I have been lurking for a while, reading, searching, etc. I have learned a great deal, but need a little help in focusing on the best machine for my application. Primarily, I want to be able shape resin, wood and aluminum into 3D prototypes/models. Most of these would be under 3' x 2' x 1' (XYZ). I had been looking mostly at router designs, but have read a lot conflicting advice regarding the correct tool for shaping aluminum. When I say "router", I am referring to a gantry-based design, as opposed to the cutting head. I would be prepared to put a Perske or similar spindle on the machine, as required.
Is a gantry table design appropriate for the described purpose?
Should I be looking at knee mills or some other design?
The problem you'll have is the delta between adjacent depths....in other words if you're cutting at the 10 inch z-axis and the next cut can't be at the 1inch depth unless you've moved in the x or y-axis a distance equal to 1/2 the width of your spindle and any supporting structure.
I think what he is saying is that only you can make the determination as to how well a specfic gantry will work. The previous responder was pointing out the limitations with respect to the interference caused by the router body.
Originally Posted by jdownie
Are you saying the gantry design won't work, or is this more of a programming issue? If the gantry won't work, what would you suggest?
jdownie....both the gantry and mill will have similar limitations....some of these can be minimized by using longer tools or tool holders with the loss of some rigidity...just depends on what material you're cutting.
I have yet to make my first cut with a router I've recently purchased, so I'm a noob.
However I would suggest you look at a benchtop mill (Taig, sherline etc.) for two reasons. #1 The size of your parts doesn't require a larger area. Machines that have larger areas tend to compromise in rigidity, or they end up being big and bulky. #2 Mills are capable of milling steel and so aluminum won't be a problem. I've seen many gantry-style routers capable of cutting aluminum but they won't keep up with a milling machine design. Of course if speed is not and issue (ie. you can make multiple passes), I think a router will work fine.