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Where to start with retrofitting a dental mill

_Kodak_

Plastic
Joined
Dec 29, 2016
hey all. Got an opportunity to take a 5axis (3+2) CNC dental desktop mill we retired from production. I’m very green to anything machining and willing to accept it could be an exercise in futility. But free is free. If for nothing else then curiosity how do you go about running CAM software to a machine like this? How do I take my design from CAD and get the mill to chooch? That’s my level of competence at this point.
Here’s a link to what the unit looks like Weiland Select
Appreciate any guidance or suggestions
 

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi _Kodak_:
These machines run with proprietary software.
I don't know if they can even read Gcode.
This means you need to find out how they take a vector file and make sequential machine instructions from it when they're milling dental prostheses.
Once you know that, you can figure out a way to get from non-dental software to machine instructions the toy can read.
If it's G code your task is easy.
If it's something else you have to figure out how to write a post processor that translates the CAM software you plan to use into the proper format.
The other way, of course is to find a way to trick the dental software into writing code for the non-dental shapes you intend to make.
That may be the easier way forward.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 

_Kodak_

Plastic
Joined
Dec 29, 2016
Hi _Kodak_:
These machines run with proprietary software.
I don't know if they can even read Gcode.
This means you need to find out how they take a vector file and make sequential machine instructions from it when they're milling dental prostheses.
Once you know that, you can figure out a way to get from non-dental software to machine instructions the toy can read.
If it's G code your task is easy.
If it's something else you have to figure out how to write a post processor that translates the CAM software you plan to use into the proper format.
The other way, of course is to find a way to trick the dental software into writing code for the non-dental shapes you intend to make.
That may be the easier way forward.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
thanks Marcus! So my first task will be to figure out how these things receive instructions, if the can receive GCode. I’ve got a few fellow lab guys that will know the answer to this!
 

_Kodak_

Plastic
Joined
Dec 29, 2016
Or replace the servos and control...
Seems like that could be a potential outcome if I don’t get any way to talk with the unit outside of the proprietary software that Marcus mentioned, what’s that look like? You buy servos that are bundled with a controller?
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
You have better responses over at the zone "www. see & see zone .com"
Make the obvious changes.
 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
This guy isusing dental mills to machine carbon fiber- https://unlockedcomposites.com

I don't see it on his site, just heard him talking about it on a podcast, but might reach out to him. If Marcus of all people doesn't know the conversion process there's small chance the rest of us might...
 

_Kodak_

Plastic
Joined
Dec 29, 2016
Hi _Kodak_:
These machines run with proprietary software.
I don't know if they can even read Gcode.
This means you need to find out how they take a vector file and make sequential machine instructions from it when they're milling dental prostheses.
Once you know that, you can figure out a way to get from non-dental software to machine instructions the toy can read.
If it's G code your task is easy.
If it's something else you have to figure out how to write a post processor that translates the CAM software you plan to use into the proper format.
The other way, of course is to find a way to trick the dental software into writing code for the non-dental shapes you intend to make.
That may be the easier way forward.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
So an update from an industry CAM software company:
"
We can answer « yes », .NC files are used for this milling machine in fact.

Depend the model, you can have a little specification to use dedicated positions inside, but global writing in file is in standard G codes."

So this is encouraging!
ou have better responses over at the zone "www. see & see zone .com"
Make the obvious changes.
Ahh didn't think about posting there, obvious now that you mention it!
This guy isusing dental mills to machine carbon fiber- https://unlockedcomposites.com

I don't see it on his site, just heard him talking about it on a podcast, but might reach out to him. If Marcus of all people doesn't know the conversion process there's small chance the rest of us might...
Coincidentally I listened to this episode too, Within Tolerance podcast right? That sparked my interest into what I could do with this heavy paperweight up for grabs. I'll have to reach out and see if he's got some tips to share!
 

Doug

Diamond
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Location
Pacific NW
Retro-fitting a 5 axis dental mill......


First determine the axis drive motors, stepper or servo. Check to see if the motor drives are common, easily connected to. If either of the above are something really odd ball replace them.

Then find a main control software/hardware package. LinuxCNC would be a good choice, free. Centroid Acorn won't support more than 4 axis, so a more expensive option from Centroid would be needed.

That's about it. In this day and age none of this is rocket science,
 

_Kodak_

Plastic
Joined
Dec 29, 2016
Retro-fitting a 5 axis dental mill......


First determine the axis drive motors, stepper or servo. Check to see if the motor drives are common, easily connected to. If either of the above are something really odd ball replace them.

Then find a main control software/hardware package. LinuxCNC would be a good choice, free. Centroid Acorn won't support more than 4 axis, so a more expensive option from Centroid would be needed.

That's about it
For me the part I will struggle with most. A la how does the software know the parameters of my mill, how does it know where the tool changer is etc. obvious to you and those with experience but I realize I’m biting off a big piece having no real experience!
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
For me the part I will struggle with most. A la how does the software know the parameters of my mill, how does it know where the tool changer is etc. obvious to you and those with experience but I realize I’m biting off a big piece having no real experience!
It doesn't know, until you tell it.

Edit: I may have misunderstood; I thought you were asking about the control software after a retrofit.
 
Last edited:

implmex

Titanium
Joined
Jun 23, 2002
Location
Vancouver BC Canada
Hi again_Kodak_:
First off, you may not need to retrofit the machine at all.
If it is in good shape and has all the bits intact and working it can take commands and turn them into instructions to the axis motors telling them how to move.

Since you have discovered it can understand a variant of G code, you just have to know which flavour of G code it can understand and then give it that code.
That is the function of the CAM software and the post processor together: the CAM system translates the graphics on your computer screen to universal instructions that your post processor then translates into the G code dialect specific to your machine.

All of the things you reference in your post are contained within the logic of the machine's control.
You need to tell it when you want to do a toolchange for example, but the control knows how to do that once you tell it that you want one.

There is no need for you to know the details of how it does that unless something is broken and needs to be fixed or ripped out and replaced.

So I encourage you to find out first if you have a complete intact machine.

If you do, all you need to do is figure out what kind of G code it wants, and how to tell it where the job origin is, what all the tool heights are relative to that origin, and what order you want the tools to be presented to the work and what they are supposed to do.
The CAM system does all that, together with your setup and tool touch offs.

Freedommachine made a great suggestion to try to find a sample program you can run and also pick apart to see how it was constructed.
That will take you a long way toward success.

Cheers

Marcus
www.implant-mechanix.com
www.vancouverwireedm.com
 

FeinMecanix

Plastic
Joined
May 8, 2020
Treat it as a learning experience. Get the machine and take the covers off so you can see how it is put together i.e. what servos and drivers it runs, what the control is (proprietary or otherwise). Go from there. Worst case scenario you can probably set it up to run linuxcnc which is not to bad at all...
 

Scruffy887

Titanium
Joined
Dec 17, 2012
Location
Se Ma USA
Those F'n things can make you nuts if you are around them all day. Zeeeeeeee, Zuuuuuuuu, Zeeeeeee, Zuuuua. You go home and still hear the fookin thing. AHHHHHH, YES, THESE ARE ALL MY PASSWORDS...................MAKE IT STOP.
 








 
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