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liaoh75 Tue 24 June 2008 19:02

Experimenting with options for vacuum clamping - Taibao, Taiwan
Hi Gerald and all Mechmate builders, I have been lurking around here for a long time watching and learning over the last several months and have finally decided to jump in and begin my build. I am an American Citizen (of Asian descent) working in Taiwan long term. I think I have it easier than a fair number of fellow builders as this country is quite the manufacturing haven. I have access to all kinds of things here. I hope to build the CNC router I've always wanted. I have to say that I wouldn't even attempt this if it wasn't for the helpful people on this forum who contribute selflessly. I'll be building on the conservative side using mostly recommended components. After building some confidence, I'll tap into the vast resources here in terms of electronic components and the ability to Laser cut and machine steel. I hope to have fun, learn a lot, and hopefully contribute in some way to this great Mechmate community.

Greg J Tue 24 June 2008 19:24

Welcome David,

Just be for warned, this is addictive. :)

Oh, to be in Taiwan. I agree. It is a manufacturing haven. I wish to visit Taiwan and South Korea. South Korea's ship building industry is something I must witness.

Gerald D Tue 24 June 2008 20:38

Welcome David,

It is going to be useful to have an agent over there! :)

hennie Tue 24 June 2008 23:48

Welcome David,

Start dreaming your MechMate number!:)

domino11 Wed 25 June 2008 07:31

Welcome David!
Hope you enjoy your adventure here. :)

liaoh75 Wed 25 June 2008 20:43

Thank you all for the warm welcome. I'm in the process of acquiring steel components consisting of 7" (180mm X75mm @21kg/meter) channel and cross support chanels. I asked them about the 60 degree cuts but they don't have the right equipment to cut at an angle at the lowest price place in town. This would mean I would have to either cut the angles myself or take the 10 meter chanel to another place for cutting. Can anybody attest to the feasablity of trimming the angles (final length on my table size is 3070mm) myself with a good cutting disk on a handheld angle grinder? Any advice or words of wisdom would be appreciated as I've never worked with such a large hunk of steel before.

Kobus_Joubert Wed 25 June 2008 22:45

Hi David, I left my ends at 90 degrees. Firstly I was lazy/afraid to try and cut them myself, secondly IF...I plan to put some sort of indexer on the machine, I then already have a flat surface to fit the indexer onto. Just my 'logic' lazy thought. Good luck.

Gerald D Wed 25 June 2008 22:59

David, I don't know how you plan to to make your rails M1 10 1*0, but consider that lengths of channel makes a good work surface for clamping the rails onto.

The angles (both main beams and cross supports) are optional, purely for aesthetics.

Originally Posted by liaoh75 View Post
Can anybody attest to the feasablity of trimming the angles (final length on my table size is 3070mm) myself with a good cutting disk on a handheld angle grinder? Any advice or words of wisdom would be appreciated as I've never worked with such a large hunk of steel before.
Totally feasible if you have the patience and are allowed to make whining noise for a while :) Will ask somebody in my workshop to cut a beam like that today and to record the time and disk wear.

Gerald D Thu 26 June 2008 00:08

Trimmed a cross-support channel 76x38x6.7 that was already cut to length, with this disk. Took 43 seconds and 1.5mm off the diameter of the disk. (if that link does not work, it is a Würth, part# 0664131150)

liaoh75 Thu 26 June 2008 00:44

Wow, that was quick. I thought there would be at least a 24hr wait before someone would stumble upon my post earlier.

Because of the fact that these guys are the cheapest in town (by a pretty big margin), they have a large quantity of "standard" sizes but not a large variety of dimensions. They also force you to buy the full length of stock which is unfortunately 10 meters. (We are talking about the main chanels here.) My plan was to get two 3.07 meter pieces and that would leave me with one piece which would be almost 4 meters to clamp and cut my rails with. I will buy all my chanels from these guys. I'll have to buy my rails and other parts from somewhere else as they only sell chanel and flat bar but no angles or square or round tube. After re-reading my earlier post, I discovered that it wasn't very clear. Sorry about that. I was contemplating cutting the angles on the main chanels with the angle grinder. The cross supports are small enough (I think) where I can use my 14" chop saw which I purchased for this project .

Can you draw me a simple diagram of the placement of such an indexer? Have you put one on your machine yet and if so could you send me the link to the post with some pictures so I can better understand what this indexer thing is all about as I am very curious. I've read in many places about builders who plan to put one on their machines but haven't seen a picture of one yet.

Kobus_Joubert Thu 26 June 2008 02:05

David, try talking to Uncle Art ... .
Or search on this forum for should find some answers.
Still in the future for me.

Gerald D Thu 26 June 2008 02:41

Pictures of Indexers

Also wanted to cut a scrap of main beam with a small angle grinder as a test, but we don't have any here now. It should take about 5 minutes and one disk. Completely feasible. Part of the trick would be to cut only the web at 60 degrees, and cut the bottom flange at 90 degrees (The other flange remains 90 degrees as per your supplier's cut). Cutting the bottom flange at 90 degrees makes it easier to fit part 1010324

liaoh75 Thu 26 June 2008 10:29

Gerald, thank you for the link to "Pictures of Indexers". That was way cool. I think I'll put that on the back burner until I'm ready for that. My immediate challenge will be the kitchen table project and working with steel. I'll have a go with the cutting of the main chanel with the angle grinder. I'm heading into the laser cutting shop tomorrow morning to submit the DXF files for cutting. I have a friend comming back from a trip home (U.S) with the following goodies:

(4) PK296A2A SG7.2 Oriental Motors Steppers (man, are those steppers EXPENSIVE),
(4) Gecko G302V drivers (with a set of extra fuses as recommended on this forum),
"Mechmate Kit" from Superior Bearing including 14 vee wheels and 6 eccentrics,
35VDC 500 VA Power supply from Antek

In mid July, I will have two whole weeks to do nothing but work on this beast. I can't wait. In the mean time, I'll begin the "kitchen table" project and continue to get necessary parts.

liaoh75 Sat 16 August 2008 12:23

Almost there!!!
6 Attachment(s)
Hi Everyone, sorry about the long delay before getting back to posting something. I have included some pictures to show my progress. I know I have gone against the grain as far as the control box being mounted on the machine, but I think this is the best configuration for me. I will fit a large shopvac filter to the intake. I will be using 2 - 6 inch 220vac fans for ventilation. One fan will draw air into the control box and the other one on the other side will pull air out.

One strange thing - When I got my 20 tooth pinions, the guy I got them from didn't know much about what he was selling. Anyway, can someone identify this thing? It is 33 mm in diameter. I doesn't appear to be metric or U.S. inch stardard. Can anyone shed some light on this weird pinion?

If anyone see anything wrong with my build, please let me know. It's been a fun ride and I look forward to seeing this thing move. Comments and suggestions are greatly welcomed.

Alan_c Sat 16 August 2008 12:50

David - very nice, I like it, especially the intergrated control panel - keep us informed as to how well it works and if you experience any "problems". Very sturdy looking table.

Greg J Sat 16 August 2008 14:29


Nice work!!!!

It's interesting to see the different configurations.

Gerald D Sat 16 August 2008 15:03

A nice surprise David - very good work!

Before we guess which gear that is, how wide and tall is the rack?

Gerald D Sat 16 August 2008 15:05

That could be a metric module 1.5 with the rack being 17 x 17mm?

liaoh75 Sat 16 August 2008 17:24

Thanks Gerald, Alan, and Greg for the feedback and comments.

Gerald, the rack is measured at 16 X 16mm. The place I went to buy it specializes is making custom pullies (maybe custom belt drive?), pinions, gears, racks, and sprockets. They acutually have the equipment to cut a blank from round stock and make whatever gear you need on-site. However, I was surprised when the man told me that the pinion I wanted was a standard, but he didn't know anything else. Believe me, I was scratching my head on the way out with four pinions and eight 1-meter long pieces of rack.

liaoh75 Sat 16 August 2008 17:49

Just to give you guys a good laugh, I want to share a funny story. It wasn't funny at the time, but now I chuckle as I think about it. If you look carfully at picture 4, you can see the top of a large fan just above the Y-car. The fan was abandoned in a building where I work. I took it home and fixed it up and noticed that it was driven by a 1/2 horse power motor. When I turned it on, the fan was so strong it pushed itself on the wheels I mounted with wheel locks engaged. Well, that isn't the funny story but just background information so you will understand what happened. Here goes. I had not mounted the stops on the gantry yet when I turned on the super fan and walked away to get a clean rag from another room and heard a thunderous bang. I ran back to see what happened to find the gantry on the floor, two cracked section of cable chain, and a BENT Y-rail. I almost had a heart attack. With the gantry riding on the X-rails so smoothly, the fan had blown the gantry right off the table. I had to re-drill, cut, and grind the y-rails. Obviously, I had not put in the stops on the gantry yet but I couldn't believe the wind from a fan could move the 100 lb + gantry and y-car. Luckily, there wan't any other damage and the motors had not been installed at that time. Gerald, my hat's off to you for designing such a tank. No twist in the gantry or anything else outside of a scratched-up paint job. Sorry, if you don't think the story was funny but I am certainly laughing AFTER re-making the y-rails. That is why the Y-rails are not painted in the pictures.

Greg J Sat 16 August 2008 20:05


That is a good story. :) The best lessons and experiences come from the day to day work.

Gerald D Sat 16 August 2008 21:17

Hi David, that's a good story! :D

Your gear pitch is definitely metric module 1.5. In the spreadsheet (Gear Speed Steps Freq Calculator.xls) you downloaded, change Module Number to 1.5. It should work quite well.

hennie Sun 17 August 2008 00:45

I like that box mounted under the table, nice!

Robert M Sun 17 August 2008 04:33

Nice work David
Guess you must of sleep in the shop to make this happen so quickly :eek:
I can see why your laughing now that it is over, but my hart can only sympathize...:o
Thanks for sharing this
Robert ;)

javeria Sun 17 August 2008 05:08

WoW David, thats a nice build.

liaoh75 Wed 20 August 2008 20:07

Thanks for all the compliments guys. I will post more pictures as my build continues. I had two and a half weeks of vacation time where most of the work took place. I think I'll have to slow down a bit now because I gota go back to work now and only have weekend time and occasional early mornings and late evenings. Boy, has it been fun. I think I got the CNC itch some of you guys have been talking about. Definitely addictive!!

Gerald, thank you for the info on my rack and pinion numbers. Have I got the wrong rack and pinions? Should I go back to get "Module 1" instead of using Module 1.5. Will there be any difference in the performance. Will my machine run rougher?

Greg J Wed 20 August 2008 20:34

Originally Posted by liaoh75 View Post
only have weekend time and occasional early mornings and late evenings. Boy, has it been fun. I think I got the CNC itch some of you guys have been talking about. Definitely addictive!!

It only gets better. :D:D:D

Gerald D Wed 20 August 2008 20:51

David, I think your machine will run pretty well with that module 1.5 rack/pinion. Anything less than 20 teeth starts getting a bit rough.

Most of us are using around 30 teeth, and we then have the option to go to a smaller pinion for a finer/smoother cut (you don't have that option with the 1.5 module).

You are lucky in that you have the OM motors with the 7.2 gearboxes. If you had direct drive motors, that module 1.5 would not have worked.

You do have the benefit of a bigger/thicker/stronger/deeper gear tooth than the rest of us. In fact, I think you have a slightly better technical solution.

liaoh75 Thu 21 August 2008 08:49

Gerald, thanks for the input on my rack/pinion. I read up almost every day and I don't know how you run a business and answer everyone's questions so quickly.

liaoh75 Thu 18 September 2008 10:03

Been Cutting for two weeks!!
I've been so busy figuring out the CAM portion of this endeavor, I forgot to update my personal thread. I've been cutting away (mostly testing) using Vectric Vcarve trial and Cut3d trial versions. Gerald, would you please be so kind as to move my personal thread to Machines already cutting. I'll be posting some pics after I decide on which CAM application I will end up with. I'm cutting mostly rubbish at the moment but pretty amazing rubbish:D.

Right now, I'm very busy researching CAM stuff and Eastern Spindles. Man has it been a great ride. What a rush to think the average Joe Blow like me can build and run a CNC router. I used to think stuff like this was reserved for equipment from multi-million dollar companies. Thus far, I have to say the Mechmate has exceeded every expectation. It runs more smoothly than a commercial machine made in Taiwan I checked out on September 16, 2008. I am blown away. For those that are still hanging out wondering if it is really as good as people on this forum say it is, get started; you won't be sorry. The education you get from Gerald, the people on this forum, and the experience of doing it yourself is worth more than words can describe.

Alan_c Thu 18 September 2008 11:36

Hey hey hey! what's the secret, lets see some pics as proof :D I am interested to see the completed machine and how that electrical panel looks now that its working.

Greg J Thu 18 September 2008 20:53

Congrats David.

Pictures Please. :)

It is a beautiful design, don't you think. The college of MechMate. :cool:

liaoh75 Thu 18 September 2008 22:41

I'll post some pics over the Weekend. It's still not 100% complete. It is just "usable" at this stage for testing. Push buttons and limit stuff are not hooked up yet. I am going to be mounting the computer and monitor in a console attached to the machine itself. This will come later. This software and spindle stuff has my full undivided attention at the moment.

If you guys really want to see some of the amazing rubbish I've been cutting, I don't mind posting the pics but it's nothing to write home about.

javeria Fri 19 September 2008 00:47

rubbish is what we like - clean machines are regular! :)

liaoh75 Wed 24 September 2008 23:39

5 Attachment(s)
Ok, here are the pics I promised to post. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am far from finished so everything is not very organized and the wires are not very tidy at this point but I'm cutting away. I did not post pics of the computer stuff as that will be changing so that will be coming. I've got a custom made box on the way that is being fabricated as I am posting this.

I've got an idea for routing the dust hose and that will be coming also. I think I'll be borrowing an idea from a car wash. I'll explain that later when I post pics after it is finished.

I've been experimenting with all of the vectric demos and you may recognize a few of the items. I am in experimenting stage where I'm trying to determine what can be cut and with what cutting tools. I will also be posting the cutting bits I've been using. I am still playing with Ucancam and Type3 but find both to have a steep learning curve. I don't know if it's just me not being very CAM savy or the applications are not setup for the average Joe. However, I have to say that I'm leaning toward the Vectric products for their ease of use despite the higher price tag.

Has anyone used Type3 and if so how do you like it? The information I have is that it is from France and is highly respected but from my initial testing, I have to say that it is not very well documented and difficult to use thus far. Maybe I'll change my mind later. I'm using a borrowed security dongle for evaluation.

DMS Wed 24 September 2008 23:58

Really nice CB david. Good going.
How long, what tool and feed rate for Alu plate ?

javeria Thu 25 September 2008 02:59

David, I thought you were going to use the chinese spindle, is it still in your plan?

Gerald D Thu 25 September 2008 03:10

That is a neat location for the laser pointer

liaoh75 Thu 25 September 2008 06:50

Irfan, I AM going to use a Chinese Spindle. However, I had already bought a 3.25 HP Porter Cable production router motor, had it on hand, and couldn't wait so I designed a simple clamp and had it cut out of 12mm thick steel and mounted it to get some cutting action going. The time frame is about two to three weeks I hope. I got your address and will be going to check out the shipping rate to your location from here.

Sharma, the tool I used was a 6mm endmill for roughing and a 3mm ball nose for final but the 3mm ball nose was too short and I program it to run too fast so I gave up on it but will be repeating the same cut again using a 6mm ball nose for rough cut and 3mm extended ball nose for finishing pass going very very slowly. Part of the reason for giving up was the fact that I could not find a good way to clamp the piece down. No matter what I tried, the Big Blue Beast (as I have constantly see it refered to as) is so powerful that it just dug into the aluminium and moved the whole piece along with my crude clamping setup and messed up my 3mm ball nose in the process. Slow, Slow, Slow, as in 3-5 mm a second will be my next attempt. The rough was set at 10 mm a second with a 6mm endmill and that was even a little on the fast side. The aluminium is so soft and melts at such a low temperature, it gummed up the bit and I had to clean it off several times during the roughing pass. I hope I have answered your question.

javeria Thu 25 September 2008 08:43

Hi david thanks for your help! appreciate it. did you also check on what inverter (vfd) they are using?

certain grades of Alu are machinable at such high router RPM we have to select appropriate grade of Aluminium.

just my 2c.

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