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  1. #1
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    CNC machines 101

    This is yet another topic I don't know much about.

    Is it possible to "rent" time on a company's CNC machine somewhere? I have an idea for something to sell at renfaires, and the best way to make it happen would be using a CNC machine to create the parts.

    I have little if no clue how CNC stuff works, other than you stuff a DXF file and a metal billet in one end, and out comes the finished part, perhaps anodized if the machine has that capability, and you are doing aluminum.

    Also, how hard is it to get used to doing 3D stuff with AutoCAD? I've not used a CAD program since I was doing stuff with CATIA and AIX ages ago.

  2. #2
    '05 NUEser EJ123's Avatar
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    Phantomcow2 has all the answers.

  3. #3
    Chepooka StupidlyBrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22 View Post
    This is yet another topic I don't know much about.

    Is it possible to "rent" time on a company's CNC machine somewhere? I have an idea for something to sell at renfaires, and the best way to make it happen would be using a CNC machine to create the parts.

    I have little if no clue how CNC stuff works, other than you stuff a DXF file and a metal billet in one end, and out comes the finished part, perhaps anodized if the machine has that capability, and you are doing aluminum.

    Also, how hard is it to get used to doing 3D stuff with AutoCAD? I've not used a CAD program since I was doing stuff with CATIA and AIX ages ago.
    The CAD system will only get you the geometry. Someone still needs to use a program to generate toolpaths (offset from imported geometry), assign feeds and speeds.

  4. #4
    minnesota nick mrnicho's Avatar
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    Go talk to some local machine shops. For the right price, just about any one of them would run the part(s) for you. Keep in mind, the fist part or few parts will probably be quite expensive.

    As for AutoCAD 3D. I personally have not done much but from what I remember it's not too difficult.

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Well here is a topic I know quite a bit about, so I can help you out.

    You will probably not be able to "rent" time on a companies CNC machine. If you get hurt, they are liable, and you're not covered under workers comp. Industry CNC machines can be very damaging if used by somebody who doesn't know what they are doing. Your flesh can't compete against an end mill rotating at 6000RPM, driven by a 20HP motor.

    In a nutshell, you begin with a 3d model of whatever you want to make. Using a program call CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing), the machinist will create what's called a "tool path" (pre planning everything that the machine will do to make the part).

    Anodizing is done usually at a separate facility, it's not the same machine. Anodizing is a chemical process done after machining.

    I started with AutoCAD, and then did a little in 3d. Solidworks is industry standard, and for good reason. CAM programs are made around solidworks, such as SolidCAM or CAmworks. Your best bet is to find a smaller "job shop". Produce either an orthographic 2d drawing via autocad, or produce a 3d drawing. They should be able to produce whatever it is you need based on a 2d drawing, but it may cost you more. 3D = CAM friendly.

    dxf files are only for 2d drawings. TO run the machine is actually using a universal thing called G-code and M-code.
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  6. #6
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    Thanks for the help. There is a LOT for me to learn here. For a couple lock pieces, such as the detainer discs, the 2D CAD files should be OK. However, for the main cylinder and the keys, I need to noodle around and see if I can come up with a decent 3D file.

    I'm thinking of doing some custom locks/strongboxes/treasure chests at renfaires, but with a custom type of key and cylinder for decent security. Basically its a variant of the original 1907 Abloy design, but with a slightly larger cylinder so that the key looks more "period". Because I am using the old design pretty much (other than scaling the cylinder, discs, and the key up in size by a factor of 2-3x), all the original patents have expired on it.

    If I can do it right, I can make "pirate chests" and other stuff that looks period and is secure, however right now, I'm mainly researching how doable a project like this would be, and if it would be profitable at renfaires.

    I also have been tempted to experiment with a design of a lock similar to one shown on toool.nl -- its a key lock, but the lock is easily "rekeyed" by pulling a small clutch lever, yanking out the old key, putting the new key in, then releasing the lever. No disassembly or changing tumblers necessary. This allows for someone to have their own personal set of keys, and when they buy a safe, they open the unlocked safe, pull the clutch lever, and instantly rekey the lock to their key. The key never leaves their possession.

  7. #7
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    First, determine if it's machinable. Then, design it so that it is as easy to machine as possible. One thing I saw A LOT of when I did my internship at a shop was customers supplying parts engineered in such a way that they are very difficult to machine. That's why the shop provided engineering services .

    If you want to play around and learn a lot, buy yourself a little CNC mill. I have a 400 pounder in my basement, probably worth 6000 dollars, but I had generous donors . You can get a nice little machine for under 2000 dollars and learn something. Knowledge is valuable
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Best thing to do is take a college course or 2. Many community colleges have machine shops.
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  9. #9
    Dude wheres my guads? skinnyone's Avatar
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    If you got a cool 5G's get this

    Desktop 3D Printer

  10. #10
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    You can take a college course if they offer CNC machining, but I think the best way is to teach yourself.
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  11. #11
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    The advice on college courses is pretty good. Here in Austin, unless I can find some people that won't mind me watching and "apprenticing" in their metal shop, it may be my best route.

    The desktop 3D printer is a cool concept. Some people are using a variant of that to make money hand over fist printing out custom World of Warcraft figurines. However, for a lock mechanism, I couldn't use it, because the lock mechanism requires metal for the detainer discs due to the materials strength needed.

    Phantomcow: That $600 is a steal for a mill. The cheapest I've been able to find one online is $30k and requires 3-phase (something that most houses don't have as drops unless its for the dryer, stove, or the wiring closet.)

  12. #12
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    You don't have to get an industrial sized machine....
    Industrial machines do cost 30k, all require 3 phase, and all are enormous. Check again, there's a whole class of Hobby sized mills for a few thousand.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Still though, you can learn some stuff at a college for only a few hundred.

    I myself really should learn how to machine things. I've pretty much conquered making things from wood, and demolishing material of all types, but the only thing I can do with metal is braze, use tin snips, and use a tap and die set. I need to learn to weld and use milling machines at some point.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    I've got one of these in my garage:



    The first couple years I spent using it only as a manual mill and did most operations by hand. But I tell ya, the real value in these things is learning Solidworks/CAMworks and having the technology work for you. It's so simple to design parts in 3D and having all sophisticated electronics work for you. Especially when it comes to intricate designs, like belt-buckles!

    Here's one of my latest projects, re-cutting pistons to a non-interference design with valve-pockets. Unfortunately in the case of this high-compression motor, it's just not possible:

    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 01-11-08 at 12:39 PM.

  15. #15
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrnicho View Post
    Go talk to some local machine shops. For the right price, just about any one of them would run the part(s) for you. Keep in mind, the fist part or few parts will probably be quite expensive.

    As for AutoCAD 3D. I personally have not done much but from what I remember it's not too difficult.

    Good luck.
    Machine shops I've worked with run about $100/hour of work, and some of that is setup, so if you're making more than one, you'll save a little bit of money having them all done in one batch. You basically give them the dxf, dwg or other suitable 2D or 3D file and they'll program it for you.

    If you do the college route not only will you likely have the opportunity to machine the parts you want as part of the class, you'll come out of it with a valuable skill.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

  16. #16
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    Danno, did you convert that to CNC yourself? Looks nice.
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  17. #17
    Just a student norsehabanero's Avatar
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    trade school for machineing is fun depending on the school you can learn alot
    the internet is also a good source for information, tools, programing, cad cam info
    I made a few parts for myself while atending school
    DannoXYZ, cool machine what kind (brand ) where did you find it
    http://www.thebicyclingguitarist.net.../bios/bike.gif about to start winter quarter , enjoying school so far

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    This is what we have been installing for the past few weeks... it has a 26,000 pound capacity and hits the curb at nearly 73,000 pounds.



    http://www.kuraki.com/products/kbt13ea.asp

    Cost: $750K

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22 View Post
    The advice on college courses is pretty good. Here in Austin, unless I can find some people that won't mind me watching and "apprenticing" in their metal shop, it may be my best route.

    The desktop 3D printer is a cool concept. Some people are using a variant of that to make money hand over fist printing out custom World of Warcraft figurines.
    However, for a lock mechanism, I couldn't use it, because the lock mechanism requires metal for the detainer discs due to the materials strength needed.

    Phantomcow: That $600 is a steal for a mill. The cheapest I've been able to find one online is $30k and requires 3-phase (something that most houses don't have as drops unless its for the dryer, stove, or the wiring closet.)
    For final production, yes, but if you are still working on a proof-of-principle, rapid-prototyping will be much more cost effective than a machine shop. You don't need it to be metal if you are trying to determine if your design works.

    Also, there are a lot of off-the-shelf locks to buy, check thomasnet.com for a long list. Is there something in particular that needs to be custom?

    For software, as mentioned before, Solidworks and Pro-E are the industry standards but they cost about $5k for a seat. Also, the learning curve is very steep and they are overkill for this type of project. I would suggest using a program called Rhino (rhino3d.com). It is a surface modeler but it has some solids capabilities and will do booleans. It is easy (maybe just easier) to learn and is only $1k, $200 for students. They also offer a fully functional trial version that lasts for 25 saves. If you are careful, that should be more than enough for this project. It can save as .stp and .stl files so sending to a machine shop or rapid prototyper is no problem.

  20. #20
    Fourth Degree Legend junkyard's Avatar
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    I thought this thread was about C&C Music Factory.
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    The caveat with a strap-on, of course, is you will have to get creative with a couple of lock cables and an anchor point

  21. #21
    blithering idiot jhota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
    you know, i've never seen a piston that looked like that intentionally...

  22. #22
    Burning Matches. ElJamoquio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13 View Post
    Machine shops I've worked with run about $100/hour of work, and some of that is setup, so if you're making more than one, you'll save a little bit of money having them all done in one batch. You basically give them the dxf, dwg or other suitable 2D or 3D file and they'll program it for you.

    If you do the college route not only will you likely have the opportunity to machine the parts you want as part of the class, you'll come out of it with a valuable skill.
    In my experience, most places want an IGES file, and AutoCAD cannot export to iges...
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  23. #23
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    IGES FTW!! That is exactly right. I remember where I worked, we always asked for an IGES or a Solid.
    I think that autocad in 3d can export to IGES though. maybe autodesk mechanical desktop?

    For the record, Solidworks Student edition is available for 100 bucks.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member DDYTDY's Avatar
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    Phantomcow2, would you be interested in helping me learn some basics on my Tsugami with fanuc 6t...

    I'm a single spindle screw machine guy with zero cnc experience.

  25. #25
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElJamoquio View Post
    In my experience, most places want an IGES file, and AutoCAD cannot export to iges...
    autodesk inventor or inventor pro can but it's expensive (unless you can get the student price edition in which case it's unbelievably cheap)
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