Am I on the right path?

To all the Yoda’s of XCarve out there I could use a little input on making sure I’m looking at my machine correctly.

I’ve done just about every physical upgrade I can think of on the machine itself. I’m seriously considering moving away from the stock Audrino and GRBL and going to a more robust motion control solution but that is another topic.

I have done all my work in wood until now and while accuracy was important to me it wasn’t that important. I figured I would get to know the machine by using and move on from there. I recently was approached to do a commission for someone in the film industry out of Aluminum.

The person wants to make a prototype of a tool he has come up with. He already has a real Machining Company on board to do the actual run but he would like to do a couple of test pieces first before he does the final run due to the cost of the Machinist doing a one off.

Well of coarse I said awesome send me over the file to cut out before really thinking about it, I’m a guy right? Thing of it is this is a actual tool, think those cool little tools that look like credit cards for bikes to be used on really expensive Film Cameras requiring a level of accuracy I’ve not really had to deal with before now.

So I spent an evening a few days ago going though all of the tune up steps I could think of-

Belts all tight and equal- check
Machine is square- check
Wheels tight but not to tight- check
Phases of Earth/ Moon alignment- check

The way I use to check my accuracy is with a dial indicator on a mag base held down to the table. I even recorded a short vid and I’ll include a link

So the question is am I doing it right or am I missing something? I would really hat to start milling an expensive piece of aluminum without being reasonably certain I could get accuracy beforehand.

I was breaking bits while profile cutting aluminum. Probably due to runnout and flex in the gantry beam.

I found that cutting a wider channel so the bit had a bit of clearance made a huge difference. (replacing my $5 bit adapter with a proper 1/8" collet probably helped a lot too)

Here are the details: Gantry Upgrade to C-Beam

I second that!
Made a huge difference!

I have a local vender for Stainless and aluminum here in N.O. Phil. I followed your table build and even used elements of it if you remember. I paid about exactly what you paid for your sheet of 1/4" from Speedy Metals. I’m not using 1/4 though I’m using 1/2 and the guy wants to use a type of aluminum I’ve never heard of before. When I called my vendor and asked about it I was told it was not cheap. So before I go milling in something expensive I would like to think I would have a reasonable expectation of success which is the original question I posed on whether I’m missing something on how I’m checking me setup. I fully plan to make a couple of test cuts in wood and then move into a thin aluminum piece before going to the 1/2" piece.

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Oh I will definitely go look at the new beam but I have leveled and trammed my setup with an indicator and there is .0003 variance across the entire table front to back and side to side, so for right now I think I’m good on that front. I would upgrade my motion control first.

oops I meant .003 not .0003

Robert I will definitely be doing test cuts in wood first, thanks

Thanks for the tip Aaron I will look into that. I have purchased purpose aluminum cutters for this job and got a bottle of boelube and will be doing some finger crossing.