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Why I Love CNCCookbook: A Chance to Make a Difference

Jan 29, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business, Cool, Manufacturing, Software, Techniques  //  No Comments

One of our users posted a note in our User Club today that made me feel good.  Here’s what he had to say:
I just got my yearly review at work, 4.28 % raise! Hey Bob, 6 months ago I knew nothing about milling. I couldn`t even spell VFM. I spent 14 hours training on what buttons to push before our mill operator went on vacation. I searched the internet for info. on milling and came across your web site. Every night after work, I read the vast amount of information you have posted on milling. I purchased both GWE and GWC.… Read the rest

Tormach Lathe Tooling and News on a Shipping Date

Jan 28, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Products  //  18 Comments

I wanted to give another update on my Tormach CNC Lathe this week.  I’ve been one of the Beta Testers.  Good news is that Tormach has announced the Beta Test is winding down and they’re hoping to make first sales in Q1 2014–right around the corner, in other words.  I know from my perspective the Beta Testing has gone extremely well with only minor teething troubles, all of which were corrected.  In addition, the Beta Team gave Tormach a number of constructive suggestions for how to improve the already very nice machines and most all of these were accepted.
I want to talk just briefly about the Tooling for the lathe.  … Read the rest

Ultimate Benchtop CNC Mini Mill: Part 3 – Closed Loop vs Open Loop

Jan 27, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC  //  5 Comments

Here is Part 3 of our Ultimate Benchtop CNC Mini Mill design series.  Part 1 was about selecting the Donor Mill.  Part 2 was  concerned with selecting your CNC mechanical components, specifically the leadscrews, ballnuts, motor mounts, and drive system.  We will look into the ever popular Closed Loop vs Open Loop (steppers versus servos) discussion in Part 3.
Introduction:  Lots of Choices
The first thing to note about this segment of our DIY CNC Mill Design Series is that there are a LOT of choices around how to drive the ballscrews for your machine’s axes.  In the interest of brevity, we’re not going to dive into every single nook and cranny of this complex world.  … Read the rest

Von Dutch’s Toolbox

Jan 24, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  No Comments

I saw this one over on Garage Journal, which is a very cool web site if you like garage and home shop organizational articles.  Here is Von Dutch’s tool box:

I love it just for the hand lettering (if you didn’t know, Von Dutch was an amazing pin striper of hot rods, among many other things) and the great yellow color.  I love rolling tool boxes and seem to buy another one each year.  You can never have enough drawers and if you wait for the sales, they are way cheaper than the commercial style Lista-type cabinets.  I buy the nicer ones with the ball bearing slides.  … Read the rest

What’s Dell Going to Do With 5000 3D Printers?

Jan 23, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, Cool  //  2 Comments

Just read an interesting story on  Dell has just ordered 5000 3D printers from Polish-maker Zortrax.
Zortrax went through a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the development of the printer, and they’ve now launched their product and are apparently geared up for very large orders such as this one from Dell.
It’s a slick looking machine with capable specs at a very decent price ($1895):

Zortrax M200 Plug and Play 3D Printer
Build volume: 205x205x190mm
Nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm
Layer resolution settings: 100, 150, 200, 300 microns
Filament: 1.75mm ABS, PC-ABS and Nylon
SD card holder
Three different printing speed modes
Weight: 16kg
The sample 3D prints from their web site look very high resolution:

All this just begs the question:  What’s a company like Dell going to do with 5000 of these cool 3D printers?… Read the rest

Results from the 2014 CNCCookbook CAM Software Market Share Survey

Jan 20, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Software  //  8 Comments

We just completed our 3rd CAM Software Market Share Survey.  We did the first one in 2010 and our second one in 2012.  Each one garnered several hundred responses in a very short time, and so should be a statistically significant sample of respondents.  I’ll be grouping the results into three categories based on their pricing just as I have in the past:
–  High-End:  These are packages priced at the High-End and that typically are sold by dealers.
–  Tiered:  These are packages that can be had in a range of configurations from fairly inexpensive up to packages that compete with the High-End.… Read the rest

A 3D Printer for Mad Max, Martian Astronauts, and Burning Men

Jan 17, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   3D Printing, Blog, CNC Projects, Cool, DIY CNC  //  3 Comments

This was just too cool to pass up.  Suppose you are in a post apocalyptic dessert world or perhaps an astronaut on Mars.  You’d like to do some 3D printing, but there’s no source of filament.  Just dessert and sunlight as far as the eye can see.  Well, if you had this 3D printer, you could use solar power to fuse dessert sand into glass:

Totally impractical?  Yes.
Totally cool?  YES!
The technology is similar to laser sintering, but with sand and sun power focused by a big Fresnel lens.
(Thanks to Trevor for bringing this video to my attention)… Read the rest

Take the 2014 CNCCookbook CAM Survey

Jan 16, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool, Products, Software  //  8 Comments

Another year is upon so it is once again time to do a big survey.  I like to alternate CAD and CAM surveys year by year.  We did a CAD survey last year and a CAM survey at the end of 2012.  These surveys are very popular because we always get several hundred respondents and I know of no other place to get a good cross-section of machinists participating in a survey so we can all see the relative popularity of these packages.  In addition, by comparing the results year over year, we get a chance to at least glimpse the gain or loss of market share by these different players.… Read the rest

Extreme CNC: Diamond Wire Cutting Granite Into Exotic Shapes

Jan 16, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Cool  //  1 Comment

Here’s something you don’t see every day–granite being cut by a giant CNC diamond wire cutter into these exotic shapes for art and architectural use.  Here are some samples of this kind of work:

Pretty amazing work from stone!
And here is the Breton CNC Machine that makes it possible:
As you can see, the machine somewhat resembles a giant bandsaw.  There are two axes of movement enabling it to take slices out of the stone with a diamond coated wire.  For the more ordinary task of slicing a big block of quarried stone into slabs suitable for counter tops and the like, they make multi-wire machines that slice straight down and create many slabs at once.… Read the rest

Ultimate Benchtop CNC Mini Mill: Part 2 – CNC Mechanicals

Jan 12, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Router, DIY CNC  //  6 Comments

Here is Part 2 of our Ultimate Benchtop CNC Mini Mill design series.  Part 1 was about selecting the Donor Mill.  Part 2 will be concerned with selecting your CNC mechanical components, specifically the leadscrews, ballnuts, motor mounts, and drive system.  We will look into motors, motor sizing, drives, and the ever popular steppers versus servos discussion in Part 3.
Leadscrews (Or should I say “Ballscrews?”)
You’ll be replacing your Donor Mills leadscrews with some alternate leadscrews as one of the first projects you’ll tackle in your DIY CNC Mini Mill.  The mill’s existing ACME leadscrews, even on high quality manual machines, are just not suitable for CNC.  … Read the rest

A Nicely Engineered Double Ballnut Mount to Reduce Backlash

Jan 12, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC  //  7 Comments

This photo series and CNCZone thread link show how Ray Livingston engineered a double ballnut system to reduce backlash:

The components. The bracket that keeps the ballnuts from rotating relative to one another replaces the old clamp for the ball return circuits…

A roll pin acts as a sliding guide between the two ballnuts…

Here is what it looks like assembled.  Disc springs go in the middle to keep the two spread apart and fight backlash…… Read the rest

One Essential Ingredient for Increasing Machine Shop Profits

Jan 9, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, Business  //  1 Comment

Here’s one thing for certain: if you can’t properly bid on jobs it’s going to be hard to manage your profitability.  If your quotes are too low, at the very least you’re not making as much profit as you could and at the worst you could be losing money on your bid.  If your quotes are too high, then you’re probably not going to be competitive and you’ll have to run through a lot more quotes than your competitors for each successful contract you win.  If the situation is bad enough, you may not be winning any business at all.
Recently, I came across a Modern Machine Shop article that suggested that the best shops have a 70% average quote to book ratio, while the average shop has a 51% ratio.  … Read the rest

Ultimate Benchtop CNC Mini Mill: Part 1 – The Donor Mill

Jan 8, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Beginner, Blog, CNC Projects, DIY CNC  //  4 Comments

If you could build the ultimate benchtop CNC mini  mill for your home workshop, what would it look like?
We’ll take a look at that in this multi-part series which is aimed at helping the DIY CNC crowd get a handle on some of the up-front design considerations they should be thinking about for their CNC Mill conversion projects.  In this first part, we’ll consider criteria for choosing which donor machine to start with.
Donor Mill Considerations
First thing in a CNC Mill project is to choose the donor mill the conversion to CNC will be based on.  There are three important considerations if you could choose any donor mill to start from:
1.  … Read the rest

Details: Essential for Successful CNC Design

Jan 7, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog, CNC Projects, Cool  //  1 Comment

CNC has the potential to make any imagined design real, and perhaps successful as a product.  There is an element of art if the design is inspired enough.  Perhaps you’re thinking of designing the ultimate CNC product of some kind.  Maybe it’s purely for your personal enjoyment, or maybe you have in mind something that would be a good Kickstarter project.  One of the things that may help is a good scrapbook of ideas to help stimulate the imagination.  I like to use Pinterest to collect such visual imagery.  It’s available there in great abundance.  As I was recently looking over some of my Pinterest images trying to get ideas for a new PC Case design, I started wondering about some of the different design details CNC can help with and decided to write this post that categorizes some of the motifs.  … Read the rest

G-Wizard Sale Ends Monday

Jan 2, 2014   //   by Bob Warfield   //   Blog  //  No Comments

What beats a soccer ball to the face?  Why our G-Wizard Software, of course!
Just a quick reminder to let you know our G-Wizard Software Sale ends Monday.  This sale offered our biggest discounts of 2013 and there’s only a few days left to take advantage if you haven’t already.
You can take 20% off featured products using the “20OFF” coupon code in the shopping cart:
– Featuring all our top products.
– Sale runs through Jan 6, 2014.
– To see the discount, click the Buy Now button, go to the shopping cart, and enter your 20OFF coupon code.
Here are some of the deals we’re offering:
–  G-Wizard Calculator 3 Year Subscription:  Regularly $129, on sale for $103.20.  … Read the rest




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