when I was being trained on CNC milling we used foam to test our programmes, that allows you to see the tool path and note if you've run the tool into the work piece by mistake. Oasis foam from a florist supplier should work well. You might want to post onto a model engineering forum as there could be someone who could help there.
Good luck with your search.
Many thanks for the foam idea. I know someone who knows where to get t
he foam. I will post my result.
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The worst thing with a CNC mill is to crash the cutter into the table. You can use a piece of wooden dowel rod to simulate an end mill and 'cut air' the first time you run your program. You didn't say your device was a lathe or a grinder or a wire EDM, lotsa stuff can be CNC.
This is not a trivial topic. I live in the states and one of the local JuCos (Harper) is putting a program together. I don't know the hierarchical divisions of secondary education where MK got his certs. But however you do it over there I would try to get trained in school. Failing that, manufacturers of CNC equipment do a lot of educating as well.
Are you acquainted with conventional machining?
IIRC Chicago is the machining capital of the planet, because O'Hare, as an aside. Around here they use machinable wax as a practice material. They superglue parts together when they want to make a part so complex that it would be impractical to mill, then sandcast it. It is a mix of paraffin and polypropylene, AFIK. They typically dye it blue. You can melt and re-cast it, but no one ever seems to.
Does your machine have a toolchanger?
There is a process to cast foam as well, it is called 'lost foam.' They spray the foam with a ceramic coating before casting it. That is how Saturn auto engines are fabbed. Now that I recall.
To be honest I am attracted by your offer, but unfortunately I can't stay outside here where I temporary live for at least until the next end of september. But I am reasonably sure that I can help you by remote avoiding you destroy your machine and giving good results. It is at least the worth to try. I think that we can organise a sort of step by step helpful discussions. I can transform them in articles and you can follow me experimenting. Take in account that my personal experience with CNC machines is focused on a self-teaching path so there are lot of errors I can avoid. And probably give you good suggestions on hardware settings and the principles.
When I started (my very first step was to make one CNC from scratch) I tried to follow and interact with a lot of specialised CNC forums but frankly I have just found a great confusion. If the idea sounds good, you can contact me privately just to discuss the boring parts related to the steps then we can start. Making public a path to reach results I think this may be also useful for a lot of other users.
Like Enrico, I too could help you by remote. I have built a CNC from scratch as well, I also program G-code (CNC language) and run a CNC (for woodworking) almost every day. If I can do anything to help, PM me. Between Enrico and I as well as any other help, I'm sure you will get through this!!
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Can you post a picture and spec of your machine.
If you want some trial material to cut that's a step up from Oasis flower stuff then buy some ModelBoard- here's a note I sent to someone a while ago:
It was made from this stuff (probably M540):
but only because that was convenient for prototyping - for production it should be molded and there are a host of suitable plastics you might use - you would need to get advice from the tool designer/plastic molder.
You can make functional things from the right grade of modelboard - one day I mean to make some loudspeaker cabinets from it.
Hi, just looked at the site url that you sent me. I will look at the options that are sold.
I will look now and see if I can find the machine I have. Due to illness I have not been able to use, and
its been on my bench for 2 years.
I don't have a pic at the moment but here is the spec.
1 x Refurbished A3 3 Axis Hybrid BALLSCREW Desktop CNC Machine Router Engraving KIT Router
Ballscrew Machine Assembled
A3 size Machining Area - 500mm x 300mm, Z Axis 155mm
Footprint: 950mm x 750mm
Linear: Hiwin profile rails and carriages
MDL NOTE: CUSTOMER TO SUPPLY: Desktop PC, Monitor, Keyboard and Mouse
Machine Control Software - Mach3 Full License
Design Software - VCarve Pro 7
Electronic Jogging Handwheel
Controller: 3 Axis Controller and x3 NEMA23 3.1Nm Stepper Motors (X, Y and Z)
Proximity Home Switch (X, Y and Z) and additional external emergency stop
Kress Spindle 1050FME, Kress Motor Mount, Brushed dust hood with connection for 38/63mm out
3 x Kress Collets: 3mm, 6mm and 8mm
Sample Milling Cutters, 4 x T-Nuts, Grease
Single phase - standard socket 240V
One socket required - extension lead supplied
Shipping price added during checkout includes 2-3 hours installation and initial training followed by free email and telephone support 20% £1,185.00 1 x Vectric VCarve Pro 7 and Mach3 Bundle
20% £485.00 1 x Delivery, Assembly + Training - UK 20% £280.00 1 x New for 2013
CONTROLLER: FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS:
USB (V2.x) from PC/Laptop running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 (32 bit or 64bit)
motor driver connector pin-out is compatible with 10 pin open source interface (Linistepper, PICStep)
controller works with most step/dir stepper and servo motor drivers available on the market
buffered IO for maximum performance
advanced interpolation algorithms
start, stop, pause and resume execution of program on your machine
standard RS274/NGC G-code (EMC2 compatible)
advanced G-codes - G40, G41, G42 (Cutter Radius Compensation) supported
advanced G-codes - G43, G49 (Tool Length Offsets) supported
advanced G-codes - G54, G59.3 (Coordinate System Origins) supported
tested with SolidCAM, MasterCAM, ArtCAM, Vectric, CamBam, MeshCAM ... generated G-code
Profili 4-axes and 3-axes G-code supported
import toolpath from DXF files
import toolpath from PLT/HPGL files
import toolpath from image files
import toolpath from NC-Drill (Excellon) files
import toolpath from Gerber (RS-274X) files
automatic homing procedure
advanced toolchange procedures
automatic tool length measuring
export toolpath to G-code
export toolpath to DXF
SDK (software developers kit) is available
works on MacOS X (Snow Leopard 10.6.3) with virtual machine emulating Windows XP SP39 axes USB CNC controller Mk2:
100 kHz maximum step frequency
7 digital outputs
12 us minimum pulse width
manual jog inputs for all axes
limit inputs for all axes
5 general inputs
8 control inputs for pendant or similar device
SD card support for running g-code without computer
control external devices with I2C protocol
I've never used that software so I shall back off in the hope that someone else on E14 has and will be able to help you.
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G codes are 'go codes,' they result in movement, M codes are 'modal codes,' like turn on/off the coolant, It is neat that you have cutter radius and cutter length compensation as well as changeable coordinates. I have a buddy who does wicked things with those features, way beyond the obvious. He was my teacher for my Okuma-Howa certs in lathe and mill.
Always clamp your stuff down really, really well. Your machine will vibrate.
Like, IIRC if he is cutting a lacuna for an Allen screw, he just lies to the machine about his tool radius to cut the void for the head. If he wants a sequence of groves that get smaller and smaller, he uses a for loop to increment his cutter radius compensation. Not my style, but it works for him quite well.
If you are drilling anything hard/thick, use a technique called 'peck drill.' This will keep you from getting fouled up by your shavings.
Cutter compensation allows you to use this kind of drill unique to CNC that is sorta like a burin. It can make different sized holes with the same tool.
The step drill will work well on materials that tend to fray, it makes very clean holes. Now that I am a little more awake, I recall that there is a kind of tap for CNC that can produce both chiralities of thread. It relies on the tool to turn it and plunge it at the same time.
You mean thread mills but Raymond's mill may not supportit. To use them you need to be able to move the tool in a helical path which requires a fancy controller with helical interpolation - G codes 02 or 03 but with a Z move in the same code block.
You're probably right, MK, I could be thread-jacking a little bit. I own a conventional machine shop, but typically use other people's stuff if I need CNC. I recently bought a 1KW laser table with a bed almost the size of a half-sheet of plywood with a rotary option. So, not to be outdone, my buddy gets a 20KW unit with O2 lance and Nitrogen quench for the corners. Worked well 'til he got lazy with his shut-down sequence the first time out. Now he is waiting on a new tube!
Like I stated earlier, this neighborhood is simply awash in CNC tools. My buddy just got a CNC press-brake that predicts the outcomes based on material properties. He hasn't got it all figured out yet. When I think CNC tool I am thinking something that had an initial sticker price compatible with that of a McMansion. Couldn't refrain from mentioning the LR taps, though, just discovered them, had to do a double-take
I think I need to come live with you .... I like all these neat tools you and your friend have ...
Sure! I ran into a friend at the beach since the last time I posted, gotta say it was a pretty pretty sunset. Anyway, he informed me that Pumping Station One has voted to get a largish plasma table. Those things cut steel like my laser table cuts acrylic. He works for an interesting business, they make large plywood robotic dragons for festivals and chi-chi weddings. Says it slows up in winter, however. PS1 nucleates all kinds of small businesses. Judging from the smile he wears on his face, I infer that working with robotics, fire and hula girls is hella fun.
Another friend of mine got involved with the machining program at a local junior college when they got a huge sum of money from the Obama administration to set up a completely state-of-the-art fabrication program, the goal of which is to represent all modern fabrication techniques. I am happy to say that practically all of the major manufactures of this stuff are climbing over each other to donate their best machines. This freed up money for the school to build a huge (cliché warning) state-of-the-art facility off-site. He is saturated trying to learn all of these exotic machines. He has even gotten some material donations!
Chicago doesn't disappoint. I must say that my son ran off with my tools to Portland Oregon, but the weather is nice there now and he has some time off and a nice compound, so we could visit. He recently acquired a medium-large mill. He is using my stuff for a laudable cause: Multnomah County ARES
But she is surrounded by industrial farmland for miles and miles. Two places we have found for outdoor recreation that are somewhat local are Manistee, Michigan and Carbondale, Il.
There is an disproportional amount of young women here as they are more given to leave the farm for big-city life than their brothers. There is a large culture here trying to adapt robotics and other technologies to art and social purposes. Lots of capital, lots of events and festivals. Fun, Fun. Winter used to be a lot of fun here, we would go skating and tobogganing, but with global warming it has turned into a rainy miasma, often.
Sorry to ask this question, but I have a new CNC MACHINE but I have not a clue how it works so frightened to try and use it without it disintegrating into loads of bits. So I live in Hereford in the UK and would like help from someone who would be prepared to show me. A good supply of brews a good dinner and if one day is not enough then you can stay.
I would be grateful for any help.