Thursday, November 12, 2009

CNC Pt. 14: Upgrades

Which brings us to our next thing: upgrading to a real spindle.

This is the 4/5hp spindle assembly from an X2 mini mill. The cast iron has been chopped down a bit to reduce weight, and the gear drive replaced with a belt drive for reliability and sound. There are a ton of advantages to a real spindle over a crappy router, too many to list, but here are a few big ones:

1: Play. There is almost none, so chatter is cut down drastically. This is better for your finished product and better for your bits.

2: Torque. A trim router has none. A VFD controlled motor maintains most of its torque at any rpm.

3: Collets. Rather than a crappy, 1/4" only 'collet' (which is really a badly designed chuck), this uses R8 collets (I also have an adapter to go to ER32 collets). This means flexibility in what bits I can use, less chance of them coming loose, and less runout.

4: Sound. Routers sound terrible, this has a pleasing hum to it.

5: Motor placement & type. Since it's far enough away from the business end, and mostly sealed off from the elements, this will make running coolant much easier.

CNC Pt. 13: More Tests

With that done it was time for some real tests. First in wood:

Then in aluminum!

There's some chatter in the router, and of course the router has to be run well above the appropriate cutting speed for aluminum. But it gets us by for some messing around.

CNC Pt. 12: T-Slot Table

Next up was the T-Slot table. This was also the first time the machine could really be used for something meaningfull, as all the holes were drilled by program. This was exciting for a lot of reasons, not the least of which that it was drilling aluminum for the first time.

CNC Pt. 11: Enclosure

I didn't realize how far behind I was on updating this project, but much has happened since the last post. The plan was always to make this an enclosed machine, and to make it as quiet as we could manage. The sides were covered with sheet metal, the sheet metal lined with automotive sound deadening material, and the front with a big piece of 0.25" lexan. The lexan is held in place with magnet strip, which also insures perfect alignment without needing pins.

It has become known as "The Evil Dishwasher."