Debating between an X-Carve and laser for my first CNC machine. Basically, I need to be able to create fairly large birch ply structures. (Will have to do the 1000mm x 1000mm machine for sure.) Also, I need to create highly detailed panels from acrylic, which will be backlit, and finally several PCBs. The acrylic panels will receive a .062 6061-T611 backplate each with through-holes. Finally, would this machine be capable of cutting molds with some fine details for casting knobs and instrument parts in? Does anyone offer a 4th axis addition for engraving drums?
I have no doubt there are better tools for the job, but this appears to be my most cost effective solution.
See the pictures below to see a rough idea of part of what I am planning on accomplishing. (These were a design iteration using extruded aluminum…which is overkill. I’m simplifying the structure design greatly.)
If you need sharp 90degree angles you’ll need a laser cutter.
Fortunately, no. There isn’t anything that can’t stand a .06 inside radii. I do have 10 years experience as a drafter & mech/elec designer in the aerospace industry, and some time as a manual machinist, but it’s all Bridgeports in the mill department. I initially was looking at a G0704 CNC conversion, but with this being a little over a fifth of the price, including tooling, I’m definitely interested, assuming the capability is there.
you can do that with the x-carve, not 4th axis, but for knobs and stuff like that a bit of creative CAM will get you through it.
If you don’t mind putting in the extra work you can have both:
As you can add a laser diode to your XC. The nice thing about going that route is you can have a laser engraver that has a larger (expandable) cut area.
Cutting molds: Do you mean aluminum? Depending on what you are making I have found that carving a master and making a silicone mold to be a very easy process.
I use machineable wax as it carves very well and can be easily molded.
Machinable wax would be fine for low volume molds. I love the laser idea,but not sure if the laser would have the oomph to raster engrave and vector cut laser engravable acrylic?
The more I research this, the more I like the abilities of this thing. Shame nobody has made a simple 4th axis yet - seems mostly like an electronics limitation.
Check out http://jtechphotonics.com site. They have examples of what their laser can do.
The 4th axis is tricky. You can easily set up a rotary axis (2 axis movement with rotation) using the existing controller. VCarve Pro supports this. I don’t know of many people who have actual done this yet. But a lot of people plan to eventually.
True 4th axis (3 axis of movement with rotation) would require an additional stepper controller (or a new controller with 4 outputs) and software to support 4th axis.
But unless you were planning on carving objects with undercuts you would probably be fine with just a rotary axis.
I think the main reason is that Inventibles doesn’t sell a rotary axis kit.
I looked into buy one and found a bunch of rotary module add-ons for specific CNC machines. Or a bunch from questionable Chinese sources on ebay. It was confusing and I gave it up for the time being.
I kind of waiting for someone else to put one together and come up with a good parts list.
For a small 4th axis, this is what I had in mind for if I did a G0704 conversion: http://qtul.com/cnc-rotary-table-100mm-4in.html
Unfortunately, for the XCarve, I would have to convert to a Gecko Driver or similar. For most of my requirements, just a simple vertical rotary table should work, and just add pauses for when I need to manually index the part. Eventually, I would love true 4 axis so I can make my own flight grips from plastic.