Hi everyone, I intend on using my X-carve for cutting aluminum up to 1/2". I am wondering if the DWP611 and X-Carve machine combined are capable of doing this? If 1/2" is asking too much, what is the thickest gauge of aluminum that I can cut out with the aforementioned?
As well, the inventables website offers a 611 mount, just to confirm, this is for the DWP611 right?
You are correct about the mount offered by Inventables. It is for the DWP611, and is a very worthy upgrade. It makes your x-carve a far better machine without a doubt!
I am cutting 6061 aluminum up to 1 inch thick and it works very well. The dewalt does this easily. I have also cut a lot of 1/2" 6061 aluminum. Again easy to do. Just watch your depth of cut and use a bit designed for aluminum. Also be sure you have some form of dust control. The aluminum chips like to get stuck to your v wheels and rails. A dust show works wonders for this.
The only other issue you will run in to is the flexing of your machine. Primarily the X axis will have a tendency to twist if you put too much stress on it. You can mod this by placing a filler between the two maker slides of the x axis which will stiffen up your machine considerably, especially if you are using the 1000 mm x-carve. The 500mm version my not be as prone to twisting but I can not confirm that.
There are lots of comments on doing this. I put up a video on how increase the rigidity of the x axis and it really makes a difference. I truly believe that every x-carve 1000mm user should incorporate this. Here’s a link to one of the video that may get you more interested. https://youtu.be/dizB0y3ak0o
Charley, what are you using for lubrication when cutting the aluminum? I’ve seen most people cut fairly small pieces applying lubricant by hand, but adding a dust shoe seems to make that infeasible. Do you have some sort of locline setup or misting device?
Sorry for the long read, I tried to anticipate questions and get you the info that I have found works for me and my setup.
I have tried many different things and have come to the conclusion that by keeping the machine within it’s limits in regards to feeds and speeds, lubrications is not nearly as critical as chip removal. If you can keep a clean path for the bit then it will cut very well without lubrication.
I have been pocketing 1 inch 6061 aluminum 7/8 inch deep using a 1/4 inch bit designed for aluminum.
I have two air hoses (details below) that pass through the dust shoe on opposite sides which keep a constant flow of air going to the bit. I don’t use a air diverter for the Dewalt. I want all the air possible to keep the aluminum chips flying rather than settling in the tool path. Keeping them airborne allows the vacuum attached to the dust shoe to suck them out and keep them out of the way. All that airflow also helps cool the bit and material.The only issue I am experiencing is trying to get my bit perfectly aligned vertically. Without a perfect vertical alignment of the bit I have experienced an uneven cut at the bottom of the pocket and rubbing near the top of the pocket which creates heat buildup and poor cut quality. This generally only happens from about .7 inches down to the 7/8 inch finish pass.
Depth of cut is .011 inches, Feed rate of 100 inches per minute with a 40% step over, and Dewalt setting of about 2 on the speed control dial.
This may sound like crazy fast speed at 100 ipm but slow cuts generate more heat and that is not good. Keeping the depth of cut shallow helps to prevent heat build up and does not stress the machine at all. The Dewalt doesn’t strain at all either.
To cut my part free from a long stick of aluminum, I create another pocket that is .33 inches tall extends a little past each side to keep a square end. This allows room for the bit to cut only one side at a time for 1/2 of the passes reducing stress on the machine and heat build up.
For airlines passing through the dust shoe I picked up some aquarium air hose. Added a T fitting to feed two air lines at once and a adapter to connect it to my air compressor, I inserted a piece of bailing wire inside the tubing so I could bend it to get it in the proper position and get the air to go right to the tip of the bit. I only push around 15 psi through the air hoses. This provides cooling and chip removal very effectively.
Another reason I don’t like liquid cooling/lubrications is that to be effective you need to use flood lubrication, not a drop here ant there. By just adding a little at a time, your aluminum chips will get suspended in the oil/lubricant which prevents evacuating them from the tool path. Re-cutting aluminum chips is never good.
@CharleyThomas I’m using the 1/8" ball-end double flute upcut on 1/8" aluminum T6061, with WD-40, and am cutting at 0.1mm (.004") at 900-1000 mm/min (35-40 IPM). The 611 is set to ‘5’, which is supposed to be 24,800 RPM. I found that any deeper or faster (or both) and it would start to stick, especially without WD-40.
Have you used that bit on aluminum, and if so, what feed/speed did you use?
I have tried using various feeds and speeds calculators to come up with the optimum numbers when cutting aluminum with my 1000 mm x-carve and haven’t found them to work. This is because they don’t take in to consideration the rigidity (or lack thereof) of the X-Carve. As you may know, I have installed a 3/16" steel spine between the x rails and that has helped tremendously but that doesn’t even get it close to the super stiff commercial machines as you are no doubt are aware.
So I am left with trial and error when figuring out what works best. I have not attempted to cut the 6061 aluminum with a ball nose bit so I can’t offer any help there. The majority of my aluminum milling is with a 1/4" carbide end mill that is designed for cutting aluminum. I have found that I can get reasonably good results with this bit and a depth of cut at .014" and a speed of 45 ipm. That is probably not possible with at 1/8" bit unless it is very short with a minimum amount of bit sticking out of the collet. The key is to find a speed that will cut as fast as possible without introducing flex in the bit, X or Y axis. Speed is key with aluminum because the slower you move the more heat you create. Heat causes sticking or welding of the chips to both the bit and the cut surface. If I remember correctly, I set my dewalt 611 at closer to 3 1/2 on the speed dial but a 1/8" bit will probably need to be faster than that. Slower rpm’s means less heat buildup so you will have to play with that by slowing down the rpm’s on the dewalt as much as you can and still get a clean tool path.
The other key to success is chip evacuation. A dust shoe with a vacuum works well but I also added two air nozzles that blow fresh air directly at the tip of the bit from opposite sides. This does two things for me. Firstly, it helps to get the chips airborne so that the vacuum can suck them out, and secondly, it provides cooling air to the bit. This is all done with NO oil. I found that oil makes the chips stick to the bottom and not get sucked out of the way and causes them to be re-cut which is bad. I am also cutting pockets that are 2" by 3 1/2" and nearly 1" deep. I suppose that if you weren’t cutting something so deep then chip evacuation may not be as much of a problem but still must be managed.
For the air nozzles, I drilled two holes in my dust shoe as close to the bit as possible. One each side. I use some aquarium tubing with a piece of wire inserted inside it so that I can bend them around and get them exactly where I want them. The two pieces of tubing meet at a “T” fitting which connect to a single hose that adapts to my air compressor. It doesn’t require much pressure to get a refreshing blast of cool air to the bit for cooling and chip evacuation. They can also be removed from the dust shoe without leaving large holes that allow dust to escape. A little tape over the holes seals them up nicely as well.
I recorded some video of all this but left my camera in the car seat when I went to pay for gasoline. Now, somebody else now has a recording of my work!
I know that I haven’t answered your question as asked but perhaps this reply may help you to find the optimum settings. Best of luck