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Is CNC the solution for me?

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canadianhorsepower

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But my cnc lathe only cost $300 to put together.
It uses the same computer, controller software etc.
And a pallet tool holder easy easy and cheap to add
Tin,
what are you using for hardware on your lathe?
300.00 sound very cheap
 

Rivergypsy

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Don't forget Boss controlled Interacts, no tool change as standard, but they start here at around £600. Not fast, but very useful...
 

Tin Falcon

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Luc I admit $300 is working on the cheap. I found a good deal on an orphan lathe sold in the 70s busted handles aka closet wear.
Looks similar to the taig. a couple steppers for $25 each and about $ 70 for couplers timing pulleys and a timing belt from mcmaster carr.

It is a small lathe 5" swing and a 20" bed 10" CTC.

The build thread is here: http://www.homemodelenginemachinist.com/f38/little-cnc-lathe-7750/
Tin
 

Ryan

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Tin I'm in Melbourne, Australia. That would be great if there was some sort of group here. I'm not really into the steam train thing but just generally designing and building gadgets,. it's a shame they don't have TechShops in Australia, I would simply get a subscription, bring some help along etc.
Not sure what a pallet tool holder is, but is it similar to a gang tool holder in a swiss lathe? Heres a DIY example:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z94ObRviC40

Regarding a mill my thinking is that with a 4th axis you could mill-turn (thus approximating what a lathe does) and generally machine a bigger variety of things. I have also seen someone put the work piece in spindle with a tool holder bolted to the table.

I know it's possible to do a lot with a lathe chuck work, eccentric turning, faceplate work (which seems especially complex), but that seems like a lot of work to change between different setups compare to a mill with 4 axes?

I figured we have a manual lathe already and I found it wasn't too difficult for my helper to use it if I know the theory.

It's definitely an idea to do a cnc lathe, my only reservation is the setup time of parts. I'd be thinking use commercial linear rails 300mm, and other components as a sort of bolt together setup. I suppose I could get a manual SX2 mill and use that with help to fabricate some components for it and keep that manual..

I currently have someone handy employed for 3 hrs every fortnight, we work on projects and I intend to employ someone (I have funding to do so) for 6hrs a week. So that should be plenty of time to practice of the manual lathe for now.
 

Tin Falcon

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Not sure what a pallet tool holder is, but is it similar to a gang tool holder in a swiss lathe? Heres a DIY example:
Yes that is exactly what I was referring to! I like the auto touch off probe nice idea.

The great thing about machining is there are many ways to accomplish a task. You can machine a complete fly wheel in a cnc mill without a 4th axis. and you can turn a piston by holding a tool in a vice and the work in a spindle.

Learn as much as you can watch videos of what others are doing and figure out what is right for you. .
Tin
 

MachineTom

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OZ may be a bit behind the USA in some things, but what is going on here likely will happen soon in AU. A friend of ours is designing jewelry in a cheap online CAD program, she sends the file to a 3D printer shop who will make the part in bronze matrix material, and put it in their online store, which then sells it.

The finish is not that great, so the design needs to reflect what the capabilities of the printer are. Materials are currently limited to Epoxy, plastic and metals that can be sintered with copper. But all this is advancing quickly.
 

Wizard69

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Hi Ryan;


I've just read through this thread. It looks like CNC would be the only way for you to go, the problem is communicating what needs to be done with your helpers. I see this as a big problem. First they will have to be somewhat mechanically inclined. Second it would really help of they had a interest in machining.

You mentioned the expense of doing parts with a job shop, sure it will cost some but you would have to have a lot of stuff made before you covered the cost of a decent machine. We might be talking $6000 plus worth of parts. Further I would think that parts for the wheel chair would be covered in some manner by insurance. Now for the hobby stuff it becomes more difficult to justify a job shop, still I think it will be far faster to a good part than trying to have one of your helpers produce the part, especially if that helper is lacking in skills machining wise.

The other thing here is that you need more that a CNC mill to machine parts for most engines. At the very least you would need a lathe, a bench grinder and a milling machine. Plus all the equipment to make the machines actually run. It is a non trivial thing just to build up a shop, I've been working on mine for a few years and still don't have a mill for example.

I don't have a really good answer for you. Honestly you may have to find a hobbiest or retired machinist to setup the machines if you where to have a shop setup at your house. The thing is I'm not sure if your current aides would "get it". That is some people just don't have the sense to do machine work. Further without training there is a real safety problem with unskilled people around machine tools. I'm not trying to discourage you just that it might take some searching to find somebody that is able to do a setup and otherwise run a CNC mill or lathe.
 

Ryan

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Wizard: thanks for the advice. I have recently hired someone to help me out who has formal training on machine tools.

Currently have an 8x13 lathe, drill press, grinder and 4x6 bandsaw. Not ready to get a milling machine yet but I wonder if CNC would actually save much time for working with castings? I also want to work with stainless steel but nothing too complex, brackets etc. contemplating something like an RF-45 clone, BF30 or 46 and keeping that as a manual machine for heavy work like stainless and then using that to fabricate parts for a small CNC mill using linear slides. the idea of something like a Tormach 770 has a pretty frightening pricetag but perhaps overall it's not that expensive and less of a headache than the idea above?
 

Wizard69

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Wizard: thanks for the advice. I have recently hired someone to help me out who has formal training on machine tools.

Currently have an 8x13 lathe, drill press, grinder and 4x6 bandsaw.
Similar to the state of my shop
Not ready to get a milling machine yet but I wonder if CNC would actually save much time for working with castings?
Depends upon the casting. Usually in a home shop CNC isn't about saving time though. CNC allows you to do things that would be very difficult to do otherwise.
I also want to work with stainless steel but nothing too complex, brackets etc. contemplating something like an RF-45 clone, BF30 or 46 and keeping that as a manual machine for heavy work like stainless and then using that to fabricate parts for a small CNC mill using linear slides.
Personally I wouldn't go that route. CNC actually helps with stainless for example you get precise and steady feed rates.
the idea of something like a Tormach 770 has a pretty frightening pricetag but perhaps overall it's not that expensive and less of a headache than the idea above?
The big problem with the 770 is the high speed spindle which might be less Han ideal for your stainless projects. I can't say for sure as many specifics come into play. Of course on the flips side that spindle would be useful in a wide array of other materials.
 

Ryan

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Similar to the state of my shop
The big problem with the 770 is the high speed spindle which might be less Han ideal for your stainless projects. I can't say for sure as many specifics come into play. Of course on the flips side that spindle would be useful in a wide array of other materials.
That being said I imagine I'd use stainless only 15% of the time, mild steel a similar amount & the rest nonferrous metals. so my primary decision would not be based on stainless.
 

Wizard69

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That being said I imagine I'd use stainless only 15% of the time, mild steel a similar amount & the rest nonferrous metals. so my primary decision would not be based on stainless.
Sounds good! Tormach markets some interesting machines and supports them well. I haven't been able to afford one yet though.
 

gbritnell

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Ryan,
I have just now read this thread, from start to finish. I like many other machinists on this and other forums have had similar questions posed over the years. All of the responders have generally been as helpful to the OP as possible. With this particular thread when I got to posting #10 and read about your disabilities it added some insight into your questioning. Please don't take this as any type of scolding but this trade, hobby or business, however you would classify it, is physically oriented. While it would be nice to have a 'helper' to do the tooling setup, material loading and removal and machine cleanup this is still such a long way from producing even the simplest of engines. With your disabilities it would be virtually impossible to even make gaskets for the sealing surfaces. In reading your responses to the replies that the members have given you it seems like you only have a rudimentary knowledge of what CNC in the machine world is. While it is a wonderful tool it still takes a knowledge of machining to make it operate properly. I have been in this hobby for almost 50 years and have learned from the bottom, grinding a drill point, to the top, programming and operating CNC mills and turning centers.
While I admire your thirst for accomplishment I honestly have to say that you might get more self satisfaction from producing 3d models on a computer. I well understand that it's not working with metal as you would like but with your somewhat limited understanding of machining, CNC operation, limited expenses and local support groups I have to say with all sincerity that producing working model engines would be a most daunting venture. I say most daunting as I have seen many wonderful things accomplished by fellows with severe disabilities over the years so anything is possible.
I can only wish you the best of luck with your endeavor and hope that one day you eventually reach your goal.
Sincerely,
George D. Britnell
 

dman

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Thanks for all the quick replies.

I just realised I didn't mention what sort of disability I have. I noticed this forum about machining with disabilities and thought it was a great idea to share various thoughts about adapting the process to suit various disabilities. I'm about as physically disabled as you can get, this is why I use a computer for pretty much everything (I'm doing a bachelor of arts, so reading, research, writing) because I can use a mouse only. I'm writing this using voice recognition software because I can't physically type. I think I would go crazy without computers.

I'm a bit of a weird arts student because I also love anything technology related, and I have a certificate in information technology.

I find CNC machines fascinating and love watching videos of them doing their thing, but I'm not sure I would want to design or build one. I'd like to build a few different stationery steam engines (mainly because I like the aesthetic of them and the links to the industrial revolution) but also have a number of other ideas for projects including parts I need for the wheelchair and various other equipment - perhaps the hardware components of robotics.

The CAD side of things is not a problem because I have used 3-D modelling software extensively (for more artistic stuff) including some gadgets in CAD software. I am used to thinking in a 3-D space.

One of my personal carers has a background in woodworking so we build some projects (I do the design, he does the physical stuff). I plan to also employ another helper so I will have more time to work on projects. My dad owns the lathe it's a BV20C with a combined mill (the mill component is not working, and I haven't found any detailed information about it). We intend to
make an adapter plate for a 125mm independent 4-jaw and add a QCTP, but because of the lack of documentation I don't know about compatibility.

I can't use a manual machine at all and it would be totally pointless learning about and teaching manual machining to my carer. But the point Tin Falcon made "Another are where cnc can be helpful is if you have limited shop time but can do the prep work and programming at another location." I don't have a lot of a shop time, so if the only assistance I need is to clamp work, then I myself can in theory 'drive' the machine via Mach3 (most likely). I have all the time in the world to do the setup on the computer, just not so many hours of personal care available.

Does CNC mean if you have the design, you have the g-code worked out and you have squared the stock then you home the machine and start the program, but blue dying and laying out the holes and parts to be machined is not necessary? That should save some time.

Essentially I'm looking at the feasibility of CNC, not for its repeatability of multiple parts, but for its connection to a computer and thus its accessibility. Can you jog the axes via mach3 so you can essentially machine as if you were doing it manually (sounds counterintuitive but it would allow me to 'manually' machine potentially).

Also if you have three axes and you need to machine six sides of a rectangle that means you have to clamp and home the workpiece 6 times, with 4 axes you need to do that three times, 5 axes would be twice?
basically, for you i think cnc with "conversational" features would be best. something that can work well one operation at a time and is intuitive. g-code is great for production and has endless control when paired with cam software but i feel that g-code programming robs you of being intimate with the machine. i know some g-code programmers that don't know feeds and speeds or how to read the chips. they may make great parts but i still find myself thinking "you're doing it wrong!." when i watch what they are doing. get reference material and read.

as far as 3 vs auxliary axis, well remember the side of an endmill cuts. depending on your fixturing you can cut 6 sides in only 2 setups with a 3 axis. 4-axis is very useful though. 5-axis looks really cool but the requirement for it is limited. but with disabilities it may help if you have complex parts that need drilling or pocketing on multiple axises.
 

RichD

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Hey there Ryan,
I want to start this post with a couple of points...
First off I'm not disabled, ... and often get slightly pissed off when my knees hurt or some other totally stupid petty thing makes it more difficult to do whatever I'm trying to do. I can't even begin to tell you how ashamed I am to admit that knowing now what you are trying to do with the abilities you've been given, I truly don't have a thing to complain about.

So with that said, my hat's off to you, and after reading all the comments by everyone, I think what you need is some sort of adaptation to allow you to accomplish your goals. A hybrid control system of your own design to accomplish your own goals makes sense to me. Also, if you are successful, there's got to be a market out there for it. Lot's of folks right now probably face similar challenges every day.

I use cad software too, and I know in the old AutoCad days they used to use a programmable device called a "tablet" to draw with. There must be some way you could "drive" the machine via a similar device to act as an interface between you and the machine. Can you operate a joystick? Does your wheel chair have one?

Probably voice recognition, directly to G-code, or DXF converted directly to Gcode is do-able. I really don't think running the machine is the worst obstacle. Workarounds already exist I'm sure. Work holding, loading/unloading work pieces, tool changes and sharpening/replacing...those are the things that would be hard to accomplish without help.

You need to one-by-one, list these stubborn things, design the feature you need, and get help making them.

Have you tried "Emachine Shop's" free software? You can design the part and get a direct bid via the software. If you have to spend money, I think spending it on overcoming your obstacles is the most expedient way to go.

You mention your carer is a wood worker. He probably could build some custom features for you out of wood, and only use metal where absolutely necessary. Check out the young guy at Wooden Gears.com. He makes all kinds of gadgets out of wood.

So Ryan, I want to commend and encourage you to keep your spirits up, and by all means keep fighting until it's all over. None of us are going to get out of here alive anyway. You may as well have some fun.

God Bless,
Rich
 

foshay55

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Hey Ryan,
Certainly an interesting post.
My career is an interesting mix of happenings called life. Art college(while in High School)Schaper Toys injection molding facility, Tolerance Masters machine shop(Aeronautic and Aerospace), Kurt Mfg(when big computers had 36 inch discs).
We did not have any Computer Numeric Controlled machines until late 70s and 80s as they still had not figured out how to use a floating datum point and such. so I learned to use manual shop tools first and tolerances of .00000 and smaller will make you learn how to keep things clean.
I was lucky with no formal training I was hired by a friend of my Mothers one Frank Lamusga and he promoted upon ability. Lots of good men in that shop in the late 70s taught me lots of good things.
Found a good book that teaches all kinds of good info as if a journeyman were available"Metalworking Sink or Swim: Tips and Tricks for Machinists, Welders and Fabricators ".
Will not teach you CAD CAM but will help your thought processes.
I have 2 small "Bench top 4 axis CNCs" and am building a third, my business is the art side of CAD CAM as I do golf awards, scale model car parts, and anything else the spirit or money moves me to make.
So I make jigs, fixtures, and one of a kind simple surface parts on manual mill and lathe and complex surface parts, Trees, Bees and Helical impellers on my CNCs. Now long ago I did watch a very talented machinist with a ball endmill make a five bladed tapered Helical impeller on a Bridgeport an angle plate and two dividing heads, 20 years later saw the very same part cast in Titanium, marvelous because the first part was used on a tracing mill to create more parts That now they are cast.
So lastly I would invite anyone to read my friends journey into Computer Aided Machining his name is Arnot the Web address is arnotQ.com and the story is "CNC vs Hand made Cues". See Arnot called me when I was working for a company that trained Jewelers how to use computers and CNC mills to make jewelry, his first words to me were "So I hear you can make parts with these door stops", the rest is in his story.
I love my CNCs but I rely on my manuals, it is rewarding to use either "But" where as I can make almost anything on my manual machines I can make two faster with a CNC, how many are you going to make?
With regards,
David
 

cncjay

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cnc are money makers........manuals machines are happy makers!
 

dman

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cnc are money makers........manuals machines are happy makers!
if you read it from the start, the guy is handicapped. the title might be mis leading because he already esablished that manual isn't a good option for him. it's less a question as much as it's a discussion.
 

cncjay

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yeah i read that part i was just make a general statement,,,,for his situation , obviously it wouldnt work,
 

jwcnc1911

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Well, I've read this post top to bottom several times. Every time it comes to the top of the recent trheads any way. I've debated with myself on posting my thoughts to prevent looking lilke an ass. As you can tell from my avatar, I'm very technical and specific. I don't appreciate abstract and I call things like I see them. I'm wondering a couple things. First, Ryan, are you still active on the forum? Second, no matter what "option" you pick, will you not ultimately be watching? As some one who has grown up around machining and made a career out of it, it is a physicl field even at the smallest scale of clamping a workpiece or changing a tool. I must say, it makes me appreciate things I take for granted such as the ability to walk. So I'm sorry, but that's the truth. I think you would get greater satisfaction from taking the above advice in creating in CAD. Spend your money on Alibre (now Geomagic) and design some engines or whatever else your heart desires. You can mostly do it with the mouse, and using the on-sceen keyboard you can completely do it with a mouse. And the final product will be completely your work and therefore more satisfying. While your playing with and learning your software, read some online machining material so you can keep the process in mind while you design your parts. I'm also assuming you will need to develope a since of size and scale in respect to inches and mm. You have to learn how big or small to make your designs. No matter how good the machinist - some designs can be impossible. Draw your solids, make 2d drafts and even animations. Once you've completed a few engine designs post them here. You never know, poeple may even build them. Imagine seeing one of your designs built. Design a Stirling engine or a flame licker and I may have a go at it. You could even earn money once you develope some CAD skill. Convert hand drawn designs to CAD models for people. You never know where one seat of CAD will take you but I think it would be less money better spent.

I admire your desire to try. If only, all the able bodied people who could, would.
 
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