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Browsing articles from "November, 2011"

Holiday Trivets: A CNC Gift Idea

Nov 29, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  1 Comment

I was recently over at a friend’s shop and saw he was making these really cool trivets to give as holiday gifts:

The trivets are made using a 1/8″ endmill and aluminum plate that is a bit thicker than the overall trivet will be. Once the maze-like interior has been milled via a full depth roughing pass followed by a finishing pass (the channel is a little bigger than the endmill diameter), it’s time to face mill away the back of the plate to leave the trivet. Doing so is an interesting fixturing problem. You can’t just crank down a vise on the trivet as there’s a bit too much play. So, the machinist used a simple fixture that uses some low melting point fixturing alloy:

He sets the fixture with the alloy on a hot plate, melts the alloy, fits the trivet down into it, let’s it cool, mills off the back, and then reheats to release the trivet. They sure come out looking neat, and the pictures don’t do them justice. For finish, he bead blasts them, which leaves a nice matte finish. I could imagine they’d be gorgeous anodized too, but the problem is getting down in…

A Nice Mention of G-Wizard From Dan Kautz Over On The Hobbyist’s Machine Shop Blog

Nov 27, 2011   //   by   //   Blog, Software  //  No Comments

A conversation with Dan is what inspired me to write the 10 Tips for Minimizing Breakage of Micro-Mills article yesterday. Today I notice he has published a nice mention of G-Wizard on his blog. Dan has several machining-related sites including “The Hobbyist’s Machine Shop Blog” and “The Hobbyist’s Machine Shop” where I first came across his writings.
Check them out, good stuff for hobby machinists!…

Added a Micro-Machining Chapter to Our Feeds and Speeds Cookbook

Nov 27, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Techniques  //  No Comments

Speaking of Dan and the tips for minimizing micro-mill breakage, I decided to flesh out an entire chapter on micromachining for our feeds and speeds cookbook. In addition to a slight facelift on the aforementioned micro-cutter breakage information, I went back through my archives and fished out a bunch of additional material. Micro-Turner’s Cubes, anyone?…

Building a Low-Cost Micro-Milling Machine

Nov 27, 2011   //   by   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Techniques  //  9 Comments

While on the subject of micromachining, I came across this interesting academic paper about how some students and faculty at Northern Illinois University built a pretty cool micro-mill that performs on par with commerical machines costing up to $100,000:

The micro-milling machine…

A part made by NIU’s machine…
The machine is assembled from largely off the shelf parts such as the linear slides, stepper motors (no servos here to save on cost), and spindle. As you can see, its construction is pretty simple. Some surprises for me from this article:
– They used ACME leadscrews instead of ballscrews, relying on anti-backlash nuts to keep backlash under control. Ballscrews have gotten cheap enough I’d think they’re a better substitute these days.
– No servos, just steppers. When micro-machining, the forces involved are so small, that even the little NEMA 17 steppers were plenty to drive the axes.
– Though they started with Mach3, they found it produced unacceptible results–it wouldn’t track the tiny contours needed for micro-milling. They assumed this was due to the fact it was running via the parallel port with a non-real-time OS–Windows. They switched to FlashCut which is a dedicated system and their troubles went away. Given…

10 Tips for Minimizing Breakage of Micro-Mills and Other Tiny Cutters

Nov 26, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Software, Techniques  //  3 Comments

Over time certain questions and queries start to stand out, and one I hear a lot about is that machinists are breaking their delicate micro-mills and other tiny cutters too often, and they’d like some pointers on how to avoid it. First thing is first, you need to have proper feeds and speeds for these cutters. Cutters smaller than 1/8″ or about 3mm live in a different world than most of our cutters are used to. The feeds and speeds formulas and calculations that work reasonably well for larger cutters need quite a bit of adjustment for smaller cutters to account for these changing conditions. For example, the geometry at these scales is such that the rake on the cutters is almost always negative. Our G-Wizard feeds and speeds software takes all this into account, and is well-suited to providing feeds and speeds for your tiny cutters.

For best results though, you have to go beyond the feeds and speeds. Here are a few thoughts of where to look for problems when you’re breaking small cutters:
 
1. Never reduce the spindle rpms much without reducing feedrate first. Reducing the rpms balloons the chipload, and it is chipload that breaks…

Announcing our 2011 Holiday Sale!

Nov 25, 2011   //   by   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Friends, we’re pleased to announce our 2011 Holiday Sale. We’ve put every version of G-Wizard on sale and you can see the pricing on our regular pricing page.
If you’ve been thinking about subscribing, now is the time while prices are low. If you are already a subscriber, we really appreciate your business, and hope you will take advantage of the sale to add a year or more to your subscription term. Just sign up for the purchase and I’ll add the additional purchased subscription term to your existing subscription.
The sale started today and runs through Christmas Day. If you purchased within the last 30 days, we’ll be issuing a refund to reflect the Holiday Sale pricing so you won’t miss out.
Please help us get the word out about the sale to your machinist friends as well. You’ll be getting an email with the offer, so please forward it to your friends. Post on the various great machinist boards that you frequent. Tweet it or share it on Facebook. It all helps!
Wishing you and yours a great 2011 Holiday Season!…

Happy Holidays from CNC Cookbook and Try Our Cranberries if You Like

Nov 24, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  No Comments

I want to wish all of our readers and customers a hearty, “Happy Holidays!” We’re glad to have you as part of the CNCCookbook family which I am happy and thankful to say has grown considerably over the last year. To date over 7000 machinists have tried our products and a number have bought.
Sometime late tomorrow or Friday I will be announcing what our Holiday Promotion will be this year. We usually do several things including a sale and something a little bit zany for existing customers to show our gratitude. Last year we gave every existing customer a free 1 year subscription to G-Wizard they could give away to a friend.
If you’re thinking about buying, or you recently bought, and you’re fretting that you’ve missed out on the special offers by ordering too early, don’t fret. We always go back 30 days and credit everyone with a refund as though they’d taken advantage of our promotion.

Sorry to scare you with my ugly mug, and sorry I don’t have more pumpkin pie on hand!
Enough of that. I just finished making a batch of my special Cranberry Ginger Compote, and wanted to share the recipe on the…

The New Release “Bat Signal” is on for G-Wizard Calculator

Nov 24, 2011   //   by   //   Blog  //  No Comments

It’s been a little while since I used the Bat Signal (last month) with our G-Wizard Machinist’s Calculator, so I decided to turn it on for this afternoon’s release 1.603 and get everyone updated who hasn’t been before I move on to more radical updating.

Turning on the “Bat Signal” just means activating the “new release” messaging in G-Wizard. There are a couple of levels of this, and you have control over how often you’d like to be notified:
– Mandatory Updates are very rare. I did not make this one a mandatory update, but I did set the prior release as the mandatory update. Folks who are relatively up to date won’t be forced to update, but folks who are not will have to move ahead. It’s better to keep everyone on relatively the same version from a maintenance standpoint.
– Next up would be to ask for every published update. This would be any update I run the Bat Signal for. As I mention, I don’t use it on every update. Many are more silent. If you absolutely must have all the updates, keep an eye on our User’s Club to see when one is available, as I…

Ever wonder why CNC is so much more sensitive to cutting speed than manual machining?

Nov 22, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Manual, Techniques  //  No Comments

It turns out to be a function of the capabilities of the machine and the machinist. Simply put, the CNC can do all sorts of things a manual Bridgeport never was in the running for. Learn more in my latest article about CNC Cutting Speeds.…

Modogrip: Indie Film Maker Tools from MM Pictures and Precision Machinery and Tooling

Nov 20, 2011   //   by   //   Blog, Business, Cool  //  No Comments

We love showing what our G-Wizard customers are doing, and we have a very interesting one from MM Pictures and G-Wizard Customer Precision Machinery and Tooling. Modogrip is a very cool product for Indie Film Makers. One of the many really difficult things to when making a film is to get those shots that make you feel like you’re actually living the scene. Commercial film makers use all sorts of fancy and expensive mechanisms to help the process. What Modogrip has done is to invent an accessory kit for a monopod that enables some pretty cool capabilities. In their words:
Modogrip are handles and wheel mounts that transform a monopod into a do-it-all filmmaking tool.  Allowing every videographer and filmmaker to capture steady camera shots, set up and film dolly moves in an instant and do out of this world boom shots that would normally require a jib arm/boom plus crew.  And most importantly Modogrip is an all-in-one product and portable.
Modogrip is also interesting in that it is a Kickstarter project. Kickstarter is a way to raise capital via the Internet so you can bring your idea to fruition. Check out Modogrip over on the Kickstarter siteand you can…

Another Nautilus Art Door With Iris

Nov 19, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Router, Cool  //  No Comments

I got to searching and found another door with similar aesthetic over on Makezine:

Brass Iris Porthole and Locking Mechanism…

These doors are made by Chris Schaie who sells the mechanisms.…

Nautilus Art Car Irising Door

Nov 19, 2011   //   by   //   Blog, Cool  //  No Comments

I have a soft spot for machine projects that involve art, if you hand’t noticed. Check out this amazing Irising door for the Nautilus art car:

The Nautilus Aperture Door from Almost Scientific on Vimeo.…

G-Wizard Editor Version 0.410 Uploaded: Now With Custom Canned Cycles

Nov 14, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode  //  No Comments

There’s a new version of our G-Wizard Editor and CNC Simulator uploaded today. If you’re a registered user, the install page is here. If not, click that first link and register. It’s free since we’re still in Beta test and you’ll find a lot of great features there.
This is our first release to require Flash Player 11, the latest release. While we’re not yet taking much advantage of FP 11’s performance enhancements (native access to your graphics card), we want to start requiring it to get everyone on the same page.
In terms of features, there are a couple of them in this latest release. First, we’ve got all the extended Work Offsets going. This means the appropriate System Variables are saved, and you can access, for example 300 offsets on the Fanuc, or 256 on Mach3.
The second new feature is Custom Cycles. These basically let you create a library of g-code snippets that are easy to paste into your program by hitting the “Custom” button on the Toolbar. When you do that, you get the following popup:

Insert or Define Custom Cycles…
The Cycles are selected via the box on the left. You can see what they…

Magnetic Sheet Metal Bending Brakes

Nov 13, 2011   //   by   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  3 Comments

It’s really handy to be able to do some simple sheet metal work around the shop to make brackets, covers, and similar sorts of things. I have wanted to build a finger brake for quite a while, perhaps something like this one:

A “finger” or box and pan brake…
Plans for it are available from the Village Press book, “Metalworking, Book Two, The Best of Projects in Metal.” 
I’ve also considered making a press brake attachment for my 45 ton hydraulic press. They’re easier to make than the finger brake and can be set up to take commercial press brake tooling which is pretty common on eBay. Lots of folks have built these attachments in varying degrees of sophistication:

I have a page where I collected a bunch of these press brake attachments for ideas. There are even moments of total self-delusion where I think about building (or buying used) a full on press brake and then converting it to CNC. It certainly has been done before, and in spectacular style such as this CNCZone thread by Bigtoy302, but that’s probably a long ways beyond my time availability to tackle something like that.
But then I stumbled across this video:…

Climb vs Conventional Milling Chapter in the Feeds and Speeds Cookbook

Nov 10, 2011   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Techniques  //  No Comments

Many machinists exclusively use one strategy–they always climb mill (CNC’ers) or the always conventional mill (Manual machinists). Putting aside the important issue of backlash (Climb milling is dangerous on machines with a lot of backlash), there are some real strategic considerations in choosing a milling strategy. You won’t always want to use just one. Most of the time, Climb Milling produces the best surface finish. But sometimes, Conventional Milling beats it. Check out our new chapter to learn more about it.…

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