HSMXpress depth of cut too deep?

Our robotics team is waiting for our X-Carve to arrive and I’m trying to prep some parts from Solidworks into CAM so we can test it on our sheet aluminum right when it arrives. We’re looking into cutting gussets out of .090" aluminum and gearbox plates out of 1/8" and 3/8" stock.

When I configure the setup in HSMxpress, the radial features work fine, about 4 passes and then it moves on to the next. However, when I run 2D contour onto the edges of the part, the toolpath only shows 1 pass for the entire part.

If this is an issue of the feeds-and-speeds being configured improperly, we’ll be using a 1/8" 2 flute carbide bit from Kodiak and the Dewalt 611 and a few stiffening mods to increase productivity. According to CharleyThomas, we’ll try to run our machine at

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.

I don’t know how many other people use HSMworks/xpress and solidworks, but if you do, some help for a newbie would be nice. Is 2D contour correct for cutting parts out of a sheet? I feel like slot would get the job done, but that doesn’t work for external features.

The part and paths in question

You need to check the “Multiple Depths” check box like above and fill out the desired cutting depth for each pass. Also be sure to check the “finish at final depth” check box so you do a single depth finishing pass at final depth. otherwise it will do a finishing pass after each pass and this will both increase your tool path time and lead to a less than perfect finish on the part.

I do 100% of my milling with Solidworks and HSMxpress right now (switching to fusion360 shortly though) I can offer you a bit of help where I can as I mill in thing like granite and aluminum 95% of the time.

Most of my work is with 1/8" and smaller end mills so I can give you some pointers if you need them down the road on some of your projects. Do you have access to a 3D printer? Have you installed chip clearance system yet? Either with forced air or with a vacuum system?

That’s perfect, I should have noticed the multiple depths with the circular clearing operation. Those parts are very nice and actually seem quite deep for the X-Carve’s 67mm depth.

We do have access to a 3D printer, meaning we will try to use the stiffening inserts on Thingiverse. As far as chip clearance goes, we are looking into simple dust shoe/shop vac combo but I haven’t looked for a forced air removal system. What do you recommend? Also, what bits do you recommend for the Dewalt spindle on aluminum?
When it comes to software, we are students so many packages with a price are discounted or student licensed.

The parts are all milled from Alco 5 tool plate at 1/4" thickness. They are upgrade parts for the hot end mounting of a SeemeCNC Rostock Max or Orion 3D delta printer.

I would look into the following mod fist over printing anything for stiffing: A 30 minute x-axis mod to reduce chatter. It is a very simple mod which is very cheap and easy to install. I did it but added a strip of 1/8" steel on the bottom plate in addition to the washers and it has been a great mod and REALLY reduced chatter.

I use a simple 12V blower fan to clear the area of my cuts. the fan costs around $5 from Sparkfun: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/11270 with a few simple 3D printed parts and some loc line ($12ish on amazon) you can run the mill for 9+ hours cutting 1/4" stock without chip clearance issues.
You can see a bit more about it and how well it works in this post: Production level aluminum milling with .8KW water cooled VFD

As far as bits go. I have yet to find a better bit than the 3 flute Destiny Tools Viper end mills. I have them in 1/8-1/2" and love each one. They mill perceftly and produce a MIRROR finish on the parts with just one simple finishing pass. I use the same end mill for everything and just do a double finishing pass of about .125MM in HSM and it gives an amazing result. They can be found cheaply from this seller on Ebay ( he sells great end mills over all) http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-8-carbide-endmill-for-aluminum-milling-coated-3-flute-Destiny-Tool-V30805S-/151851495498?hash=item235b0df04a:m:mB6EV486fHjorKMn2EtgwMw

I would stick with either the Solidworks like you do now (which is what I use also) or with Fusion360. Fusion360 uses HSMworks at their CAM. Only other software Iw ould suggest would be MESHCAM and maybe the Aspire V carve or Aspire 4. Aspire does a great job of engraving with V bits which oddly enough HSMworks is not so good at.