Production level aluminum milling with .8KW water cooled VFD

I was using a 110V blower fan. But I had a smaller fan here for a project with 3D print cooling and I tried it out. The new fan is 12V and blows a good deal of air. I have it hooked up to my system through a relay that turns on if I call for mist cooling in the Gcode.

Here is a link to the blower I use CPAP hose which connects directly to the outlet (just fits inside the fan outlet) This run to a 3D printed piece I use which had the CPAP hose on one end and then converts it to a pair of 5/8" OD x 1/2" ID hoses. Those hoses go through my mill enclosure wall and over to the mill. At the mill they are attached to the spindle with a 3D printed bracket which holds thew Loc Line system I use to direct the air. I use this Loc Line kit from amazon 1/2" set with 3 tips.

Since my mill is fully enclosed I keep the air blowing from the back of the spindle towards the front at 45 degrees or so. This helps to keep the chips away from the gantry and the V wheels vs blowing is back towards the gantry.

There is SLIGHTLY less air from the 12V blower but so far it has done 3 large 6+ hour jobs in 1/4" 5083 aluminum without a single issue and the cuts have been kept just as clean as with the 110V system. It seems to blow the chips clear of the cut an about 2" around it also, but not all over the mill as the 110V system tended to keep an area 3" or so clear and there was a fair amount of airborne dust with it, but not with the 12V system. The best part is how much LESS noise the 12V fan makes vs the 110V one, not to mention not having to switch 110V on the relay. I mush prefer to switch 12DC anytime over 110V when everything else controlled on the relay board is 24V or less.

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I’m not in the Aluminum cutting business, just want to share what I see on the internet while ago. Might give you inspiration. Machine was in the enclosure completely sealed, two hoses little bigger than yours goes into enclosure and there is nothing attached to it. Only directed to cutting area with fresh air, big dust collection hose attached to enclosures back side. Only air goes in true those two hoses, dust collection generating vacuum action easy to tell from side Plexiglas windows, back side hose like 4 or 5" in diameter sucks air and chips out from enclosure. I can imagine how much air goes true those small hoses. I didn’t even see any chips around cutting area. I’m still looking for video, can’t find it.


As they say no video it didn’t happen. :smile::smile:


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That sounds like a nice system and I would enjoy seeing the video. I needed a system that was able to run for hours ( I do large cutting jobs) and one which does not needed a large vacuum or dust removal system as I mill inside my house and I try to keep the noise down as much as I can. My walls are noise insulated in whole house so not an issue there. But i have to work around 3 running mills so i try to keep the noise in the room down. For me as long as the cutting areas stays clean then the mill has happy and an cut for hours on end without intervention from me. Even when the chips pile up on the stock, the blower clears them right away from the next cut when the spindle approaches.


Funny how one tries to get a job to run as quickly as possible so that the machine is running as little as possible and then in the end there are enough parts or jobs to fill the day and make the machine run for long periods of time anyway. I guess that would be the tipping point in a CNC based production operation. :smile:

For me it is about cutting the cycle time on each part as much as I can and reducing tool changes as often as I can so that when I run a large plate of parts the total cycle time is as short as it can be. It does not bother me to have a 6 hour cycle time. But if it takes 9 hours to produce the same amount of product due to unoptimized tool paths, then that is wasted time that should be going to the next run of products. The X Carve is just tool for me to use for production. Trimming my cycle times is just a way to get more production on each mill. Everything that helps with that like job specific end mills, chip clearance systems, advanced controller and DSP stepper drivers… These are all just tools that help the XC work faster and produce a better end product.


@Travelphotog & @EricDobroveanu: Hi Matt and Eric, Can I ask for a little advice? I’m trying to replicate (partially) your setup with the Planet Mk3/4 and MX3660, but so far zero motion. I have an idea I’m missing something simple.

  • comms between the computer and the Mk3/4 seem OK (limits work, LEDs flash, etc)
  • comms between the Mk3/4 and the MX3660 should be taken care of by a DB25 connector also from Planet CNC (pinouts all seem to match up with what the MX3660 requires)
  • There is power to the motors from the MX3660 (at least holding torque is applied - so far no motion).

Any ideas?
Can you give me any insight into your connections between the Mk3 and the stepper driver?


I would look at the software side of the Planet CNC software. The enable setting for the drivers might need to be checked and make sure it is set right. I honestly do not have any experience with the DB25 connectors as I went with the single drivers for each axis on my mills which were direct connect instead of the DB25 connection. Hvae you checked their forum yet? This is the closest thing I could find a fast search there… But it is not a 100% match to your issue. I am not sure if Eric has a better idea as I think he MIGHT have looked at the MX3660 more than I did.

For me I just followed the connection guide in the DM442 driver manual to connect the MK3 and the MK3/4 to the for my mills. Aside from a few jumpers needed on the drivers, it was a simple hookup for me. Maybe Eric as a different setup.

Sorry I am not too much help in this one, never used a DB25 before.
If you post in their forum at Planet CNC thought they WILL work with you to fix the issue and that is thing I really like about them. They really care about their controllers and customers.


Hey @SimonCoupe

I use a MX3660 connected to my LinuxCNC computer’s DB25 port. I don’t have any experience with the mk3/4, but it sounds like you might need to map the mk3/4’s db25 pins to match the MX3660 pins. PlanetCNC has software to configure that stuff, right?

I’m not sure it makes a whole lot of sense to use the planetcnc mk3/4 if you are using an MX3660, unless you have some niche requirements (more inputs, headless operation, usb, etc).

Hi Matthew (@Travelphotog) and Eric (@EricDobroveanu),
Thanks very much for your quick replies! Let me work on those ideas. I’m also waiting on a response from Planet CNC, and we’ll see where I get to.

Did you 3D print the mounts for your spindle (also the mount for your air tubing)?

If so, do you have print files for them available?

Vacuum attachment plate R2.STL (145.7 KB)
Vacuum spindle caps .5 loc linew.STL (501.1 KB)
Vacuum caps r2.STL (533.1 KB)
Those should get you started. Uses a small bolt to clamp to the 65mm spindle. It is VERY close clearance on the Z axis top plate so make sure it is either below it at max travel or lined up correctly. I keep mine so it line up perfectly when the z axis is zeroed out by the limit switch. This was designed for the Loc Line kit with 2 sizes of loc line in it from Amazon listed above. The hose adapter and the air tubing to loc line adapters need to be printed with supports. I use simplify3d and the Rostock Max V2, so YMMV. This was designed for use with the fan listed above and with CPAP hoses. One end of the CPAP hose will need to be trimmed down a bit to fit into the adapter for the airline hoses, this was done to reduce overall height of the part and speed print times. Message me if you need help with this part, but it is pretty easy to understand once you have the parts printed.

Thank you! I am finishing up building my 3D printer so I won’t get to print these for a while. But I have downloaded them. :slight_smile:

Anytime! Let me know if you have any other questions and I will try to help out as best I can.

Have you found a good source for brass? Online metals is ridiculous. I just sent Rose Metals an inquiry but they do not list it on their site. Just curious.

What sort of feed rate do you use for this work, sorry if I missed it in the text, thanks

Wow, now that is handy! I have very little interest in machining aluminum on my X-Carve at this point… but Destiny offers a two-flute, uncoated Viper end mill in 1" length of cut and 1/8" diameter! That’s something I’ve been trying to find for quite a while! That will let me make my production parts in a single run, instead of having to change out for a quarter-inch cutter for the profile through the 3/4" thick walnut.

Thanks for the heads-up, man!

Now, I just need to find a source!

I have been too impatient with my cutting speeds. I can cut out some nice parts at about 30 inches per minute, but I will probably be slowing that down quite a bit after reading some of these posts.

If you are talking about aluminum milling, these posts are very old. 30" per min should be minimum for good aluminum milling with a 2 flute bit. Much faster for a three flute.

Earwigger, is this true even with an unmodified X-Carve? I have a 1000mm rail model that I bought from a friend and have been contemplating doing some aluminum milling with it. It is the “twin x rail” variety.