I work in an R&D lab, and we're finally getting a CNC, a Tormach 1100M. We're pretty excited. Bumping up our game from a variety of manual machines means we can do more cool stuff even faster.

There's a lot of flat parts I see in our future, such as PCB's, panels, and various other stuff, so I got to thinking about vacuum chucks. And I think about some items way, way, too much. Me and this R&D job are a great fit.

Anyway, my thought is that the one of the first things the machine will make will be a vacuum chuck, and I had a notion I wanted to run across everyone for their input. I start with a slab of faced off 3/4" aluminum. On the bottom side, closed out by an aluminum sheet, is a chamber. On the top there's an array of pockets that each most closely resemble four leaf clovers. In the middle of each clover is a truss head screw, about 8-32 or so. Under the "shadow" of each screw head are four small holes that allow vacuum "communication" with the lower chamber. With the screw down, the vacuum to each clover leaf is shut off. Open it up a bit, and the clover leaf has vacuum. Each clover leaf is a little less than 1" in size, and there's an array of them across the plate. On the top surface, cut to match, is an adhesive cork gasket.

The idea is that each clover leaf can be turned on or off individually, allowing for a variety of profiles and sizes of parts to be held securely. If I have a frame shaped part, I simply open the sections under the frame that need vacuum, and close the rest. No materials required to configure the chuck.

Am I missing anything?

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