CNC router build


difalkner
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7 hours ago, wtnhighlander said:

Please do post it. Some folks don't care for the CNC machines much, but they can benefit even a very traditional woodworker in many ways.

Ok, guys - here goes!  I actually received the machine two weeks ago and have posted this on other forums, so to be consistent (and make my posting job easier) I'll post where I started a couple of weeks ago and then we'll be caught up here.

Building my 2nd CNC first, I hope.  I have been researching for over a year, read a thousand threads and articles, and am hopefully building my 'second machine' for my first.  There is still a ton to learn and that process will probably never stop.  Of this I am certain, I will be in new territory for a while.  For over 40 years I have been building things, doing hydraulics, pneumatics, and electronics builds and troubleshooting along with a lot of woodworking but have never used or built a CNC machine.  This is going to be fun!!

 

The machine is a new model by Nate at Fine Line Automation.  It's a 'pro' series he calls Saturn and it is very heavy.  Shipping weight was 525 lbs. for this 2'x4' model.  Take away the OxBox and pallet and it's probably still 475 lbs.  The frame is welded and stress relieved steel, powder coated Pantone 305.  It has THK style linear bearings, rack and pinion drive, and the components are anodized black 6061 aluminum.  I have a 3 kW water cooled spindle and NEMA 34 stepper motors ready to mount.  I'll be using the Hitachi WJ200-022SF VFD to drive the spindle.  The actual cutting area is 26”x50” with 10” Z travel.

 

The first order of business, now that it's here, was clearing out enough space in our shop for two CNC machines (our shop is the attached two-car garage).  It has to set in one place while I build the stand where it will actually reside, so space for two in an already crowded shop.  I'll be building a frame with 2x4's and maybe a couple of 2x6's.  Then I need about 5 large friends to help me carry the CNC over to the stand.

 

Picked up from FedEx and barely fit on a friend's trailer -

001%20-%20Saturn%20CNC%20-%20Frame%20loa

 

OxBox container removed and setting on the pallet until I get the stand built -

002%20-%20Saturn%20CNC%20-%20Frame%20jus

 

A few closeups -

003%20-%20Drive_zpsevhppcjg.jpg

 

004%20-%20Z%20axis_zpsdb6cy5uq.jpg

 

005%20-%20Drive_zps197oalg4.jpg

 

Next step was a trip to Lowe's for 2x4's for the stand and then on to making sawdust!

 

Hope you enjoy this ride with me! More in a bit...

David

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Received the CNC frame on Friday, 7/8/16, and started on the frame Monday. 

007%20-%20Stand_zps3ue3lkgo.jpg

I used 1/2-13 nylon lock nuts and epoxied them into place for the adjustable feet (bolts).  If I see that it is sliding on the floor I'll change these out for rubber-footed levelers or put a pad under the bolt.  However, this is so heavy and with 6 points touching on the floor it is very difficult to move, but once that 125 lb. gantry gets to moving I don't know what it's going to do - we'll see.

009%20-%20Lock%20nuts_zpsmcmfutjv.jpg

Finished the stand Tuesday. I know I'm thorough but this took me about 20 hours to build and I have no idea if that's slow or fast or about average. It's actually fast for me and I managed to do it in two sessions - 8 hours Monday and 12 Tuesday.

All the pieces that will contact the CNC frame are jointed to ensure they're flat and straight and each hole was drilled with 1/8" for threads, 3/16" for the barrel, countersunk for the head, and securely tightened, so about 4 operations for each of the hundred or so fasteners. Each joint is square and tight and then the entire stand was sanded. I may come back later and put some Shellac or paint on it but not today.

010%20-%20Finished%20stand_zps3uz0cepf.j

011%20-%20Finished%20stand_zpsk8szigjj.j

Finding 5 weak minded friends to help lift this beast manually wasn't that difficult but arranging a time when they could all be here at the same time was difficult.  It was much easier to find one weak minded friend with an engine hoist.  ;) 

012%20-%20Adam%20CNC%20frame%20on%20engi

More later!!
David

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We managed to get the CNC frame lifted over the table saw extension and on to the stand. The stand worked perfectly, so that's a good feeling. Nothing creaked or moved and it is dead level with the additional nearly 500 lbs. of weight just as it was without the frame weighing it down.

My friend Adam, also a good woodworker, brought his engine hoist over and we managed to maneuver the CNC over the obstacles and set onto the stand and only had to move my air compressor to make room. That's not a bad feat given how tight this was.
 

013%20-%20CNC%20frame%20on%20stand_zps3g

Here's a good shot of the CNC in our shop. There's some clutter from moving things around to make room for this but I'll get that organized and cleaned up soon. You can see the spindle, steppers, and other components on the bench so hopefully I'll get a chance to start mounting those over the next few days.

014%20-%20CNC%20in%20the%20shop_zpsqncdd

Added some locator blocks to keep the frame on the stand. I figure gravity will do its part to hold the machine down onto the stand but inertia and momentum may persuade the unit to slide on the stand. Hopefully this will suffice. There are 4 of these blocks in opposing directions, two on each end.

015%20-%20Locator%20blocks_zps34cszwtl.j

015%20-%20Locator%20blocks_zps34cszwtl.j

Enjoy and thanks for looking!

David

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Ya gotta love a shop with a cheap Benchtop spindle sander next to that brute of a CNC ! What are going to build that needs that much power and accuracy ?

I feel a CNC is a powerful tool with many uses. But it's a machine tool driven by computer so the results are manufactured and more production oriented. This puts the finished product outside the category of "hand made" in my book. Its probably able to replace a vast array of single purpose tools and provide the capability to do much more complicated projects in a smaller shop than ever before. I often buy pieces like furniture legs for projects and am honest with clients that they aren't "hand made". That said I am looking forward to seeing what comes out when you put it to use !

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I'm very interested in this build. Looks like a lot of bang for the buck!

  • Did you opt for the NEMA 23 motors or 34s?
  • Spindle HP, Collet size, rpm range?
  • What CAD/CAM software will you be running?
  • Will it be used primarily for guitars?
  • Approximate turnkey package price, excluding freight & software, if you don't mind me asking?
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That's a pretty cool machine. We just wired a CNC up for a local wood shop that required a 100A, 208V, 3 phase circuit. Beyond that, I know very little about them.

I've not had great results building shop stuff with construction lumber unless I buy it about 6 months ahead, let it sit in the shop to dry, & then throw out all the pretzels. For stuff like that I buy LVL 2x12s & then cut them down to what I need. They are incredibly strong & very stable. More expensive than 2x4s, but not that much more.

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1 hour ago, wdwerker said:

Ya gotta love a shop with a cheap Benchtop spindle sander next to that brute of a CNC ! What are going to build that needs that much power and accuracy ?

I feel a CNC is a powerful tool with many uses. But it's a machine tool driven by computer so the results are manufactured and more production oriented. This puts the finished product outside the category of "hand made" in my book. Its probably able to replace a vast array of single purpose tools and provide the capability to do much more complicated projects in a smaller shop than ever before. I often buy pieces like furniture legs for projects and am honest with clients that they aren't "hand made". That said I am looking forward to seeing what comes out when you put it to use !

What a contrast, right??  LOL!  I bought that cheap Ryobi spindle sander when I had a woodworking business in the mid 80's and needed one NOW.  That's what the big box store had so I bought it.  Lo and behold, 30 years later it's still running and working just fine.  You'll notice the rest of the shop is big heavy stuff, though.

I don't get hung up on the 'hand made' label but rather look at the finished project.  However, I do plenty of work by hand and with traditional tools but the CNC is going to allow me to do some repetitive work that I've been wanting to do along with some work requiring a great deal of precision - more on that stuff later.

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1 hour ago, micks said:

I'm very interested in this build. Looks like a lot of bang for the buck!

  • Did you opt for the NEMA 23 motors or 34s?
    • NEMA 34, 637 oz. in., 5.5 amp, 14mm shaft, 48 volt
  • Spindle HP, Collet size, rpm range?
    • 3 kW (4 HP), ER20, 5,000 to 24,000, Hitachi WJ200 VFD
  • What CAD/CAM software will you be running?
    • Combination of CorelDRAW X8, SketchUp, and Fusion 360
  • Will it be used primarily for guitars?
    • Probably not primarily.  I have a lot of other things I intend to market and some repetitive work I've been asked to do locally. There are a couple of shops needing CNC work and I'll do that for them but no large stuff or MDF or sheet goods.  This will be mostly doing things in Walnut, Mahogany, and Curly Maple. I have only done light marketing for the CNC until I get it up and running.  At that point I'll round up all the clientele I can handle.  On the guitars I may get to where I am carving necks, end and tail blocks, etc. although the necks will still require final fitting and sanding/scraping by hand.  Primary use on guitars will be to build very accurate templates, molds, forms, fixtures, etc. but I'll still be doing most of the guitar itself by hand.  Now if I decide to build a few electric guitars then I'll do a lot of that on the CNC but not for the acoustic guitars I'm doing now.
  • Approximate turnkey package price, excluding freight & software, if you don't mind me asking?
    • Don't mind at all.  Nate has this frame at a discount for the first 25 customers and I believe it's $3,000 on his web site.  Mine was slightly less because it is the prototype and I committed to it before he even started building these.  With all the other components we're around $4,200.  For a machine of this quality and power that's awfully good, I think.

Thanks, I think we've done quite well on pricing, especially for what we're getting.

 

43 minutes ago, drzaius said:

That's a pretty cool machine. We just wired a CNC up for a local wood shop that required a 100A, 208V, 3 phase circuit. Beyond that, I know very little about them.

I've not had great results building shop stuff with construction lumber unless I buy it about 6 months ahead, let it sit in the shop to dry, & then throw out all the pretzels. For stuff like that I buy LVL 2x12s & then cut them down to what I need. They are incredibly strong & very stable. More expensive than 2x4s, but not that much more.

Thanks, it's not too bad for a home setup.  But it's nowhere near the machine you just wired.  The spindle is 3 phase but that's accomplished by the VFD.  It has a 240 single phase input. 

I hope the stand stays square but it's in a climate controlled shop and felt pretty dry when I cut it.  I keep the shop around 40% humidity and most of the woods I bring in are exotic with a moisture content around 8% to no more than 12% with some being much lower.  The 2x4's I've used before have all stayed straight so I guess I'm just lucky with what I get at Lowe's.

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11 minutes ago, difalkner said:

Thanks, I think we've done quite well on pricing, especially for what we're getting.

 

Holy smokes. That's a hella deal! Looks like that's a water cooled spindle, judging from the tubing. Upper end of 24,000 should serve you well. 220V/1 phase, I assume?

One thing you might keep in mind as you build the base - it may help down the line to have a platform you could add mass to, like sandbags or concrete bags. Helps absorb vibration that "could" be transferred to the spindle. I would also consider adding a layer of rubber or other vibration absorbing material between the frame and the base.

  • Also - what kind of work surface are you planning to use?

Just based on the photos you've posted and the components Nate's using, I don't think I've seen a better value anywhere close to that price.

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1 hour ago, micks said:

Holy smokes. That's a hella deal! Looks like that's a water cooled spindle, judging from the tubing. Upper end of 24,000 should serve you well. 220V/1 phase, I assume?

One thing you might keep in mind as you build the base - it may help down the line to have a platform you could add mass to, like sandbags or concrete bags. Helps absorb vibration that "could" be transferred to the spindle. I would also consider adding a layer of rubber or other vibration absorbing material between the frame and the base.

  • Also - what kind of work surface are you planning to use?

Just based on the photos you've posted and the components Nate's using, I don't think I've seen a better value anywhere close to that price.

Thanks, Micks!  Yes, I think it's a good deal, great deal actually.  You can buy turnkey solutions that aren't half this good or rigid yet cost twice as much.

Yes, I'll be supplying 230 V single phase to the VFD but it will generate a 3 phase 240 V to the water cooled spindle.  Except for cutting Abalone with a very tiny bit, about 0.005" to 0.010" depending on what I'm cutting, I doubt I'll use 24,000 rpm or even close to it very often.

I'll be watching for vibration and resonance very closely.  The frame actually has the capability to be filled with sand and that would not only add another 100 lbs. or so but kill about any vibration that could occur.  Starting out I'll use two layers of 3/4" MDF for the table and spoil board.  I'll leave the first section open or have a removable table so I can machine the end of taller things.  I have yet to decide on using T-tracks, threaded inserts, or some other method of holding work pieces.  At some point I know I'll want a vacuum table.

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17 minutes ago, difalkner said:

I'm pretty sure something very close to that will happen at first - :D

I still do that after being in the CNC business for 25 years! 

I like the pressure adjustment mechanism for the r&p drives. Very clever.

I suspect you'll be using the higher rpm capability for more than you think. We cut 1/2" acrylic with a 1/4" bit at 32,000 rpm, 150 ipm in one pass with excellent edge quality. Your machine looks plenty rigid enough to do something close to that and you'll get better results than running it slower. The small diameter inlay tooling you'll be using will run great at higher rotation speeds.

Once you get a vacuum table on there you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. It's one of the first things I will do when I get one.

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David, This is really fun to watch.  Sorry for the naïve question, but what's the reason for such a big router?  Water cooled?  3 phase?  Is it because of the materials you'll be cutting?  (and if so, what are you cutting?) Or is it because of the duty cycle you're going to be running it?

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2 hours ago, -MattK- said:

David, This is really fun to watch.  Sorry for the naïve question, but what's the reason for such a big router?  Water cooled?  3 phase?  Is it because of the materials you'll be cutting?  (and if so, what are you cutting?) Or is it because of the duty cycle you're going to be running it?

No problem, Matt.  First off, I like robust tools, tools that when you lean against them they don't move.  The welded steel frame is far more rigid than an extruded aluminum one even though those are nice.  But I want accuracy and repeatability in the 0.001" to 0.002" range and a frame that flexes won't ever give that.  Will everything I do on the machine require that level of accuracy and repeatability?  Nope.  But it's good knowing that I have that on tap when needed.

Water cooled equates to a very quiet spindle so that's the reason for that choice.  I don't like hearing a router run for more than a few minutes and some jobs on the CNC can take hours.  My goal is to be running the CNC 3-4 hours every day.  At that rate I would likely burn up two regular routers every year.  Plus, the accuracy and shaft runout of the spindle with the ER20 collets is far better than your typical router along with the flexibility of all the different collet sizes for different end mills and bits.  And the 3 phase is fairly standard when you get to 2.2 kW and above.  The VFD outputs in 3 phase from the 230 V single phase input so that's the only piece that will be running on 3 phase.  All the steppers and other components are 120 V.

Materials will be all over the map but I intend to cut some aluminum and brass along with lots of exotic and domestic hardwoods, acrylic, Plexiglas, etc. so again, the higher HP and more rigid machine lend themselves toward these tougher materials.

Does that help?  Thanks for asking!

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3 hours ago, micks said:

 

I still do that after being in the CNC business for 25 years! 

I like the pressure adjustment mechanism for the r&p drives. Very clever.

I suspect you'll be using the higher rpm capability for more than you think. We cut 1/2" acrylic with a 1/4" bit at 32,000 rpm, 150 ipm in one pass with excellent edge quality. Your machine looks plenty rigid enough to do something close to that and you'll get better results than running it slower. The small diameter inlay tooling you'll be using will run great at higher rotation speeds.

Once you get a vacuum table on there you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. It's one of the first things I will do when I get one.

You may well be right on the higher RPM.  And I can run this higher than 24,000 RPM (400 Hz.) but not sure I will.  Seems like I read the VFD can be set to go up to 560 Hz and the spindle will take what I throw at it but I probably won't go that high. And I agree about the capabilities of the machine handling that sort of cut.  Knowing myself as I do I'll push the envelope until it won't push much more then I'll back off. 

The rapids on this machine are 1,200+ ipm but on a 2x4 table it would be hard to achieve that without slamming the stops and that's something I don't want to do.  But I know I'll have to test it to see what that sort of speed looks like.

I have a very good (i.e. expensive) vacuum pump that isn't functioning properly or I would be setting it up from the start.  I bought a rebuild kit for it and put that in but something isn't working just right and I can't pull more than a couple of inches.  I'll keep toying with it.

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24,000 rpm is plenty on that machine. The important thing is to match the rpm to the feedrate, i.e. chipload. My earlier point was that you most likely can get pretty high acceleration and deceleration rates on such a rigid frame, giving you a lot more flexibility than most other routers I've seen in that price range. 

What kind of pump is the rebuilt? High pressure, high volume, medium pressure...

 

5 hours ago, difalkner said:

I'm pretty sure something very close to that will happen at first - :D

I still do that after being in the CNC business for 25 years! 

I like the pressure adjustment mechanism for the r&p drives. Very clever.

I suspect you'll be using the higher rpm capability for more than you think. We cut 1/2" acrylic with a 1/4" bit at 32,000 rpm, 150 ipm in one pass with excellent edge quality. Your machine looks plenty rigid enough to do something close to that and you'll get better results than running it slower. The small diameter inlay tooling you'll be using will run great at higher rotation speeds.

Once you get a vacuum table on there you'll wonder why you didn't do it sooner. It's one of the first things I will do when I get one.

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Thanks for the explanation, David.  Sounds totally reasonable to me. I've over clubbed on a few machines in my shop so I'm glad to see the "next step up" tool in CNC land. I've been toying with the x carve configurator but I've resisted pulling the trigger.  Nice to see something this robust in this price band.  

 

Looking forward to to seeing more!

 

 

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17 minutes ago, micks said:

24,000 rpm is plenty on that machine. The important thing is to match the rpm to the feedrate, i.e. chipload. My earlier point was that you most likely can get pretty high acceleration and deceleration rates on such a rigid frame, giving you a lot more flexibility than most other routers I've seen in that price range. 

What kind of pump is the rebuilt? High pressure, high volume, medium pressure...

 

That's what I was counting on with the rigidity of this machine, so good to hear some positive words from someone who knows.

The pump is an Edwards E2M2 2 Stage oil sealed pump designed for continuous duty.  They don't make this model any longer but new it cost more than my CNC build by a few thousand dollars (seems like they're in the $6,500 range new and the newest model is an E2M30, I think).  My Dad was a petroleum chemist and he passed away in 2008.  My sisters and I, along with a couple of partners, finally sold the business about 18 months ago and they didn't want this pump.  The rebuild kit was about $120 and had everything except the vanes ($60 more) but they didn't appear worn.  I have rebuilt pumps many times and put the kit in but to no avail.  Because it can literally run 24/7 and is as quiet as a church mouse I wanted to use it instead of a noisy pump.  When it's running correctly it's only about 1.5 cfm but it will pull nearly 30 inches Hg.

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You'll want to use dedicated gasket fixtures with that pump. It's a high pressure pump and should be fine for the table size you have. The fact that it's quiet is a (no politics involved here) HUGE bonus. I'm really anxious to see how this thing performs.

BTW, software?

 

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