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  1. #1
    Hello

    My name is frank and I am 30 year old a Furniture and cabinet designer from manchester. I have recently graduated from a 3D design degree at Manchester School of Art and was lucky enough to have access to a full size (2440x1220) CNC Router, laser cutters and 3D printers. Unfortunately I am now back in the wilderness and am really missing having access to CAM facilities. I use Solidworks to design most of my pieces and would love to be able to cut out frame work straight from my CAD files.

    I am able to use our local FAB Lab but I need more day to day access.

    This has led me to think about building a CNC router.

    I have been thinking about it for some time and think that now I am ready to start designing my build. It will be a 1220x1220 machine, mainly for cutting hardwood and plywood. I am also considering wall mounting as i have a small Garage workshop and what with all my wood working machinery space is at a premium. I was thinking of using Aluminium extrusions as I am unfamiliar with welding and do not own a welder, so steel is not an option. It seems pretty easy to assemble a frame and has the advantage of being fairly easy to drill and tap.

    This build will be done over the course of the next year or so, as money is tight and I will have to buy things in dribs and drabs. I intend to build the frame first and then worry about electronics later. Two things i have loosely decided upon are the fact that it will have two stepping motors on the y axis synced through software rather than timing belts and i will use supported rails and bearings for linear motion on all axis. I am also planning on using ballscrews, but am a bit lost on the details and sizes I would need to have working dimensions Of 1220x1220 (half a sheet of plywood).

    I have been looking on Zap Automation, CNC4U and of course the ever faithful ebay and whilst there are many options, I thought I would seek out some help from you guys as you all seem to know your stuff! I have read many build logs and must say I am very impressed with what people are producing and if I can build something 10% as good I will be a happy man!

    I would love your input and advice and hopefully I can get started.

    One question to kick things off, I notice alot of people use Mach3. I am used to using Artcam, is this rubbish or is it just as good?

    Thanks for reading my very long introduction and hopefully hear from you all soon

    Regards

    Frank

  2. #2
    Welcome Frank, it seems the way forward here is to produce a drawing, most people use Sketchup, then present it to the forum for comment. I trust you saw the vertical machine JAZZCNC made ?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    This has led me to think about building a CNC router.
    Run Frank run for the Hill's before the dreaded CNC curse bites you properly. . .Lol

    Welcome

    Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    I was thinking of using Aluminium extrusions as I am unfamiliar with welding and do not own a welder, so steel is not an option. It seems pretty easy to assemble a frame and has the advantage of being fairly easy to drill and tap.
    Ok understand but you'll build much cheaper machine using steel. It's the hidden things like T-nuts and connectors etc that make it expensive, they can cost nearly much has the profile.
    Also don't be fooled into thinking profile is easy to drill or tap has it's not. I've broke more taps in profile than I have in steel has it's structure makes drilling and tapping awkward.

    Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    This build will be done over the course of the next year or so, as money is tight and I will have to buy things in dribs and drabs. I intend to build the frame first and then worry about electronics later.
    Wise choice and try to Budget for Digital drives they are worth the Money.

    Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    Two things i have loosely decided upon are the fact that it will have two stepping motors on the y axis synced through software rather than timing belts and i will use supported rails and bearings for linear motion on all axis. I am also planning on using ballscrews, but am a bit lost on the details and sizes I would need to have working dimensions Of 1220x1220 (half a sheet of plywood).
    Well it's standard stuff really for your needs. Either 16mm or 20mm Dia and 10mm pitch ball-screws, Personally at this length I'd go with 20mm. Somebody is going to come along and say 16mm because of lower Inertia of screw but take no notice has it's benefit is minimal and reducing whip is prime concern at this length. You'll have more than enough speed and Acceleration for cutting wood with 20mm screws.

    Length's etc then fire up solid works get designing and your model will show that based on machine design.



    Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    One question to kick things off, I notice alot of people use Mach3. I am used to using Artcam, is this rubbish or is it just as good?
    Ok common miss-under standing here.!! Mach3 is just Control software and it's Only function is control the machine. It watches input and outputs for things like limit switches, E-stop etc and it also controls the Motion of the machine by sending signals to the motors telling it where to go based on G-code files you create in CAM software.

    Artcam is just that CAM software and the file it produces is G-code file which you load into Mach3 or any other Control software like Linux CNC.
    Cam software has with it a post processing side where you select which Control software your using and it then formats the Out putted G-code file in the way your Control software like to See it.

    Hope this helps and Happy building.

    PS: Buy a Welder and learn a new skill it aint hard. .

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by EddyCurrent View Post
    Welcome Frank, it seems the way forward here is to produce a drawing, most people use Sketchup, then present it to the forum for comment. I trust you saw the vertical machine JAZZCNC made ?
    I didn't make a Vertical machine.??? . . . I made a Horizontal machine and tipped it on it's End.!!. . . Works great. . Lol

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    I didn't make a Vertical machine.??? . . . I made a Horizontal machine and tipped it on it's End.!!. . . Works great. . Lol
    Maybe chip clearance due to gravity would work better with a ceiling mounted machine

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by EddyCurrent View Post
    Maybe chip clearance due to gravity would work better with a ceiling mounted machine
    Thought about that but would be bugger on bad back looking up changing tools.! .

  7. #7
    Thanks for the warm welcome people! I will try and do a drawing over the weekend to try and start making this a reality. Jazzcnc's Wall mounted machine is something that has inspired me and with my space limitations I feel that this is the only option.

    I may think about buying a welder and making a steel frame, I cant see it being that difficult to do with a little practice.......hmmmmmm another tool purchase is always good! Any advice on what welder I should buy? Dont want to spend the earth!

    cheers

    Frank

  8. #8
    here is an itial render of a frame without gantry yet but am i heading in the right direction? Rails are on top and bottom to aliviate chip build up.

    any views are welcome

    cheers frank
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  9. Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    I may think about buying a welder and making a steel frame, I cant see it being that difficult to do with a little practice.......hmmmmmm another tool purchase is always good! Any advice on what welder I should buy? Dont want to spend the earth!
    Frank
    I started building mine recently - still working on the frame. I had no experience of working with steel or welding before I started...its not hard to get going. Just make sure you get a few extra bits of steel to practice on.
    I got a 160A Ferm welder - I spotted a seller on ebay selling them new as an auction rather than just buy it now & managed to win it for 60 inc postage (normally 80). I think you want one rated at 160A rather than 100A - I can't imagine that brand really makes much difference.

    Also keep in mind that you'll need to get a decent mask/helmet & gloves etc I got an auto switching helmet on ebay for ~35 & gloves are cheap.
    Its also best to buy a decent chipping hammer & wire brush than use the piece of rubbish that came with the welder.

    Jazz will warn about using cheap welding rods - I came to the conclusion that if I bought them from my local steel yard i'd be ok as they do fabrication as well, so if they're good enough for them, they must be ok for me. The type of rods that were recommended were 3.2mm 6013 & they seem to be working well for me.

    Watch as many welding videos as you can...here are a couple of the most useful that I found:
    Welding institute - old, but good
    Arc welding lessons
    Stick welding troubleshooting

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by frankkilleen View Post
    here is an itial render of a frame without gantry yet but am i heading in the right direction? Rails are on top and bottom to aliviate chip build up.

    any views are welcome

    cheers frank
    Hi Frank,

    Well see few things that may cause you hassle but they are connected so could be easily sorted.!

    The rails positioned like you have them will be quite hard to get on the same plane and parallel to each other.
    Also the bed frame design with those 3 inner pieces going to the same point will cause stress in that area and would be hard to weld up and keep frame square and flat without heat distortion. It would also need more corner bracing

    So I'd look to build the Bed frame off the machine has a separate straight forward bed design IE: Rectangle with perpendicular supports and diagonal corner braces to hold sqaure that bolts onto angled frame.
    Then depending on how much clearance and cutting height you require I'd mount the rails directly on the bed or have them raised putting the raising material mounted on the bed. This will easily allow you to make sure the rails are on the same plane by either careful measuring or using Epoxy method, I'd suggest Epoxy.!
    I'd then just have a shield to protect the bottom rail/bearings and ballscrews.

    Regards the supporting frame then I'd build that in sections has well, something like these pics show. Bolting it together like this will help making it simpler with welding up but more importantly to setup and remove twist etc by shimming or adjusting bolts etc.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Hope this makes sense and helps.!
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 05-10-2013 at 04:52 PM.

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