Have you checked out Fine Line Automation?
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Yeah, this question has probably been asked a 1000 times abd here it is again, 1001! Sorry..
Some background first.. I presently work as a computer geek but my degree is in Mechanical Engineering and worked as an Manufacturing Engineer in the automotive industry for 16 years.. So I am not a newb when it comes to CNC's, software (though I can't afford the software I use to use.. Catia, CADAM, SolidWorks, etc.)
I like working with wood as a hobby and about a year ago I bought a CarveWright (yeah i know, waste of money!) and after a year of its constant break downs I got rid of it on eBay.
I have been reading a lot about building your own CNC and this seems to be perfect for me.. I don't want to build one from scratch and was hopping some people here had some ideas or recommendations..
I have looked at a lot of kits, they are either too big or too small. My ideal size would be 3x6 which isn't too big or too small.. But have yet to find any kits offered in this size. I did request a quote at XYZ to see what their units cost. I don't want to spend more than $3000 if I don't have to but can go up some (wife doesn't know about my cookie jar!).. That buget it just for the machine, computer and dust collection is a different budget..
I doubt I will cut anything other than wood or plastic but would like the larger travel for bigger projects. Lead screws would be great but probably cost prohibitive? Rack & Pinion might be good as well.. Not sure what is the best spindle to use either, there is much talk about portacable routers being used but I seen over at XYZ they offer a 3Kw liquid cooled 20k RPM spindle..
Also would be nice to learn what others have done for dust collection.. That little CarveWright was a dust nightmare! It was housed in my basement, the damn thing was so loud I could hear it on the 3rd floor thru the vents like it was sitting in the room with me.. You really couldn't do lights out with that toy due to the poor flex spindle cable design.. You had to constantly monitor the heat build up and stop the machine every now and then to lube the cable.
Again, sorry of you heard these questions before but would greatly appreciate any advice you folks can give.
Thanks for the reply.. That site doesn't seem very well made nor does it sport photo's of the products its trying to sell.. I'd have zero confidence sending them my money..
I have been looking into Joe's Hybrid design which looks awesome. I sent him an email yesterday asking how easy it was to modify the length since I would like to have 6 ft rather than 4 or 8, still waiting on a reply..
I also requested a quote from XYZ as well just to see the pricing on what I need. On another forum thread here someone was building their 2x4 model which roughly cost $1500 which is a great price.
I also noticed CNC Router parts was gearing up to offer a kit so I emailed them as well. With the holiday weekend here, I probably won't get any replies till Tuesday...
The "hobby" CNC market is very competitive. All vendors I have contacted have been very helpful. They know we are all connected through various forums and readily publicize good and bad experience with them. Bad products and poor customer service will sink them quickly.
Contact any company that may have something in the ballpark of what you want and see what they can do for you. I have found every one I have dealt with in the "hobby" CNC area very willing to help me.
Keep in mind that many of these vendors do this as a part time business. Sometimes they may not be able to respond immediately to your questions.
Joe's 4x4 hybrid is a good choice. If you purchase the plans and join the forums, check out the modifications section of the forum. Lots of good stuff there.
Since you are a ME it should be easy for you to figure out your own "kit". I finished building a new machine about a month ago based on CNC Router Parts R&P. Also used 8020 that came cut to length. EXTREMELY little machining was required on my part.
I did a build log that is here on the forum that would answer a lot of your questions. You might want to search it up.
BTW, 6 foot screws start to become problematic. If they are big enough they tend to be expensive.
I agree that CNC Router Parts website doesn't do a great job of showing how all the parts work together, but my experience was that they were top notch, including the electronics package.
Anyone who says "It only goes together one way" has no imagination.
I have gotten a few replies from Ahren over at CNC Router Parts and he's presented me with a hard-to-refuse deal on a prototype system they have. They are going to send some photo's later for me to look at. Part of the excitement of this is building it myself (ok, assembling it anyway).
I have also been chatting with Diego over at buildyourcnc about his design (the 4x8 version) but am in the fence about an all wood (err.. MDF) design verses the 8020. He also uses a drive chain which has me wondering.
Still no answer from XYZ or Joe yet but expect to hear from them Tuesday or Wed.
You don't need to use MDF; build it out of aluminum and/or steel. The 80/20 stuff is expensive but it's light and easy to work with. You can also use other types of aluminum extrusion, especially if you have the tools to work with metal.
As well as the other kits you're looking at, check out the Mechmate design. By running the gantry on raised walls, it achieves better rigidity than the typical elevated gantry that's perched on vertical extensions that ride along with it. As a ME, you should be able to come up with a synthesis of the best features of all these designs. I agree about the rack and pinion too, at least on the longest (X) axis where a leadscrew will start having problems with whip.
You don't really need ball-screws, although they're nice to have since they let you get away with smaller motors (23-frame motors are marginal on a 6-foot router; you might look at the NEMA 34-frame instead, at least for the long axis). Acme leadscrews aren't too expensive and they work pretty well on short runs. Think about the slides - if you can get square-section linear rails and trucks, they're the best, but Thompson-type rails will work too if they're supported. There are also some new slider-rail designs out which are relatively inexpensive; this is one of them: http://www.igus.com/_Product_Files/D...yLin_T_RZ3.pdf
If you're concerned about noise, forget about the PorterCable router - it will sound like a jet plane taking off in your basement. A 3-phase spindle would be quieter, more powerful, and would last longer. You'd need to get it a VFD, though, so save some room in your budget for that, as well as for a sizeable dust collection cyclone and dust foot for the spindle - whatever else you make from wood, you'll make a whole lot of dust.
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Well, looks like I'll need to do a custom build as buying a kit if proving to be VERY expensive.. I've heard back from everyone so far except Joe.. It looks like his is a good machine but not getting a response from the developer is not good when building something like this.. I'll send another message to hi and see if he responds.. Could be on vacation since it is that time of year most people do take one..
I was at Sam's Club last night and seen a really nice work bench with a 1.5" solid wood butcher block top to it for about $350 or so.. Not sure of the dimensions right now but from memory is looked to be about 6 or 7 feet in length and maybe 30" or so wide. Would this work for a base on a build or would it not be flat enough? It looked quite flat and sturdy..