Dreaming of a machine with a large envelope, but I have no CNC experience. (Computer Science - background)
In hopes of fabricating some custom body parts for a car, I had created the parts in 3ds and started calling companies around florida who mill hulls for boats. Upon emailing the files, they said it would be outrageously expensive to mill small body parts like bumpers, etc. at their shops. So one company gave me the phone number of a guy who had custom built a 5-axis machine in his garage. I believe he was some where in North Carolina and his name was Chris. Literally, the envelope of the machine was his entire garage! Upon sending him the files, he said it would be around $15,000 to mill the foam molds for the body panels. Knowing down the road I'm going to need lots of molds done, this led me to this forum.
Ultimately, I would like to build a 4'X8'X2' envelope, 5-axis machine which would be utilized to build foam molds for automotive body panels.
The conventional (non-CNC) route for creating custom body panels is rib construction:
As you can see, the steps required to get from the digital version (the ribs are created from profile cut outs of the CAD car) to the physical part are numerous. The molds for each part are created from the finished car. This ensures that the car and its parts will look/fit correct. This is way too cumbersome and the individual panels are created in a way that doesn't provide "bolt areas" where the edges of the body panel can then be bolted down into the unseen areas of the car, such as the frame. Example of this (look how the edges of the mold go up instead of down):
Milling molds of each panel is a better alternative. This would allow us to produce a female mold in foam of the body panel, say a bumper, in its entirety. We could then lay fiberglass in the foam female mold and the finished fiberglass part would be a direct bolt on to the car. Out of each female mold we might be able to get 50-100 parts.
From searching this forum, to start the journey, it looks like the best option would be to start small and cheap. Something like:
The next step looks like:
Cad Cat INDUSTRIAL ROUTER
The envelope of this machine is 4' X 8' X 9". We would need to extend the Z-axis and beef up the frame rails, etc.
Although unreal, it would be great to have something of this caliber, garage-size, which would leave the ability, if need be, to mill the entire car out of foam:
Knowing what we would like to get done and the conventional methods, what suggestions do you guys have? Would more experience be needed between the Phoenix and the Cad Cut machine? What modifications would be needed to increase the envelope of the Cad Cut machine from 4'X8'X9" to 4'X8'X2'? Any other thoughts or ideas?
Any help appreciated!