We needed to do some urgent upgrades to one of our servers, so we’ve stopped processing for trial registrations and orders. You can still register or order, and they won’t be lost, but they won’t take effect until late Monday.
We’re sorry for the inconvenience.… Read the rest
I got a note from a machinist friend saying that he’d just gotten a used Morgan Press off eBay and had been able to get it working. I hadn’t heard of one of these machines before, so I went and looked it up. For the ultimate do-it-yourself or Maker small shop, this would be a cool machine to have on hand! Imagine a tabletop small injection molding machine with some big machine automation. Here is my friend’s machine:
Here is a YouTube video that shows a number of machines from a TechShop, including a Morgan Press:
The little plastic parts box that comes out of the Morgan Press looks great.… Read the rest
Just a reminder, our sale on the G-Wizard CNC Calculator will be ending March 31–just a few days from now. Take advantage of our 15% off pricing on the 3 year subscription if you haven’t already. Click the page linked above to register or go straight to our G-Wizard purchase page.… Read the rest
Folks often ask whether a CNC Router can cut aluminum. They’re used to seeing the primarily cut wood and plastics. My answer to this question is always, “Yes, if you do it right.”
There are a couple of things to remember about how aluminum (and other metals) are different from wood or plastics. First, they have a much smaller “sweet spot” for optimal feeds and speeds. If you leave the sweet spot, cutters start breaking, wearing out a lot faster, and surface finish is poor at best. In fact, there are several sweet spots depending on what you want to accomplish:
Metals have much smaller sweet spots (narrower range of acceptible feeds and speeds) than wood or plastics…
The second thing is that for aluminum (and some other metals), there is a “stickiness” factor. … Read the rest
It’s not very well known yet, but we have a CNCCookbook page on Facebook. If you like Facebook, you’ll be able to get a notification from there whenever a new post is added to our Blog here. It’s an increasingly connected world we live in! Please amble over and give us a “Like” if you can.
If you like Twitter, we also have a CNCCookbook Twitter account you can follow and we tweet every post. Please flitter over (seems like how you’d go to Twitter to Tweet) and give us a Tweet and a Follow if you can.
If you use a blog reader, you can grab out RSS feed over on the right hand side of the screen.… Read the rest
5 axis CNC machines are the pinnacle of milling machine sophistication. They’re the most expensive machines to purchase, and due to the complex motions involved, even more cost is involved with the need for the most sophisticated 5 axis CAM packages available.
What are the benefits of 5 Axis CNC that justify all this cost?
It’s Uber Cool!
I admit, this is not a business-worthy benefit, but how can you not get excited by videos like this:
Reduced Machining Time
Okay, this is a little more like it–reduced machining time. What shop wouldn’t want that benefit?
The time is reduced because a 5-axis machine can use a flat bottom endmill and by maintaining perpendicularity to the surface (there’s a reason the tool or part swivels constantly in the video), you can use full diameter step-over instead of having to use little short stepovers more common to ballnose endmills. … Read the rest
I ran across this new post from Dave Decaussin (one of the founders of Fadal, now retired and doing other things) showing how he cuts gears on his 4th axis:
He makes it look easy and fun to try.
He’s cutting a 40 tooth spur gear with a diametral pitch of 24. Diametral pitch is a measure of how many teeth there are per inch of circumference on the gear. For more gear terminology, see this Carnegie Mellon University page on Gears. David basically describes four things you’ll need to make a gear:
– A Hobber, which can be purchased. He is using one designed for use on a mill that cuts a single tooth at a time.… Read the rest
So you need to do some unit conversion? Our G-Wizard CNC Calculator has some feature designed to make working with lots of units especially easy. Let’s see how.
Continuous Conversion Display
Continuous Conversion Display is an awkward name for a very simple and useful feature. As you type in a number or compute a result, G-Wizard automatically converts that result to the unit of your choice. For example, we can quickly see that 1 inch equals 25.4 mm:
Continuous Unit Conversion: Whatever you type gets converted. 1″ = 25.4mm
That “Use” button lets you swap the original units you typed in over to the new units with one mouse click.… Read the rest
So you just located a fantastic deal on a piece of used CNC equipment. Just one little problem–the cost and complexity of rigging the machine into your shop are giving you heartburn.
“Rigging” is the technical term for moving heavy stuff into position. It covers everything from unloading a heavy machine (or other load) from a truck or trailer to moving it even slightly around a shop.
Dominic Amae recently sent some links to several great videos on rigging. I’ll start with this one where he shows how to use shopmade machinery skates and a toe jack to move his large 5000lb Mori Seiki CNC lathe:
As Dominic mentions in the video, do as he says and not as he does and keep your hands well clear from under the machine.… Read the rest
I’m fascinated by the mill-turn machines. They combine the best elements of a lathe and a milling machine to turn out complex parts quickly that would be much less productive if done as multiple ops across different machines. Here’s a great video of a Haas CNC lathe turning out such a part:
The secret behind these machines is two-fold:
First, they have the ability to treat the spindle as another axis, called the C-Axis. This allows positioning the part with great position to any angle.
Second, they have live tooling. Instead of an ordinary lathe tool in a turret position, there’s a miniature motorized spindle that can hold endmills, twist drills, saws, or whatever else is needed.… Read the rest
Every CNC machinist has seen the ubiquitous “drive dogs” found on many tapers:
Spindle Drive Dogs…
They’re the two little “ears” that engage notches in the toolholder. Not every taper has them, but many do. Getting the drive dogs positioned to line up with the toolholder in the changer carousel before a toolchange can happen is called “spindle orientation” or sometimes “spindle positioning”.
You might think spindle orientation is only about lining up the drive dogs with toolholder notches, but I recently learned differently. Dave Decaussin, one of the original founders of Fadal, recently remarked on a video I was watching that spindle orientation is also essential to maintaining tolerances while machining. … Read the rest
So you want to make a bunch of small parts at once in one setup, and using one vise. Make a strip of parts in a set of big soft jaws:
The parts keep a strip underneath. To finish, flip the whole thing, drop it into softjaws of appropriate “negative image” of the parts, and mill of the back.
An alternative would be to make a tooling plate that goes in the vise and acts as a pallet. Use Mitee-Bite clamps or the equivalent to hold the parts. Make at least two plates so you can load one while the machine is working on the other.… Read the rest
Due to a query from a customer, I put together a quick page that shows how I set up my CNC4PC boards and Smoothstepper for the Servo setup on my IH mill.
The Smoothstepper is a USB pulse generator for Mach3, and it improves the performance of Mach3 considerably. I’m not sure I’d want to run Mach without a hardware pulse generator after having tried it both ways.
If you’re curious about how something like this helps, see my articles on motion control boards for use with Mach3.… Read the rest
There is a famous quote about PR:
I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.
It has variously been attributed to Mae West, P.T. Barnum, Will Rogers, and a host of others.
Times have changed, so I have changed the quote:
I don’t care what the web says about me as long as they link to my site.
Thanks for any link love you can pass along!
PS Links in emails sent to friends who might like to try our G-Wizard software are always appreciated.… Read the rest
I’m a bit video happy today. Having just finished catching up on Steve Simpson’s amazing Millturn videos, I wanted to pass along this video of John Grimsmo using his CNC lathe to make some nifty parts for his knife-making business:
John has a great little CNC lathe there, conversions like he has done are very straightforward, and as you can see, he can pop out some cool parts very quickly with it!… Read the rest