Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
  1. #1
    I'm about to start a build of an all aluminum router. It's not my first build, but the previous ones were MDF abominations that should have been birthed squatting over a bucket of water. Let's not mention them again.

    Right now I'm in a design phase, and I'm very open to input. My build is constrained by rather small space, complete lack of decent tools, severely lacking metalworking skills and a tight budget.
    I've uploaded an album with some pictures of the build, and a few FEA simulations giving a hint of where the weak areas of the construction are.
    Edit: Revised build after getting some tips -
    Edit: Third iteration:
    Edit: Fourth iteration:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	SVidn3r.png 
Views:	397 
Size:	257.6 KB 
ID:	12715

    It's designed using 60x60 aluminum profiles and 20mm 5083 alu plates. I know 5083 is less than ideal, but it's what is carrying, which is where I plan to buy the bulk of the materials.
    The linear parts are designed from a kit:

    My questions are:
    Will I be severely crippled by using 5083 instead of 6061 or 6083? If so, do you have a recommendation of an alternative to motedis? Apart from that, I am very impressed by them, without actually having bought anything yet.
    I'm considering going dual ballscrews on the x-axis. But I only have 3 steppers+drivers, meaning it would be a pretty hefty investment to get everything extra for that. Is it worth it? Is it essential for success?
    I'm having some trouble finding a good way to mount the ballscrew supports, any ideas?
    I'm going to use a 2.2kw water cooled spindle. Any ideas on a cheap, closed loop cooling system? Also, anyone tried the "Sanven" spindles on

    Apart from that, I'm looking for any and all input on how the design could be improved. I'd like this one to be near perfect before I start buying stuff.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	wyjHxiE.png 
Views:	183 
Size:	287.9 KB 
ID:	12654  
    Last edited by Tumblebeer; 02-07-2014 at 06:53 PM.

  2. #2
    You haven't mentioned what you want to cut, but with a machine like that you will be limited. Wood and plastic would be reasonable if accuracy was not critical - e.g. engraving, or general shape cutting.

    Beyond that there are many features which limit this machine, the high sides and single ballscrew being the immediate ones.

    Looking at your lateral stiffness analysis this shows 1000N gives 0.39mm. This equates to about 2500N/mm. Although this would be a reasonable start point if you could achieve it, it's not clear if the force is being applied at the spindle centre line, or closer to the gantry on the Z plate. If it is on the Z plate then the real figure would be much less. This analysis is also idealised assuming ballscrew bearings etc. are all solid. Putting this analysis to one side I would say based on your comment about 'near perfect before buying . . . ' this needs more work on the general design before you worry about material spec (e.g. 5083 vs 6061).

    Your other analysis showing maximum stress of 18MPa for 1000N is not that useful since all it shows is that the machine is massively strong enough and will not break during cutting. For example yield for 6061-T6 is about 240MPa and I think your cutting forces will be much less than 1000N. But don't confuse this with stiff enough because this will be a very basic machine as mentioned above.
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  3. #3
    I'm going to use a 2.2kw water cooled spindle. Any ideas on a cheap, closed loop cooling system? Also, anyone tried the "Sanven" spindles on
    I think this is the least of your worries as the spindle will only need about 2-3 litres of water in a tank to keep it cool.
    Don't buy anything until you have put some sketches on here and had feed back from the very knowledgeable people on here and take the criticism in the spirit it which it is intended.
    Good luck with your build. ...clive

  4. #4
    If you want to go down the FEA route, then make sure you get the boundary conditions right - for example it looks like you've got the X-axis bearings on round rails, but constrained to the rail not free to rotate. Also, you've applied a force to the spindle mount and fixed the machine base, but it's the deflection between the spindle (tool) and the workpiece that matters - so draw a block of material on the machine bed and constrain that.

    Co-incidentally I've just been working out stiffness (torsional and axial) for ballscrews including the bearing mounts - the cheap 16mm ballscrews get around 50N/um. That's an order of magnitude greater than the stiffness of the gantry, so it could reasonably be neglected.
    Last edited by Jonathan; 18-06-2014 at 10:17 PM.
    Old router build log here. New router build log here. Lathe build log here.
    Electric motorbike project here.

  5. #5
    If you are using ali extrusion for your frame then you may be able to get some ideas from my build here:
    Some caveats though - my machine is compromised by using the round supported rails. Its not useless by any means, but not as good as using profiled guides/rails and bearings (especially on the Z and Y axis). I think your rails should also be mounted differently (especially X axis).
    Most guys on here also go for a welded steel frame, as it is cheaper, generally stronger, but of course you may not have someone who can weld it for you (I also did not at the time).
    Oh also consider using twin X axis ballscrews (one on each side).
    I'm sure you get tons of advice and best of luck with the build.
    Last edited by Washout; 19-06-2014 at 08:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!

    I'd like to be able to mill aluminum, otherwise I'd feel like I failed. The building materials I'm using can handle alu at the precision I'm happy with, as Washout clearly shows in his build videos. It's up to me to make sure it does.

    As for the FEA, I'm not really looking at the numbers at this point. I know I've made too many simplifications and false assumtions for that. It was mostly there to get a visual feel of where the weaknesses were.

    I've redone large parts of the construction, trying to listen to the advice routercnc gave me. I've also taken some inspiration from Washouts machine.
    What kind of precision are you getting with yours when milling alu?
    Also, what kind of problems are the round rails giving you? Chatter, instability, binding?

    It's out of my league working with steel I think, even alu is stretching it.

    I've uploaded another album with some pics of my revised build.

    It was done in a bit of a hurry, I have to admit.
    What do you think? Did I improve it? Have I missed anything, apart from the obvious mounting of the ballscrew supports on the y-axis?

  7. #7
    Here's the last issue I sorted out on my machine:
    Some profile rails rather than round rails sorted that on the Y axis. I will likely upgrade the z axis as well at some point and Jazz pointed on my thread, profile rails are a lot better than round due to better resistance to play.
    I didn't have many issues with alignment/binding once I had taken the time to do it properly. I did have a job drilling the ballscrew holes off centre on the left hand corner posts, through the extrusions, but luckily the holes were not critical in diameter and I oversized them so I had some adjustment room when aligning the ballscrews.
    Repeatability is good on my machine and on a part I am milling, which has 56 identical pockets on it, each pocket was within 0.02-0.04mm of each other dimensionally.
    At the risk of "I told you so" from Robin and a debate about capabilities ;) , I am happy with the machine for wood, plastics and ali work. However, there are limitations in using >8mm cutters due to general rigidity and although I have cut 1mm slots accidentally through some holding steel washers, I am planning to buy a commercial milling machine (Warco GH) to convert to CNC and do steel and other harder materials. So I would think carefully about how much ali and metals you want to cut generally as a milling machine conversion maybe better (although you will need custom brackets etc made up, which needs CNC to start with).
    Best of luck with your design and I'm sure others more in the know will give finer advice on your design, which looks much better to my layman's eyes than your first.

  8. #8
    To help you get more feedback I've dropped a screengrab from your site into this post - hope this is OK.

    Here is your version 1:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	xaOfHWw.png 
Views:	162 
Size:	160.1 KB 
ID:	12595

    Here is your version 2:
    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	x8Qb2t8.png 
Views:	254 
Size:	268.8 KB 
ID:	12594

    If you are keen to stay with supported rails and aluminium extrusion then this is a pretty good layout, and much better than the first one. My view is that you will be able to cut wood easily and accurately, and the occasional bit of aluminium.

    But if you end up doing a lot of aluminium then you will find that this machine is not enough. An upgrade to profile linear rails on at least Y and Z is recommended, the gantry sections are too small and not joined to each other (e.g at least a plate over the back), and the X axis stepper motors are mounted off long brackets.

    With the layout you have now I would look at moving the X ballscrews outwards and down, level with the supported rails. Then extend the small horizontal plate which the gantry sits outwards and screw the ballnut to the underside of it. There are other variations but you get the idea. This will enable you to mount the motors nearer to the frame, effectively stiffening the X direction when cutting. If this is too big a change then at least make the small plates on the outside much bigger and triangulate up to the motor position.
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  9. #9
    I'm pretty much convinced that I should switch to profile rails instead. I guess 15mm should be enough?
    Something along the lines of: or

    What should I consider when switching to square rail? Can I mount the rail straight to the extrusion t-slot? Any special considerations?

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Tumblebeer View Post
    What should I consider when switching to square rail? Can I mount the rail straight to the extrusion t-slot? Any special considerations?
    If mounting directly on profile then you'll need 20mm because 15mm won't span the slot properly. To be honest 20mm are not much more money and they also give other advantages due to there bearings being slightly higher and giving more support. This esp true when you come to build the Z axis.!
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 23-06-2014 at 11:25 AM.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. NEW MEMBER: where to buy aluminum extrusion
    By troyboy1 in forum New Member Introductions
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 21-07-2014, 12:52 PM
  2. Stepper controller to manually input a specific degree
    By Web Goblin in forum Motor Drivers & Controllers
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 13-10-2013, 04:47 AM
  3. tool for aluminum on uk
    By edgas10 in forum Tool & Tooling Technology
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 26-04-2011, 10:23 AM
  4. Milling aluminum and cooling
    By Tonny in forum Swarf & Chip Management
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 12-07-2010, 02:48 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts