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Can this be done?

884 Views 7 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  The Hobbyist
I need to do something that may not be possible.
I have to engrave/scribe into mild steel metal 6 words in a 1 inch circle. I know the CAD program will draw this up once I learn that part of this task. What I am totally unsure of is whether it can do a 2mm high character that is legible when finished?
So it would be like, etching out the "In God we Trust", on a coin around the outside parameter but doing it in mild steel instead. The concern I have is 2mm high fonts are tiny, the tip would have to be very pointed cutting edge and more than one pass is likely. Now I have 200 of these items to make.
I was tempted to buy a CNC 3018 today but noticed that they use a 42mm diameter low torgue motor. It would "appear" to get a higher torgue I have to go to a 52mm motor which then increases the cost of everything else because the 52mm tables are bigger. I would like to keep this as small as possible because of room constraints and the fact this will be its only job.
So as the name I have taken shows, I am befuddled as to what to do at this point, any ideas to help?
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G'day @Befuddled , welcome to the forum.
Welcome to the forum.
You could likely do this with a diamond drag bit. The down side of using a 3018 is that it may not be accurate enough to make consistent moves that small. At least with a drag bit, you will be putting very little stress on the machine.
manufacturing jewelers engrave stuff like this all the time. There is even an engraving machine for making tags for dogs with it's name and a phone number. So it can probably be done. But that engraver is cutting into aluminum, not steel.
2mm is mightly tiny text. This sounds like a job for a fiber laser that engraves steel.
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It is definitely doable but not particularly cheaply. As suggested above a laser engraver should be capable of doing it in batches, - you make a jig that mounts on the laser bed to hold as many of the discs as practical for the work area, load the unit with the discs in the jig, then run the code that you prepare with the text. Artwork for the job would be a high def image of what you want to engrave, multiplied to the jig layout that you choose using step and repeat techniques. I estimate that for moderate sizes, you could do 20-50 units on a cycle. Issues are high initial investment and making an accurate jig to locate the raw materials, though the laser could probably engrave one in timber easily.

The other alternative would be to create a large master part (say 10x finished size) and have the finished units engraved on a pantograph with the corresponding size reduction. Issues would be finding a panto and skilled operator, and the labor cost involved, but you should be able to create a highly detailed item.

I have been around industrial CNC routers, panto's etc for a long time and have limited experience with industrial quality desktop lasers. I suspect that the $100K industrial routers would be able to do the job, but doubt that a bargain basement unit would, due to the loads imposed on the transport mechanism, the lack of spindle power, and the life of the extremely fine tool required (basically a tapered D bit).
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