Best components?


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    Default Best components?

    Noob to CNCZone but not to the CNC world. Let me preface my question with a little about me. I am a licensed aircraft mechanic and also spent a number of years as field tech for a (unnamed) CNC manufacturer. So, I am already familiar to with design and functionality of CNCs but was limited to one manufacturer. I'm looking to broaden my ideas...

    I am mostly familiar with NSK and Rexroth, everything else was proprietary to the manufacturer including motors, drives, VFDs and controllers.

    Anyway, I am finally in a position to build a machine the way I want. I was wondering what everyone's thoughts were about the best components for a home build; best overall and best bag-for-the-buck. Looking for everything from drives to motors to ballscrews to ways...

    TIA - I look forward to everyone's thoughts and experiences

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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best components?

    For linear rails, any of the major manufacturers are probably comparable. THK, NSK, Rexroth, Star. Most people use Hiwin, because they can be a lot cheaper, and are more readily available.

    The same manufacturers also make ballscrews. But most people use cheap chinese screws, entirely because of the cost of high quality new ballscrews.

    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: Best components?

    Before you can get detailed answers, it would help to have details about your expectations and the machines size. These two things size and expectations really drive what you should build including the components selected.

    To put it another way there is a huge difference in a machine built to process strutural members for a sale boat as opposed to a machine a luthier may want to make guitar parts. One guy will be making parts that get twisted and bent into place the other might want fits held to 0.001" on stiff parts. So expectations are a big concern.

    The next issue in my mind are what resources do you hace access to? Any amount of shop equipment can help. In my mind the best solution at the moment for framing is to go with welded steel out of box sections (square or rectangular tube). This assumes of course that you can get access to a welder and machine shop equipment.

    For guys with limited tooling extruded aluminum frames are possible but im not a real fan of T-slots. If you go this route make sure quality extrusions are being used.

    In any event it is probably best to nail down a mechanical design before even thinking about your controls. Even with mechanical design you have a big decision to make with respect to moving table vs moving gsntry.



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    Default Re: Best components?

    Ger21 - Thanks for the info. What are your thoughts on electrical components?

    Wizard - I have access to anything I want: if I don't already own it, I know someone that does. I was a field tech on machine tools for 6 years. I know somebody and can obtain access to more machine shops than I can count.

    As for my expectations... I want to build a machine that will hold at least 0.0025". I don't NEED that tight of a tolerance. I only WANT to do this because I know I will not be happy with anything more than that. 1) I spent too many years either working on aircraft with extreme tolerances or dialing in customers machines to be able to repeat insanely tight tolerances. 2) I have too much OCD and will drive myself crazy if I can't achieve a respectable tolerance and repeatability LOL

    I agree about using T-slot extrusion. My current thought was to weld a base out of 1018 (most likely) square tubing. Then, I would take the base and face both sides.

    I have debated the moving table vs. gantry thing. I have a bunch of experience working on both so I am well aware of design for both. Personally, I am intrigued by the moving table design. I have the room for a large footprint so that is not a consideration. I just think that having the wide spaced trucks on the bed along with the fixed gantry would make tighter machine.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best components?

    Ger21 - Thanks for the info. What are your thoughts on electrical components?
    What are you planning on building? Steppers or servos?
    There are a ton of different options, so knowing what you want to build will narrow it down a bit.

    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: Best components?

    Quote Originally Posted by ger21 View Post
    What are you planning on building? Steppers or servos?
    There are a ton of different options, so knowing what you want to build will narrow it down a bit.
    Wanting to build a router for use in woods, plastics, MAYBE soft metals. Maximum size will probably be in the 4'x4' range. Would like to build with a VFD so that I have cutter rpm control in the g-code. I will use ballscrews and ways since I don't trust belts (at least not in the size used on these machines) and I know how to set backlash and maintain the systems anyway.

    As for servos vs steppers: I don't have a need for fast rapids and most movements will be small anyway (engraving type stuff), so steppers will probably work the best and be cheaper. My main hangup is I don't trust the cheap and poorly constructed stuff, chinese or otherwise. I want quality so that I have less chance of breakdowns and better control



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best components?

    For a long time, Gecko stepper drives were considered the best available.
    In the past few years, Leadshines digital drives have become very popular. Some say that their EM series drives are better than Geckos. I'm using Leadshine AM882 drives, which are only available from China through Ebay, and are unsupported. But they work great, and are about 40% cheaper than the EM series or Geckos.

    For motors, almost everyone is using Chinese motors, because they are so much cheaper. And steppers are pretty much bulletproof, so any failures are very rare.
    If you want to pay more for top of the line motors, look at Oriental Motor (Vexta) or Lin Engineering.


    Other electronics depend somewhat on your choice of control software.
    I'm using UCCNC software, with their UC300ETH controller, and a UB1 breakout board form CNC Room in Thailand.

    Centroids acorn control is only a few months old, but is quickly gaining popularity.

    Linux CNC is also quite popular, and is free, if you don't mind running Linux on your control computer.

    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: Best components?

    Ger21 - That's the kind of info I am looking for. To be honest, I don't really mind chinese components so much as a lot of the things coming out of there are crap. If there are quality components like the Leadshine, I wouldn't hesitate to use it. Everything I had read said to use Geckos but if another manufacturer has better bang for the buck, then you better believe I will use it.

    As for software, what's is the fascination with Mach 3/4? Is it that great of a software package or is it just that everyone is using it?



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    Default Re: Best components?

    I have yet purchase anything from them, but automationoverstock.com is very interesting and has good pricing. They purchased the remaining stock of the US warehouse of HIWIN rails and they have some NSK ball-screws as well.



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    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best components?

    Mach3 was groundbreaking when it was created (first as Mach1, then Mach2). It brought affordable, Windows based CNC control to the masses. It was the dominant control for many years. And also factor in that tens of thousands of chinese machines on Ebay are Mach3 controlled, and you have a LOT of people using Mach3. My current machine that's been running for 10 years is still using Mach3.

    But my personal opinion is that Mach3 is no longer a viable option.
    Mach3 has a lot of minor bugs that were easy to overlook when there wasn't a good (or affordable) alternative.
    And development and support stopped over 5 years ago.
    But most importantly, there are now several alternatives that are both better, and in some cases even cheaper than Mach3 is.
    There's just no reason to buy a buy a buggy Mach3 today.

    I switched to UCCNC for my new machine, as I mentioned. I think there are at least 5 solid alternatives to Mach3 at under $400 mark, and a few more if you go up in price to the $1500-$2000 range.

    Imo, Mach4 has been a complete disaster. The developers created a control that users didn't want.
    From what I here, it's far superior to Mach3, but it's expensive, extremely complex to setup, and still suffers from Mach3's biggest weakness. Mach4 requires 3rd party hardware motion controllers. So Mach4's available features depend on the hardware developers support of those features. Meaning different hardware results in different available features.
    Very few Mach3 customers have upgraded to Mach4. Many of us waited years for Mach4 to arrive, and were very disappointed in what we saw. Most of the biggest Mach3 supporters have moved on to other controls.

    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: Best components?

    Quote Originally Posted by jgwentworth96 View Post
    I have yet purchase anything from them, but automationoverstock.com is very interesting and has good pricing. They purchased the remaining stock of the US warehouse of HIWIN rails and they have some NSK ball-screws as well.
    I will have to take a look. Thanks for the tip.

    Ger21 - Interesting history on Mach. I am trying to relate my knowledge of production machines with Fanuc or other proprietary controls (mostly Haas) into my own creation. I remember when we got a Hurco in the machine shop in high school back around 1990. We thought it was the coolest thing ever since we only got to see CNCs in full production shops and we now had one to play with in class.

    What do you think are the better bang for the buck programs?



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    Default Re: Best components?

    The issue of control software / hardware apparently is a very personal thing so when you ask questions focused on which is best you will likely get widely varying answers.

    For example the absolute cheapest route, for a respectable controller, is likely GRBL running on Arduino. It is very limited due to the micro processor it is built upon. Do realize though that ports to ARM controllers exist. My suspicion is that you wouldn't be happy going this route due to exposure to high end controllers but this is the viable low end.

    LinuxCNC might be comparable to what you are familiar with capability wise. I do however believe that they have painted themselves into a corner trying to run realtime off commodity PCs. This mainly due to issues if I/O on modern PCs. In any event well worth a look.

    I have to agree with the above comments related to Mach 3/4. The only good thing here is support for external motion controllers.

    Centroids DIY solutions, including Acorn, are very interesting if you like the Centroid way of doing things. They offer what i would have to say is the closest thing to a professional solution at the asking price point. Several people have gone this route recently so try looking for those threads. All indications are surprisingly good stability right out of the box.

    One thing not often considered here is buying a CNC controller directly from China. The costs are surprisingly low for FANUC emulating or "ripping off" controllers. The biggest issue in my mind is communications which has me reluctant.

    This is just a quick overview there are probably a dozen more solutions for CNC on DIY machines. This doesn't even consider all of the reprap controllers out there.

    Lastly you could always buy a used Fanuc controller considering that you know your way around them.



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