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WTD: Fadal 903-1 NC VMC Programming/Operations/Service Manual or Reference

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Rich Grise, Jun 21, 2005.

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  1. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    [crossposted as seen in header, but followups-to not set, so if you want
    to followup, please insert your own newsgroup as followups-to.
    Thanks! -- Richard The Smart Crossposter]

    Hi, me again. :)

    I sit in a little office adjoining a machine shop/fab (welding) shop.
    There's an NC machine there, a "Fadal VMC 45 MACHINING CENTER"
    From the front, it looks like this:
    And here's as close to name plates as I can find: .

    Well, here's the thing.

    There's only one guy who anybody at the company even knows _about_
    who knows how to program this thing. (I suspect he's thinking, "job
    security".) But it seems that there have been rumblings to the effect
    that if the other machinist, or anybody, could learn how to program
    the thing, that the boss wouldn't be too unhappy if Guy A should
    get swallowed up by an earthquake, or whatever, if you get my drift.

    But Guy B seems to indicate that there is no information available
    anywhere on the planet that could teach a mere De Facto Engineer
    to program it. Except, of course, for the manuals that are kept
    under armed guard and cost a hundred thousand dollars a copy. And
    even at _that_ price, you have to know somebody who knows somebody
    who knows somebody, before they'll even talk to you.

    I find this a little evasive.

    Admittedly, I'd have asked a long time ago if the PHB and Guy A
    and Guy B weren't all so paranoid and insecure - if they were
    normal people, I'd just waltz up and say, "Yeah, I can do that -
    Guy A, lessee the manuals. Guy B, you might wanna watch or
    whatever, so you'll know the stuff too, in case I fall down
    the same fault as Guy A. Boss, I'll let you know when these
    guys clue up. If it takes longer than Friday Morning, I'll
    have a progress report waiting on your desk."

    But noOOOOOoooooooh! I gotta surreptitiously sneak in there, get
    the model number off the machine that only Guy A knows anything
    about, and I think Guy B is superstitious - it's well-known,
    shop-wide, that there's no love lost between Guy A and Guy B.
    The PHB is in a love-hate relationship with both, but that's
    only because psychotics are generally in a love-hate relationship
    with whatever's in front of them.

    Anywhoo, now that we've got the background down, what's the
    cheapest I can get my hands on enough docs on this puppy to
    be able to walk up to that control panel and key in a tool

    I have CAD S/W that can put out its output in whatever form is
    needed - I might need to read up a little on Gerber files, but
    that seems to be an NC standard. But I also would need to find
    something to read up on in for the Fadal.

    And, when we get to it, I can connect the computer to any
    machine, when you get right down to it. If it has its own
    interface, of course, that makes it much, much easier. ;-p

    And that's not to mention how the PHB's eyes will pop out
    when I sit here at the work station, and show him my drawing
    and tool path, and hit "send" and have the machine start
    making chips. ;-)

    So, my question is, does anybody have any kind of docs on that
    machine? A price could be paid, but we'd have to talk or
    something. This is just the first feeler, after all. :)

  3. Chuck Harris

    Chuck Harris Guest

    Ok, you've got your documents. An evening's downloading, and you will
    have everything that the other guys have. But... there is alot more to
    running a CNC machine than just writing the G-code programs. Feeds, and
    speeds, ... CNC machines can break tools, eat themselves, and throw work
    faster than the eye can blink.

    As a bare minimun, get yourself a copy of Machinery's Handbook.

  4. Anthony

    Anthony Guest've seen that also, huh?

    Just isn't classified as a 'CRASH' unless they have to haul
    it out on a truck......everything else is just an 'oops'.

    Oh...and to the OP: See that BIG RED BUTTON on the front that says E-STOP?
    That is mis-labeled. For a CNC machine, that is the "It's too late" button.


    You can't 'idiot proof' anything....every time you try, they just make
    better idiots.

    Remove sp to reply via email
  5. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Thank you 10^12! :) :) :)

    I don't know if I should be astonished or flabbergasted - I swear,
    they made it sound like there _was_ no such thing!

    But they keep me in the dark here and feed me bullshit. Here's a
    case in point: One day, some months ago, the PHB came into my office
    with a print of a part. It's some kind of valve part or something -
    fairly small, about the size of your fist, but it has a couple
    of holes in it that have to be cut fairly precisely. Well, the
    PHB starts pointing to this one hole, and rather than get to the
    point, he's saying, "Well, call out this angle here, and the
    dimension from this surface to that angle, and yadda yadda..."

    So, eventually I got this hole detailed, printed it, and that's
    the last I heard of it.

    Until one day I was watching them make those parts on the Fadal.
    It goes and does a tool change, and lo and behold! There's the
    cutter that the PHB made it such an arduous task to just draw
    the outline of for the grinder guy! Geez, boss! If all you
    wanted was the outline of the cutter that makes that hole,
    why didn't you just say, "Rich, draw the outline of the cutter
    for this hole" rather than, "Well, call out this angle, and
    give me a dimension from this line to that corner, and I need
    an OD here, and ..."

    Oh, well.

    Anyway, thanks again, and to the other guys - I already know
    about the "too late" button, but I've also learned that if it's
    halfway through its sequence (process? pattern? - well, I'll
    get it), it's OK to start over at the beginning, because where
    it's been cut, there's no metal. Duh! ;-)

    So, yeah, a morning's downloading, and about a week of reading,
    and I'll be ready to break tools! ;-P ;-P <just kidding!>

  6. Much of the information on the download site will be for their newer
    controllers, etc...still...suggest call Fadal, it wouldn't surprise me one
    bit to find they still have manuals available specifically for that old
  7. Rich,
    Been there, done this, got the broken tools and scrapped parts to prove it.
    A CNC is just big printer. All your mistakes get written in metal! The
    Fadal guy goes on vacation, leaving a hot job sitting on the table, and no
    one else in the shop has ever run a CNC mill. The boss asks if I have any
    experience. It just happens I do, on a tiny little Emco desktop school
    machine, cutting wax! So I tell him I'll take the manual home and let him
    know in the morning. I read the manual, which I thought was quite good, and
    I realize that I can probably do this.

    The first thing I did was pull the hot job out of the machine. Hey I'm not
    that stupid. I am NOT going to learn on a steel valve forging that is so
    big I have no more that 1/2" of travel clearance in any direction. It needs
    three 12" flange faces and bolt holes machined, and back faced. It also has
    a 6" x 8 pitch thread to be threadmilled, 10" down inside where the whole
    operation will be completely out of sight. The valve forging did have one
    interesting feature already machined, a slot obviously done manually down to
    the finished face of one flange. I couldn't figure out what the hell that
    was for, so I asked another machinist. I almost fell down when he told me.
    It was how the guy running the Fadal set his tools, he didn't know how to
    use tool length offsets with a fixture offset!

    A short time later I removed a 400 lb welded steel plate he had added to the
    table, so he had overhangs that he could use with C-clamps to hold parts!
    When I removed it I found it had piles of shims under it, and that it was
    warping the machine table too. After that I had to adjust the head gibs
    because the head was tilted forwards so a 4" cutter would leave a 0.010"
    step from cut to cut! I guess he never noticed, because the largest cutter
    he had a toolholder for was 1".

    What everyone here is saying is true, feeds and speeds are killers until you
    learn about them. You won't get much help in this area from the manual
    machinists in the shop either. It's not that they don't know, it's because
    they know it by sight, feel, smell etc. and not by the inches per minute, or

    One thing I really liked about the Fadal. It's macro language is just old
    time DOS Mbasic. So it is real easy to write very powerful macros that can
    do big things with little programs.

    Finally, check and see if Fadal still has the Fadal Simulator program that
    runs on a PC. Since the Fadal has a qwerty keyboard the simulator works on
    a PC exactly as it does on the machine. It has a toolpath mode that shows
    the centerline moves of your tools. This will let you run a program and
    test to see if it tries to go off the end of the table, or through the
    table! It won't however give any indication if the part will be right!

    After running the machine for about 4 months they hired a new machinist to
    run the Fadal, and I went back to design work, and continued to do
    programming. The operator was very experienced and very good. One day he
    says to me "You really are a good programmer, how long you been doing this?"
    I said "4 months" He says "Yeah I know you've been here for 4 months, but
    how long have you been programming CNCs?" I said "4 months, since I started
    here" He couldn't believe it. I told him it was just a computer tied to a
    big printer, and I know something about programming computers! While it
    felt good, I won't pretend to be a real machinist. Some real machinists
    hang out here, and I wouldn't want to insult them. But the point of all
    this is:

    GO FOR IT!

    Gary H. Lucas
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