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Thread: CNC wood router

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    CNC wood router

    I want to start playing with a cnc router, to make new products and samples. I would like to cut sheet 1 x 1 metre. I need so feedback on entry level CNC routers, anyone done some research on this type of thing or tried any of these entry level units available?

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    It's all about software. You need to do the drawings, convert them to gcode and then output them to the machine.

    I use Rhinocad V5 + Visualmill and Mach 3. Rhino is used to do the drawings and then the Visualmill plugin is used to create the gcode tool paths. Mach3 sits on an old XP machine and not only outputs the file to the machine but also acts as a main motion controller.

    My view is that Mach3 is the best CNC control / cut software because it is infinitely configurable. Once you get the hang of it you will see that you can actually drive a 6 axis mill or even a lathe with it. It has a huge following and is probably the most common system.

    If you decide to go with a Mach3 based machine then you are not locked into some odd proprietary system.

    With regards to hardware; it depends on what, and hoe much of it, you are planning to cut. Will you do pure 2D cutouts or 3D bas reliefs, what type of wood, what thickness, etc. The answers to the question will determine the make up of the machine. machines that move their gantries using belts are very fast but they cannot handle lots of side thrust so cutting 20mm Kiaat with a 20mm tool at a high speed is not going to happen. Better machines have the gantries running on slide blocks on linear guides and then the movement is transmitted via ball screws. The Z is normally a 15-20mm linear guide with a 15mm ballscrew. X axis 20mm guide with 20mm ballscrew and some machines have on their Y axis, a stepper motor and ballscrew on either side of the bed. You alo need to consider the smallest size that you wish to cut becuase if you are planning to do fine engraving then the machine needs to have the required resolution, say 0.1mm and the spindle needs to be fast enough. As the tool size becomes smaller the peripheral tool speed drops. The only way to compensate is to run a fast spindle. 20,000 RPM is good. DONT let them sell you a machine fitted with a router or die grinder, the reasons are as follows, thoe machines cannot be fitted with different collets so you are stuck with a 6mm shank, the machines are teribly noisy, they are not designed to run hours on end and they are not designed to handle thust directly on the spindle i.e. drilling type movements.

    You are looking at about R50K minimum and you must remember to consider the cost of collects, tooling, software and what..not.

    ...but...if you get your head around it then the sky is absolutely the limit. You will be able make good money because you only need to break you head once over a design and after that you merely load the the gcode into Mach3 and let the machine do its thing over and over again.
    How easily someone is offended is directly proportional to how stupid they are.
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    To start with, only plywood 6 mm to 18 mm. I have a mate who works with cnc programming everyday. He has already done the drawings I use at the moment. I have a company cutting profiles on a full sheet size machine at present. For now I am looking for a machine for new profiles I design and to cut bits and pieces, especially my jigs for furniture and other stuff I make.

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