Jun 2 2016

Aluminium Cutting and tips for cnc routers

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Aluminium Cutting and tips for cnc routers

Some hobbyists may ask if a CNC router can cut aluminum(Aluminium Cutting) since you most often see other users cutting wood or plastic. You can use your CNC router to cut aluminum if you know how to do it right. Aluminum (and other metals) are different to cut compared to wood or plastic. They have a smaller “sweet spot” for optimal cutting. If you leave the sweet spot your cutter will start breaking and wearing out faster and the surface finish will not be very good. Another thing to keep in mind is the “stickiness” factor (this applies to some other metals too). Aluminum wants to stick to your tool. It will do this to the point where it welds itself to your tool(tools). When sticky bits of aluminum have clung to your cutting edges your tool is not going to have much more life in it. Even though it is challenging you can cut aluminum on almost any CNC router. This article will give you a few tips to make sure you stay on track doing that job safe and proper.
While a CNC router can cut aluminum it is not the best tool for big parts, like vehicle parts. To cut successfully you need to do the job slowly. Just let your machine do its job and do not be in a rush. Cutting aluminum is not easy and will probably push your CNC router to its limits(Aluminium Cutting). Use a Feeds and Speeds calculator to optimize your settings so that you are not dodging the tip of your cutter that broke off and is flying across the room. Ideally you want to use a calculator that takes minimum RPM, CNC router cutter types, deflection, rubbing warning and chipping thinning into consideration. Your first problem will be recommended RPMs being too low. A CNC router cannot always go as slow as you want to go for cutting aluminum but there are ways to bump you’re the recommended RPM and fix this problem.

CNC router cutting aluminum ((Aluminium Cutting)

(Aluminium Cutting CNC router

The first tactic is to user cutters that are good at high speeds. The measurement to look for is Surface Speed which is high is carbide cutters. Cutters like HSS and Cobalt will be too slow so look for carbide TiAIN coated cutters. They cost a bit more but the improved results of your project will be worth it. Say you were using an HSS Endmill and the recommended RPM is 5877. Your CNC router’s spindle may have a minimum speed of 20,000 RPM (this is a very common minimum speed for routers). A TiAIN Carbide Endmill may have a recommended RPM of 16,897, putting it much closer to your machine’s minimum RPM. For aluminum try to get as close to 20,000 RPM as you can and you should be fine.
Another way to increase RPM is using small diameter cutters. The largest cutter you want to use should be ¼” but go smaller than that if you can. You will most rigid cutters to stop tool deflection from being a problem (this is where having tool deflection on your calculator becomes important). The smaller your cutter is the closer you can get it to 20,000 RPM. Be extra careful about clearing away chips. Recutting chips is an easy way to break a cutter. Be paranoid about this and do not just assume that your dust collection system is good enough without testing it for this first. It will be harder to get chips out as you cut deeper. Make more passes to cut down as far as you need to and you will open up shallower depths for better access. Lubricate your tools that that the chips will not stick to your cutting edges. The best way to do this is with a mister if you can set one up.
Now you need to think about avoiding tool rub. Going too slow with your federate can cause this to happen. Using your calculator should let you dodge this but be careful because the high speeds of your CNC router can result in tool rub happening easily. It can even start to happen while you are unaware that it is going on. If you cannot feed fast enough use fewer flutes. You should use a maximum of three flutes at once regardless. Using few flutes is good and is the reason 1 flute cutters are sold. There is a lot to remember when cutting aluminum but once you know what you are doing you should be able to use your CNC router for aluminum projects safely and accurately.


Mar 21 2016

Easter projects with CNC

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Easter projects with CNC

Holiday projects are fun and give you an opportunity to work with ideas that you would probably not think of otherwise. Regardless of what kind of CNC machine and what types of materials you have to work with there are dozens of different projects you can work on for the holidays(easter). Even though you are working within a specific theme the number of different projects you can come up with will be practically endless with a bit of creativity.

Easter projects with cnc machine

easter projects

Many hobbyists work with CNC routers so we will start with projects that can be made with those. One of the easiest things to do is to take a simple project and just make it Easter themed. If you are used to make signs you could make one that says “Happy Easter” with a picture of a bunny or a decorative egg carved into it. Alternatively you could only carve text into the sign but shape it so that it looks like a bunny, egg or some other Easter related object. Hobbyists who are more interested in 3D objects could create a small statue or figurine that is made to look like a rabbit. You could even combine these two projects by making a bunny who is holding a sign or who is wearing one around its neck like a necklace. Depending on the style you want the pieces to match you could make the bunnies realistic looking or give them a cartoonish motif to entertain children.

Easter egg projects

Easter egg projects

Kids love going on egg hunts and you could make some eggs of your own instead of buying the cheap plastic ones from the store. Making an egg from wood is easy on a router but other machines that are more suited to harder materials could use aluminum or another light metal. You can carve decorations into the eggs in lieu of dying them like real eggs or you could apply paint like you would traditionally do. With metal eggs paint may be better to use than carving techniques; you do not want the bright, shiny metal eggs to be too easy for the children to find. Aside from eggs themselves you could make egg baskets for the kids to put their collected eggs in.
Other toys and games for children can also be used to entertain children. These are other types of projects that should not be totally new to a lot of hobbyists; they will just be adjusted to match the theme of Easter. You could make a puzzle that features the Easter Bunny or toys that resemble eggs, peeps or other Easter themes. Even if you do not use a theme that is specifically Easter related you can still use a CNC machine to make goodies that can be used on Easter. Making more generic items for children is fine because they can still be used as gifts or egg hunt prizes. This can be a good thing to do if you want to make items yourself but do not have time to design and program any projects that are more Easter themed.
Many of the ideas expressed in this article can be applied to other holidays as well. On Halloween you could make a sign shaped like a bat and around Christmas you can create puzzles that are shaped like pine trees or snowmen. If you are going to put up decorations for the holidays why not make decorations that represent your favorite parts of those holidays. Hobbyists who always liked egg hunts can capitalize on egg decorations while fans of the Easter


Oct 19 2015

What is a CNC Lithophane and how is it made?

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What is a CNC Lithophane and how is it made?

            A lithophane is a 3D image that looks plain and dull in normal lighting. When light is applied to the back of a lithophane the engraved image becomes visible. These 3D images have a greater amount of detail and depth than what can be seen in a regular 2D image. The word lithophane is a Greek term that comes from combining lithos (“stone” or “rock”) and phainein (“to cause to appear”) and means “light in stone”. Continue reading


Sep 1 2015

CNC wood globes and maps

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CNC woood globes and maps

Some projects that are made with CNC routers are hard and some are easy. Depending on your skill level and how much of a challenge you feel like tackling you may want to try working on a very complex project or something that is fairly simple. This article is going to measure both ends of the spectrum by looking at one of the harder projects you can tackle, a globe, and one of the easier ones, a map, for those among our readers who are interested in geography.

CNC ideas wood globe project

CNC ideas wood globe project

Let me start by saying that a globe can be one of the most complicated projects you can tackle with a CNC router. Making something that is shaped like a ball like a wood globe is not what most CNC routers were built to do and that is what makes this project so difficult. Two things will primarily determine how hard this project will be, the size of the globe and the level of detail on the globes surface. If you are making a small, simple globe this project will not be too difficult. You can take a cube shaped block of wood and more or less transform it into a sphere. From there you can engrave the circular surface like you would the surface of a flat object (though be prepared for the circular shape to result in some potentially challenging CAD/CAM programming). Of course this will require you to have a machine that is big enough to get that job done. If you want a globe that has more detail on it, get ready to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. You probably are not going to be able to make this globe as one solid piece; you will want to assemble it. This will be particularly handy in case a mistake is made; that way you will not have to start all over. You will want to make a series of curved, squared-shaped pieces that can be fit together into a hollow sphere. If you want to cover up the lines where the pieces are attached it will look fine but you could also coordinate them into your design to represent the equator, meridians and parallels. The pieces do not have to just be square and form a perfect orb either; you could shape them like melon slices so that they have more support for each other when you glue them together. One of the biggest components of this project will be making sure that the continents are represented accurately. This is another instance when the level of detail will determine difficulty. You could make the pieces flat or you could partially raise them to represent mountains. Parts of the wood could be sanded to represent deserts and other changes could be made to make your globe more interactive and truly unique.

wood-map-cnc-ideas

wood-map-cnc-ideas

Making a map is much simpler than making a globe, primarily because it is a 2D project. This project is not much different from routing a sign or any other 2D project that starts as a flat piece of wood. You can use 2.5D techniques to “raise” mountains or make other geographical features apparent on a map just like you can with a globe. A map also has the benefit of not having to take all of Earth into account. You could use your woodworking skills to capture just one continent, a single country or an even smaller area like a specific national park or a certain city. Like many other 2D (or 2.5D) projects this is a good place for beginning hobbyists to start working. You obviously like CNC routing if you are working on a project like this so if you also enjoy geography why not mix your two hobbies and build something special just for yourself.


Aug 7 2015

Engraving Stone with cnc router machine

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Engraving Stone with cnc machine

Stone is one of the most difficult materials that you can work with on a CNC machine. A lot of stone engraving projects do not even use CNC machines; sandblasting is one of the most common methods for engraving stone, if not the most common method. While sandblasting is very fast the results it produces are not the best; the work comes out fairly rough. Sandblasting is good for mass producing stone engravings but for more detailed work you need another system and that is where a CNC machine can come in. There are a few different options available to you, depending on what kind of CNC machine you are running. Continue reading