Frequently asked questions

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How do I switch on my CNC machine?

Follow the simple 4-step guide to start up your Unisign CNC machine with Siemens control.

For Heidenhain click here

1. Switch on the main switch (must have been switched off for 30 seconds).

  • The white VOLTAGE ON indicator lamp on the control panel must light up (control voltage present).
  • The 810D/840D controller powers up automatically. In the first few seconds, all LEDs on the control panel blink (lamp test).
  • After ±1 minute, the basic JOG mode operating menu appears; all indicator lamps will blink (lamp test).
  • If you see any warning messages on the screen, then the drives are not yet powered up. This depends on the electrical options.

2. Release all ES buttons.

3. Push the MOTORS ON button. You can only do this after 30 seconds. This is a built-in safety feature, drives cannot be switched on/off again within 30 seconds.

  • MOTORS ON lamp stays off: an alarm or an EMERGENCY STOP button is still activated. Check by using <Diagnosis> which alarms are active.
  • MOTORS ON lamp blinks: no errors detected. The motors can be switched on.
  • MOTORS ON lamp lights without blinking: Drives are enabled. The machine is ready for movements.

4. Now run the drive reference point program for all axes.

Note: If your CNC machine goes into EMERGENCY STOP within 10 seconds after pressing the MOTORS ON button, or there is an alarm, wait for 30 seconds, go to the DIAGNOSIS mode and switch on the motors again. Read the (alarm) messages on the screen to find the root cause.

Follow the simple 5-step guide to start up your Unisign CNC machine with Heidenhain control.

1. Switch on the main switch (must have been switched off for 30 seconds).

  • The white VOLTAGE ON indicator lamp on the control panel must light up (control voltage present).
  • The controller powers up automatically. After ±20 seconds, the VOLTAGE INTERRUPTION message will appear.Press CE and the message TRANSLATE PLC PROGRAM will appear.
  • After 10 seconds, the basic menu for operating system reference mode appears. If you see any alarm messages on the screen, this means the drives are not yet powered up. This depends on the electrical options.

2. Release all ES buttons.

3. Press the MOTORS ON button. You can only do this after 30 seconds. This is a built-in safety feature, drives cannot be switched on/off again within 30 seconds.

  • MOTORS ON lamp stays off: an alarm or an EMERGENCY STOP button is still activated.
    Check the alarm report to find out which alarms are present.
  • MOTORS ON blinks: no errors detected. The motors can be switched on.
  • Press MOTORS ON as often as necessary until the MOTORS ON lamp lights without blinking. (Blinking means the machine is testing the emergency stop). Drives are enabled. The machine ready for movements.

4. Press FEED START and delete any messages by pressing the CE button.

5. Now run the drive reference point program for all axes.

Note: If your CNC machine goes into EMERGENCY STOP within 10 seconds after pressing the MOTORS ON button, there is an alarm. Wait for 30 seconds and switch on the motors again. Read the (alarm) messages on the screen to find out the root cause.

How do I shut down my CNC machine?

Follow the simple 4-step guide to shut down your Unisign CNC machine with Siemens control.

  1. Enter the HOME command before switching off (in AUTOMATIC overstore mode). The machine will stop with all axes as near as possible to their reference points. When switching on again, the drive reference points program will only take a short time to complete. This can only be run if the machine reached its reference points before being switched off.
  2. Press EMERGENCY STOP. Very important! Servo and main drives can be damaged if you switch off the machine when the motors are still switched on.
  3. In main menu, select <EXIT>. Windows PC shuts down. Wait until this process has finished.
  4. Switch off main switch.

Wait for at least 30 seconds before you switch on the machine again.

Follow the simple 5-step guide to shut down your Unisign CNC machine with Heidenhain control.

  1. Enter the M300 command (in MANUAL OPERATION mode) before you switch off. The machine will stop with all axes as near as possible to their reference points. When switching on again, the drive reference points program will only take a short time to complete. This can only be run if the machine reached its reference points before being switched off.
  2. Press EMERGENCY STOP. Very important! Servo and main drives can be damaged if you switch off the machine with the motors switched on.
  3. Press the MAIN SWITCH soft key.
  4. Wait until the message ‘You can now switch off’ appears.
  5. Switch off the main switch.

Wait for at least 30 seconds before you switch on the machine again.

How do I run the drive reference points program?

Most machines lose their reference points when switched off and switched on again. Before you can operate your CNC machine, you must run the ‘drive reference points’ program so the control unit can determine the actual position of the machining axes
For Siemens control follow these steps:

When referencing, the manufacturers ‘cycle U_INIT’ is loaded which will initialise some positions and values for tool change, pendulum operation, and other functions.

  1. After the motors are switched on, message EMERGENCY STOP is erased. When the message ‘ATTENTION: !! NO REFERENCE POINTS !!’ is displayed, start the drive reference points program.
  2. Avoid collisions with other parts of the machine and/or products when the drive reference point program is running. Move the axis or remove the product from the machine to make sure the drive reference point program can run safely.
  3. Change to operating mode REF.POINT. Put feed reduction > 0% (using the feed reduction button) and press SPINDLE START and FEED START.
  4. Start the drive reference point program. Press the NC START button. The axis sequence for driving to reference points is: Z, Y, X (and X2), optional 4-Axis (A1) and tool storage. When this is complete, this optional axis for a tool preselection system will drive to its reference point.
  5. When ‘ATTENTION: !! NO REFERENCE POINTS !!’ disappears, the drive reference point program is complete.
  6. If warning message ‘N27100 – AT LEAST ONE AXIS IS NOT SAFELY REFERENCED’ is displayed, confirm the actual axis position in mode JOG REFPOINT. Press softkey <User agreement> and set the <user agreement> to active.
For Heidenhain control follow these steps:

  1. Avoid collisions with parts of the machine and/or products when the drive reference point program is running. Move the axis or remove the product from the machine to make sure the drive reference point program can run safely. Currently, this program can only run at 10% of the maximum feed rate.
  2. Change to operating mode REF.POINT. Put feed reduction > 0% (with the feed reduction button) and press FEED START.
  3. Start the drive reference point program. Press the NC START button. The order of axes for driving to reference points is: Z, Y, X (and X2), possibly a 4th/5th axis, the tool storage and spindle. After each axis, it may move to the 0 position. The machine can only determine one axis reference point at a time. Wait until the axis reference point has been found before starting the program for the next axis.
  4. When the drive reference point program is complete, the CNC controller goes to MANUAL OPERATION mode.

How do I program a tool change?

Your CNC machine is equipped with an automatic tool change system. Please follow the guide steps for tool change programming instructions.
For Siemens control

A tool change is always done in two steps:

  • the tool preselection (T-number or tool number)
  • the actual tool change command (M6 or M66)

Start your tool preselection by programming a T-number. This number prepares the NC and the PLC. All information needed will be collected to enable fast tool change. Also, CNC machines with no real tool preselection system need this T-number for correct operation. Of course, the T-number must be present in the tool settings table. When a T command is given, the tool storage will rotate to the pocket with this tool in the spindle.

Tools can have a fixed or variable location. If a tool has variable location, the system will search for an empty tool location in the spindle near to the newly programmed T-number.

After programming the T-number, the actual tool change is started by programming M6 (pick up tool in the spindle) or M66 (pick up tool in the angle head). The preselected tool will now be picked up by the tool change cycle. If a tool is already available when programming M6 or M66, this tool will be returned to the exact location where it was picked up. The tool change cycle will also take care of picking up or removing the angle head and protection ring.

When using manual tools, the machine will drive to the proper position to offer the actual tool to the operator. When the operator presses the tool change button, the tool is released from the spindle or a new tool will be picked up in the spindle. When the operator presses NC START, the tool change procedure will continue.

When programming a T-number, indicate the tool ID. This tool ID can be a number or a character string.

Tool ID example:
T128, T=128 or T=‘128’: Preselect tool with tool ID 128
T=’Drill5mm’: Preselect tool with tool ID ‘Drill5mm’

The tool must be present in the tool table or an error will occur. If the:

  • preselected tool is allocated to the tool store: tool will be automatically picked up during the next tool change.
  • preselected tool is not allocated to the tool store: it is a manual tool, and must be put in the spindle manually during a tool change.

Remarks concerning the tool change:

  • A tool change always returns the tool currently in the spindle to the tool store. No further programming is required to accomplish this.
  • Although T0 does in fact exist, it can only be used to empty the main spindle. When programming T0 and then M6, the tool change cycle will return the tool currently in the spindle to its original location without picking up a new tool.
  • All tool change combinations can be used: manual tools, tool store tools and tool station tools. The tool change cycle will take care of the correct handling. This is also true for a change of angle head. The angle head will be picked up and released automatically as required. No further programming is required to accomplish this.
  • A tool change can only be programmed after the CNC machine has found its reference points.
  • T-number and M6 / M66 must not be on the same line, but must be programmed on separate lines.
  • In manual tool change there may be residual pressure present on the tool due to internal cooling.
For Heidenhain control

A tool change is always done in three steps:

  1. head preselection (M16, M36, M66, M76, etc.)
  2. tool preselection (TOOLDEF)
  3. tool change (TOOLCALL).

A CNC machine without an attachment head has no tool preselection. Therefore only TOOLCALL programming is necessary.

The head preselection defines the tool preselection for an attachment head (M36, M66, M76, etc.), the spindle without protection ring (M16) or the spindle with protection ring (no M-function necessary). Normally the M16 function is only used as a service function.

Start the tool preselection using a TOOLDEF command with a T-number (tool number). The NC and the PLC then will prepare this number. All information needed will be collected to enable fast tool change. Of course, the T-number must be present in the tool settings table.

When using a direct tool change from the spindle, it is not necessary to program a TOOLDEF. You can only do this with a tool change from the spindle, not with the angular head.

The tool change is started by the TOOLCALL command with the same tool number as the tool preselection.
The preselected tool will now be picked up by the tool change cycle. If there is already a tool in use when programming TOOLCALL, this tool will be returned to the exact location where it was picked up. The tool change cycle will also take care of picking up or removing the angle head and protection ring.

When using manual tools, the CNC machine will drive to the proper position to offer the actual tool to the operator. When the operator presses the tool change button, the tool is released from the spindle or a new tool is picked up in the spindle. When the operator presses NC START, the tool change will continue. The Z and Y position of the manual tool change can be changed in the user parameters.

Remarks concerning the tool change:

  • Program a tool change in operating mode ‘AUTOMATIC’ or ‘Positioning with MDI’.
  • A tool change will always return the tool currently in the spindle to its original location. No further programming is required to accomplish this.
  • Although T0 does in fact exist, it can be only used to empty the main spindle. When programming TOOLDEF 0 and then TOOLCALL 0 the tool change cycle first will return the preselected tools to their tool stations, and the actual tool in the spindle / angular head to the preselection holder, without picking up a new tool. Finally, if necessary, it will return the angular head to its docking station.
  • All tool change combinations can be used: manual tools, tool storage tools and tool station tools. The tool change cycle will take care of correct handling. This also applies to attachment head changes. The attachment head is picked up and released automatically as required. No further programming is necessary to accomplish this.
  • A tool change can only be programmed after the machine has found its reference points.
  • Head preselection (M16, M36, M66, M76, etc.) and tool preselection (TOOLDEF), must be programmed in this order.
  • After a manual tool change, there may be residual pressure present on the tool due to internal cooling.

The tool change was interrupted, what should I do?

Starting recovery cycles
The machine has recovery cycles so that if an operation is interrupted, for example, during a tool change, tool preselection or pallet change, the machine automatically returns to a predefined state. This means the machine is in a convenient position for you to diagnose the error in the event of a malfunction.
For Siemens control follow these steps:

If an operation is interrupted one or more of the following error messages may appear:

  • N700001 Tool change was interrupted –> start M99
  • N700009 Kinematics not up-to-date –> start M99
  • N700420 Attachment head rotation was interrupted –> start M99
  • N700818 Pallet change was interrupted –> start M99

In the main view of the controller you see a white/red circle.
If the CNC machine is turned off after an interruption, it is not possible to start the recovery cycles.

  • Put the CNC machine into a safe position by hand
  • Confirm this status using the functions
    o M21000 (reset recovery status channel 1),
    o M22000 (reset recovery status channel 2),
    o M23000 (reset recovery status channel 3),
    o etc.

Please note following requirements for manual recovery:

  • (If present) Move the Q5-axis between two tool grippers
  • (If present) Move the tool grippers out of the tool storage
  • (If present) Move the pallet change axis QS and QT to safe positions,
    o QS < UNI[332]
    o QT = UNI[346]
  • Check the tool status <Parameter>, <Tool list>
  • (If present) Check the status of the attachment head <Parameter>, <Parameter>, <Tools>
  • (If present) Check the status of the pallet system <Parameter, <Parameter>, <Pallet system>
  • Close the tool change door and pallet change door by hand (H Functions).
    CAUTION: Collision risk, first move the axis to a safe position and reset the recovery status.
For Heidenhain control follow these steps:

When a tool change is interrupted, it is possible that the CNC machine will lose its tool status. There will be an error message ‘TOOL CHANGE INTERRUPTED’. To resolve this error message, carry out the following steps:

  • Press ERR, reset all alarms
  • Change to manual operation mode
  • Press M functions button
  • Programming 999
  • Press NC Start
  • ATTENTION: Make sure the chain, tools, and auxiliary head station do not collide with any products.
  • The machine will start the rescue cycle and move freely again.
  • At the end of the rescue cycle, a pop-up message will show the status of the machine.

If the rescue cycle is interrupted, this may be explained by one of the following messages:

#327 *ATTACHMENT HEAD NC NOT EQUAL PLC
#328 *ANGLE C-AXIS NC NOT EQUAL PLC
#329 *ANGLE B-AXIS NC NOT EQUAL PLC

The actual Kinematics in the NC do not correspond to the Kinematics in the PLC.

  • Press MOD
  • Go to Machine settings, Kinematics
  • Select the correct kinematic in NC and press Apply
  • Change to manual operation mode
  • Press the M functions button
  • Programming 999
  • Press NC Start

The clamping force is too low. What can I check?

To ensure the correct clamping, follow these steps on a monthly basis:

  1. Remove the collet.
  2. Check the collet and fingers for damage; if in doubt, replace the parts.
  3. Clean and grease again.
  4. Adjust the collet distance to correct value.

Check your Unisign maintenance guide for additional information. If you are still experiencing problems, please contact Unisign: phone: +3177-3068477 | service@unisign.com

Who do I contact for services?

From the moment your Unisign machine is installed and up and running in your manufacturing process, we are your first point of contact.

  1. For machine breakdowns: phone: +3177-3068477 | e-mail: service@unisign.com
  2. For spare parts: e-mail: spareparts@unisign.com
  3. For maintenance | geometry checks: e-mail: aftersales@unisign.com
  4. For retrofits | extensions | training or relocations: e-mail: aftersales@unisign.com

How often does my CNC machine require maintenance?

To ensure problem-free operation and a long service life of your CNC machine, we recommend you have it serviced twice a year by our Unisign experts.

Save costs and check out our maintenance contracts.

What to do after a power supply failure?

When the power supply gets active again check if the control panel powers up automatically. After powering up try to start the motors and drive reference points.
If motors cannot be started or driving reference points is not possible, there will be some alarms active. Read the alarms on the screen to find the root cause.
If you cannot solve the root cause, please contact the Unisign Service Department: phone: +3177-3068477 | e-mail: service@unisign.com