3d printers ok for protos and one off. If you are talking injection molding, you want more than one part and at a low cost per unit.
You can also machine one offs out of plastic too with a CNC mill.
Q. Is this for commercial use or just personal use? CNC mills for mold making for production are not cheep. However quality CNC mills can still make molds just slower.
My Haas TM1 can do it just fine, but it will be a slow process as I only have 6000 RPM on tap. But it would make a fine mold, however I would probably have to up the memory as a 3D mold program will be large.
Q. What are you going to do for software to program said mill? Good CAM is not cheep. Again personal or commercial makes a difference here.
2005 Haas TM-1, 4th HRT160 - OneCNC XR4 Pro w/4th - Alibre Design Expert
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Im going to say this and I dont want it to sound mean or rash so dont take it that way...
If you know nothing about software.....CAD/CAM then a machine is of zero use to you. I think your putting the cart way way in front of the horse.
I would suggest starting out the other way.... start with CAD...... learn that. 2 years down the road when you are proficient with the CAD (yes I said 2 years, if you mess with it every day) Also dependent on if you get any formal training
That will give you an idea as to how hard designing can be. Not to mention the hours you will spend in just CAD.
All to often I see this type of question. I even call people from the ZONE and try to guide and give an honest assessment of what it is you are up against. The one thing I always tell them is...."This stuff aint easy!" I own 4 to 5 small desktop mills. Think TAIG SIZE but not taigs and I do jewelry waxes. Resolution is the utmost importance. Stone prongs .3 mm high detail in small areas.
3D machining is the most labor intensive as far as machining goes. If you want you can PM me your email or phone number and I help explain what your up against and what you will need that you probably havent even thought of yet.
The reason why I do this is because all to often people buy machines, tools, software ect and realize that "yeah he was right, its not easy" Then I see these machines for sale or worse sitting idle in a closet/garage/basement. breaks my heart really. If your as hard headed as I am (stubborn as well) then lets chat a bit and I will recommend what I think you will need to get started. Also it should be noted that I do not sale any products, I am not a saleshole so I will not be trying to sale you anything.
I agree with Fixittt, if you only needed 2d or 2.5d milling it wouldn't be that bad, but to do fullblown 3d milling designing, you will have a pretty steep learning curve, this is also working on the assumption that you don't have a design or CAD background.
if you have access to someone who is proficient with CAD/CAM and you were planning on production of parts you could have someone do the design work based on your criteria and build the Gcode for the Machine and then you could be trained on how to do the basics and oversee the machining, but you mentioned prototyping which tells me you will be doing a variety of new products with little repetition.
do you have an example of what kind of parts you are going to try and make? and a size? that would help greatly in determining what direction to point you in.
Well, I kinda get theres a huge learning curve to it, that's why I'm here asking questions instead of just running to Ebay and buying the cheapest stuff I find. >.>
Also while I've never worked with CAD/CAM software, I for have about 4 years of working with 3D Modeling Software, with formal training in SOFTIMAGE|XSI and self Training with 3D Studio Max. Now obviously there are differences but I think you might be underestimating me just a little bit! ;p
As far as Part I would like to produce, well I don't have anything specific to show because I'm still trying to figure out where my limits are, but some limits on size will have to do with the Injection Molder I end up using and it's shot capacity and the Mold sizes it can handle. But in short, I want to create molds for Multi-part models kits based on some of my 3D work and more. I'm hoping to get stuff that ends up being akin to you basic action figure is size give or take, but that will depend on the stuff mentioned earlier this paragraph.
I don't expect to buy everything, plug it if and away I go making those molds, I'll have so much testing, training and adjusting to do and I'm okay with that, I'm not expecting this to be a shortcut to some quick cash, but rather a hobby, and if I can turn a profit either doing my own thing for doing stuff for others that's all extra, so I have the time and common sense to not rush into it.
Of course I'm sure you'd heard stuff like that too, but it's what I got, This is kinda what I see as the next step, you kinda get this weird disconnect when working strictly digitally, you know it has real shape and form to it, but you only ever see it on a flat screen and I want to take it to this next step. It's going to be expensive and time consuming, but I don't think it'll as bad as the money and time it took me to get where I am today already.
well, if you are proficient with 3D Studio Max, that may be a very big plus as there are some free software packages that would enable you to use either 3D Studio Max or the free version Gmax here:
The CNC Toolkit - Creative Toolpath Control
cnc-toolkit is a script that allows drawings/model to be converted to G-code which your machine would run. that may be a very big plus. I am currently trying to familiarize myself with Gmax and it is not nearly as intuitive as some of the other cad/3d modeling software i have used in the past.
for the money, a Grizzly G0704 is pretty tough to beat, and Hoss on this forum has done some extensive R&D with this machine that allows it to be pretty expandable going as far as giving you 5 axis control and auto tool changing. obviously if you don't need that capability in the beginning its nice to know you can add it in as you go. a quick search in the benchtop mill forum which your in will bring up numerous G0704 builds.
this in its base form would give you roughly 18-7/8" X travel, 6-7/8" Y travel and I believe ~14" of Z travel giving you a pretty nice working envelope. Hoss's axis extension plans upgrade the Y movement to 9.5" and the Z movement to 18" which is pretty impressive and the mill can be had for about $1200 delivered with the stand.
G0704 Drill/Mill with Stand
to complete the 3 axis cnc with the stock leadscrews can be done for about $1000-1500 depending on how frugal you are. you will need the computer of course not included in that and a copy of Mach3 software which will run you between $150-175.00.
that is the route i have gone so so far and the mill is awesome, i was up and running with the phase 1 style conversion in about 3 days after receiving all the electronics and stock to make the stepper motor mounts.
not sure if that is what you were looking for, but its a great way to go that won't pigeon hole you if you need additional functionality down the road.
the CNC toolkit software and Gmax is about the only free 5 axis capable software i know of and it relys on Gmax/3D studio max so you may end up being ahead of the game at least in the designing department. learning to mill and getting tooling is another learning curve altogether but with some research and reading im sure you could get a handle on it!
Hope that helps!
between CAD and the kind of 3D modeling you've learned to do. It sounds like you're in a good position to take it to the next level, and to start producing actual parts based on your virtual models. Fixxit certainly expressed some valid concerns, but it seems like you've already paid your dues...
It's possible, of course, to make injection molds from positive forms, using an epoxy-based material. Your injection-molding site has some examples of how that's done. They're good for short runs, but the epoxy doesn't hold up as well as aluminum, which itself doesn't last as well as steel. If you want to cut your own molds in aluminum, you'll need a fairly rigid machine. Most hobbyist routers won't work for that (although they could probably produce the positive forms). As well as rigidity, you'll need a fairly fast and accurate spindle to handle the very small cutters you'll use to get your detail.
The Taig mill would be a good starter tool to consider for this; it's fairly inexpensive but comes ready to run, it's rigid enough to deal with metal-cutting forces, and the spindle runs at 11k rpm, which is fast enough for cutters down to .020" or so if you keep the feedrates down and take light cuts. For CAM software, I'd recommend starting with DeskProto, which is quite simple to use but powerful enough to deal with complicated and dense models. You can download it from DeskProto offers rapid prototyping using an affordable cnc milling machine: DeskProto is 3D cam software for model making. and use the free demo to write g-code. But I'd suggest waiting until you've got the mill up and running before doing that, so you can see how it works before the 30 days trial period is over.
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First mold making is a very serious business. It would be best to design the product in conjunction with an experienced mold maker.
Second projected production requirements define what the mold is made of. So steel might not be an option.
Third take a long hard look at a modern mold shop and the equipment they have. There is much more to it than one CNC machine.
1] When you say "to complete the 3 axis cnc with the stock leadscrews can be done for about $1000-1500 depending on how frugal you are" is that on top of the cost mill? and what would that include?
2] For the computer, is that just like a basic Desktop with the correct software and hooked up directly to the Mill or is it something more specialized?
Also I didn't quite realize how small those tools/bits came, cause .020" is really small, but I imagine they are pretty fragile so you gotta make sure you get all the settings right for it!
Thanks for putting up with me so far! xD
Mike..... I am glad to see that you are addressing the comments one by one. Thats a good sign. It shows that you are dedicated and its not something that "Hey this would be cool to do"
I like your attitude towards it all.
As for the larger conversion mills. X3`s ect. I dont think your going to get what you want from those. Im thinking your going to want something a little faster and smoother in the 3d machining side. I guess you need to decide the working envelope of your target goals. The Taig mill is the perfect starter machine. It can handle alot but will require more adjusting then more expensive machines of the same size. getting your feet wet and learning with minimal costs is a good thing. When you have a good grasp, replace the machine with something better.
This is of course if the working envelope is large enough for your target parts. Also, home switches and a tool probe is going to be a MUST if you are going to be changing tools thru out the process. I got a feeling you will be.
MicroMill DSLS 2000 and MicroMill DSLS 3000, would one be any better than the other or am I just looking at the completely wrong thing? xD
The two models of Taig CNC mills are not very different. There are two frame sizes that differ only in the X axis; the 2018 has 9.5 inches of X travel, while the 2019 has 12 inches. The only difference between the 2000 and 3000 models is the control system. The 3000 DSLS has encoders on the stepper motors, which allow it to go about twice as fast as the 2000, and stop if it senses a fault (commanded position and actual position too far off), which can save your part, although it requires re-zeroing and starting over. The 2000 is an open-loop half-stepping system which plods along reliably at about 24 ipm, but if it does get lost it will just keep going from where it thinks it is. You can add a 4th axis to either one; Taig supplies a Sherline rotary table with their own mount and adjustable tailstock; their controllers all come with an extra channel to accommodate that.
The Taig is pretty easy to fit with replacement spindles, if you need more RPMs, and you can also add home and limit switches. However, the DSLS uses the limit switch function of Mach3 to deal with errors, so if you plan to add them, the 2000 would be a better candidate for that. You can also purchase these mills "CNC-ready", and add your own axis motors and controller; people often use the popular Geckodrive G540 combo breakout and 4-drive board for that.
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