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My CNC setup for small scale manufacturing

In my pursuit of designing and building new things I have constructed a CNC machine of my own design with the help of some parts ordered over the internet. I made a short video explaining what it does as I continue to perfect the machine.

 

Here is the video introduction where I talk about the machine in general and what it does.

 


When planning on building a CNC machine there are a few things to consider which will help you choose the type of machine.

BASICS

A CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine is a tool used to move a tool tip in a 3D space using computer controlled motors. A tool tip can be anything from a marker to a laser beam. Similar to a person using their own hand a CNC machine can manipulate this tool in space in a variety of ways.

The machine I built is a 3 axis machine meaning there are 3 motors which can move the tool tip either Forward?Backward, Left/Right or Up Down.

 

Here is a picture of mine in the earlier stages. As you can see I chose to build a frame which sits on a table. The work bed is stationary and I have a gantry which rolls up and down the length of the X axis. The Y axis moves side to side along the gantry.  Missing from this picture is the Z axis which will move up and down.

Many people have their x and y reversed to mine to match the perspective of a typical graph but it all depends on where you want to sit in my humble opinion!

However there is another popular set up which is the moving bed set up. In this scenario the gantry is stationary and the bed moves back and forth along the axis.

The advantage of the moving gantry is you can more easily connect hoses,  sprayers, bellows,  dust collectors etc. The advantage of the moving bed design is the bed is usually lighter and smaller. Also the moving gantry will give you a small advantage in how much work space you can use.

If you only plan on doing 3d printing or jewelry engraving you will build a  “weaker” machine in general. This will be an ADVANTAGE because smaller motors and a lighter gantry or movable bed will allow the machine to move quicker.  If you plan on milling wood or metal you will need to use stronger parts. This will however make the machine more difficult to build and it will probably operate slower.

 

Building the Frame and Linear Motion

Here is another video where I run through the major building aspects.

So you probably understand what a CNC is used for so let me talk about some dos and don’t I learned from my project.

Size

The size of the machine is important because most people have space issues. By the time your done the working area will be about 5- 10″ shorter than the table your machine sits on top of. I recommend building a custom table for your machine because there will be lots of parts and wires hanging from it. Better those walking by bang the table than your CNC machine.

Size is also a critical factor because the bigger the machine the more issues you will encounter. One of the major issues people encounter is their longest ball screw sagging. Many builds have a ball screw as long as the builders arm. Hold your arm out and see how long before it begins to sag! Your machine is no different. The ball screws I purchased deflected a slight amount and as the  motor spins it creates a wobbling motion which makes the machine vibrate or shudder. This requires all kinds of custom hacks or more simply a larger ball screw and motor.

However don’t go too small if you plan to use lots of tool tips. My machine takes a variety of work surfaces such as a glass table, a vacuum table and a contained vice table. Each of these tables has to be about 6″ smaller than my CNC work platform width. Some even smaller.

Here is my 3D print table on right. On left is my contained vice. By contained I mean it has wall to contain flying cutting fluid.

Frame Construction

 

Frame construction is a trade off between weight vs strength. The stronger the better as it will resist outside forces. But the bigger it is the more power needed to manipulate the frame, the more weight it will throw around while moving. This will test the limits of your table and the linear rails supporting it.

In my video above you will see that I used 1/4 aluminum and braced is with aluminum angle. Many people choose to use 1/2 aluminum but I made the assumption that the 1/2 aluminum, although strong added more weight than it was worth. So I chose to add the aluminum angles not to add strength but to add stiffness. Stiffness isn’t the ability to withstand a heavy load. Stiffness is the ability to resist deflection even under smaller loads. When attaching these angles it became quit clear how effective they are and this is one modification I would recommend to everyone.

The base I chose to make from steel. This was a naive decision in which I though my machine would be so rugged and accurate that it would need a steel frame to withstand the eventual torture test I would put it through. However the aluminum extrusion people frequently use would probably have been more accurately installed.

Linear Rails

I purchased this kit from amazon.

Cnc Kit
CNC Kit

I can’t really complain because considering the price it has done a fairly good job. However these are definitely hobby kits.  Recommended for your first build they will function quite well.

Now consider how to connect the linear rails. Notice below how my rails are facing sideways. This design is less than ideal because it is putting the weight onto the bearing at a perpendicular angle. Only a part of the bearing is supporting the weight and this will likely reduce machine performance and longevity. Secondly This machine uses ball bearing sliding directly on the rail. This is also a less than ideal situation because these can collect dust which will shorten the life of the machine. Anytime you see linear motion devices with round rails know that you are using the rails I don’t recommend.

Below is a better solution. Its a v bearing on an angles piece of metal. The advantage is that the bearings are protected within and the minor dust on the rail stays outside.

These might come exactly like you see here or the may come in a CNC specific set where there are two opposing angles like a double edged sword with v groove bearing on each side to eliminate unwanted movement.

Construction Tips

If you plan on building the parts yourself you will need to be very accurate. Below is my video explaining the tools

Tools required are;

Table saw  for aluminum

Chop Saw for Steel cuts

Corner clamps for holding two corners square

Drill press

Center punch Set

Digital Caliper

markers

Metal ruler with square

Tap and die set

C clamps

Drill bit set and starter bits

Wax or oil for drilling tapping and cutting

Safety gloves, goggles, masks and ear protection

The post My CNC setup for small scale manufacturing appeared first on SignalHillTechnology.

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Roof hatch installation

2016060795155656     2016060795164835

This was a job in Santa Ana Ca. A customer had had me bid a larger 1+ million dollar project for them but had awarded it to another contractor. The project ended up being way behind schedule and way over budget. This is always unfortunate and I really would rather not come in and help out on these projects but I can’t leave the customer hanging so I did do some stuff for them.

On this job the needed a roof access hatch and ladder. They needed it fast and I had a two day window coming up to install the hatch. I hadn’t been to the job in almost a year so I only had some vague notes.

We showed up with lumber for framing, steel for welding and a roof access hatch from bristolite skylights.

The first day we laid out the hatch and cut our opening through the roofing material and sheathing. We then framed underneath with doubled 2 x 10 support around the bottom of the opening. We bolted the roof hatch in place.

Meanwhile we also cut and welded flat strap and 3/4 O.D. Pipe to make a 9′ tall ladder. The access was from an existing mezzanine so we only needed 9 feet.

We additionally welded a guard rail because the unit was being installed close to an edge. We didn’t have any plans but I followed code guidelines for all installation. Plus we did the job very clean and it looked professional so I knew the inspector would be pleased with the work.

The next day we came back and painted and mounted our new installations. The customer was happy and we even moved the condensate line that was in the way without complaining.

On day 3 the roofing company came by and finished it off.

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CSLB has new fees!

Insert witty quote from Benjamin Franklin about taxes here.

I found the new fee schedule here.

 

Application and Licensing Fees June 30, 2017
or before
July 01, 2017
or after
Original Application (exam or waiver for one classification) $300 $330
Initial License Fee $180 $200
Additional Classification (for existing license) $75 $150
Additional Classification (each) (with waiver or joint venture application for original license) $75 $75
Re-Examination $60 $60
Add New Personnel (for existing corporation or LLC) $0 $100
Replacing the Qualifier $75 $150
License Reactivation Application $360 $400
Joint Venture Application total fee for one classification
(Application fee plus initial license fee)
$480 $530
Home Improvement Salesperson Registration Application $75 $83
Asbestos Certification Application $75 $83
Hazardous Substance Removal Certification Application $75 $83
Fingerprinting Fees—Paid to Live Scan Operator
Dept. of Justice Processing Fee
Federal Bureau of Investigation Processing Fee
$32
$17
$32
$17
Live Scan “Rolling Fees”
Each Live Scan site sets its own fee—CSLB does not set the price. Rolling fees are available on DOJ listing of Live Scan sites
Varies Varies

 

License and Registration Renewal Fees June 30, 2017
or before
July 01, 2017
or after
Active Timely Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] on or before the expiration date)
$360 $400
Active Delinquent Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] after the expiration date)
(Renewal fee plus penalty)
$540 $600
Inactive Timely Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] on or before the expiration date)
$180 $200
Inactive Delinquent Renewal
(Postmarked or received at CSLB [for hand deliveries] after the expiration date)
(Renewal fee plus penalty)
$270 $300
Home Improvement Salesperson Timely Renewal $75 $83
Home Improvement Salesperson Delinquent Renewal
(Renewal fee plus penalty)
$100 $124.50

 

Miscellaneous Fees June 30, 2017
or before
July 01, 2017
or after
Duplicate/Replacement Pocket/Wall Certificates $11 each $12 each
Certified License History for licensed or unlicensed contractor, per name researched $67 $67
Certified License History for registered or unregistered Home Improvement Salesperson, per name researched $67 $67
General Status Letter $8 $8
Bond Status Letter $8 $8
Copies of Public Documents $0.10 per page $0.10 per page
Certified Copies of Public Documents $2 plus $0.10 per page $2 plus $0.10 per page

 

 

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New single office

One of the best reasons to call me is versatility. I can do the framing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and drywall all with the tools I already have on the back of my truck.

This job is a perfect example.

This customer was moving into a new warehouse and was short one office. So they requested I build an 10 x 10 office for them.

Here is a picture of the space before we started. The office is to be installed in this corner.

On this project I did the metal framing and drywall.

Added a single light and suspended ceiling.

Installed a door and a window.

Dropped an HVAC supply and return.

Painted everything and cleaned up.

Here is the office after completion.

The job only took 4 days from start to 100% finish.

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Ring doorbell installation

This was a small job for a friend in long beach. We needed to install a ring doorbell into a building with no doorbell.

We purchased a kit from home depot for a new doorbell chime, Included in this kit was a 16v transformer. The transformer connects directly to a knock out on an electrical box. Using 18v wire typically used for HVAC control I ran the wire to the new doorbell location.2016-04-30 18.03.06

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Floor Patching and Leveling

This job was in Huntington beach California. The customer was a general contractor that had a floor in terrible condition. After consulting several sub contractors and product suppliers I was called to see if I could help patch the floor in a permanent and cost effective way.

Whenever I approach a floor with significant damage I consider the future use of the floor. The recommendations from other contractors were expensive and excessive.This area was owned by a property management company and was going to b used as a retail store with a short loop commercial carpet.

My factors to consider are;

Weather/ exposure – This floor is in southern California which has moderate temperatures and its also indoors so this is the best case scenario. Because the concrete will loose heat through the footing around the perimeter and the soil underneath I know that the top portion suffer only gradual temperature changes..

Installation Requirement – Because this is a short loop carpet the floor will need to be smooth and free of all but the smallest defects.

Appearance or Future Consideration – The landlord did not pay the GC to make the floor brand new. Only to apply materials necessary to accommodate this installation and future installation of a similar type.

My treatment of these types of situations is becoming very routine. The cracks and major holes are cleaned, primed with masonry adhesive and filled with rapid set brand’s Cement All. Cement all has proven both indoor and outdoor to grip existing masonry surfaces exceptionally well.

I also frequently mix pea gravel into the cement all when filling in very large or wide areas to compensate for cement shrink.

Here is the patched floor. These are some spots were the floor was in reasonable condition.

floor patching

floor patching

 

In other areas the floor looked like a grenade testing facility. In these scenarios i mix the cement all in a 5 gallon bucket into a soup and add pea gravel if i can. Smoothing the whole mixture onto the top with a squeegee.

Once all areas are in a reasonable condition I spray the entire floor surface with a glue using hudson sprayer. Then i mix a floor leveling compound and use a squeegee to fix an minor imperfection that may remain.

Typically this will eliminate about 99% of defects wich is good enough to let the floor guys touch up the floor as they see fit.

 

 

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Metal stud framing torrance ca

This was a job in Torrance California. I was requested to build a small metal stud enclosure to finish off an area which had no plan details for another larger construction firm.

This is a fairly typical and straightforward job. I used 20 gauge 6″ joist and studs.2016-04-29 07.02.09

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Demo of manuacturing

A lot of people think demoing is easy. It’ thankless work carried out by the dregs of society. But fortunately those dregs have been hired by me to complete this work and so they will at the very least have the best tools and instructions available.

This job was a little room where spirulina, which is a vitamin supplement, was placed into those tiny little pill cases. Fabricated from metal studs and plywood it was then completely covered with a  washable fiber reinforced plastic.

Here are some pics at the start.

 

demolish a vitamin manufacturing room

Here you can see all three levels of material; FRP, Plywood, Metal Stud.

complete wall construction

The ceiling was the hard part because we were demoing a suspended ceiling made from metal lath and concrete. There is only one way to demo this type of ceiling if you can’t cut the wires from above. It’s with the smallest impact hammer with a scraper attachment.

The ceiling must be scraped clean of the concrete and then the lath must be cut with shears.

 

Finally we are left with just an open space. After this  I turned off the fire sprinkler then cut and re-threaded the fire heads to a new height near the ceiling so they wouldn’t get broken. As well as cut out some old supply, drain and HVAC pipes.

 

 

 

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Italian restaurant remodel

This was a job in down town Los Angeles. It was an Italian restaurant that I never got a chance to eat at. It was also a night job which I don’t do anymore

The scope of work at this job was to remodel the office and bathrooms as well as some other aesthetic issues. As with anywhere in Los Angeles space is limited. This office was small and had no air conditioning

On the exterior we installed a mosaic for the owner and also leveled the concrete. This is the one thing I think they were disappointed with. The concrete color did not match either the interior or exterior and the mosaic was ok but not perfect. I didn’t promise perfection and I think it turned out good but I know there vision was a bit different.

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I also installed some sliding cabinet doors in the POS/ bar area. This included building a shelf for the equipment and running speaker wires through the attic. The owner was told it could not be done and I admit it was not easy. But nobody wants wires glued to the ceiling!

We also textured and repainted the office walls. This gave them a fresh feel. I then custom built them some wine racks and a desk with a matching storage unit for more wine.

The restroom remodel was key. They wanted something fresh and comfortable with an old school style. I had to demo everything skim coat the walls and level the floors. Add the chair rail and plastic floor base with an inside cove. I re installed all new fixtures over a very nice semi gloss paint and the restroom looked 10x better.

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This all happened at night and it was a very long two weeks!

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