Has anyone figured out how to do automatic tool changes on the x carve.
Sure, I can just ask my son do it. He runs on sandwiches and Gatorade
That would be… interesting. I don’t think you could do it with the stock spindle, given how the bit is fixed in place. Conventional CNCs with toolchangers use tool holders locked with a grip-and-pull system, into a taper-lock.
Any of the spindle options now used on X-Carves will not work. Your spindle would need a hole though it for a draw bar. You would also need a power draw bar generally run by air. You will need a spindle taper that is designed for use with a auto tool changer. The BT series of tapers are used on full sized CNC machining centers. They are BT30, 40 and 50.
There are some commercial CNC routers on the market that have auto tool changers but they are way out of price range for the hobby user.
Well I guess that ends that idea.
Once Easel supports tool probing and multiple tool paths, tool changing will be easier; not automatic, but easier.
Using the tool probing is easy and makes mastering the zeroing a tool to a stock surface /waste board / whatever much easier tasks.
In theory Easel would no longer need to ask you for your material height. It would ask to to place probe on stock surface. Place probe on waste board. Subtract the difference and boom, you have the stock width. No guess work. No worry about cutting into your waste board either.
The same probe is used during tool changes. Move to a predefined location for a tool change. Then move to probe the new tool height in relation to what is was previously.
Luckily GRBL and X-Carve’s hardware supports the features and probing, its just a matter of the software (and users) to catch up.
Sure is pricey, but if setup with Mach3, automatic tool changes could be programmed.
I can buy a lot of sandwiches for that much money.
My guess is that just putting a second router in the system would be far easier and cheaper than a tool changer. You could add a second x axis on the 1000 pretty easily. Sure, it only gives you two tools, but it doesn’t require much new development.
Theoretically, you could put a collar on all your bits so that exactly the same amount of the bit sticks out of the collar. Then, all you’d do is change tools and insert each bit into the collett, up to the collar.
It would speed things up a little, but I think I’d still prefer to re-zero each bit.
I have seen machines that have multiple mills attached to a turret. For a tool change they just back off the work, rotate the turret and move back to the work to continue. Don’t have a clue how much that costs, but probably more than I have.
As @LarryM points out, there are many types of machines that have tool changers and I’ve used several of them over the years. All those that I’ve used would range in price from the tens of thousands to the six and seven digit figures.
When you’ve an investment like that, time out for tool changing (or introducing a variable such as a fallible human into the process) costs downtime and potentially big dollars. Yes, I guess you could build some kind of tool changer, but the time, effort, space and cost wouldn’t be worth it on an X Carve.
If tool changing is an issue, or something you do frequently, I suspect putting your time and effort into a touch plate (or even better a “touch block”) and having some macros to assist with setting your zero points would probably be your best ‘bang for your buck’.