Production level aluminum milling with .8KW water cooled VFD

I chickened out and got the Leadshine MX3660 because of the cost and the reduction in wires, and I don’t have to wait for it to ship from EU. DSP is a whole other world compared to the standard gshield. You can get some really quick rapids and the noise is almost non existent, and it moves so smooth :joy:. I’m probably gonna write a probing routine in LinuxCNC to automatically probe X Y and Z on aluminum stock. Theres also a hole-center finder probing routine somewhere, I’ll probably post it when I find it and test it out.

I think if more folks would make the jump to a DSP stepper driver and bundle it with a MK3 controller, than a TON of their issues would go away. Going to the MK3 is hands down the BEST thing I ever did for my mills. It allows you to step up your milling to a level that is only possible with such a robust and feature backed controller will allow. I might try to do a write up on the process and differences this week as it looks like the mills will be running big jobs along with the 3D printer so i will just be babysitting them and changing out end mills as needed every 4 to 6 hours. I will also shortly get some shots up of the forced air chip clearance system. I have not forgotten that yet. Just been busy switching my 3D printer over to a 24V system to speed up production there also. 24V heated baed is WAY faster to heat up than the old 12V one for sure!

I told you that you would love the DSP driver! It is like butter compared to the Gshield and even the TinyG (which is a big step up from the Gshield alone) I hope it works out well for you and that you can enjoy even better milling now. With DSP drivers and the VFD spindle, you have a nice little powerhouse X Carve there now.

Oh yes, I’m even altering my designs right now to make fixturing a bit easier and I have a 1/8" drill bit ready to make about 80 holes on a 12x12 sheet. Then switch to a ZrN coated endmill to cut about 40 profiles. I just need to get this circular saw issue sorted so I can cut my spoilboard to size, ugh.

Is it a 2 or 3 flute end mill?

3 flue variable helix, I’m stoked. I’ll probably pick up those stealth bits you use next time I order just to see if theres a difference. I’ve been using a stub 3 flute AlTiN coated bits for a while now. I heard they’re both good and bad for aluminum milling. Most people seem to think its good, but I read something a while ago that said it was bad, something about not providing enough lubricity. Oh well, I’m competent enough now to never snap or chip a bit anymore so I guess I can play around with coatings and see what works best for me.

That would be cool if you could! I am using Gecko Drive and Mach 3 and can program in Visual Basic. It would be nice to know what tricks you employ so I could try to duplicate them. You’ve referenced some of them in other posts… but I don’t quite understand. I will be milling lots of aluminum bag tags soon, and while I am confident and I am still hesitant and could use all the tips you can supply.

Plus - if I ever have time for a private project, I want to mill a fold-out cup holder for my 30 oz Yeti for the boat. I have a rough design, but it is going to take a while to mill.

So I ended up buying 2 Viper Destiny 1/8" 3flute stealth coated bits. Wow it cuts incredibly cleanly. I’m getting an odd issue, where I get a streak of rough through the middle of my cut.

60IPM @ .01" depth of cut
24k RPM
.0008" Chipload


No issue below the two holes, very clean. Not so clean around any of the corners.

The most important part of the whole trigger, the ramp, needs to be 100% as smooth as possible. The rough streak goes right through it.

Probably 70% of the cut has this rough streak through the middle.

So the marks are rough, but they aren’t like sandpaper rough or even chattery. Its more of a texture. With it sitting on the table a foot away I can’t even see them. I suspect there might have been something that happened at those Z-levels but I’m not sure. There were no chips in there, I have an air blast to take care of that. During the cut it was VERY quiet and cutting extremely cleanly.

This is a dumb guess, but I’m thinking it has to do with the upper portion of the flutes maybe rubbing against the part as the bit goes deeper???

1/4" stock right? I see that from time to time but rarely… I cut at about 18946RPM with .30mm DOC at around 300MM/M speed and get super smooth sides on all my cuts. with air blasting like you to keep the cuts clean also. I have seen that ONCE in a while… Are you on the Leadshine driver yet? Everything is nice and tight on the spindle and such yes? I have found th eneed to check mine to keep things nice and tight as the aluminum milling seems to work things lose far faster than normal even with loc tight.

Also though keep in mind I am milling in 5083 tool plate 99.5% o the time so my cut info is gear more towards 5083 than 6061. Though the 6061 I did last night cut butter smoothly.

I know we can get this streak worked out for you. At least now you see the amazing cuts that the Viper end mills do with such ease and the super finish they produce. Let me know how the check for loose stuff goes and see how my cut info compares to yours and maybe someplace in the middle we can fix this issue for you and get you enjoying the bliss that is the Viper End mill with dry aluminum milling.

Is there any way your air blast could be causing it? Maybe the pressure is high enough that it’s either “encouraging” deflection, or it’s angled such that it’s blowing chips into the bit instead of out of the path?

Wow you are going MUCH slower than I am in terms of feed rate, but my RPM is higher as well. At those speeds you are only at .0002" chipload, viper recommends .001-.002 (I should use code blocks more often :smile: ).

I’ll check if the machine is getting loose tomorrow (I’m dead tired atm), but I checked all the V-Wheels last weekend and tightened the belts up again. I did do a run of ~50 triggers though and dulled a brand new bit too. Also last week I tried some new settings that were causing a lot of resonance in my gantry.

I only have the air blast coming from 1 direction, so I suppose its possible that some chips are getting injected back into the cutter. My airblast points at a sharp angle downward, not sure if that would be enough to push the chips its ejecting back into it.

Also the Viper bit I bought was model #V30805S bought from here for anyone else interested:

Random question: Is it considered bad practice to have any of the coating inside the collet? Would that cause significant runout? I feel like I would lose close to 1/8" of stickout if that’s the case.

I am cutting slower because despite what the calculators I should run at. I had too many issues with end mills breaking and production being slowed to a dead stop. Production pays the bills and when you look at it like this: Follow calulator and break 2-3 end mills for 25 mounts OR mill with settings I mentioned and cut out 80+ mounts on same end mill with PERFECT finish… I choose production and finish. Once I am caught up I can try to play around with stuff again. But break end mills is NOT something I enjoy. That also should of course have been 18946 RPM. The aluminum company would prefer I mill their 5083 tool plate at around 110-145mm/m or so also. So i am sort of splitting it down the middle of sorts and getting perfect results as you see. I would back off your feed rate for a test and see how it does. Maybe just do one of the cuts that had the issue at a slower feed rate and then rest at same and see how they stack up.

Based on what I have seen with air blast chip clearance, I would be very surprised if there were chips being blown back in front of your end mill and being recut. I am guessing it is a mill or feed rate issue.

I figured it was for the finish, those parts come out super smooth. You just tumble them with no hand finishing?

I’m on the MX3660s btw, forgot to mention. It very well could be my feed rate, 60IPM is a bit much, I bet 40IPM would have a better finish and its still pretty quick. I’m just gonna mill 6 of them all at the same settings except feedrate between 20-80IPM and just see what happens while adjusting RPM to chipload. I hope I have enough material :frowning:

The shots above show the mounts as they come off the mill without any finish work at all. I have one shot towards the end right before the anodize shots that show the mount after tumbling. When you go into Inventables on Monday, Grab Michael and tell him you want a peek at the mount I sent them. That one is right off the mill, no surface or refinishing work of any kind was done to it. Just the used the Viper and the Chamfer end mills on it at the speeds I mentioned above and you can see how it comes out in person. Check out the Granite drink coaster I sent in also. That one or both might also be up with Bart. They were asking questions about the Carvey being able to mill the granite. Amazon and Rose Metal are your friend for stock as you know!

Where did you buy the Planet CNC Mk3 from? The only seller I could find in the US, openbuilds, only has the Mk2 or the Mk3/4.

I bought it direct from their site at Planet CNC. I also picked up the driver connection break out kit and the output board. Be aware that you MUST follow the directions 100% for hooking everything up, which means above all using 100% shielded cables and being sure you ground the controller side shielding on each cable. If this is done the system is rock solid, if not you will have EMI issues.

The MK3/4 is also a very solid board and it the same processor and controller over all. I run the MK3/4 on the Shapeoko 2 and it works perfectly. I threw the MK3 on the X Carve which was intended for a larger mill I have. Now I like the added features so much that I bought a second MK3 to put on the bigger mill so the X Carve could keep the MK3 also instead of stepping to a MK3/4. Over all it has less axis and a FEW less features and outputs. But the MK3/4 is more than enough for a X Carve if paired with some good DSP drivers.

That’s a great rig you’ve got there! It’s a bit of a Theseus’ Ship but it’s awesome to see such great results in Al.

Yeah I have done a good deal of work on the mill and I have tried to be very upfront about it. The stock mill just has no hope of reaching good results in aluminum. I think since it is open source that I do not feel so bad about the mods I have done to reach this level of work. If it had been sold as being “ready to mill metal” I will be upset at the amount of mods needed to truly make that a true statement. But it was always intended for wood and the like which it does pretty well out of the box.

I agree that it is a stretch to call is a X Carve in some respects. But without starting with the basic X Carve kit, reaching the same results for the same price would not be very easy. I also have gone to the extream on a few levels such as the controller and the DSP stepper drivers, but this was based on experiences from my Shapeoko 2 before and from my larger all ball screw mill.

1 Like

We finally caught up enough with orders to open our site to the public for the mounts that are being produced in this thread. If you want to check them out and get a better idea of what I am making, then head over to and check out the site and get a better idea of what this project is all about.

1 Like

Very cool!