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Shopmade Air-Powered 5C Collet Chuck for a Haas TL1

Mar 30, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC, Techniques  //  No Comments

This is quite a neat project built by Geof over at CNCZone:

Air-Powered 5C Collet Chuck assembled…

Installed on the Haas TL-1…
Some design notes:
Geof discovered the optimal draw force on the 5C system is about 1200lbs. This is accomplished via 10 springs that act to return the piston to the “locked” position when air pressure is released. The estimated unlocking force is up to 2300 lbs. Based on an air pressure of 85 psi, this calls for a 27 square inch piston. Since the piston is an annulus (donut shaped), the inner ring on the piston (so the bar can pass through the center) is 2.25 inches and the outer is 6.5″. The whole thing is housed in an 8″ OD cylinder assembly made of aluminum. Looks like a big o-ring is used to seal the piston against the cylinder and a smaller one seals the piston hub. These O-rings are standard sizes.
Threaded adjustments on the drawbar end control draw tube force, release free travel, and piston stroke. The release free travel lets the tube travel a short distance to pick up speed so it can knock the collet loose. Plastic liners protect the draw tube’s interior…

Top 4 Reasons to Use a GCode Editor

Mar 29, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Products, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments

We recently surveyed G-Wizard Editor customers to see what they were doing with the software.  Here’s what they came back with:

The survey provides a good cross section of uses.  Customers could choose all of the choices that applied to them, and clearly a lot of folks were doing multiple things with the Editor.  Let’s talk just a bit about what each one means and how it might benefit your CNC activities.
Writing G-Code From Scratch
I think this is the one that most commonly comes to mind, and if you stop here (please don’t, the other uses are good stuff!), you probably don’t think you could ever use a G-Code Editor.  After all, it’s so much easier to let the CAM software create your g-code, isn’t it?  Yet, we still see a surprising amount of hand written g-code out there.  Why do it?
For one thing, there are certain things that CAM is good at and certain other things it is terrible at.  A lot of simple parts can be programmed by hand faster than you could do a drawing in CAD to run your CAM against.  So, we could say CAM is not especially good at really simple…

Other Machine: Tiny Machines for Giant Dreams

Mar 25, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Router, Cool, DIY CNC, Products  //  2 Comments

Mobile CNC, anyone?  The OtherMILL is easy to tote from place to place…
CNCCookbook recently had a visit from the coolest little CNC machine and its two handlers.  This is unusual from a number of standpoints.  First, CNC machines aren’t really known for being mobile.  Sure, there has been the odd exception, but to have one literally come walking in my door is fairly unheard of.  Normally I have to go visit the CNC machine if I’m going to see it, and I have done so a number of times.  The second thing was that the visit was so much fun, so easy, and so approachable.  Imagine a group of friends just getting together to play around with CNC the same way they’d get together to play a card game or throw a football around.  This is just not the sort of fun I’m used to having with a CNC machine, though I have no end of fun with them, let me assure you.
The machine in question even has an odd but hip name–they call it the “OtherMILL”, and it is sold by the “Other Machine Company.”  Maybe they’re getting us ready for the idea that even the hardcore…

Connecting Your Tormach to the Network

Mar 24, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Products, Software  //  6 Comments

A Tormach in the Clouds?
Until very recently, Tormach strongly discouraged connecting their CNC machines to the network.  That’s all changed with the introduction of the new Tormach Path Pilot CNC Controller.
As Tormach says in their recent article:
Prior to PathPilot, our technical team strongly discouraged any networking of Tormach machine controllers. Background network activities that are inherent to a non-real time system like Windows OS would result in intermittent signal timing interrupts and interfere with the motion-control process. Our “best-practice” advice was to transfer G-code files to the controller using a USB flash drive and load these files out of controller memory and never directly from the flash drive.
While I’m sure there were plenty of folks that connected anyway (I know my Mach3 machine was connected to the network, but I was using a Smoothstepper to keep the machine stable for motion control), most were heeding Tormach’s advice.  After all, who wants a controller hiccup to trash their part?
Path Pilot makes this possible through a couple of mechanisms.  First, it shows up on your network as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device.  As such, you can make it look just like a disk drive to any…

2 Tools for Calculating Cut Depth and Cut Width/Stepover When Milling

Mar 23, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, Cool, FeedsSpeeds, Manufacturing, Products, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments

The depth of cut and width of cut (also called stepover) are crucial variables when milling pockets, profiling, facing, and a variety of other machining operations.  Aside from the machines capabilities, the material, and a description of the tool to be used, they’re the most important variables for determining feeds and speeds.  In conjunction with your feeds and speeds they can determine your Material Removal Rate, which in turn will determine how long it will take to complete the operation. Given a material removal rate and the machinability of the material, we now the spindle power required for the operation.  Turning that back around we can compute the potential for deflection of the tool.  Too much deflection ruins tool life, makes for inaccurate cuts, and is also bad for surface finish.
Given all that, one might say that your Cut Depth and Cut Width are going to determine just about everything of interest in terms of what you want to get out of the cut–how long it will take, how it will impact tool life, and the surface finish.  Cut Depth and Cut Width are very important variables indeed!
Yet, most machinists do not have analytical tools that help them…

New 3D Printing Process is 25X Faster and Gives a Better Finish

Mar 18, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Cool, Products  //  3 Comments

I’ve said it before, having access to good chemistry is an imperative for innovation in the 3D Printing space.  This new process from Carbon3D really emphasizes that point.  It’s designed for 3D printers that rely on photo-sensitive resins (SLA or Stereolithography) rather than filament extrusion, but it can make those printers dramatically faster as well as yielding a better and more consistent surface finish.  Here’s the scoop on how it works:
Traditional SLA printers operate by exposing the liquid resin, layer by layer, to a laser that scans out an image of the layer or an entire image projected by a DLP projector.  The light causes the photo-sensitive resin to harden.  Now comes the tricky part–the tray holding the resin has to mechanically rock, pivot, or twist to break the layer lose so that the part can be raised up and another layer printed.  This “peel” process is slow and it can stress or damage the part as well as all that jerking around can reduce the finish quality.  Supposedly, this peel process is also the thing that slows down these printers most–it’s not at all uncommon for them to take 8-12 hours to do a reasonably large part.

New Tormach PCNC 1100 Mill Arrives at CNCCookbook

Mar 18, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Products, Techniques  //  13 Comments

We’ve been so busy lately with one project after the other here at CNCCookbook, but it has been a lot of fun. The latest news is we’ve taken delivery on a brand new Tormach PCNC 1100 Mill with all the trimmings–Tool Changer, Full Enclosure, Spindle Speeder, and a bunch of other goodies.
That also meant bidding farewell to our trusty Industrial Hobbies CNC Mill, which we converted to CNC, filled with epoxy granite, built a full flood enclosure, and made innumerable changes to over the course of the many years we’ve owned it. It was a great machine, but the Tormach is a better one in the end of the day. The work envelope is a touch smaller, but the spindle is much better and it is saving me the work of having to build a toolchanger.
We’ll have a lot more to say about the Tormach over time, but suffice to say I had been around them quite a lot over at the local Tormach dealer, Santa Cruz Electronics, and come to appreciate their capabilities. I get to work with a variety of machines around the Bay Area thanks to the generosity of a number of friends, but the…

New Goodies for G-Wizard Calculator and Editor Users

Mar 18, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, FeedsSpeeds, GCode, Products, Software  //  3 Comments

Here’s a rundown on what’s new lately in G-Wizard Calculator and Editor’s latest versions:
G-Wizard Calculator
Release 2.77 adds A513 Low Carbon Steel.  If we’re missing a material you’re interested in, just drop us an email.  We can frequently add it fairly quickly just like we recently did for A513 and before that for the family of Cobalt Chrome alloys.
For this release we tweaked our Spindle Horsepower calculations in a couple of ways to make them more accurate, especially on lower powered machines where every little bit helps.  These tweaks included a general recalibration against other horsepower calculators available from sources like Kennemetal as well as adjustments for special cases like High-Lubricity Endmill Coatings and the ability of serrated roughers to do the job with less horsepower.
We also recently reorganized G-Wizard University for Calculator to bring all the essential videos together for a new user on the Intro Page.  Our long-term plan is to eventually eliminate written documentation and go entirely to short videos targeted to specific areas of interest.  People just seem to get a lot more out of video and we’ve seen this work well for a lot of other products.  So, we’ll just keep pumping…

14 Cloud Software Myths Debunked for Manufacturing Software

Mar 10, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Software  //  24 Comments

There have been people worrying about and bashing the Cloud since the very beginnings of the Cloud.  Despite that, Cloud has been with us for a very long time, and it’s done nothing but get inexorably bigger.  It has gotten into more application categories than ever, and every one it gets into, it’s market share steadily goes up.  The mainstream public doesn’t have a problem with it.  They don’t care about the Religious Wars, they just want better software.
Now the Cloud has come to the Industrial Software world, and more specifically, to the CADCAM world.  You can see the great hue and cry in some of the comments about OnShape’s launch.  Like our friend the death stare cat on the right, some will proclaim they will never Ever use Cloud Software.
Frankly, Cloud’s arrival is late relative to other markets for a whole host of reasons.  If nothing else, it is just a lot of work to write a competitive CAD or CAM program from scratch whether it is Cloud or not.  The Manufacturing World has not been incredibly progressive about lots of things for lots of reasons.  For example pay ridiculous sums for more memory or Ethernet…

Keep Eyes Peeled for OnShape: The Next Generation in CAD Software

Mar 6, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Products, Software  //  49 Comments

Nope, it’s not a SolidWorks rendering, it’s onShape…
Today, SolidWorks is pretty much the reigning King of CAD software for the CNC world.  We certainly confirmed that with our CAD survey:

Solidworks dominates the Pro category…
But what would happen if you could assemble most of the founding team that originally built SolidWorks?  What if you gave them a clean sheet of paper and turned them loose with the idea of revolutionizing the CAD world just as they had once upon a time with SolidWorks?
Would that be exciting news?  Well as they used to say on the old Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In:  You bet your Sweet Bippy it would be exciting news.
We’re watching OnShape carefully, here at CNCCookbook.  They’ve got that All Star team working on a next generation CAD package as we speak.  They’ve tried hard to keep it a secret, and have a formidable looking NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that anyone who sees it has to sign.  We’ll have a lot more to say about them at some point after the handcuffs come off, but in the meanwhile, I happened to notice CNCCookbook being quoted in a Boston Globe article about them.  Here are some select…

Try Out Our New G-Wizard Editor Usability Features

Mar 5, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, GCode, Products, Software  //  2 Comments

I recently did a survey of folks who tried our 30-day Free G-Wizard Editor Trial, but that didn’t wind up buying.  Obviously I’d like to know what the main factors were that prevented their purchase.  I really expected to see a bunch of reponses that boiled down to, “Nice product but I don’t need a GCode Editor/Simulator.”  Interestingly, there was almost none of that.  Instead, the top 3 issues were these:
– I couldn’t get it set up properly for my CNC machine.
– I’m waiting for all the Conversational Wizards to be complete, then I’ll buy.
– I couldn’t find a Post for my CNC’s GCode dialect.
Those will be the next areas I focus on for G-Wizard Editor until I can see some signs of improvement for those areas.  As the first installment on this, I just uploaded a Beta test version of GWE that has some new features aimed at making it super easy for GWE users to be guided through the startup process.  If you have an active GWE trial or subscription, you’re welcome to download the GWE Beta Test and tell us what you think it needs.  I’ve basically done three things:
Start Wizard

Build a Drag Knife for Your CNC Router or Mill

Mar 5, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, CNC Router, DIY CNC, Techniques  //  5 Comments

Drag Knifes are really handy for cutting soft materials like vinyl, cardboard, mat board, foam, wood veneer, leather, and many others.  With flat sheets, you might use one to create some custom packaging for some product, for example, or at least to prototype the packaging. Commercial drag knifes are readily made, but can be a bit expensive for the hobbyist.  I recently came across a great CNCZone post for this drag knife:

Drag Knife by Grunblau…
Here it is broken down into component parts:

Drag Knife components…
As you can see, it’s pretty simple and would be pretty easy to build.  The main thing in designing one is to hold the blade so it has a vertical dull edge that is fairly close to the axis of the shaft but still off axis enough to have a little castering effect.  There are fancier drag knives available that even put a 4th axis servo to control knife direction, but you can do a lot with a self-steering drag knife.  Sometimes the simpler solutions are best.
Programming one of these drag knives may require you to perform what’s known as a “corner action”.  In order to make a tight corner, you want…

Marketing for Your Job Shop or CNC Manufacturing Business the CNCCookbook Way

Mar 4, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business  //  5 Comments

People I talk to are often curious about CNCCookbook as a business.  They want to know how big it is and how it got to be that big.  While our financial performance is private, suffice to say it is very successful.  What I will share is some data about our marketing and how we built the business.  Many of you gentle readers out there are interested in having your own business, so hopefully some of this will be helpful to you.
For starters, we get about 2.8 million visits a year to the site, which is quite large considering I do all the marketing myself as well as the majority of the software and customer service.  I manage to get our marketing done plus the customer service with about 30-40% of my time, which leaves the rest of the time to write software.
How successful is CNCCookbook’s marketing compared to the world at large?
It turns out there is a fairly decent way to analyze this, or at least one dimension of it.  I’m speaking of measuring the web traffic that comes to the site versus other sites, and specifically the SEO traffic.  That’s traffic generated by people searching for…

Cobalt Chrome Feeds and Speeds + Material Selection in G-Wizard

Mar 2, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, FeedsSpeeds, Manufacturing, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments

The latest version of G-Wizard Calculator, v2.75, adds Cobalt Chrome to our list of Materials.
“What is Cobalt Chrome?” you might ask.  Why it’s just what the Dr ordered, almost literally.  CoCr is the common abbreviation.  There are several alloys available such as ASTM F75 or F799.  CoCr is extremely resistant to temperature, corrosion, and wear.  It is commonly used in gas turbines, dental implants, and orthopedic implants.  Here is a typical dental application:

Dental bridges and crowns machined from Cobalt Chrome…
A material with those kinds of properties is very useful, but is also expensive to manufacture and hard to machine as you could imagine.  Because of this, proper feeds and speeds are very important and G-Wizard can now handle those calculations.
We’ve had requested for CoCr for a while now, but it has taken some time to do the full analysis necessary when adding a whole new material family.  G-Wizard’s material model divides things into Families and Alloys.  It’s fast for us to add a new alloy or condition, we just need to know the hardness to accomplish it.  Adding a family is different.  Families don’t behave like each other in terms of how the feeds and speeds…

We’ve Been Chock-a-Block Busy This Past Week at CNCCookbook on Cool Stuff for You!

Feb 26, 2015   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  2 Comments

We’ve been chock-a-block busy this past week at CNCCookbook, so I haven’t had much time to write many blog articles.  I apologize for that, but I’ll be back at it with more articles very shortly.
What I’ve been working on may be of some interest, it’s a new approach to helping folks get up to speed with our products faster and easier.  I call it “Bubble Tips.”  Like so many things, it’s easier for me to show you than to explain it in words, so let me put forward a little demo of Bubble Tips:
We’ll launch Bubble Tips in G-Wizard Calculator and G-Wizard Editor very shortly as they are nearly complete.  Many of you will have noticed the program we’re using to demo Bubble Tips is obviously a member of the G-Wizard Family, but it is unfamiliar.  That product is our upcoming G-Wizard ShopFloor.
It’s a product aimed at maximizing the organization, productivity, and teamwork of a shop.  It can help a one-man shop, a small shop with just a few people, or a big shop.  I won’t say much about yet, other than to visit GW ShopFloor’s homepage and keep eyes peeled for further announcements.  If you think…




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