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  #1  
Old Sat 04 February 2012, 09:00
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Advice on edge quality

Hi all,

- first of all apologies if this is not allowed here/the right place, but because I am looking for experienced Mechmate users, I found this location the most appropriate -

Intro:
I have been lurking on this forums for some years now, but now the time has finally come to make to become very serious about building ( a move of house and business, kids, work, as well as building some other machines (like a 1m3 rotation molder) got in the way the past years, and I would need to move quick before other obstacles move in. I have a reasonable metal workshop at hand, can weld mig/tig in house, and have various laser cutters I work with on regular basis, so my ambitious aim is to design, build test and have production running within 6 months.)

Subject:
Yes, I think I have read during those years almost every thread and also did a search of the forums before posting. - I did find a short thread on settings/materials -

The Mechmate is great ( thank you Gerald for letting us in on your plans) and the forum is a great source of info.

But I really feel, to help future builders in their decision making ( I am one), and also to help existing Mechmate users in improving their settings/machines, we could do with a thread like the format proposed below.

My personal motivation for this: I would like to be able to judge beforehand if the Mechmate can actually achieve the cut quality I am after in plastics ( acrylic and polycarbonate ), to be able to judge what specs I need to build, and how fast the Mechmate will be able to return it's investment. I currently spend (inc materials) about 75-100.000 euros a year on cnc milling in these materials with third parties (using very expensive Multicam machines), and I would like to move this partly in house - maybe even completely overtime if we can compete in quality/performance-.

For this very reason I also intend to visit some mechmate buiders, but as far as i know there is no finished Mechmate in the Netherlands yet. I am now in PM contact with Hans (building) and Bart ( belgium, build machine).

So an open invite to experienced mechmate users to post in 1 post below:

1) MATERIAL:
insert short description of the material, ( for instance "transparent polycarbonate")

2) MACHINE SPECS:
insert machine specs; only where important/different from standard plans. ( for instance; with 7.2 Gearbox solution )

3) CUTTING BIT:
insert cutting bit ( for instance: carbide flute )

4) CUTTING PARAMETERS:
imsert cutting parameter (for instance: 500 ipm / 10.000 rpm)

5) PICTURES:
Very important; proof of the pudding: a few good sharp pictures of edge quality shot with a stable camera in close up from different angles ( tip: use the macro setting the 'tulip' icon on your camera )

I feel if all are willing, and the participating stick to the format above and keep the info short and on topic, it could grow into a very precious reference/thread, both for newbies and experienced users.

And... most of all a living testimony to Geralds design and the quailty it can produce !

Greeting to you all !
Sander (Netherland)
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  #2  
Old Sat 04 February 2012, 16:59
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
Fox,

You are welcome to come for a visit to FL and I will be happy to show you my machine. I have not had any visitors from your part of the world.
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  #3  
Old Sat 04 February 2012, 19:32
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
...and I will stop by and chat too. Albeit, I don't have a machine to show off like Nils at the moment. I am quietly working on a new MM slowing the corner of my shop.

Hopefully I'll be in town when you all come by.

Sean
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  #4  
Old Sat 04 February 2012, 20:45
KenC
Just call me: Ken
 
Klang
Malaysia
Fox, Like you, I wanted to have more details on this subject before I started my built & still do.
Unfortunately, there are no straight answer to it as there are just too many variables to it .... some examples are spindle/router power & construction, bit size, flute type, number of flute, even the bit maker, bit material...
The only way to find the answers is in the dust making...
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  #5  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 08:08
TechGladiator
Just call me: Miguel #94
 
Randolph, NJ
United States of America
@Fox; I agree with Ken, there are just too many variables. I also think your workmanship has a lot to do with the quality of the cuts on the machine. When building the machine you can chose to build it "Just good enough" for the cuts you want to do OR build it as perfect as possible. I think you should take a look at some of the videos on YouTube of jobs being done with the MechMate and you will find they are pretty comparable to other CNC machines. I cant speak from experience yet as I have not created dust (hopefully within a week) but from what I have seen and read it can pretty much cut just about anything with great detail.
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  #6  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 10:10
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
I was already a bit afraid/calculated I (as newby) would get these kind of 'discouraging' answers ;-) .... (like I said I read the forum almost completely and saw this happen before)

@ Saifl/SMS; send me over the E-ticket and i will chat with you till your ears burn.... for compensation I'll bring the Heineken.

@ Kenc and TechG; I can understand where you are coming from but I respectfully disagree, if you mention these 'specifics' ( point 1234) it should be catched.

Positive minded as I am...I do still hope some of the Mechmate users will look back at when they started... or even back to last week when they needed to cut a new material.... and agree with me that so much that they make an opening post as proposed.... so we can all learn from each other .... As I am eager to learn from everybody that has knowledge and experience to share !

But maybe I'm stupid to think so, and everybody feels happy about re-inventing the wheel over and over again. Although that makes me wonder .... why you all started with Geralds drawings and advice then when building your own CNC routers ?
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  #7  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 15:16
TechGladiator
Just call me: Miguel #94
 
Randolph, NJ
United States of America
Fox;

I am trying to figure out which part of our answers are discouraging. Everybody's use of the machine is somewhat different. So what may be acceptable for one person may not be acceptable for another. I also have read the forums for the past 6-8 months and there are people cutting cabinets, signs, surf boards and even PCB Boards. There is no "MAGIC" answer to what you are looking for. I would tend to think that somebody cutting PCB Boards will look more for accuracy than somebody cutting cabinets. And somebody carving doors would look for more speed than somebody cutting PCB boards.

There is a lot of great people that post on this forums. One thing that I read over and over again is that there is enough information here to let you make your own decision. You can pick at least 3-4 different types of belt reduction, different routers or spindles, bits, speed, material, etc etc etc.

From your posting you asked "
Quote:
My personal motivation for this: I would like to be able to judge beforehand if the Mechmate can actually achieve the cut quality I am after in plastics ( acrylic and polycarbonate )
and from what I have seen and read it can do that without skipping a beat. I have seen people cut 1/4" aluminum with success.

The machine I am building will be used mainly to cut PVC and polycarbonate forms and from what I have seen it will be no problem.

Just my .00002 cents.
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  #8  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 15:57
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fox View Post
But maybe I'm stupid to think so, and everybody feels happy about re-inventing the wheel over and over again. Although that makes me wonder .... why you all started with Geralds drawings and advice then when building your own CNC routers ?
Over 150 people have built a Mechmate (or some variation of).

Gerald's design is a proven performer. If you want a way to get a $30,000 machine for $5,000 - Gerald has shown you the way.

If you want a machine that you can fix without waiting for a $200 a hour technician (you built it, you can certainly fix it) - Gerald has shown you the way.

If you want a homemade machine that you can actually sell at some point for more than you paid for it (most homemade machines sell for less than the sum of their parts) - Gerald has shown you the way.

If you want a machine with lots of online support (sometimes outright hand holding) and a forum where trolls are gleefully deleted- Gerald has shown you the way.

Why would anyone change his design? Some people may live in a part of the world that only has different size materials available. Some people may have 2 big I-beams sitting behind the garage they want to use. Some may have lin rails or ball screws that they stripped from a scrap machine at work. Gerald's design is flexible enough to allow much wheel re-inventing.
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  #9  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 16:30
danilom
Just call me: Danilo #64
 
Novi Sad
Serbia
material: 3mm transparent orange poly-carbonate (cast not extruded) plexiglass-klirit
machine: deitech motors with 3:1 belt reduction
cutting bit: carbide straight two flute bit 4mm
cutting parameters: 2mm DOC, 50ipm, 12000RPM

picture (mind the countersunk holes they did not came out really nice but it was not important)



p.s. this whole guitar including neck, body and fret board have been made on my cnc for a friend

if you need info on some other materials feel free to ask for pictures and info.
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  #10  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 17:33
TechGladiator
Just call me: Miguel #94
 
Randolph, NJ
United States of America
Very well said James. You bring up a good point, that is about fixing the machine. If you build you own machine then you can certainly fix it. And yes, Gerald has made the plans customisable enough to meet your own needs.
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  #11  
Old Sun 05 February 2012, 23:50
KenC
Just call me: Ken
 
Klang
Malaysia
Fox, I apologise if there are anyway my post discourages you.

My intention is to get make you quit sweating on small stuff.

I agree with Miguel that there are no Magic answer to your question. but if you can build a MM, you are the MAGIC answer.
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  #12  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 01:04
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Thank you Danilom ! That's exactly the kind of example I was looking for. Do you have a close up of the side of the material, showing the cut quality a bit better ?

@ all others, thank you for your input. I certainly understand what you are all trying to say, I fact most of the points you bring out are already on my list of points that say I should build the machine, but once again I'm just looking for some proof of the pudding /some refinement in my judgment of the capabilities of the Mechmate in regard to cut quality. I can also cut 1/4 inch aluminum with my hacksaw, or a grinder but that does not mean the cut quality is specifically nice

If you do not want to put the info out there for a newbie, or if you are afraid to share this valuable business with possible competitors info I also respect that, but I still hope you at least can understand my point of view.

I do not want to fill up this thread any further with a discussion on the usefulness of my request, everything has it pro's and con's and everybody has an opinion ( and we are all entitled to that). I hope to see some more people agree and contributing like Danilom. And if not, well at least we tried...

Who follows !?

Last edited by Fox; Mon 06 February 2012 at 01:07..
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  #13  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 03:46
danilom
Just call me: Danilo #64
 
Novi Sad
Serbia
There were some topics about chatter and cut quality in MDF, and I got posted somewhere these same pics but here are they again. I dont have the equipment (camera) good enough to capture the nice edge of acrylic but it looks nice, not like lasercut (clear) but nice, and all you need is to pass 2 times with fine sand and the edge clears nicely.


Material 19mm MDF
router bit: carbide straight 8mm
cut params: 9mm DOC, 15000RPM 120ipm





this was some guitar cutting

Material 47mm swamp ash
router bit: 10mm common straight router bit
cut params: 4mm DOC, 16000RPM 80ipm




if a man wants proofs here are they, but you should have been watching carefully the build threads as most of us posted lots of pictures of our work and I think that would be enough to judge the quality you can produce. If I find more edge quality pictures I took, they will be posted here.

I just remembered this one, posted in a thread about some birch plywood cracking.

Material: 15mm birch plywood (quality stuff)
router bit: upcut spiral carbide 4mm
cut params: 4mm DOC, 17000RPM 80ipm

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  #14  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 07:58
TechGladiator
Just call me: Miguel #94
 
Randolph, NJ
United States of America
Fox;

You can also search for additional pictures and information through the search button. There are plenty of examples there.

i.e.
http://www.mechmate.com/forums/showt...ures#post23561

and youtube
http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...+router&page=2

You can see machines cutting different materials there.

Good luck.
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  #15  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 10:57
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Hi Danilom,

thank you !
The acryilic edge quality you mention, is it roughly like a fine sandblasted finish ? Meaning kinda-milky-transparant ? - I will post some pictures of the quality we usually get right now when outsourcing tomorrow ( no camera at hand right now ) which look kindof that-. We actually do not want a mirror finish edge finish ( for that we use lasercutting ) in most our uses, but you could do that with flame polishing if you have to mill/want to mill. But it is important to us it's a regular smooth edge finish, without chatter.


@techgladiator great ! I had not figured out this forum had a search function yet. No kidding; those links are helpful but I already found them. Thank you never the less for taking the effort. !
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  #16  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 11:12
danilom
Just call me: Danilo #64
 
Novi Sad
Serbia
regular smooth edge yes looks like sandblast, its got nothing to do with machine, you just need a nice controllable spindle (VFD) and a nice sharp bit, any cnc will do it, as long as you don't melt the acrylic, remember use cast not extruded.
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  #17  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 11:29
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Most guys start off getting chatter. It takes quite a bit of experience and tuning to get rid of the chatter. Some guys make the decision that they are not going bother to get rid of the chatter and just use some sandpaper. Others end up with very good finishes straight off the machine. There is no single clear answer to your questions.
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  #18  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 15:33
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Hey Gerald !

thanks for the comment ! How are you coping with 'retirement' ... I guess working really hard in the offline life ? You heard this before but thank you for sharing all this with us. I think I will join the club shortly. For me personally I will do mostly if not only acrylics and polycarbonate with the mechmate if I build one. The shapes we make are decorative/elaborate twisties, so sanding or any edge finishing is not an option for us, it needs to be right straight of the machine. I think mdf is a little bit more forgiving in that area anyway then plastics, as they tend to show more detail then mdf, plus most mdf parts need finishing anyways.

I know your business cuts mostly wood, but do you have any handson experience with producing larger runs in plastics, as I think you are by far the longest mechmate user ?!

ps. maybe I should not have posted my personal motivation for the request, as it tends to get overly focussed on the cut the plastic part right now, not my intention at all. Just thought it would be nice to share eacht others experience focussed in one thread... I proposed the strict format, cause these threads otherwhise quickly get out of hand, but it kinda backfired on me on that one
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  #19  
Old Mon 06 February 2012, 15:39
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
Fox,

Do you flame polish your plastic edges, or leave them frosted?
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  #20  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 02:00
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Hi WTI;

We leave them frosted, as we like that finish / we are after that effect, flame polishing just as hand sanding would take too much human time...(with human errors)

I would advise laser cutting the parts if you're after a clear edge look on a industrial scale production runs. For just one part or so on your Mechmate it's a different story of course, if you can I would flame polish the parts ( look it up on youtube there some clear instruction vids example on that).
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  #21  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 02:07
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
I used to build aquariums and we would always flame polish the edges - fast way to a great edge finish.
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  #22  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 04:03
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
WTI, for straight edges it works pretty quick, but ever tried to do a 1000 pcs of let's say a floral figurine with inside and outside edges with the flame polishing? Get's old pretty quick
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  #23  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 04:40
Surfcnc
Just call me: Ross #74
 
Queensland
Australia
Hi Fox

A careful search in the forum will show some further finish quality pics but not with the depth of information you have asked for.
The variables are so many including bits, speed, drivers, tuning, motors, motor reductions, programming and tool pathing skills etc.

In my limited experience I have put every material I could think off under the Mechmate gantry and cut it up.
In the final analysis the machine is very competent and generally the slower and shallower you go the better the cut gets.

As I have said previously on other posts my inclination is to always let the machine do the work.
I would say that any of the mechmates with the 4 to 1 belt drive reductions that have been built well are capable of quite stunning finish quality.
My direct drive machine with digital stepper drivers frequently amazes me given its lack of the belt reductions.

There is a point where if you wanted to go into a production situation (I am definitely not in this category) it will be encumbant upon you to run your own tests.
It is pretty important to note that not everyone might be inclined to share their tips and tricks once they have invested so much time and effort in their own solutions.

The obvious exception to this is Gerald who has developed and shared his plans for others to use !!

Regards
Ross

Last edited by Surfcnc; Tue 07 February 2012 at 04:58.. Reason: Spelling
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  #24  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 08:10
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Hi Ross,

Quote:
A careful search in the forum will show some further finish quality pics but not with the depth of information you have asked for.
The variables are so many including bits, speed, drivers, tuning, motors, motor reductions, programming and tool pathing skills etc.
point taken, but see my previous answers to this argument.

Quote:
There is a point where if you wanted to go into a production situation (I am definitely not in this category) it will be encumbant upon you to run your own tests.
It is pretty important to note that not everyone might be inclined to share their tips and tricks once they have invested so much time and effort in their own solutions.

The obvious exception to this is Gerald who has developed and shared his plans for others to use !
I of course would like to avoid building a machine and then start to rebuild it to suit my needs. Detail refinement ok ( I do that even with bought machinery ) but I would like to gather as much info as I can get before building it, so its already tuned for its intend. Build time should also be counted as costs imo, when it's not just a hobby machine. And for me a big decision maker is cut quality in various materials.

And Gerald..... he rules big time for sharing his design and knowledge and support even to this date... I can only hope I would have done the same in his position, as it means a proper good hearth and in the right place imo. I respect that ! I think of a 100 people at least 75 would have tried to get money for their idea instead of genrously open sourcing it and offer support.

After building my own I hope to revive this thread the way I envisioned by posting my cutting data on various materials.
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  #25  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 09:32
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Give credit to Mike Metalhead as well....for taking over this website when I was ready to pull the plug on it. Without him, this forum wouldn't be on your screen now.
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  #26  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 13:32
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Hi Gerald; credit where credit due indeed; thanks Mike for keeping this valuable forum alive.
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  #27  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 13:47
Fox
Just call me: Fox
 
Amsterdam
Netherlands
Some images I made today of our parts edge quality when we outsource, of course I don't know most of the specs, but I kept the format anyway.
Some examples of different suppliers we tried/tested in the past.

1) MATERIAL:
transparent acrylic, transparent polycarbonate

2) MACHINE SPECS:
Multicam biggest and various other 'professional' brands

3) CUTTING BIT:
Unaware

4) CUTTING PARAMETERS:
Varying ( I think the worst job we got is because they increased the speed to offer more competitive prices [or make more money], but quality suffered )

5) PICTURES:

Good quality edges ( perfect for us .. a good even dull edge / in what we are looking for )



Medium quality edges ( at bottom of what we accept you can see chatter coming in )



Bad quality cut ( not acceptable for us, too course, you can really see a wavy pattern from far away, and definitively feel it when you slide your finger along it ).





Can we get the 'top' quality at reasonable production speeds from the basic Mechmate version (but with a spindle and gear reduction ), or do we need to make further improvements/alterations for that ?
If not will medium quality be achievable at reasonable speeds ?

Reasonable production speeds explained; one part has an edge length of over 4 meters, cause it's all decorative curvy lines ( not straight at all ).
We can't have it cutting at such slow speeds that for instance we make one part in half an hour, just to make decent cut quality possible.
Our suppliers cut such a part within a few minutes an in one go ( 6 to 8 mm thickness) and achieve the cut quality we want.

Last edited by Fox; Tue 07 February 2012 at 14:12..
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  #28  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 21:45
KenC
Just call me: Ken
 
Klang
Malaysia
What is your cutting setting?
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  #29  
Old Tue 07 February 2012, 23:48
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
We can get a chatterless cut fairly easily when going in a straight line parallel to X or parallel to Y. Going around curves is when the chatter problems show up. There are many theories on what causes this - mostly to do with the controllers ability to smoothly feed two axes of information to two motors instead of just one motor.

But, quite frankly, I think you will not be happy with the cut quality that you are going to get - you just seem to be that type of person.
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  #30  
Old Wed 08 February 2012, 00:50
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerald d View Post

but, quite frankly, i think you will not be happy with the cut quality that you are going to get - you just seem to be that type of person.
lol
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