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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 05:18 PM Thread Starter
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Default An Old Saying...

Sometimes it's better to just be quiet and appearto be ignorant than it is to open ons'e mouth and dispel all doubt.

So with that said, I'm opening my mouth and asking if anybody cares to explain what a CNC machine is and how it works. From what I read on the forum I can only surmise, bu would like to hear more about the tool.

I realize that this question may ultimately cost me some money.

Jerry

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 06:30 PM
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"...ultimately cost me some money."


Some?!!! Heh...
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 07:26 PM Thread Starter
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"...ultimately cost me some money."


Some?!!! Heh...
Uhhh, I rhink that I get the hint...
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-08-2017, 07:31 PM
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Yes, you may as well count that money spent! Computer Numerically Controlled - using a computer to guide your router, plasma cutter, laser, lathe, mill, etc.

Start clearing out a space for it and prepare to have some fun. But as for costing I'd say it depends on what you want to do with it. Ours has been operational for a year and has paid for itself. Next year is profit!

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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 09:02 AM Thread Starter
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Yes, you may as well count that money spent! Computer Numerically Controlled - using a computer to guide your router, plasma cutter, laser, lathe, mill, etc.

Start clearing out a space for it and prepare to have some fun. But as for costing I'd say it depends on what you want to do with it. Ours has been operational for a year and has paid for itself. Next year is profit!

David
David,
All I have heard so far in regard to my question is your hit that a CNC is very costly, nothing about how it works and the actual cost.

Back in the 70's I knew a man who was a machist that was a tool and die maker for Nosler Bullets in Bend, Oregon. He invested in a computer driven milling machine, if I recall, and I sure could be mistaken but it seems like he told me that that the machine cost him fifty grand. He made so much money with it that in a short time he purchased a second one. I think that he hired people to operate the machines.

I was at his shope one time and showed me some of the work that he was doing with the machines. The work consisted of duplicating 70 Winchester receivers
which he sold for less than a person would spend for one from Winchester. I have no idea how he got around patten rights, I did not ask him about that, but the actiosn were complete and ready to have barrels fitted to them, blued and dripped into new stocks.

Pete Grizzle was the man's name and is pretty well know in the custom rifle business or was at the time.

I assume that CNC machine is similar to the milling machines that Pete was using.
Am I close to being correct and if so I can see that such a machine is not a toy to buy just play with. It's to late in life for me to be thnking of such an endeavor, but I am fascinate with the concept and would like to know more.

I know that I could go on line and learn more, but it just seems to me that this forum should be a good place to learn and I suspect that othes might be wondering about the subject too.


Jerry
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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 09:41 AM
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Jerry in order for us to locate anything very precisely we have to define where it is in 3 dimensions. We do it with the coordinate system we were taught in high school mathematics years ago. In that system there is a coordinate for the 3 directions. X, Y, and Z which is the up/down coordinate. When we hand rout we control x and y but controlling the z one is quite difficult by hand. About all we can do is plunge to a preset depth. The CNC does all those and to a very fine degree of accuracy. Every point on a CNC drawing has an x, y, and z coordinate so that when the router gets to that position it knows where it is as in 2 dimensions as well as how high in the 3rd dimension. Does that cover it?
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Jerry in order for us to locate anything very precisely we have to define where it is in 3 dimensions. We do it with the coordinate system we were taught in high school mathematics years ago. In that system there is a coordinate for the 3 directions. X, Y, and Z which is the up/down coordinate. When we hand rout we control x and y but controlling the z one is quite difficult by hand. About all we can do is plunge to a preset depth. The CNC does all those and to a very fine degree of accuracy. Every point on a CNC drawing has an x, y, and z coordinate so that when the router gets to that position it knows where it is as in 2 dimensions as well as how high in the 3rd dimension. Does that cover it?

Actually I pretty much understood that, what I don't understand is how the computer is programmed and how the machine mechanically supports the router. The computer and the router have to be linkied in some way, and material be worked on has to also be supported. I should have asked more about the mechanical issue I suppose.

Also, it does seem to me that the computer should reside in a clean environment which my shop can not provide. I'm really not about to try to acquire a machine, but am very courious and I know from experience that sometimes interesting things come about starting with curiosity.

Thanks for takeing the time to explain what you did Charles.

Jerry
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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 10:05 AM
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Well said, Chuck. The CNC router is doing basically the same thing we do with our handheld routers, edge guides, circle templates, pattern templates, etc., except that it does it with very precise and repeatable movements. If we want to hollow out a pocket with a router we set up a guide on all 4 sides to limit travel and contain the router base, plunge to a predetermined depth, and begin clearing out the pocket. Then we lower the bit and do it again until we reach our desired depth.

The software we use to draw that pocket varies depending on your pocketbook and skill level but in all cases you would draw that pocket in the computer software, then let the software generate a toolpath for the CNC to follow, basically mimicking your hand router operation, and load that into the CNC software package. The CNC will take that set of instructions and convert that into the X, Y, and Z movements Chuck mentioned and begin cutting what and where you told it to cut. One really nice thing about the CNC router is that you can now group a series of instructions into a complete part and have the CNC cut all of that in one operation. If you were doing it by hand you'd have to stop, move or change your templates, reposition your clamps for holding the work piece, and then route the next area.

Plus, you can add things like engraving for signs and plaques, 3D if you want to venture into that world, and exactly repeat something you made earlier. If you want to make a change to something you just go into your software, make the change, and generate a new toolpath. Nice and easy, really.

Cost? Anywhere from a couple of grand to 10's of thousands but most hobby machines are in the $2k to $6k range from what I've seen. Some ready to use packages have the software and computer with them, some are just the machine and you have to source the other items.

Does that help, Jerry?

David

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bowen View Post
Actually I pretty much understood that, what I don't understand is how the computer is programmed and how the machine mechanically supports the router. The computer and the router have to be linkied in some way, and material be worked on has to also be supported. I should have asked more about the mechanical issue I suppose.

Also, it does seem to me that the computer should reside in a clean environment which my shop can not provide. I'm really not about to try to acquire a machine, but am very courious and I know from experience that sometimes interesting things come about starting with curiosity.

Thanks for takeing the time to explain what you did Charles.

Jerry
With my cnc machine I get around the dusty shop environment by using a thumb drive, Jerry. The software I use (V Carve Pro) does all the calculations needed to cut the project. Then the cutting files (tool paths) are saved to a USB thumb drive that I take to the shop and plug into the machine controller which has been designed to work in the dusty environment. The files on the the thumb drive tell the machine what to do. Watch some YouTube videos of cnc machines in action and you'll get a feel for it all works together.
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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 12-09-2017, 10:48 AM
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Some CNC machines have an origin point (as in a stop block and fence for example). I ran a CNC saw a few years back in a cabinet factory like that that would cut 7 sheets of melamine particle board at a time. Others you position the tool to a point in the path and then tell the machine where it is and then it knows where to go from there (kind of like the "You are here" sign at the mall). Others use positioning sensors to control movement as with Temposonic sensors: MTS Sensors - North America:*Products Others measure the length of run time in a motor. The duration of run time can be directly converted into a distance that way. One thing computers are very good at is counting time.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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