'manual' CNC on metals using a router table
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  1. #1
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    Default 'manual' CNC on metals using a router table

    Hopefully just asking won't get me banned here (haha) but I would like some 'considered' expert opinion. After playing around with some CNC setups I was wondering why i couldn't use my home shop router table (it's actually something called a 'router lift' installed in my working surface - a rigid aluminum cage holding a router with a 'precision' worm gear driving the vertical axis). Anyway - it occurred to me - why can't i use this (if the assembly is stiffened up accordingly) with an end mill to machine metals with (also given appropriate precautions) - it DOES have the nice added benefit of forcing you to have the work face DOWN and the business end of things being out of sight and out of the line of fire when working ...

    any thoughts? has anyone tried this? I'm just curious since it seems that only since the onset of CNC have routers been used for machining metal. Why can't it be done 'manually'?

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    Wanna do CNC mill stuff?



    Get a CNC mill.

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    CNC routers can be used to cut aluminum and other non-ferrous metals (not steels) but the ones I have seen
    are pretty rigid and have robust motors. If your machine is not designed for that work I doubt it would ever work
    in a practical sense. The upside down element is not an advantage either since you can't see what's happening.
    Bottom line; if you really want to machine metals get a real metal-working machine...

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    no i couldn't be less interested in CNC - been doing CAD for 30 years nearly and can't bear the computers anymore

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    Quote Originally Posted by LKeithR View Post
    CNC routers can be used to cut aluminum and other non-ferrous metals (not steels) but the ones I have seen
    are pretty rigid and have robust motors. If your machine is not designed for that work I doubt it would ever work
    in a practical sense. The upside down element is not an advantage either since you can't see what's happening.
    Bottom line; if you really want to machine metals get a real metal-working machine...

    well it's more about trying to come up with a new kind of machine and seeing what it might do ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Science View Post
    well it's more about trying to come up with a new kind of machine and seeing what it might do ...
    Well it might bite you. Is that what you want?

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    On alu and brass sure, i have used my industrial grade routers a lot over the years both hand held - bearing guided and in the table to put endges on large alu parts. Think lots of edge rounding around contours etc. Done full 8' lengths of dovtailed edged strips for a customer in 1/2" alu. Taken the sharp points of the edge of a lot of alu chequer plate etc.

    If your trying to mill your car a new brake caliper hell no! but breaking and neatening edges, they work great!

    Don't even contemplate steel or stainless stuff though!

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    Been done in the 1940's at the big California aircraft factories.

    Masonite templates, articulated arm massive routers, lot's of face shields and such.

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    I did convert a drill press to chamfer the edges of cams,it worked well.
    I removed the motor, belts and quill assembly and then the table. Then replaced the motor,quill etc. assembly upside down. Now replace the table. I used a 45° router cutter with a ball race,job jobbed. You can adjust the amount of chamfer with the depth lock and once set it works a treat. It turned an amateur linished chamfer into a professional job.
    Anybody wants to copy this just go for it and send me the price of a pint of Guinness.(please don't tell the old man).



    chamfer into a professional job.

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    Wood cutting routers I have seen have a pretty open ends so any chips are likely to fall into the motor. Wood
    dust may be ok but the universal motors in routers would not do well with metal chips.

    Story about upside down drill press reminds me of the British crew that came to one of the really deep Jim Walters
    coal mines west of Bham in the '70s with the idea of hanging a continuous mining machine vertically to drill 6' or
    so diameter ventilation holes down to the mine levels 1000-1500' down.

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    interesting feedback thank you for the warnings and the examples ... yes of course I wouldn't (for example) try full on steel milling without taking precautions (i.e. having the right motor, quill and particle removal system in place first) ... but I'd just been thinking about the configuration of machine tools and what might be possible thinking 'outside the box' a little. And mostly i was thinking that if CNC is being used commonly for alu type materials so much these days why does one never hear about using the equivalent 'manual' setup for aluminum (etc etc)?

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    Coated carbide with very light cut depths, can be done. Even at 18k rpm. Small diameter cutters and very much need a powerful vac source right there. Cutter will be throwing a shower on tiny needles and they WILL find you.


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