Mark Matamoros ITP Blog

ITP Courses

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Subtraction

Week 6: CNC PROJECT. March 11, 2020.

INTRODUCTION

This particular week pertained to the fabrication of the midterm CNC project. As we were advised to create a work that was portable, due to the limited space and transportation requirement, I decided to fabricate a foot stool with a design revolving around the prior week's half lap joint.

PROCESS

Under the suggestion of one my peers, I decided to partake in the group ordering of large sheets of plywood for our work. While these sheets were particularly large, the shop had the ability to cut these pieces into workable CNC-sized pieces.

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Regarding the design of this footstool, I took a pencil-and-paper approach to solidify the style and dimensions of the unit. Upon a few iterations, I was left with a design with a plentiful amount of half lap joints. While not evident in the drawing, dog bone cuts were also required for elements of this work.

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Afterwards, I began translating this design into Vectorworks. Regarding file creation, I attempted to separate each piece to its own independent file or one with similiar items. This approach allowed a build-and-test fabrication process.

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Upon creating these files, they were imported into Mastercam for CNC preparation. During this process, each piece was treated with proper cut order and milling specifications.

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The CNC'ing then commenced for each piece.

Upon finishing these cuts, each piece was sanded to various degrees, where some were more splintered than others.

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Lastly, the unit was put together.

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CONCLUSION

The project was mildly successful, where further refinements could be made to the fitting of some components. Regarding this statement, I am currently questioning the amount of tolerance that I alloted for each piece; there may have been a bit too much extra room.

Additionally, I believe that the splintering issues with the plywood pertained to my utilization of the chosen mill bit. After changing from an downward to upward flat bit for the final top piece, I noticed that this particular cut did not have any issues with the outer layers of the plywood during the final cutting pass. Research of this issue within the web appears to concur with my conclusion; however, I remain uncertian of my claim, as I have no experience within this area. Perhaps two files for each piece, where the first pass is with a downward, and the last pass is with an upward, would allow for cleany cut pieces?


Week 5: Joinery. March 4, 2020.

INTRODUCTION

Regarding this week's lecture, we students were provided information pertaining to the creation of joinery with the CNC mill. Furthemore, the instruction was catered towards our next two week's of work, where we would utilize joinery for our midterm project. For this coming week, we were required to cut a joint for testing midterm project testing purposes.

PROCESS

As my background to woodwork and design is somewhat limited, I chose the approachable cross lap joint. Furthermore, my chosen midterm project will be heavily reliant on this particular cut.

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This work was handled in a similar fashion to last week's CNC work, where the creation process began with translating a sketch into vectorworks. However, focus pertained to the handling of tolerance for the joints and angular cuts for the joints, where the former was for fitting and the latter was for proper shaping.

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Following the design within Vectworks was the utilization of MasterCAM for the CNC mill. Once again, tolerance was at the focal point. Additionally, importance was placed on cutting order for a logical handling of the CNC process.

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After finishing the work within MasterCAM, the milling process commenced.

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The first attempt left much to be desired with the tolerance set for the joint pocket cuts, as the two pieces did not sit flush against each other.

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In light of the situation, I proceeded back to MasterCAM and added an additional 0.01 tolerance. Thereafter, I restarted the CNC process.

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I was mostly content with the second cut. However, I am currently debating if the tolerance would need to be adjusted for the pocket width, as it appears that the joint might be a smidgen too tight. In light of this situation, I might run another test cut prior to the handling of my midterm project. And regarding this particular project, I am intending to create a foot stool, primarily utilizing cross lap joints for the design.

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Week 4: HD II Tabletop CNC machine. February 26, 2020.

INTRODUCTION

This week's lecture pertained to Techno CNC Systems' HD II Tabletop machine, a larger mill than the prior week's unit. Regarding the utilization of this unit, we were given instruction pertaining to both Vectorworks and the newly introduced MasterCAM. The latter is software that produces files for the HD II Tabletop.

Regarding this week's assignment, we students were asked to utilize this CNC for a creation of our choosing.

PROCESS

As mentioned, the design process began with the utilization of Vectorworks. For this particular project, I chose to create a sign, reflective of the in-class tutorial. Furthermore, a nearby piece of scrapwood, shaped in a convenient rectangular manner, also influenced this decision. To begin, I took measurements of the piece, and designed the work on top of the wood.

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Thereafter, I translated these measurements and design into a Vectorworks file and exported the work as a DXF for MasterCAM.

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I then uploaded the file into MasterCAM, setting the machine type and order of cutting operations for the CNC, beginning with the pocket (inner) cut and ending with the contour (outer) cut. Additionally, I verified these operations with the built-in animation cutting.

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After exporting these instructions as G-code onto a flash drive, I connected this drive into the backside of the CNC. Next, I screwed down the wood into the spoil board, followed with the setting of the zero-point for the XY axis and z axis. Thereafter, I attached the vacuum component and began the cutting process.

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Prior to finishing the outer cut, I screwed the inner part of the wood piece onto the spoil board to secure the sign for the final pass.

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Upon removing the piece from the spoil board, it was sanded and finished with butcher's block oil. It must be noted that during the sanding component, the "T" accidently fell off the sign. Though, this issue was corrected with the utilization of wood glue.

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CONCLUSION

While this project was mostly successful with the final outcome, the sanding of inner letters and cuts needs to be properly handled. I intend to investigate techniques in this area. Additionally, during the homing of the z axis, I accidently broke a bit by driving it into the wood piece. I intend to not make this mistake again.


Week 3: CNC Continuation. February 19, 2020.

INTRODUCTION

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.

PROCESS

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Unfortunately, the wooden piece did not suffice the needs the project, as the protuding aluminum cuts did not fit inside the wooden square holes.

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Regarding the prior picture, I attempted to file the wooden holes to a shape suitable for the aluminum piece. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful.

CONCLUSION

Future projects pertaining to fitted pieces will be handled will better precision. Regarding this skill builder, I failed to properly handle wooden piece's hole tolerance. Additionaly, the aluminum protruding squares needed to be properly filleted for the rounded square holes.


Week 2: CNC Introduction. February 12, 2020.

INTRODUCTION

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.

PROCESS

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.

Illustrator File

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.

Basswood piece - pic 1 Basswood piece - pic 2

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.

Acetone bottle Handheld vaccum cleaner
Endmill set in collet Basswood taped to base 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.

Milling software - material size Milling software - tool type
Milling software - oval settings Milling software - square settings

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.

Endmill finding the z-axis Milling begins with the square engraving
Continued square engraving Finished square engraving

Thereafter, the oval cutting was triggered.

Beginning of oval cut Finished oval cut

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.

Splintered milled piece Sandpaper
Sanded, milled piece Fan attached to the mill's collet

CONCLUSION

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.


Week 1: Router Introduction. February 5, 2020.

INTRODUCTION

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.

PROCESS

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.

Router with detached base Router with installed endmill
Router with installed endmill, base plate, and jig Long piece of scrapwood

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.

Inserted dowel and positioned scrapwood with router. Scrapwood clamped to precut, circular wood

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.

Two cutting passes, one full pass with proper endmill protrusion, one incomplete pass with over-protruding endmill. Close-up shot of previous picture
Completed circular cut

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.

Additional scrapwood attempt with viewable router slippage cut Close up shot of previous picture
Multiple passes of router cutting Completed circular cut

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.

Router table plate attachment Router table guide adjustment with wood in a ready-to-cut position
Successful initial cut Unsuccessful second cut

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.

Router with installed router bit Scrapwood clamped to table
Viewing of Chamfer-style cut Viewing of Rabbet-style cut

CONCLUSION

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.


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