Adding a CNC router / mill to the shop project
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  1. #1
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    Default Adding a CNC router / mill to the shop project

    I have a metal fabrication business and have been wanting to get a CNC router / Mill for a long time. I have been doing research for a few months and spent sometime at a few trade shows looking everything over. I have a lot to learn when it comes to routers and mills, just a little different from plasma.

    I decided to start out with a small bench top system and build it up as sort of a DIY project and see how it works and use it for making prototypes, and maybe expand to a larger table down the road.

    My goal is to make this a multi-purpose machine if I can. I want to be able to make signs out of wood and plexi, machine parts out of aluminum, cut sheet goods like vinyl and cardboard for prototypes, and if I can attach an extruder and make a 3d printer out of the same machine....

    So here goes I have been buying components as time and money allows and finally have enough to get started. I though I would post the build here and hopefully get some good advice along the way and share my trials and tribulations as I go.

    So day one got the table from Precision Plasma assembled it and attached the Porter cable 7310 router. I'm waiting on my steppers and controller which I hope will be delivered soon.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_2152.jpg   img_2161.jpg  

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  3. #2
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    Got the Controller package and stepper motors in from CandCNC yesterday. I went with the BladeRunner Package. Its the same package I use on my CNC Plasma System and it has worked very well. About the only difference is that this one does not have torch height control.

    The steppers are 300 oz - The router has a 2TPI screw for x and y, so the steps per inch is 4000. I use 50 for acceleration and can go 200 ipm or faster. The Z is 5 tpi, so the steps per inch is 10000. Acceleration 50 and velocity 100 or faster. With this setup I will have about 175 lb of cutting force on X and Y.

    I was not expecting the steppers to be double shaft steppers. My plasma machine uses single shaft steppers. I did some reading online and from what I read no real difference some people suggested adding a thumb knob on the end to allow for some fine adjustment when the power is off.?

    The case has two built in Aux power outlets. I will use one to plug my router into so that I can control it via the computer and the Mach3 interface.

    This weekend I plan on installing the software from CandCNC as well as Mach3 and Sheetcam, getting everything plugged in and do some test movements to make sure the basics are working.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails cnc_controler_axis_connections.jpg   cnc_controler_power.jpg   inside_cnc_controlelr.jpg   router_controler.jpg  

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  5. #3
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    I have been slacking on updating the build progress. Had to squeeze in a little vacation while I could.

    I was able to get all of the software installed and do some basic motion testing and configuration. I installed Mach3 for my machine control software which has custom screens from the bladerunner package. I also installed Sheetcam for 2d work. I use it all the time for plasma cutting so I though I would put it on this system since I'm familiar.

    I also installed Aspire and Photo V Carve from Vectric which I plan to use for most of the routing and carving.

    Program install was easy no problems. Powered up the the machine and was able to move it around the table using Mach3 No cutting yet.

    Anyone have another programs they think I should have or could use. I want to eventually add a rotary axis. I'm still reading up on aspire and getting familiar with all it can do.

    Next project is adding the home and limit switches along with some cable management to the machine.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails bladerunner_mach3_main_screen.jpg   cnc_router_accessories-2-.jpg   vectric_aspire_cnc_router_screen.jpg  

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    Made some progress on the project and got the home and limit switches installed. I installed limits on both sides of the x and y and a home for the x and y.

    I'm thinking of going back and adding a home for the Z at its highest point?? Not sure yet on that take any suggestions on that.

    I found some new switches that I like better than the ones I used on the plasma system. They are a little bigger and have a snap action and a more positive and precise activation it seems.

    I got a rotary unit that I plan on moving back and forth between the plasma and router that I plan on setting up on the "A" Axis and I need to install a home switch for that as well. Need to find a trick way to mount it on the rotary unit.

    I got most of the cable management done with the Igus track I got of ebay and I mounted the Air system for the blow off nozzles for clearing the cut path. I plan on just plugging the system into the shop air and regulate it with the on off valve.

    Had a few people suggest the nozzle system for doing aluminum. I don't plan on running any type of coolant system. I would like to keep it all dry if I can.

    Its nice having the plasma machine in the shop. I needed some custom brackets and supports to mount things so a quick drawing threw some aluminum on the plasma table and made some bends and I had come custom brackets.

    Next project in this build was to start building the cart that all this will mount to and on. My shop never has enough room so I have to keep this project mobile.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails closeup_home_limit_switch.jpg   stacked_limit_home_switch_cnc_router.jpg   plasma_cut_alu_brackets.jpg   bulldog_cnc_router_airline.jpg   cnc_mill_air_plumbing.jpg  


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    When I built up my plasma cutting system I built a custom cart / control center for it. I wanted to do the same for this project. Space in my shop is very limited so I wanted to put the entire machine and all of its components on a single cart and keep the entire project self contained and mobile.

    I think this is one of the fun-est parts of the project building and designing. When I'm done I hope to have the computer, Bladerunner Control box, vacuum hold down system and vacuum dust recovery system all built into the cart.

    The first couple of pictures is of the cart that I built for my plasma system. It folds closed and rolls neatly under the plasma table. Then opens up with gas assist shocks to expose the entire control center.

    If anyone has built something like this for their router / mill I would love to see it and get some ideas.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails desert-fabworks-computer-cart-plasma.jpg   plasma-table-water-pan.jpg  

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    I use an Ergotron arm on my Joes CastCNC setup. The setup holds a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and CPU.

    My vacuum pump is a regenerative blower that goes through a relief valve, then a Solberg filter, and the through a manifold I made for 2" NPT PVC and ball valves. Its on the floor.

    I use an overhead 4" flex to 5" spiral pipe to the dust collector. I also use a Dust shoe from kentcnc.

    These are old pics but you will see the items you are interested in.




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    Nice setup! I have been looking at the Dust Shoes from KentCNC as well they seem like a quality product. What is the name of the custom screen setup that you are using for MACH3. Its looks very cool?

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    After a lot of mock ups planning and measuring I finally came up with a plan for the Cart/Control center that will hold this router and all of the components. The cart will be 26" wide x 44" Long x 36" tall.

    The router will mount on the top of the cart and inside of the cart I will house the Computer, monitor, keyboard and Mouse, Blade Runner Control box, UPS power supply,
    Vacuum System, Vacuum Hold down system, and all the accessories that go along with it.

    If everything works out like I have planned this will be a very cool cart. The whole thing will be on wheels to allow it to easily move around the shop and out of the way when not in use. Because I do more welding than woodwork I decided to build the cart out of steel. I'm using 1x2 tube for the base and top frame, and 1in square tube for the internal supports. All of this will support a 1/4 steel plate top that the router will mount on.

    Here are a couple of pictures there are quite a few more on the build site photo gallery = BUILD PAGE 8
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_2303.jpg   img_2292.jpg   img_2281.jpg  

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    Here are the latest picture updates from the cart build. Have not had enough time o dedicate to this project too many other things going on. Slow going at the moment.

    I figured out my fold up monitor system and finalized the locations of some of the equipment in the cart.

    Here is a link to more pics on the build page: BUILD PAGE 9
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_2327.jpg   img_2326.jpg   img_2330.jpg   img_2323.jpg  

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    Life got way too busy during the holidays and got behind on this project. I was able to get the cart finished. I cut a custom front door panel with the BullDog router logo on the front of the door.

    Everything is back from powder coating just putting the finishing touches on everything and getting all of the cables and controls run.

    Hope to be cutting and making things soon. The cart / control center for this project really came out nice.

    I hope to have pictures and a video of the completed cart / control center up next week. Here are the latest pictures till then. I have some more pictures on the build website: BUILD PAGE 10
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails img_2351.jpg   img_2353.jpg   img_2345.jpg   img_2325.jpg  

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    The CNC Router Cart is finally finished! I was able to get everything mounted and all of the wiring routed, hooked up and get all of the components functioning. Now I get to start cutting.

    The monitor gas shock system to flip the monitor up and hold it in place came out great. a little hard to grasp in a picture should have a video soon. I had some red led's laying around and decided to hook them up and place them round the stainless steel insert panels and wire them to a small 12 volt battery.

    With a flip of the switch the front panel glows red. Not very practical but looks cool.
    I used pVC pipe to route the shop vac line up to the table and have a fitting on the top of the table for the hose to hook into and then attach to the dust boot that will go on the router.

    I also ran the vacuum system line up to the top of the table with an on off valve and a gauge for controlling the suction to the hold down pods.

    I started working on vacuum hold down table design that I saw on Donek tools, that will mount to the bed and be used for holding down pieces when cutting with the drag knife.

    I hope to get the video edited and have it up soon but for now here are some pictures of the completed cart and the start of the vacuum hold down table.

    BUILD PAGE 14
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails vacuum_holddown_fixture.jpg   router_cart_led_font.jpg   finished_router_cart_open_front.jpg   finished_router_cart_front.jpg   finished_cnc_router_cartback_2.jpg  


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    Its been awhile since I updated this post but here is some new stuff. I upgraded my Bladerunner controller to the new Ethercut system from Candcnc. This gets rid of the parallel and serial ports and runs everything on one ethernet cat5 connection from the computer.

    At the same time I upgraded the computer from xp to windows 7. This was a really nice upgrade the speed increase and reliability increase were huge. This new system also kind of future proofs the system because you do not find new computers coming out with serial and parallel ports nor is xp supported anymore.

    I also added a laser cutter to the gantry. I have wanted this machine to do many things and kind of be a multipurpose machine. This laser is pretty cool. So I can use the router to cut or engrave something and then have the laser come back and mark the piece or I can use the laser to do the cuts.

    Here is a link to the info on the Ethercut upgrade: BUILD PAGE 16

    Here is a video of the laser setup https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPjHpUH9Zic

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    Desert',

    What about the laser? You said a cheapo, what did it cost? How about lasers that are more powerful?

    I'm thinking along the lines of a laser that will burn wood.

  16. #14
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    The actual name of the laser is "LCheapo" The laser comes in various forms I purchased it in the fully complete ready to cut form and it was $200. This is pretty powerful for the cost it will cut 1/4 acrylic sheet and can burn wood with no problem.
    the guy that builds these is working on a more powerful version and kit but when you go above this power you need FDA approval and he is working on that.

    The links to purchasing the "LCheapo" laser and the guy who makes the stuff can be found on my build page here: BUILD PAGE 17
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails cnc_laser_router.jpg  


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