Continuing from last week's lecture, we students recieved additional information pertaining to the utilization of the CNC mill. Specifically, we were introduced to the CAD program Vectorworks. Additionally, we were also provided guidance in the creation of fitted items in conjuction and also introduced to additionaly fabrication techniques related to the CNC.
Regarding this week's assignment, we students were asked to utilize one or more of the provided fabrication techniques towards a project of our choosing. As I did not have any current ITP class projects than entailed any fabrication, I chose to create a drink coaster comprised of CNC'd aluminum and wood.
The beginning of this creation began with the utilization of Vectorworks, where I designed both the wood and aluminum pieces. With this particular design, the CNC's aluminum slab would lie within a opened cut in the middle of the piece of wood. Furthermore, the top of the wood piece would have symmetrical square cutouts, where protruding cuts of aluminum would lie flush with the top of the coaster.
After creating these designs, I exported the the projects to Illustrator. Within this enviroment, I began deconstructing each component into layers, where I would be able to utilize the CNC in a methodical, constructive manner.
Upon finishing the re-working in Illustrator, I exported the individual layers of the project for handling within Bantam's CNC software. Regarding the CNC'ing process, I decided to begin with the aluminum, setting all appropriate parameters in accordance to my project's requirements.
Thereafter, the CNC'ing of the aluminum slab commenced. The initial cut handle the shallow engraving of the block, followed by the outer cut of the piece.
After inspecting the CNC'd aluminum piece, small, thin edges surronded the outer edges of the cut. This issue was swiftly handle with a rasp.
Upon finishing the aluminum component, I began tackling the wooden component of the project. In an identical manner, I began exporting the Illustrator layers into the Bantam sofftware. Thereafter, the milling commenced, beggining with the shallow middle cut, followed with the square hole cuts, and finishing with the outer component cut.
Unfortunately, the wooden piece did not suffice the needs the project, as the protuding aluminum cuts did not fit inside the wooden square holes.
...the blog is not finished...
Information given during our second week of class pertained to the utilization of the CNC mill. Regarding software, Illustrator was utilized for the design component, while Bantam Tools' Milling Machine software handled the milling portion.
Regarding this week's assignment, we students were asked to familiarize ourselves with the OtherMill CNC machine through the design and milling of an object.
To start, I created two simple shapes within an Illustrator file, utilizing the ruler for size reference. Regarding the shapes, they were an oval and square, where the former surrounded the latter. Furthermore, the oval was only formed with the utilization of a stroke and the square with a fill. Note: the former denotes a cut, while the latter denotes an etch.
Upon finishing this illustration and exporting it as an .svg, I began rummaging through the scrap wood and found a piece of basswood. Thereafter, I took measurements of this wood with calipers to ensure that this particular size could be utilized with the milling machine.
Upon verification, I began prepping the milling unit by vacuuming the inside and cleaning the base plate with acetone. Thereafter, I attached an 1/8 inch flat endmill to the collet. Afterwards, I taped (double-sided) the bottom of my wood to the plate.
Upon finishing the physical component of the prep, I connected my computer to the milling machine and began tweaking settings, adjusting the size of the material, the tool type (endmill), engraving depth, and cutout placement.
After re-homing the machine and finding the z-axis during the tool type selection component, I began the milling process. First, the square engraving was handled.
Thereafter, the oval cutting was triggered.
It must be noted that during the milling process, wood splintering occured. This minor problem was handled after the milling was finished, where sandpaper knocked off this excess wood. Additionally, I forgot to attach the fan to the endmill before the initial square engraving, causing me to pause the device and clean the inside during the process. This issue was remedied prior to the oval cut.
The biggest, personal takeaways from this lab pertained to two items: proper alignment of cutout file and etching quality. Regarding the former, the cutout oval had a straight edge due to its cutout placement, coinciding with the edge of the wood piece. Future projects will be set properly to remedy this situation.
Regarding the etching quality, I have taken note that the etched ridges will need further refinement after the cut. Perhaps a thinner endmill might be assistive with this particular issue.
For the first week of class, we students were granted information and instruction pertaining to the utilization of routers. Additionally, we were asked to utilize a router in conjuction with router bits and endmills to familiarize ourselves with the tool.
As I took interest in the circle jig that was presented in class, I decided to utilize this attachment to begin my familiarization with the router. Upon grabbing a router from the shelf, I removed the attached base plate. Thereafter, I grabbed both the base plate with the screwed-in circle jig and an endmill, and then attached both items to the router. Additionally, I located a piece of scrap plywood for testing.
Upon inserting the dowel within the center point of the precut, circular piece of plywood, I positioned the jig in a manner where the protruding dowel was inserted into one of the jig's holes. Additionally, the scrap wood was clamped to the precut, circular piece for stabilization purposes.
Thereafter, I began the cutting process. Upon placing the spinning endmill on top of the scrap wood to begin the initial cut, I noticed a small bit of smoke. After stopping the router and inspecting the small cut, it was apparent that the wood was burnt. To alleviate this issue, I lessened the protrusion of the endmill and repeated the cut. Furthermore, I continued this cut with additional endmill protrusion adjusments until the circular cut was completed.
To further solidify my comfort with the router and jig, I performed the same operations on another piece of scrapwood. During the initial cut, the dowel slipped out of the circular wood's drilled hole. This problem resulted in a slight slipping of the router during the cut. Upon reseating the dowel, I continued the process until the cut was completed.
Afterwards, I decided to utilize one of the circular-cut pieces to test the router table. Upon attaching an endmill to the table's router, I adjusted the endmill's protrusion from the base plate. Thereafter, I adjusted the table's guides for the cut. The cutting process then commenced. Upon successfully making a straight, shallow cut to the wood from one end to the other end, I decided to attempt a cut contained within the inner surface area of the wood. This attempt was a unsuccessful, as the wood slipped during the process.
Despite having issues with the mentioned inner cut, I decided to move onto the utilization of router bits for modifiying the edges of wood. After installing a router bit and clamping the scrap wood to the table, I began the cut. Upon successfully utilizing the Chamfer bit, I decided to try the Rabbet bit. It must be noted that I was impressed with the easy manner of cutting the edges to both shapes.
While this excercise definitely granted confidence in handling and utlizing routers, the most noteable lesson throughout the process pertained to setup. Specifically, properly adjusting the protrusion of both endmills and router bits is key to utilizing this tool. Additionally, positioning and securing material for cutting is also a necessity for handling proper cuts.