level of skill to set, operate and prove out when using driven tools. Obviously that doesn’t include you cos you read my articles.

Driven Tools (Live Tooling)

Just one other point before you go. Now it’s no good me telling you to be careful not to crash your machine. If you do then it’s really important not to pretend it never happened or blame it on your mother.

Once the alignment is out then you are going to have loads of trouble. So you need to keep these machines in tip top condition, and the alignment must be spot on. The slightest bump then you need to check it.

Some machines are more sensitive than others it’s easy done just a sneeze on the turret and it’s completely shagged.

If you have no Y axis then the centreline of the tools is absolutely crucial and I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Most of the problems with these machines will come back to alignment, so make that the first check you do.

Get live demonstrations as well as hands on experience on this course.

Y Axis If You Have One (A Word of Caution)

Everyone loves being the hero don’t they.

Now I’m no exception to this rule. I’ll call it “The Y Axis Trick” or it might be just the opportunity to wear spandex.

When you have a Y axis you must always include a Y axis move when you first bring in a tool (even if you aint using it).

G0 X50. Y0 Z3.

Why??? You ask

Because if there is an offset in the Y axis it well stay in that position. If your last tool had 0.1 in the Y axis offset then your tool will remain 0.1 off centre.

If you don’t program a Y axis move to zero (Y0) the Y stays where it is.

It’s one of the first things I would look at when there is an alignment issue just check the position display (it’s a give away).

In Conclusion

Sorry there is no real conclusion but I didn’t know what to put for a title.

For those who like conclusions……

  1. I now fully get this driven tool bullshit so therefore stick the course up your fat arse.
  2. I kind of get it but you want to learn more. 
  3. None of the above.
  4. I enjoyed reading this article and feel so happy the next time I’m in a supermarket queue I’ll pay for a random persons shopping.

Please contact me for further information. All complaints are directed straight to junk email so don’t even bother.

Apply now for a three day advance mill turn CNC training course

How to Become a CNC Operator

Category : Beginners New Stuff

On or Offsite CNC Training
Tel: David 07834 858 407

A rabbit can’t be a CNC Operator.

Every career has to start somewhere. In the world of CNC Machining it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start as a cnc machine operator.

So Where Do You Start?

“Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” asked the White Rabbit.

Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

The perfect route would be just like me in the old days.

When I started at Rolls Royce in 1970. I phoned up Mr Rolls, or was it Mr Royce, and said “can you give me an apprenticeship?”

Fortunately he didn’t pick up on the fact that I was a lazy piece of shit and he gave me a job.

At the end of it all I got to earn £60 a week and had the “Freedom of The City”

When I asked what “Freedom of the City” actually meant, I was told that one of the perks was that I could drive my sheep across the common, in Coventry, whenever I wanted.

I was so pleased to be informed of this and couldn’t wait to get home to tell my mum and my dad.

Once the harsh reality hit and I realised I had no sheep, in fact no livestock at all.

I had a Guinea pig and was still mourning the death of my hamsters, Steven.


What the fuck is it with hamsters has anyone ever had one that lived more than eighteen months?

Is it gods way of helping children to come to terms with death?

I spent half my childhood years at hamster funerals, one friend or another would lose a beloved hamster almost weekly.

I wish I’d set up a business selling them I’d have made a fortune instead of spending my time writing all this crap.

They should have a fuckin expiry date tattooed on their ears or something so at least you could prepare yourself for their inevitable demise.

I blame my mother who wouldn’t let me have a Gerbil because they had long tails and she said that frightened her.

I mean she could have had the fuckin tail surgically removed cheaper than the cost of buying another bloody hamster every few months.

Hands off my fuckin tail I’ll ring the RSPCA you bastard

 The Fast-Track Route (CNC Operator)

So what if you don’t have time for an apprenticeship? You just want to get in there.

I have found that in engineering the most important thing is that you can do the job. Once you prove that your in.

No one really gives a flying shit weather you have a PHD, or a Grade One Swimming Certificate and a badge that says “I’ve been a Good Boy” from when you had your Polio vaccination.

At some point you need to find a company that will give you an opportunity as an absolute novice. Fortunately there are still plenty of these around.

Look for a company that has all the machines you want to work on. Then try and get a job, even if it’s only cleaning the shit-houses. Lots of people have started off in companies doing simple tasks like de-burring parts and then move on to the job they really want.

CNC Training Centre

I would recommend that you start by doing this course with us.

Absolute Beginners CNC Operator

This will get you started as a CNC Operator.

The course is for absolute beginners. The only thing you need to bring along is a real interest in CNC Machining.

It is a two day course that gives you an introduction to CNC Machining and operating a CNC Machine.

Virtual Reality

When you train at the CNC Training Centre You get your own virtual machine to practice on.

When you complete your training with us you can start applying for CNC Operator Jobs.

We recommend that you do the two day beginners course then continue with either Setter Operator Milling or Setter Operator Turning.

Be Patient

Your time will come. Keep listening and learning and watching.

YouTube has loads of CNC related stuff. You can learn about tooling and machining. When the opportunities come you will be ready.

CNC Operator, The Catch

You don’t have experience even though there are loads CNC operator jobs

Well yes this is a problem.

So What is, in your favour?

Don’t forget it’s not just about operating a machine.

  • You are reliable.
  • You can you get out of bed in the morning and you are never late.
  • Tidy worker?
  • Friendly?
  • Will you do overtime if asked?

The list goes on so sell your good points and don’t forget the fact that you trained with us and it was on your own initiative and enthusiasm.

Direct potential employers to this website to let them look at what you have already done.

You’ll get a certificate of completion so make sure you show them this.

Above all no bullshit. Make sure you don’t exaggerate. If you bulshit, everyone will end up dissapointed and your confidence will take a massive knock.

They will more than likely recognise the CNC Training Centre and may have had staff train here.CNC Operator

Next Step (Become CNC Operator)

Once you get a job as a CNC Operator don’t just read the newspaper (younger readers may need to google “newspaper”). Or piss around with your mobile phone all day.

  • Read the programme
  • Look at the modal G Codes
  • Try n work out what the machine is doing
  • Ask for a printout of the programme.
  • Ask loads of questions
  • Pay attention when someone is setting your machine for you.
  • Make sure you show a real interest in what’s going on.

When opportunities arrive to progress, and they will, you will be ready.

One day when you ask your setter to adjust something like an offset he will be too busy. This is when you get your chance.

Webster & Bennett with Fanuc 10T

On or Offsite CNC Training
Tel: David 07834 858 407

I Just Love Old Machines

I recently got to train someone on one of these, a Webster & Bennett with Fanuc 10t Control.

Webster & Bennett

It’s what I crudely call a big bastard. But bastard it is not, it can definitely machine some big shit

Webster & Bennett

Like this monster.

Don’t ask me what it is or I would have to kill you. Joking aside I think it’s a water valve. Beware these jacuzzis use a lot of water,

The machine is a Webster & Bennett vertical borer and I think the Fanuc 10t control was possibly a retro fit.

When these start whizzing around even a few RPM it can scare the living shit out of even the most seasoned engineer. And me, well I,m more seasoned than a piece of Nando’s chicken.

G50 on a Webster & Bennett Your Best Friend

Anyway joking aside your best buddy now is definitely G50 get this wrong and it’s fuckin world war three.

Imagine the scenario, you program G96 S180 M3. Spin at 180m/min. Not too fast but…. what if the tool is sat in the middle of the part.

Machine says “come on lads happy days foot to the floor flat out joy riding” and it fucks off like two teenage boys in a stolen Lamborghini.

So without a G50, or the wrong speed, this beast will accelerate to it’s maximum rpm.

Oh and did I Mention it’s harder to stop than a P & O Criuise Ship with 4000 obese pensioners on board?

E Stop….. Good Luck with That One

Hit the e stop and you’ll wait longer than you would for a GP appointment before it comes to rest.

Now not wishing to show off but I’ve been training people on CNC Machines for 30 plus years so I know exactly what to do in this situation.

Grab your immediate belongings and fuckin scarper.

So anyway make sure every program has a G50 at the head and then tattoo it on your scrotum sack. Whatever you need to remember to enter that vital G code.

Fanuc 10t The Old En’s Know Best

It makes you realise that Fanuc hasn’t really come that far with it’s controls (Sorry Mr Fanuc but some things have to be said)

It’s a 10T Fanuc on this Webster & Bennett, most of my readers were probably still shitting yellow when these 10t controls were around or maybe not even born. (What a crude expression that should stir up some complaints).

Webster & Bennett

G71 G72 Turning and Facing, Fanuc 10t

The G71 and G72 are single line. How bloody simple (whatever happened to simple).

Webster & Bennett

P100 first N number. Q110 second N number of the shape.

D1500 is a 1.5mm depth of cut.

U and W is finishing allowance.

F.35 is the feed-rate.

Piss easy.

G72 is much the same

Don’t forget with G72 you program it the other way. Just imagine you are going to machine it straight off as a finishing cut. Then rapid to where your metal starts before your G71 or G72.

Background Edit Fanuc 10t

Now We’re Really Living

This one’s even has background edit

Fanuc 10t

Here’s the button if you don’t believe me.

One of the biggest problems with these old controls is lack of memory I mean if this control was a person it wouldn’t even remember how to wipe its own arse.

But because its only two axis turning the programs are pretty small. They are a bit of a pain to backup but it can all be done with RS 232, a full moon and your laptop pointing to Mecca.

Setting Datums Webster & Bennett Borer

Setting the Z0 is quite easy. It’s even got G54 through to G59 (an extra in those days) honestly you don’t know you’re fuckin born these days with your extended offsets and your G54.1’s.

Workshif, Workshif I’m Happy With That

Anyway stick G54 up your arse cos I didn’t use it. I think on a two axis lathe the old work shift will suffice. None of your mamby pamby G54 shit.

Fanuc 10t

Easy to do. Position tool at required Z zero input Z0 then press MEASURE

Fanuc 10t

All done “good to go” as your favourite celebrity chef would say

Setting tools is going to be the good old cut and measure, just in case you are wondering what we used to do before tool measurement arms.

Fanuc 10t

Fairly standard stuff to measure tools.

Cut a diameter then move Z but not X (DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT 200 POUNDS) to make a MONOPOLY analogy.

Type in the value X225.6 (if that’s what it measures) and the press measure.

Fanuc 10t


Job done, who needs a fuckin sissy boy measurement arm?

You can reset your relative display just like on a newer machine. It’s even got MDI, a bit crude in that you have to enter each character separately but this machine is a buddle of joy.

To think people pay me for this job, admittedly lower than the minimum wage but I get to work on these beautiful pieces of machinery.

If I win the lottery tomorrow I will buy one of these, a cake shop, a chip shop and a pub.

Oh and if there is any cash left I’ll buy the misses a new coat from Marks & Spencer.


Modal and non modal G codes

On or Offsite CNC Training
Tel: David 07834 858 407

Modal and non modal G codes

Modal and non modal G codes

Let Me explain

We all know that programming can be complicated. So let me explain to you how it all works. This article explains the real meaning of Modal and non modal G codes.

Modal means that once a command is issued it stays in the control.

How Can you Actually Use This?

If you issue a G0 or G00 command the machine is in rapid and you do not need to re-state it.

Rapid means all motors are flat out, like a teenager in a Ferrari.

Every move from then on will be a rapid move unless you tell it otherwise. The G code that changes it must be in the same group. For example G0 G1 G2 and G3 are all in the same group a bit like The Beatles used to be.

The other day I was talking to  a “young person” who hadn’t even heard of the Beatles. I mean fuckin hell, am I really really old or are they doomed to be forgotten?

By the way my definition of a young person seems to get older every day.

Imagine being called a “young person”. You hear politicians on the telly saying “oh yes I was talking to one of those young people the other day”.

God I hate the fuckin telly, well apart from Love Island, Naked Attraction, Embarrassing Bodies, Goggle-box, Coronation Street, Emmerdale Farm, East Enders, and Strictly Come Dancing.

To be really honest I watch everything but in my defence I never stop complaining and throwing Pot Noodles at the TV.

Here’s one I made before the program

My TV’s are covered in dents and scratched from various foreign bodies being thrown at them. Obviously I have a TV in every room and toilet. They all still work even when the noodles trickle inside.

I have five, toilets not TV’s. My mother said “you must use loads of water, not to mention lavatory paper”

I said “mummy darling don’t you understand that you can’t shit or a piss in five toilets at the same fuckin time”

Obviously I didn’t say toilet in front of my mother it’s always lavatory.

Oh Yea I Was Saying I Hate The Telly

I saw this thing on the Internet 8 huge Emmerdale Spoilers .

Now I know a lot of you CNC Programmers out there are big fans of the show but I got to say it.

Spoiler I mean how in the fuck can you spoil something that’s already a mind numbing piece of crap!!

When I hear the music to that show it gets me really enthusiastic about emptying the cat trays that are heaving with piss and shit. (I know you are not supposed to leave them for over a week but in my defence I am getting into a routine now)

“Come on Dave the swearing gets worse, the Americans won’t like it”

I admit this is a rant too far and I wouldn’t blame you for going to a different website.

This guy writes serious stuff about G Codes unfortunately for you, almost every post and video is full of mistakes and often blatantly wrong.

Anyway you deserve it for not sticking with me through  difficult times.

I shouldn’t say this but there are so many mistakes in these articles I don’t know how the fuck he gets away with it. Well that’s the Internet folks.

His new series of training videos is called “Learn The Five Quickest Ways to get Instantly Dismissed as a CNC Machinist”

Modal and non modal G codes

G0 Rapid.
G1 Feed.
G2 Clockwise arc.
G3 Counter-clockwise arc

It is pretty obvious that these would have to replace one another because if you had them on the same line they would contradict one another.

You can’t go around a clockwise circle and in a straight line at the same time.

Tigers Fighting About modal G Codes

G0 X0 Y0 (Rapid to X0 Y0)
(Control says “ok I get it, rapid again, no need to repeat yourself, I heard you the first time”)

Modal and non modal G codes. How do they actually Work?

There are not many non modal commands G53 and G4

Can’t think of anymore right now.

G4 is a dwell if this were modal it would cause many problems

G0 X50. Y50.     (Rapid move)
G4 X5.                  (Five second dwell)
X0                        (This would be a rapid command not another dwell because it remembers the G0)

It remembers the G0 but conveniently forgets the G4.

My third wife was a bit like that she said I slapped her in the face but conveniently forgot that this was only after she kicked me in the bollocks and chopped off my left ear with a potato peeler.

The machine will do the G4 dwell and then completely forget it. If you really want another dwell you’d have to repeat the G4. Otherwise it’s like being told it’s your turn to feed the dog, the command is ignored.

Yes folks you can use X or P for a dwell command. I use X cos I love the feeling when the operator comes back to me n says “Dave you got this wrong”.

First of all I ignore him because my name is David and I don’t answer to Dave.

When he finally gets through to me, I love that feeling of power and superiority when I explain to him it works with P and X.

G53 is a machine position command.

If you use a non modal command you have to repeat it for every line you want to use it on.

G53 Z0;
G53 X0 Y0;

“Wake Up State” Modal and non modal G codes.

What’s This all About?

These are the G codes that are active when you turn on the control. Wake Up State, not to be confused with getting out of bed with a steaming hangover after a night on the piss.

Modal and none modal G codes
Wake up state

This wake up state cannot be guaranteed as you can change this state by parameters.

There is also a parameter which controls what happens when you press the reset button. So for example pressing reset may cancel a canned cycle. (Or not).

Modal and non modal G codes
Worn out reset button
Your modal G codes will change when……
  1. You press reset.

  2. When you first turn on your machine (Wake Up State)

  3. You read an M30 at the end of a program.

M Codes

These are not actually called modal but the same applies once you start the spindle (M3) you do not need to write it again until you want to stop or reverse it. M4 will start the spindle in reverse CCW. M5 will stop spindle.

No need to programme M05 just M5 will do try reading this.


Speeds are modal but your machine may wake up with a speed of zero.
So in MDI if a speed is active and you program M3 the spindle will start at the active speed (so be careful). 

If you program just a speed S2000

If the spindle is running it will change. If the spindle is not running it will change but not start. When you later start the spindle it will be at the new RPM.

When you program just a speed the machine becomes a smart arse. It laughs at you saying “Fuck off sucker, I’m not starting the spindle cos you didn’t ask me”

Wasted Code

When I first started programming CNC machines in 1905 each program had loads of information at the beginning. None of us knew what the fuck it meant and no-one dared to alter it or take any of it out.

It could only be altered after a religious ceremony and the ritual slaughter of a Gerbil when there was a full moon.



Did someone say Gerbil

You could be fired on the spot for even talking about these G Codes.

If only we had known about Modal and non modal G codes life would have been so much better.
So now I am all grown up, I say “do everything for a reason”. Consider your Modal and non modal G codes.

The program on the right has wasted code.


Oh and in the early day’s we often used to turn the machine off and back on again which usually sorted most problems.

No one knew why the fuck we did this but because it seemed to work we always did it.

Women often say why do men keep putting their hands down their pants. The answer is we don’t know but we do it anyway. Well I don’t know maybe you do know why.

Coming back to turning the machine off and on again. Imagine if you didn’t have a G50 in your CNC lathe program and it was set to a very low speed in another program that you had just been running.

You could wonder why you machine was running so slow. Obviously if you turn the machine off this would reset. Everything would work fine again.

So let’s see how this works.

You may want to include this line at the beginning of your program as a standard thing.

G40 G80 G90 G21

G40 Cancel tool radius compensation.
G80 Cancel canned cycle.
G90 If you state this at the beginning of each tool then you don’t need this at the start of the program.
G21 Metric, if you never change to inches you don’t need this at program start.

Here is an article on well set out CNC Code.

Anyway if you must write a load of bollocks at the beginning of your program please learn what each G Code means and why it’s there. Oh and don’t blame me when your fingers wear out.

It’s just not good enough to say “the bloke on nights always puts that in”

And That’s Not All with Modal and non modal G codes

If you are running short on memory these are things to look at. Some CAD systems will output loads of unnecessary shit but you need to sort your post processor to stop this. It’s quite easy to fix. Loads of leading and trailing zeros to get rid of.

X0.000 same as:
X050.000 same as:

Feed-rates are modal too so you only need to state them once and then again when you wish to change them. 

It is best to state all of the modal information you require at the start of each section of code. Just after the tool change is the best place.

Try to program each tool as a section, as if it were a program on it’s own.

Each tool should have all the necessary information to run on its own. Nothing should be assumed at the start of each tool. Oh and always take into account Modal and non modal G codes.

Modal and none modal G codes

But There is a Catch

Be careful when using MDI with Modal and non modal G codes as you do not know what G codes are active. All controls will have a screen displaying active G codes.

There are loads of them on this screen, don’t worry if you don’t know what they all are (even Fanuc don’t really know, they just make them up).

How Can you Actually Use This?

If for example in a section of program you have only one feed rate then that is all you will need to alter. If it’s repeated in several places (which your pesky CAD  system may do). Then you will need to remember to change each one.

I very much doubt that you enjoyed reading this article but their are loads more

Loads of articles on CNC Programming, enjoy yourself:

Checking CNC Programmes

Using a Decimal Point

CNC Programming

Zeros Not required on Haas Control


G0 Cancels Canned Cycle

Modal and non Modal

G28 Verses G53

An introduction to Macro Programming

Just an Address will do…

Turning Basics G50

Letter O number Zero

Running Order

Leading and Trailing Zeros

Jumping Sections of Program

Well Set Out Code

Thanks for reading my article.

Please contact me if you require:

  • CNC programming training.
  • Want to learn CNC programming.
  • Fanuc control training.
  • Yasnac programming training.
  • Any type of CNC course.
  • CNC lathe training
  • CNC Vertical Machining Centre training
  • If you have won the lottery and you want to give some money away.

Services offered at CNC Training Centre

Classroom programmer training.

Onsite CNC Machine Training.

CNC Programming and Training on all controls and machines.

Mazak Training Fanuc Training

Don’t forget we offer training on all types of Mazak Machines and all Fanuc Controls 6m to 31i Oi old to young.

Productivity Improvements

Category : New Stuff

Productivity Improvements, how to achieve massive reductions in set-up times and implement methods that will save you money year on year.

Productivity Improvements
Is all this 5s stuff just a posh person telling us to tidy up

A few years back I worked for a company that supplied pressure control systems to the oil and gas industry.

It all started off with some very expensive Inconel components that were getting scrapped at an alarming rate. It’s a very long story and I won’t bore you with the minutiae.

To cut the story short, the part was on a large WFL Machine Tool and me and a team of engineers studied the production method for several weeks before coming up with the answers.

There was a list a mile long of all the bullshit reasons why these parts were going wrong. The real answers were something totally different.

  1. Machine needed properly re-aligning.
  2. Chucks, steady and tailstock needed full re-furb.
  3. Machine was being crashed on a regular basis.

In fact the machine had been bumped more times than I’ve had hot dinners.

Now I’ve not had that many hot dinners because my mother was always playing bingo and couldn’t be arsed to cook.

Mind you she could sling a mean bag of crisps at you. Oh, and her pot noodles were amazing, so long as we didn’t mind boiling the kettle and adding the water yourself.

We considered this a small price to pay for an otherwise nutritious meal.

The ultimate gourmet meal

Anyway, we asked the operators, in a meeting, how many times the machine was bumped.

“Oh, not many” one said.

“But how many? once a day, once a week, once a month?”

“No, no probably not even every month” was the final answer.

Not happy with this we monitored the machine and kept a log of everything. Turns out the machine was getting minor shunts all day long and bigger bumps at least every week.

We analysed all these “little accidents” and almost eliminated the problem through good training and creating an open honest environment where the operators felt comfortable, honestly reporting any problems or collisions.

Virtually no bumps a bit like these posh women you see with Range Rovers. I mean you see these Range Rovers on TOP GEAR and they can climb up a fuckin mountain upside down at 90mph.

Range Rover

As soon as you meet one of these on a country road guess what? They won’t even move over into a puddle for fear of wetting the fuckin tyres.

These bastards should be banned from the roads a complete waste of space.

Envious Me?

Oh, and don’t think I’m envious. I don’t want to drive around in a luxury vehicle with every creature comfort known to man at my fingertips. With beautiful leather interior. Music softly tinkling from the top-quality, high end, hi fi system.

0 to 60 quicker than a fuckin snow leopard. Room for the family and two dogs. Quietly purring through the rolling countryside.

I should get that front wing repaired

Fuck off I’ll stick with my car thanks very much. It has everything I need. A bit of a tidy up that’s all it needs.

More Ranting

Just one more rant. Near where I live I often have to pass through quite a long country road that’s only really big enough for one car in most places.

How many people can’t fuckin reverse? I mean holy bleedin shit these cars are bristling with technology, cameras, sensors, cruise missiles air conditioned seats. But guess what, the bloke forgot to equip it with a fuckin reverse gear.

They’ll never back up. They sit there looking at you like you just pissed on their sodding Weetabix.

One very dark night, me and this bloke, had to get out of our cars and actually walk behind this car to help the “person” reverse.

If I’d paid 80,000 quid for a car I’d want it to take to the air and fly over oncoming vehicles. This one just didn’t like going backwards.

Anyway, Here’s What We Did

What I’m about to tell you wouldn’t be practical in most companies. You must bear in mind that the cycle time for these parts was around eight hours and the material cost alone would constitute a decent lottery win.

In The Event Of A Collision

  1. We machined a ready programmed standard test piece on the machine.
  2. We fully inspected it with the machine probing system.
  3. It was checked on a CMM (Coordinate Measuring Machine)
  4.  We were really nice to the perpetrator (it’s so nice that you crashed the machine and gave us this opportunity to learn)

If the test piece was OK at the machine probe stage we would allow production to continue. This was a calculated risk but obviously if it went on to fail the next stage we would stop production immediately.

This job had some massive ups and downs but the final outcome was a massive success. It all came down to basic engineering principles. By carefully scrutinising the problem and systematically eliminating each error we got good parts.

Making permanent changes to working practices so that the lessons learnt could be implemented all over the company.


The guys I worked with are still in touch and we earned massive respect for one another.

Qualifications Don’t Matter and It’s Clever to Swear

At the beginning when one of them told me he was a black belt I kept thinking he would beat the shit out of me if I upset him.

Turns out it was a six-sigma black belt and this is quite benign in terms of physical fighting skills.

Six Sigma Black Belt (when angry)

Everyone who knows me knows that my approach is very pragmatic, that means no bullshit to the less articulate.

I would say we need to do this this and this and they would say oh you mean “an overtly incontinent productivity enlightened anal bleaching scheme”

I would agree pretending I knew exactly what they meant.

Unfortunately, I don’t usually have a name for what I want to do.

You know the sort of thing; an untidy workshop I call a fuckin shithole.

They’d say “Dave it needs 5s”.

I said “you’ll need about sixty S’s to clean up this horrendous crap hole”.

“Oh, and please don’t call me Dave, it’s David”

Productivity Improvements

We concluded between us that what they had learnt in college and on courses gaining black belts and all sorts of stuff. I had picked up from working in the real world with real people. Putting the two together made a winning combination.

I still can’t see the point in a black belt unless you get to beat the fuck out of someone but I think maybe I’ve seen too many Bond movies.

CNC Productivity Improvements:

I am sure you have noticed that more time is lost during set-up time than at any other time in your component life-cycle.
Very often a company will ask me to look at the cycle times on components. On close inspection most of their time is lost during the set-up process.

Wall Clock

I may be in a company training programmers or machine training but I will poke my nose into everything and maybe suggest that we take a look at CNC Productivity Improvements.

Small Batch High Quality Parts

Manufacturing in the UK is tending to move towards lower batch quantity due to lower production costs aboard. We are moving more and more towards low volume high quality parts. This means CNC Productivity Improvements are desperately needed because a much larger percentage of manufacturing time is concentrated on set-up times.

Productivity Improvements

If you are only making six parts you can almost guarantee that the CNC set up time will be where all the time is used up. If you can’t guarantee repeat business then I am afraid it gets worse.
Unfortunately we rarely have the situation as it was in the past. We could spend months refining production methods to recoup it all when the job went into production for five years CNC set up time is then amortised.

The problem is when we are setting our CNC Machine we tend to lose control. Predicted CNC set-up times are not met or even worse we didn’t know what they were in the first place.

Productivity Improvements, Do this now:

  • Keep good records of every job you ever do.
  • Knowledge is power but with history we can improve and build.

You may have already machined a very similar part so this will make quoting easy.

Filling Cabinet

Rules For Life

The methods we employ at The CNC Training Centre are rules for life. Take a look at this video on how to set a vice without clocking it. This is a classic example of something that, once it is implemented, is the gift that keeps on giving and that’s what we want.

Productivity Improvements

The way you set a CNC component is crucial.

Does the following Sound Familiar:

Great we set a job on our CNC Machine really fast and in no time, we get a part into inspection.

Just need a pass off and away we go.

Inspector “everything is ok just a few minor adjustments”
A week later we are still adjusting.


So, what went wrong?

My guess would be:

  • Job not carefully planned.
  •  CNC Prove-out method is wrong.
  •  Incorrect and inaccurate CNC tool setting.
  •  Not using a systematic approach.
  •  Poor feedback from quality department who might not understand exactly how the job was machined.
  •  The CNC set-up needs to be systematic and accurate.
  •  Each step of the way should be correct and complete before the next stage is undertaken.

This can be taught and it can be written into an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) which can be used again and again.
It sounds perverse but I would be suspicious of anyone who sets a job on a CNC Machine too quickly.

Productivity Improvements, No Blame

My pet hate (and you have loads when you get to my age) is when supervisors blame setter operators for long set-up times. “You’re the boss mate what are you doing about it?”

Telling off
If you ask someone, and I frequently do, why it took so long to set a job. They can never tell you. But if you look carefully you will find that most of the wasted time is looking for things.

Also it’s not actually his fault so you just fired him when you should have resigned yourself.

I want to bolt down my vice.

Question: Where is the vice?
Answer: Under the bench somewhere. (5 minutes)

Question: Is it clean?
Answer: No fuckin way I even had to stone some dents out of the bottom. (10 minutes)

Question:  Where are all the rags?
Answer: Dunno mate go and get some more form the stores. (6 minutes)

Question: We got any tee nuts?
Answer: Go and ask Tom (15 minutes), oh and he told me about his cats hernia operation and gender transformation.

Question: These tee nuts don’t fit, do you know what size they are?
Answer: Go and ask Tom (10 minutes)

Question: Is this vice far enough over on the table?
Answer: No the machine just over travelled you’ll have to start again. (10 minutes)

This took nearly an hour. Then the boss comes down and really pisses you off cos he wants to know when the job will be off the machine.
I am doing my absolute best but everything is going wrong. The thing is this is all the bosses fault. Now I have an attitude problem to boot.

What you should do:

  1.  Plan the job meticulously and get everyone involved.
  2.  Do a proper contract review to check you have everything, and I will repeat, everything that you need. (Real attention to detail is needed here.)
  3.  If you have CAD CAM check everything in the virtual world. Carefull check CNC Code for obvious errors. Mistakes found at this stage cost little nothing to put right.
  4. Now if you are the one running this show. Make sure everything is at the side of the machine before your customer starts work. Your customer being the guy who actually makes something (the machinist).
  5. Check condition of everything, look for damage or anything that slows things down.
  6.  Don’t leave anything to chance, think that you do not want him to leave the duck board unless he needs food, drink or a piss. Make him a cup of tea if he wants one and don’t forget the biscuits.
  7.  Work area. You already know this stuff. Everything should be in a clearly marked place. Only what is needed, no more. Definitely not a full set of Allen keys just the ones you need and I bet it’s a maximum of four.
  8. As a supervisor or manager you are an overhead, a non producer. If you take the dents out of the vice the machine doesn’t stop. When the setter operator does this the machine probably will be stopped.
  9. Try and get the machine operator involved in the preparation but make sure his machine never stops.

“King Rollo’s Playroom”

Maybe you need to check out the story of “King Rollo’s Playroom” before he made some CNC Productivity Improvements.

I will summarise it for those who were deprived of this story as children. In a nut shell he refuses to tidy his play room but then finds that he is tripping over his toys and breaking them and he can’t find anything either.

Not to spoil the story but King Rollo gets really fucked off about breaking his toys and does the right thing and tidies up.
Sound familiar this could be you folks.

CNC Productivity Improvements

Everyone Wants To Work in a Clean Workshop

If you came to my front door in muddy boots and I open the door and you see a pristine immaculate house carpeted in white. What do you do?

You remove your shoes.

But if I opened the door and the house was filthy with straw on the floor you would probably want to wipe your feet on the way out.
The point of this is that if you’re environment is immaculate, anyone coming into it will feel obliged to conform and if they don’t they will stick out like your dirty boot mark on my white carpet.

 Productivity Improvements

Productivity Improvements Investment

Companies very often invest hundreds of thousands in machine tools but refuse to buy more than one 19mm spanner when the operators keep losing them. Daft, you might say, but I bet you are already thinking of similar things in your own company.

The beauty of an outsider doing all this for you (and I would say that) is that they can do all the things you wanted to do but never seem to have the time.

Typically, this is how The CNC Training Centre would help you with CNC Productivity Improvements.

  •  Spend some time (a few days) observing what you do.
  •  This may involve videos and loads of listening to the machinists at the “coal face”.
  •  Meet with managers, supervisors and setter operators and discuss findings. Then you will tell me what we are going to do.
  •  Yes, that’s right you pay me so that you can tell me how you would improve things.
  •  It is true most of the ideas will come from you and the guys on the machine will say “I have been trying to get them to do that for years”
  •  A report is prepared outlining a plan to move forward.
  • Identify training needs and relevant CNC training courses and CNC programming courses if needed.
  • Implement CNC machining process improvement

Then we do it.

Most of this study involves little or no loss to production. The cost of implementing the productivity improvements is usually very low as most of the savings are in very practical low-cost areas.

Productivity Improvement Costs may include:

  • CNC training courses and CNC programming courses.
  • Applications Engineering time to implement CNC Productivity Improvements.
  • Purchasing of inexpensive items such as spanners, clamps, Allen keys etc.

You can expect to see massive reductions in set-up times but above all these times are consistent and predictable. This allows accurate future job costing.

Productivity Improvements

Please note no Range Rover drivers were injured or maimed in the production of this article.

I hope this article inspires you to improve things and get more productive.

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