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Thread: Desktop CNC -opinion

  1. #31
    Insider ElPanda's Avatar
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    It is just like anything else in that you need to start with the basics and work your way up.

    I do not recommend anyone try and jump straight into CNC without at least dabbling manually for a short period

    You need to feel the forces at the handles and spend time setting things up to appreciate what it is you are doing. Learning the basics of when to climb cut, when to conventional cut, when to plunge cut, how you should attack certain parts and the exact reasons why. Learning how parts are made will make you immeasurably better at designing parts as well, and anyone who ends up having to make parts you designed will love you for it.
    Even taking a "CNC class" will likely only give you the basic ideas.

    I have learned an insane amount on the job versus what I learned in my classes, looking back all the classes really taught me were the basics, but I still recommend that is where anyone who is interested get started. You will get to the big guns eventually, just take the time to set up a good foundation and it will make you much stronger in the long run.
    ABET accredited level II machinist - CNC Programmer - Mechanical Engineering Technologist
    Rio Grande Inc.

  2. #32
    Wayne
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBSteve View Post
    See, I had no idea this existed. THIS IS AWESOME.

    Do you have any suggestions for learning CAM/g-code? Are there resources out there you've heard good things about or had good experience with?

    How about things to look out for when buying equipment? Any recommendations for smaller CNC machines?

    Googling around I found this resource:

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/teache...machining.html
    Techshop is really cool, but the different locaitons seem to have different offerings, but many overlap.

    There is also such a thing called a hackerspace. According to this map, there are 4 in your area. http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/List_of_Hacker_Spaces The general premise is that they are communal places for people to work on projects with whatever tools are available in the space. They are all probably going to be different, but with 4 semi-close by, you probably have some pretty good options.

    For G-code, youtube. Seriously, it's crazy dry stuff, but I learned a lot of it on videos about MACH3, which is the program I was going to be using. For CAM, an embedded program is probably the easiest. HSMexpress is free and has options in Inventor and Solidworks. There are tutorials, and learning within a CAD interface you know is always easier. Any specific issues, throw it into Google and see what pops up. Watching demo videos on YT, again, is another way to learn the CAM side if you prefer like that.

    The only G-code I really know and feel the need to use is G54 of G53 to tell the machine where to go. I could just jog, but if I jog it to get a new tool in, I can just tell it to go G53 X0 Y0, and now it's back to the machine's XY zero.

    I've brought problems here too, and had quality help in a few hours. Sometimes, a second set of eyes is all you need.

  3. #33
    Insider PBSteve's Avatar
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    Yeah, I've been to a couple hackerspaces and they seem to avoid heavy machines.

  4. #34
    Wayne
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBSteve View Post
    Yeah, I've been to a couple hackerspaces and they seem to avoid heavy machines.
    That's a bummer. There is actually one downtown here. Looking at some of the pictures they have a Bridgeport mill and what looks like a Southbend 9" lathe. Mostly artsy stuff, but all of it useful in some way for PB related projects.

  5. #35
    Having converted a Grizzly brand X2 mini mill to CNC, I would recommend going at least one style larger if your needs/wants are primarily paintball related (not that anybody has recommended one). Without pretty heavy modifications, the travels are too small to be able to machine a frame without multiple setups per side - even with modifications you are pushing it, and some bodies are likely at the absolute limits of the x-travel. X3 mills actually have a not so decent reputation as far as their rigidity for their size, a BF20 type mill or similar is typically more strongly recommended as a candidate for CNC conversion (Grizzly G0704 or similar). The Grizzly G0758 sort of splits the difference size wise at a pretty good price.

    Those are, of course, with CNC conversion of a manual mill in mind. As ElPanda mentioned, dabbling with a manual machine for a while will be very beneficial to your capabilities.

    If a conversion isn't something you would be interested in, I'd honestly lean towards a gantry style machine like HipboyScott mentioned. Usually considered a router, there are a number of them out there with very successful track records of working with aluminum. One of the nice aspects of starting with a DIY gantry router is that if you run with one of the designs having a good aluminum working track record, you can over time machine more robust and rigid framework to replace the original structure (often made from 80/20 aluminum extrusion or similar) and enhance the machine's capabilities.

  6. #36
    Insider HipboyScott's Avatar
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    So y0da has sage advice again. I wish I had followed and read that reply more carefully months ago.

    I just put in a deposit for a Precision Matthews PM25MV, after visiting someone who had a G0704 sitting in the back of their shop and explaining how he planned to eventually CNC the little unit. I'd never seen that class of mill, and just assumed it diddn't exist. After doing some research on 'the Zone' I called up PM, and hopefully in May sometime I'll get a call that my unit is ready to ship.

    I am stoked for the potential I'll soon have, but I'm also surprised that for all the talk I've seen of people trying to mess with Sherline/Taig/Seig and then discussions usually jumping straight to talk of Tormach machines; and seemingly no-one calling out from the rafters that for a really modest budget one can get into a G0704/BF20/Titan/Whatever class mill that is practically begging for being turned into a DIY Hobby VMC... that is just a large oversight in the community. It's perhaps intentional but it's like the best kept secret in hobby CNC.

    And then I see that they make 10x30 lathes for a song as well?

    China has been busy.

    I know it's not old iron, I know its not going to cut like the Heavy 10 or JET lathes I used. And I know a G0704 won't hog steel like a Bridgeport or even a Tormach or a Haas or anything. But, for a guy with a modest budget who wants to tinker with ideas?

    The machines are definitely big enough to handle some legitimate milling tasks that, predominantly went to Bridgeports (less out of rigidity but envelope at least); and yet these machines require neither the footprint or power consumption or logistics as the full knee mills do; they use 110 power, they only weight a few hundred pounds, they aren't 8' tall, they aren't 60 years old. Those are great things when you're looking for something to stick in the basement.

    I spent a lot of time and energy building a 4x8 gantry router, and it works great for the intended purposes of cutting airplane parts, but it doesn't pull off the small-part milling/prototyping task that I had wished it might also magically do. Not that it can't, but it just isn't setup to do that; I want flexibility for cutting big soft things.

    A router table that stays under 24" in either axis and is made entirely of aluminum/steel with a rigid table and uses probably ballscrews, will make a formidable small mill. But, I'm super excited for my PM25 and probably soon after a PM1030V, and by then I'll be able to custom make most-anything paintball related I want to experiment with. Production, that's a different story, but small steps.

  7. #37
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    Paying for your own design to be done is way cheaper

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