CNC is the acronym for Computer Numerical Control. It morphed from NC – the acronym for numerical control – when, prior to commercial computers, machines were generally controlled using punched tape. NC, and later CNC machines, allowed for tremendous increases in productivity because the machines could run automatically without constant attention from operators.
The first commercial punched tape NC machines were built in the 1950s. While the concept immediately proved it could save costs, it was so radically different that it was very slow to catch on with manufacturers. It wasn’t until the 1980s that CNC machines started to make significant inroads into the woodworking industry. From the outset, both Homag and Weeke have pioneered the field and consequently have established themselves as the global benchmark.
Automation and precision – the key benefits of CNC machining centres
CNC routers, typically in three-, four- and five-axis formats, produce consistent, high-quality work and improve productivity. Unlike a jig router, the CNC router can produce a one-off as effectively as repeated identical production.
CNCs reduce waste, the frequency of errors and the time it takes to get finished product to market. They can perform the tasks of many carpentry shop machines such as panel saws, spindle moulders and drilling equipment.
Ideal for most sectors of the market, CNC routers and machining centres are used in door, furniture, staircase, window and interior fittings manufacture, to name but a few. In short, CNC routers help ensure part repeatability, high factory output and consistent quality.
Between them, Homag and Weeke have a range of machines that satisfy the demands of every market sector, from small specialist woodworking companies through to large mass production industry giants. Throughout the entire spectrum, the Homag and Weeke solutions offer not only cutting edge technology, but also ‘lifetime’ value for money.
Weeke’s ground-breaking BHX 050 ultra-compact drilling centre
Launched at Ligna in 2009, the Weeke BHX 050 Optimat gives producers an ultra-compact throughfeed drilling centre at a trim price tag. It is the ideal drilling solution for small, medium or large businesses.
Simon Brooks, sales and marketing director of Homag UK comments: “Sales of the BHX 050 have been outstanding. Recently, the 2000th machine was sold, underlining the benefits this CNC machining centre brings to kitchen, bedroom or office furniture producers.
“Taking up less than 5 sq m, the unique advantage of the BHX 050 is that it is packed with all the features of a conventional CNC, but is small enough to fit comfortably in any production facility.
“This reliable three-axis processing centre is capable of drilling on five sides and is able to groove and rout at fast throughput rates. Despite its impressive performance figures it also keeps energy bills down due to its low energy usage.”
Highly flexible and cost effective
In standard trim, the BHX 050 is capable of processing panels as small as 200 x 70 x 12mm and as large as 2500 x 850 x 60mm. There is also an option to increase this working length to 3050mm.
Simon continues: “The BHX 050 can process any type of wood panel and is most commonly used for MFC and MDF. We have had situations, however, where even demanding materials such as Trespa and solid wood components are being handled by this robust machine.
“Although it is classed as an entry level machine, no compromises have been made on build quality or safety. The BHX 050 has the features you’d expect from a Weeke machine, all at a real value for money price.”
Weeke Vantage 200 – material efficiency, improved response time and increased throughputWhen it comes to nesting, the Weeke Vantage 200 CNC gantry processing centre is a real power-house in the marketplace. Nesting describes the laying out of multiple 2D or 1D-parts in a defined space to be cut from flat stock (boards such as MCF, MDF, etc).
The Weeke Vantage 200 is the fastest and heaviest machine in its class. Weighing in at over 16,000lbs and with processing speeds of 105m/min, this CNC gantry-style processing centre is a true workhorse. Designed to deliver the highest precision over the total working width, the entire working field is reachable with all processing tools, so parts can be nested utilising the full panel size.
Depending on manufacturing needs, the Vantage 200 is available in the following table sizes: 5 x 10, 5 x 12, 6 x 10, 6 x 12, 7 x 10, and 7 x 14 feet. The flexible matrix table system includes multifunctional clamping systems for part hold down. The Vantage 200 also includes many additional enhancements such as automatic labelling, in-feeding and off-loading.
Versatile and adaptable
Simon again: “The Vantage 200 is super efficient, both in terms of material usage and energy consumption. It comes with an eight-fold tool-changing system with options for additional tool changing places for versatility and adaptability.
“The whole working field is reachable with all the tools and excellent productivity is guaranteed thanks to the machine’s extremely high acceleration capabilities and electronic surveillance of all stops.
“As with all Weeke products, the Vantage 200 is not only fast and efficient, but also an extremely reliable machine. The sealed long-life linear guiding system helps guarantee the rigidity and long service life of the gantry.”
The Homag BMG 512 – high performance CNC router and machining centre
This five-axis CNC processing centre saves time and provides maximum production flexibility. The BMG 512 integrates sizing, edging and drilling with outstanding quality and efficiency in just one machine.
It offers a variety of table systems to accommodate different workpieces and is ideally suited for furniture, home and vehicle interior fittings, stair, window and door production.
Simon Brooks explains: “To ensure outstanding processing quality, the BMG 512 is constructed of Sorbtech©, Homag’s special vibration-absorbing material which dramatically improves the surface finish of the machined components. The machine is equipped with the DRIVE5C+ high-performance trimming spindle which provides one spindle for all your needs, keeping operations simple and efficient.
“Fitted with an edgebanding unit, the BMG becomes a true all-rounder. The machine can perform everything from panel sizing, profiling and drilling to edgebanding, efficiently and to outstanding quality levels.”
A customer’s viewpoint – 40% increase in productivity
Eureka Display is one of the UK’s foremost manufacturers of shopfitting equipment. Company manager, Ashley Littlewood, enthuses: “Although the BMG has only been in a short while, it is already abundantly clear that this machine will have a significant impact on our business. We estimate it will improve productivity by at least 40% and with the edgebanding capability for shaped parts it opens up a whole new range of services we can offer.
“It has already enabled us to attract new customers which is a real benefit. More importantly perhaps, the BMG 512 can handle jobs which previously took three or four operations, so it has freed up operators to work in areas of the production process where we needed more hands to keep the work flow running smoothly.
“Overall, the Homag BMG 512 has raised the bar considerably and we still have to discover the full extent of its capabilities. Like all the Homag Group kit we have purchased, it is exceeding our expectations,” concludes Ashley.
CNC software solutions
The Homag Group’s woodWOP CNC programming software was originally launched in 1992. Since then, it has become one of the best known and most popular programming systems for CNC machines worldwide.
Simon Brooks again: “The focus of the woodWOP user interface is the generously dimensioned graphic area containing a three-dimensional view of the workpiece. It can be rotated, zoomed and shifted, as well as being displayed in up to three different views simultaneously, giving the operator improved visual understanding and control of the job.
“The graphics are designed to permit interactive working. For each processing operation there is a dedicated macro which allows, for example, trimming and boring operations or saw cuts to be quickly programmed simply by entering the processing parameters.
“Throughout the software program, the emphasis is very much on substantially simplifying its use. It enables faster data input through direct navigation and fewer mouse clicks through to the finished program.”
woodNest Professional – Software for nesting shaped parts
Developed to make nesting easy, it is used to take woodWOP programs and optimise them into full-sized sheets so that the user can get the best yield from their materials and, therefore, achieve maximum efficiency.
“This software gets the most out of materials and time,” explains Simon. “It optimises cutting and machining in one program. woodWOP programs are imported directly, placed on an unprocessed panel and optimised to reduce material costs and shorten the total processing time.
“In designing and developing software, the Homag Group has always focused on three key areas: ease of use, productivity and profit improvement. The woodWOP and woodNest software packages take performance to a new level of professionalism giving customers the opportunity to improve the control and efficiency of their operation,” concludes Simon.
Seeing is believing
Customers who would like to arrange a demonstration at Homag’s UK showroom in Castle Donington for CNC machines from the Homag and Weeke ranges or software programmes, can call Kimberley Jones at Homag UK on 01332 856500.