CNC Machine Personalities

Computer Numerical Controls (CNC)

Computer Numerical Controls (CNC) (Photo credit: wistechcolleges)

As CNC machine operators/machinists, technicians, even button-pushers, we’re a breed apart.   As I stated previously in an article dedicated to CNC shop management and ownership issues, “We tend to be gear heads, persons interested in how things work, passionate about our trade and our skills…”.

We are passionate about what we do and how we do it.  There may be more than one way to skin a cat (or knock out that spindle replacement), and  you’ll certainly find most of us willingly acknowledging this…right before continuing to show you the best way.  We sure as heck are not afraid to get our hands dirty or to attempt new solutions to old problems.

Just like the machines and materials we work with on a daily basis, we come in all shapes and sizes and personality types: some of us smooth around the edges, others a little rough but still full of character.  Some of us are a bit older and seasoned, much like that old used CNC machine that may have a bit o’ grey but runs like a workhorse.

HaasPlus.com: 5 Types of CNC Machine Personalities

The HaasPlus.com blog has a fun post touching on the different makes and models that comprise the people in our industry.  From the “Perfectionist”, “Energizer Bunny”, to the “CNC DIY enthusiast” they cover any number of the personality types I’ve encountered over the years.  Take a look and see if you recognize yourself.

One of my favorites: The Teacher.  The Teacher is an instrumental figure in the lives of those just starting out.  Patient and willing to instruct while never just giving you the answer, thereby allowing those fresh on the block to truly learn and understand their trade.  They realize they could just program that g-code for you but understand it’s better for you to do it yourself, to train your mind to think logically and muscle through.  The Teacher was instrumental in my life and I’ve seen it time and again with regard to others.

Your Turn

How about you?  As the HaasPlus.com blog post asks, did they miss any personality types?  Where do you fit in?

DIY CNC: 3-D Printing Service

Image by danxoneil via flickr.com

Image by danxoneil via flickr.com

If you’re even partially awake then you’ve obviously heard a lot about additive manufacturing of late, specifically 3-D printing.  For those of us in manufacturing the development and integration of additive manufacturing  and 3d printing is likely to impact us all in some shape or form.

While I don’t believe this will be a death knell or manufacturing apocalypse for our CNC machine brethren, I do believe it behooves us all to keep our eyes on additive manufacturing developments and if at all possible seek ways to educate ourselves.  Even better yet, if your company or shop has a way to integrate these technologies into your workflow than all the better.  I’m a believer in staying ahead of the competition and what may now be a niche market could very well lead to major business in the near future.

What for many was an accompaniment to a DIY CNC hobby is going mainstream.

DIY CNC: 3-D Printing at Your Local UPS Store

According to de zeen magazine, the UPS Store will become the first US retailer to offer 3-D printing services.

From dezeen.com:

Customers will be able to bring a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file in to the participating stores and have their designs 3D-printed on-site.

According to the article, Stratasys will be providing their uPrint SE Plus at locations slated for the pilot run of this new service.  It will be using ABSplus thermoplastic with nine colors to choose from.

Okay, you might be saying, “What does this have to do with me? I’m running a CNC machine shop. I deal with steel, aluminum, wood, etc…”

At first glance this is going to appeal to the DIY enthusiasts out there, but I believe it drives home how ubiquitous 3-D printing is going to become.  I believe this may well be an easy, low cost way of checking out the technology to see if it could fit into your workflow prior to making such a large financial obligation.  Some digging around the internet pegged this particular unit from between 18000 and 21000 plus dependent on seller.

Definitely not a  casual investment.

For Your CNC Manufacturing Consideration

A few things to consider, sourced from the Forbes.com article Manufacturing The Future: 10 Trends To Come In 3D Printing.

  • “The technology will also start to be adopted for the direct manufacture of specialist components in industries like defense and automotive.”
  • “Innovative companies will use 3D printing technologies to give themselves a competitive advantage by offering customization at the same price as their competitor’s standard products.”
  • Rapid prototyping
  • “As the capabilities of 3D printers develop and manufacturers gain experience in integrating them into production lines and supply chains, expect hybrid manufacturing processes that incorporate some 3D-printed components.”

I keep reading, time and again, that the future of manufacturing is going to be customization.  As the Forbes article highlights, 3-D printing is poised to bring about that capability on a massive, manufacturing scale.

Prototyping replacement parts doesn’t have to be solely for the CNC hobbyist/3-d Printer garage guru.  I see this as a cost effective way for testing  prototypes.  Read more about the benefits of integrating 3-D printing here.

As the Forbes article states, expect to see this implemented on factory floors.

Your Turn

3-D printing: A lot of hot air, or the future of our manufacturing process?  Too early in it’s development to care, or a great time to get started when it comes to educating ourselves and planning for integration?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

The Internets: DIY CNC Machine Resources & More

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Le...

A CNC Turning Center in the FAME Lab in the Leonhard Building at Penn State. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to CNC machine resources there is nothing better than having the internet at your fingertips.  Whether you’re into DIY CNC, looking for used CNC machines and replacement parts, sharpening your g-code skills, or pondering the pursuit of a CNC hobby, you’ll find a wealth of valuable information.

If you’ve been following me for some time you know that there are a number of sites and locations I’ll periodically tout.  The Practical Machinist immediately comes to mind as a wonderful forum and valuable CNC machine resource for the machinist/operator and CNC hobbyist alike.  Another blog that I frequent, and which I’ve linked in the sidebar some time ago  is the CNC Cookbook blog.

The CNC Cookbook blog  posts are interesting, in-depth, and accessible to all CNC machine enthusiasts.  Bob Warfield covers a variety of topics from cookbooks on using his G-Wizard G-Code editor to advancements in 3-d printing.  With 20,000 and counting members you know you can’t go wrong by dropping in for a visit.

DIY CNC Machine Resources

Which brings me to mentioning a recent post/cookbook Mr. Warfield put together over at CNC Cookbook:

DIY CNC Cookbook: In-Depth Articles on Building CNC Machines, CNC Routers, and 3D Printers

This is the kind of resource you are going to want to take a look at especially if you are considering going the DIY CNC route and building your own.  Mr. Warfield has put together an in-depth cookbook covering all the angles.

G-Code Tutorials

Since I’m touting the expertise over at the CNC Cookbook I thought I’d mention they’ve also cooked up an extensive G-code tutorial and course.

As the man say’s, every machinist should know g-code, and that means you as well.  Jump on over and see what I’m shouting about!

CNC Cookbook: G-code Tutorial and Course

Your Turn

What about you?  Know of a great CNC machine related blog or resource and would like to share?  A favorite CNC internet stomping ground?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to share!

DIY CNC: The Kickstarter Way

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Fourth of July has come and gone, though for many of us the celebrations continue throughout the weekend.  What a wonderful time of year to celebrate our independence and the innovative American spirit!  When I think of what makes America great much comes to mind: our indomitable work ethic, our spirit of innovation, American Manufacturing (…hat tip to our CNC machine operators and machinists out there!…), the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces (a hearty salute to those American warriors!)…the list is endless.

Kickstarting CNC

 

Speaking of innovation I came across a few items this past week that the DIY CNC crowd may find interesting.  Heck us “regular” CNC metal heads may find it of interest as well.  Kickstarter is an interesting idea/funding generator.  It speaks to that ingenuity and innovation I mentioned above: a truly American spirit.  When I was pondering our great American heritage and what it meant to be a CNC machinist in America, I got to thinking about our inventiveness and curiosity.  One thing led to another and I came across these Kickstarter projects (see below).  In hindsight, it seems an obvious extension of the CNC machinists inventiveness and curiosity to find a place among the innumerable Kickstarter projects seeking funding everyday.

The Handibot:   From the site: “Handibot is a robotic, multi-purpose tool for makers that’s controlled by smart phones and computers via programmable apps.  Think of it as a portable CNC that’s capable of cutting, drilling, carving, and many other machining operations.”  

Now this is obviously a limited-capability machine, ideal for the DIY individual, tinker-er, garage workshop environment.  When I first saw this little CNC machine I thought it was made out of plastic, but viewing some of the sites video’s leads me to believe it may be a bit more durable.  Also, while I understand the video’s are intended to demonstrate the Handibot’s versatility and variety of applications, some of these demonstrations seem a bit contrived.  Example: as someone who has done a fair share of his own home construction it’s much easier to use a handheld router to cut a utility box hole in some drywall.  You’d be finished with a room by the time you set this thing up.  The same goes for cutting out stair risers: much quicker for the reasonably seasoned person to line out their steps with a square and knock it out with a skill-saw.

What I do like about this is the fact that it’s open source.  To me that means that that innovative and curious spirit we harbor is going to find ingenious uses and expressions with this little guy.  I can only begin to imagine the various apps and programs the DIY Maker crowd will come up with.  I also think it’s a great introduction for the younger set out there.

The Othermill:  From the site: “The Othermill is a portable, computer controlled, 3-axis mill that is specifically designed for use at home or in a small workspace. Our objective is to build a mill that is compact, clean, and quiet enough for use at home, yet is precise enough for high level electrical and mechanical prototyping work. The Othermill will be at home on your desk, in your workshop, or on your kitchen table.”

Another DIY-centric machine, though specializing in custom circuit creation.  This just “sparks” my imagination.  Now only if I were more electrically inclined.  Once again, an open source project with quite a bit of versatility.  Ideal for those with limited space but large imaginations.  It will be interesting to see in the day’s ahead what interesting and varied creations people come up with!

 

Your Turn:

Know of any innovative CNC related Kickstarter project’s out there that need some attention?  Let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to share!

 

 

 

DIY CNC: Projects and Inspiration

Cnc

Cnc (Photo credit: olleolleolle)

If you’re a DIY CNC enthusiast, or maybe someone simply looking to get your feet wet with a CNC hobby, you’re probably looking for ideas and inspiration from time to time.  While a full-fledged CNC machine opens the door to practically limitless options, those with smaller designs and home-builds often have limitations.  Not to worry, there are plenty of exciting projects for you to get your CNC fix on.  Some of these CNC tutorials and projects are definitely geared toward those just starting out and looking for simpler designs while learning the in’s and out’s of their machine.  Others are more complex and geared toward the more salty veteran.  Either way, there is something for everyone.

DIY CNC Projects

 

Vectric: Like it say’s, Free CNC Projects.  These projects come with step-by-step instructions, documentation, and project files.   Granted, this company is pushing their software, but they do offer free trial downloads.  If you don’t want to go the opensource route, then this may be the way to go to test drive the software on relatively introductory projects.

Instructables:  Hey, build your own CNC Mill or CNC router  before you even begin worrying about making that wooden plaque for mom.  Definitely for the more industrious and tinker type.  Downloadable e-books for those who find paying a little under two bucks a month worth it.

Tons of dowloadable dxf plans over at The CNC Zone Forums.  Forum Thread.  List of DXF files.  Can’t go wrong here folks.

DIY CNC Inspiration

 

This single Pinterest page has a ton of inspirational projects.  No plans or anything, just ideas to get those DIY CNC juices flowing!

Your Turn

 

How about yourself, any DIY CNC project plan sites or file locations you’d like to share?  How about inspirational CNC projects?  Let me know in the comments!

DIY CNC: Woodworking

Unidentified shop, Seattle Central Community C...

Unidentified shop, Seattle Central Community College Wood Construction Facility. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a Haas CNC machine operator whom has mostly worked with steel and aluminum I often forget about our brothers and sisters who work with wood.  Scouring among the trove of DIY CNC projects, video’s,  and CNC hobby sites this weekend I realized this glaring absence of mind.  Many a person’s first introduction to the tools of our trade are right in the local high school wood shop.  For the adventurous at-home DIYers, wood is a relatively cheap way to begin learning and wetting those chops.

Mick Martin Woodworking

For those interested in working with wood I’d like to direct you to Mick Martin’s site.  Whether you’re a salty veteran of the wood shop or a new DIY CNC acolyte, you can surely find something of value at Mr. Martin’s site.

Woodworking, CNC, and laser engraver projects, as well as CNC video tutorials covering everything from installing WinCNC to using a keypad, this blog shares a real passion.

DIY CNC Intro Kits and Projects

I believe one of the biggest benefits of promoting DIY CNC is getting the young-in’s interested in CNC machining and manufacturing.  What could start as a CNC hobby could also easily transform into a productive career.  That being said, quite a few of the posts and CNC tutorials here at Paul’s Haas Resources are likely out of reach for the kids: cost, level of experience, complexity, etc.  With that in mind I went out and dug around for some relatively inexpensive CNC kits and DIY builds that, with a little parental assistance, can have the young one’s experiencing their first CNC projects.

For the hardcore out there: these are not super-heavy duty machines.  They’re likely not cutting metal.  They’re for more simple projects and parts and would serve as great introductions to CNC machining.

Great Intro DIY CNC Kits and Projects

Desktop CNC Mill Kits – Shapeoko:  Here we have five kits ranging from 225$ to 999$.  The least priced kit requires the buyer to supply their own electronics, so if you’re capable this is a great deal.  Even at 999$ the Premium 220v kit is competitively priced.  The site demonstrates the mill, projects and accessories, faq, and explanation of this open source kit.

Zen Toolworks CNC DIY KIT 7×7:  This is an entry level kit, though note that it does not include 3 Axis Stepper Motor Driver and spindle/cutter and mounting brackets (both available at Zen Toolworks), DC power supply, and CNC control software.  It does appear sturdy and if you purchased all the needed parts you’d be in a similar price range as the Shapeoko.

 DIY CNC Router Plans : How to Build:  This is an in process project that the author states , “…decided to build one using drawer slides as my rails, an Arduino as my micro-controller, and try to keep everything within the $300 mark.”  Site includes video’s of the process beginning with design and goes forward from there.  While I wouldn’t expect this Router to the most robust this could be a very pleasant and engaging project to share with the interested young one.

DIY MDF CNC:  The Young man here built this MDF CNC machine in the spare bedroom of his apartment and later shared it with everyone at the Detroit Maker Faire.  The site include pictures following the construction and includes the option of purchasing the project plans for 40.00$.  Could be about the cheapest approach of them all.

The Cool Tool:  This one was suggested to me and looks great as an intro for the very young.  A variety of child safe kits that appear reasonably priced.

These are just a few places to start and to give you an idea.  Don’t forget the children!  Well, how about you, do you have any recommendations for DIY CNC kits that would be appropriate for introducing the kids to DIY CNC machining?