"CNC Programming Handbook"
by Peter Smid

Second Edition
By Peter Smid
2003, 7 x 10, Hard, Illustrated, 600 pages
Includes CD
ISBN: 0-8311-3158-6


The "CNC PROGRAMMING HANDBOOK", by Peter Smid is an incredibly detailed and helpful book for those seeking to learn and understand the concepts behind programming CNC machine tools. Although most programming is now done with the aid of CAM programs which generate G-code based on a drawing of the part to be machined, the complexities of CNC machining demand that the operator have a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of CNC programming. Between configuring a post processor in your CAM program, fixing simple errors in a generated program "on the fly", and entering single lines in a machine's MDI mode, the uses for a book like this cannot be understated. Besides the lessons in programming, the book also covers strategies for programming various cycles and tool changes. The included CD-Rom contains tests, projects, and other ephemera which make the book a useful teaching tool.

The book begins with an overview of Numerical Control (NC) concepts, CNC Milling and Turning machines, coordinate geometry and control systems. For the student or engineer producing drawings or parts that are to be machined, these sections will allow an understanding of what operations the machines are capable of performing, and how they do the work.

The remaining chapters deal with the planning and structure of a program, so that a drawing can be understood, the various machining operations separated and the order of operations decided upon. While we all await a future where computers read our mind, in the interim we have to be able to give a computer instructions based on our real world experience. It does no good to tell a machine "mill this pocket", without inputting such variables as the diameter of an endmill, the amount of step over per pass, the feed rate, the spindle speed, the endmill shape, etc. Thus we must moderate between reality and the machine. A CNC machine tool is one of the few tools that can commit suicide, aided by an incompetent programmer, and it is only by understanding our instructions to the tool that such mishaps can be avoided and parts produced instead of being scrapped.

The book offers an incredibly detailed (An entire chapter just on "G00", for instance) step by step explanation of all standard G-codes, modality, blocks, various functions, etc. This book is exhaustive in it's treatment of all the possible commands and instructions, combinations and interactions with machines. Toolchanging is handled, as well as special situations such as how to deal with an oversize tool in the ATC. Drill and fixed cycles are covered comprehensively, especially the calculations for such things as countersinking with a pilot drill, breakthrough depth, nominal and effective tool diameter, and point lengths. Peck drilling aracana is demystified, selecting the number of pecks, and controlling breakthrough depth.

Reading this book will not only make you a better CNC programmer, but it will unlock the potential of codes and techniques that you may not have known existed, or thought too complex to incorporate in your machining. For the student, engineer or machinist there is no better guide to CNC programming than this book.

You can order the book from The Industrial Press and Amazon.com

I received the following from Jim Morrison, who had a problem with the book, although I didn't notice it myself, but I thought I would include it for the sake of completeness.

"I appreciate the review you wrote and the excellent resources on your site, but I feel you have omitted an important aspect of the book from your review. I own and have read most of the CNC Programming Handbook (2nd Edition) by Peter Smid, and I'm afraid I hold it much lower regard than your review. For the 2nd edition of a $50-75 book to have escaped being proofread is simply unconscionable. Smid's use of the English language is frequently incomprehensible, and his grammar and syntax skills poor at best. I strongly recommend anyone considering the purchase of this book flip through it prior to purchase. You may find it not worth the effort. This book was the first CNC programming book I purchased (largely on the basis of your review), and I admit I learned a lot from Smid's treatment of the subject. However, I also wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what he meant. In the future, I plan to be extremely cautious about buying books by Industrial Press. I have several others by them, and Smid's is by far the worst job of proofreading."

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