HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router


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Thread: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

  1. #1
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    Default HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    Hey CNC junkies,

    Let me first start off by saying that there is no build that is impossible. That being said, I've heard a lot of people state that this build is impossible, but CAD models and FEA suggest that it may be feasible within our desired tolerances (+/- 0.003"). I plan on using this thread as a method of documenting the design for others to collaborate, and ask questions about the design as we run into problems.

    Our shop is looking to design and fabricate a 4'x4'x30", 5-axis CNC router that will do 70% foam, wood, composite work and 30% light aluminum work. The proposed budget is currently at ~$10K-$15K. We are in the aerospace industry, so we work with aircraft tolerances, which means this machine has to be very rigid. We are using 4"x4"x0.25" ASTM A500 Grade B Steel for the frame, and 2"x2"x0.120" steel tubing for the structural members. The bed will be made out of a dense wood or composite material, and will include a lattice structure style torsion box. We will be implementing a dual-driven gantry, also made out of steel, and we plan on using rack and pinion drives (the kit from cncrouterparts.com) for the X, Y axes that drive the gantry and Z-axis assembly. The Z-axis itself will be driven using a 48" ballscrew. The gantry and X-axis will traverse along Hiwin Profile Rail guides, and the Z-axis will traverse along continuously supported shafting. The 4th and 5th axis capabilities will come from the Doughty Drive B/C rotary head. I am confident in our abilities to make this system rigid, and for the mechanical and structural systems to be sound.

    What I am less confident in, and is the problem we are currently facing, is the electronics and wiring system. We plan on using NEMA34 motors to dual drive the gantry along the Y-axis, to drive the Z-axis assembly (cutting arm) along the X-axis, and the Z-axis ballscrew itself. We will use NEMA23 motors to drive the B/C axes on the head itself in which the spindle sits. That gives us 6 axes to control, and I'm unsure of what control board we will need. I have done some research, and found a 6 axis control board, but I'm worried that this won't allow for the 3 axes + the slaved axes for the gantry, as well as the 2 rotary axes. Does anyone have any experience with this, or know if this will work? We are going to use Mach 3.

    In summary, I have a few questions for those of you who've done this before:
    - Will the 6 axis control board I've posted a picture below handle what we are trying to achieve?
    - Suggestions for spindle head (air cooled, water cooled, 2.2kW?, etc.). Completely newbie to this part of the design.
    - Software for generating the toolpath and gcode for 5-axis capabilites (I've heard cnc-toolkit, AutoDesk Fusion)?
    - Other tips for the electronics side of things; again, complete newbie with this aspect of the design

    Any constructive criticism or suggestions are welcome and appreciated. This is turning out to be a huge endeavor, but I'm enjoying it and I believe that the final product will pay off. I've posted a few visuals from our current design iteration to hopefully help clear things up.


    HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router-capture-jpgHELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router-capture-pngHELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router-capture-jpg

    Note: the models are very preliminary, most of the mates and geometry are there, but some components like the rack and pinion drive are not in their final places.

    Please help if you can!

    - Scott

    Similar Threads:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router-capture-jpg   HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router-capture-png   HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router-capture-jpg  


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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    If you loosen up your tolerance requirements you might get by. Nothing wrong with rack and pinion for some machines, but you can't expect to hold the same tolerances as a ball screw. I also wouldn't use mach3. I used UCCNC for my router and it's excellent for most work, but I've probably come up to its limits with high speed 3D surfacing. It can control up to 6 axis, but I imagine any open source controller will have some issues running 5 axis tool paths depending on how fast you want to run.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk



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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    Given your requirement for working to somewhat tight tolerances and you have a reasonable budget for materials, you may want to concider a more industrial motion controller. Take a look at Galil Motion Control products, most of their products are compatible with Mach3 and other CNC software. Not cheap, but they will do the job very well. Also open loop stepper systems are not the best for accuracy. Take a look at hybrid steppers, AC servos or better yet, put 1 or 5 micron magnetic encoders (about $130/axis) on the load to close the loop through the motion controller, works with steppers or AD/DC servos.



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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    I can see this cutting foam pretty well, wood if you do a good job building it, but aluminum not so much. If aluminum is really a must, then you probably want to build something a lot more massive. As Andrew22 points out, your tolerances are a bit unrealistic; the rack and pinion alone will contribute about that much slop. Once you get out on the end of that long lever, when the Z axis is fully extended, deflection will be a bigger issue. I wouldn't recommend using round rail anywhere in the design, supported or not. Get the best electronics you can find, not just the cheapest, but wait on all that until you've actually built your frame (things can change, and you can spend the time learning about all the alternatives). The frame could use more bracing too - at least corner braces, if you don't want to block access with cross-bracing. I'd also suggest attaching the Z axis assembly directly to the gantry rather than offsetting it on those stubs. The gantry itself would be more rigid if those 2 tubes were connected along their lengths.

    Are those Doughty drives backlash-free? If not, there will be additional error introduced there. If you really plan to use one of those Chinese spindles, I'd suggest paying more and buying it from a US-based supplier who will make sure it really works, and doesn't have the internal ground missing, as often happens with some of these things. As to the software, I don't think that Fusion supports 5-axis toolpaths - you'd need HSM Ultimate, which goes for $3700 per year (or whatever they decide to charge in the future). The Gmax- CNC toolkit approach is difficult if not impossible to run on modern computers; I haven't heard of anyone having much luck with it lately. My best suggestion would be VisualMill Premium, which isn't cheap, but I can get you a good deal on it.

    Andrew Werby
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    Registered Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    Another thought comes to mind since you are wanting a very rigid machine. Maybe concider a moving table rather than a moving gantry, a much more robust design. Would add a couple feet to the overall length, but I suspect that in your case floor space is not a critical concern.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    First, I would not recommend any chinese controller for use with Mach3. There are several high end, high quality Mach3 motion controllers.
    At the lower cost end, there's the UC300ETH. Stepping up in cost, there are very good controllers from CS Labs and Vital Systems.

    However, I would not recommend using Mach3 to anyone building any type of new machine. There are many better options, often for less money.

    LinuxCNC or Pathpilot, with Mesa control boards.
    UCCNC, with the UC300ETH.
    KMotion with a KFLOP.
    Planet CNC, which has several different boards.
    EdingCNC, which also has a few different boards.

    All of these are arguably better then Mach3, have better support, and are all still currently being developed. Mach3 development stopped 5 years ago.


    As others have mentioned, I seriously doubt that you can get any kind of decent finish on aluminum, or come close to your tolerances, with this design.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    Scott, some thoughts on your design elements:

    1) The design as it stands does not look very rigid at all. Take a look at the majority of 5 axis portal type CNC machines, and look at how they are designed, particularly the Z carriage, and it should become readily apparent how they're designed and why; there's also no reason why NOT to use profile rail on the Z. I also don't think a wood or composite wood table would lend itself to accurate parts, especially on a day-to-day basis. I would use phenolic sheet as a minimum and preferably Blanchard ground aluminum or steel plate. You then could use it as a reference surface to machine or form (via epoxy) the mounting surfaces for the rails. The Doughty Drive site claims zero backlash, though I'm a bit skeptical of those claims. They also are either slow or non-existent to respond based on several attempts at contacting them, unless you have better luck.

    2) You should be able to slave any axis with whatever controller you choose. However if accuracy is paramount, I would not use steppers. I definitely would consider AC servos, and they can be had at reasonable prices nowadays. You would have to modify the CNCRP assembly if you decide to use them. But it would be better to source some servo grade planetary gearheads and mount the pinion directly to that. I would also heed Gerry's (and others') advice and forget about Mach3 and that controller.

    And some direct answers to your questions:

    1) Like we say in NY - "Fuhgeddaboudit!" Between the spotty documentation, questionable components, and lack of direct support, you'll pull your hair out every night till you go bald. Then you'll be anxious till you have a nervous breakdown, praying that the day that drive fails in the middle of a 24-hour run - on a deadline - never happens. Buy something reliable and reputable.

    2) Since you're primarily cutting foam, I'd suggest a water-cooled spindle. The fan from the air cooled spindle will blow foam dust all over.

    3) If you buy 5-axis CAM, it may cost as much as your entire machine budget. That said, SprutCAM, BobCAM, and VisualMill may be the most affordable solutions, and even they are not cheap. I would suggest checking out their sub-forums here and see what others have to say about them first, and download a trial to see if it will work for you.

    4) I'd suggest incorporating some type of riser table for doing the majority of your work whenever possible, this way your Y/Z will be at a more rigid configuration. I would use ballscrews on all axes, with double-nut configuration. And since you don't have to move these axes at lightning speed, 5mm pitch would be fine, and you wouldn't need a gearhead to drive the screws - which would lend to a more rigid drive system. Again, do a search on 5-axis designs, and look at how they're designed.

    Last edited by wendtmk; 05-15-2017 at 07:29 AM.


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    Smile Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    Quote Originally Posted by louieatienza View Post
    Pretty derogatory remarks from someone who has also asked for advice here on the forum.
    I’ve always appreciated your input whenever I’ve had a question. I admit I was a bit harsh in my response. I certainly don’t want to make enemies on this forum. If I’ve offended you Louie, which I think I have, then I sincerely apologize to you.

    When I took a second look at it, all the talk of CAD models and FEA analysis, cutting aluminum, confidence in abilities to make the system rigid, and a working shop that manufactures for aerospace, my BS sensor engaged.

    And then I looked at the design again and there are two bearings for the Z axis attached by 2 inch square tube at a right angle, and I thought, OMG, this can't be true, I've been had.

    I started wondering if this was perhaps posted by someone in China who was looking to advertise their product without overtly doing so.

    I certainly wouldn’t have made the comment that I did if this was posted as a beginner making a 5 axis hobby machine.

    Look, we all make mistakes and sometimes say things that are too harsh. I’m human. I do this sometimes. This is probably one of those times for me.

    Scott, if it turns out that I am wrong, then I will apologize to you as well.

    Good luck with whatever you do. Louie has more experience than me, and has given you good advice.

    The only other thing I will say is that if you’re for real then perhaps it's better to buy something and adapt it to your needs. I was looking at a thread earlier about a “Saturn” CNC machine from finelineautomation. Looked very nice. Perhaps you could ask them to make you one where the table sits much lower.

    Of course, I don't know if they ship to China.

    Apologies to everyone for the harsh nature of my earlier response.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    3) If you buy 5-axis CAM, it may cost as much as your entire machine budget
    Not if you go with Fusion 360, at $1500/year.
    A single 5 axis job should be able to pay for that.

    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    Not if you go with Fusion 360, at $1500/year.
    A single 5 axis job should be able to pay for that.
    Have you been using Fusion 360 for 5-axis work? From what I can glean from their website, it only offers 3-axis capability at this point: https://www.autodesk.com/products/fusion-360/features To generate 5-axis toolpaths with an Autodesk product, it seems that one has to go to HSM Ultimate, which is currently priced at $3700/year : https://www.autodesk.com/store/produ...pport=advanced Or am I missing something?

    Andrew Werby
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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    No, I haven't had time to follow the development.
    I just looked, and 3+1 and 3+2 has been available for several months now, and continuous 5 axis is coming. Might be a year, maybe longer, but should be available within a year or so I would think. Autodesk said they were working on it 6 months ago from the roadmap I saw.



    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)


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    Default Re: HELP! 5-Axis 4'x4'x30" CNC Router

    there's 2 5 axis tool path at the moment, plus a beta that comes and goes depending if they break it after updating it, the rest can be used for indexing, there's 3 toolpath and 1 bata for wrapping there are some updates to wrapping coming ones they have it working on apple in windows.

    http://danielscnc.webs.com/

    being disabled is not a hindrance it gives you attitude


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