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June 25, 2020

Increase 3D machining speeds with Super Z Technology

By scribe

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In the CNC world, it used to be somewhat common knowledge that the clearance under a CNC router’s gantry should determine the thickest part able to be machined. If it could fit under the gantry, the basic thought is that you should be able to machine it.

But this may not be the case depending on the length of the tools needed for the application. This is the realization that jump-started ShopSabre’s development of Super Z Technology.

Here’s a breakdown of how Super Z Technology came to be and how it can help you improve your 3D machining capabilities.

Phase 1: Increasing z-axis travel

Traditionally, z-axis travels were designed to match the gantry clearance on machines. For example, if your machine had 12 inches of clearance, the z-axis travel would also be 12 inches. This worked fairly well for most applications, but not for all – especially when longer tools were needed.

The team at ShopSabre realized adding an additional four inches to the z-axis travel would provide for more optimal performance. In doing so, our designers added stiffener plates to each side of the tool plate, eventually refining the design to feature a cut-out pattern that reduces mass without affecting strength.

Phase 2: Optimizing acc and dec

Vertical motion on CNC machines is controlled by precision contour guiderails, with everything mounted from the bearing trucks outward contributing to the tool plate mass. It’s ultimately up to the z-axis servo to rotate the precision ball screw and create the up-and-down movement of the tool plate.

The presence of gravity makes the tool plate much more difficult to raise than to lower, which affects acceleration and deceleration (or acc and dec).

Consider the process of cutting a square corner on a rectangular part:

  1. The cutter is moving along an edge at a program feed rate. As it approaches a corner, the machine has to begin slowing down.
  2. At the corner point, one axis stops and another starts.
  3. Acceleration then begins and the machine accelerates back to the program feed rate.

The steeper the acc and dec slopes, the less time it takes to machine the part.

Balancing cylinders

Acc and dec issues also apply to the z-axis. Adding balancing cylinders to the design allow for the use of air pressure to counteract gravity, making it just as easy to raise the tool plate assembly as it is to lower it.

This greatly increases ball screw and ball nut life – but that’s not the only advantage. It also allows for efficient and precise 3D machining. The machine motion for 3D machining almost always involves the z-axis. The actual machining speed for 3D is determined by the slowest action, which is typically the z-axis due to acc and dec.

Adding the balancing cylinder to the tool plate and tuning the air pressure to neutralize the effect of gravity allows us to dramatically increase the acc and dec of the z-axis.

Expand your 3D machining capabilities with Super Z Technology from ShopSabre

Machines with Super Z Technology are two to three times faster in the z-axis than those without, resulting in much faster 3D machining, hole drilling, and tool changing.

Here are a few of the primary reasons ShopSabre is able to develop and produce such revolutionary technology:

  1. Experienced in-house engineering talent
  2. The ability to totally fabricate and test designs onsite
  3. The ability to place the designs into production in-house

These are just a few of the advantages of being an American machine tool manufacturer. Our world-leading CNC machines provide precision, efficiency, and total versatility to help aspiring hobbyists and full-time commercial shop owners alike produce truly outstanding results with a fraction of the labor. Shop our unmatched collection of CNC routers and plasmas in Minneapolis today to experience the way CNC was meant to be.

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