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  #1  
Old Sat 24 October 2015, 08:13
DocG
Just call me: S
 
Minnetonka, MN
United States of America
Hello from Minnesota

Hello to all. I am new here, having just found this wonderful place. I stumbled across you when I was looking for information about VMCs.

I have no cnc experience, no experience with cad/cam or any of the other beautiful toys that machinists and designers use, but am determined that learning it is what I need for what I want to do. I do not know if it is possible for something like this to work for me, the learning curve looks steep, but there is a thing I want to do bad enough to try.

Bowls, wood bowls. They are an obsession with me. I love the form and the way it shows off the beauty of wood, but want to take it to a level not possible with hand tools. I have been looking at all sorts of machines to get it done but do not see quite what looks right.

VMCs are large and expensive, but clearly will work. The used ones within financial reach are old with outdated controls and programming, and the knowledge needed to run one looks daunting. The gantry table router systems do not have enough z-axis usually, but there are a lot of hobby type ones out there that look simple enough to manage.

Trying to sort through all this I turned to the internet where I eventually found a post by someone from this forum that said a person could make one of these with as much z as I could possibly want.

I wondered what you all might think of such an idea so here I am. I envision a 4'X4' machine with a rotary table in the center and a high heavy built gantry that would allow sufficient clearance and z-axis travel to make a really large bowl. Do you think an old moron with no cnc experience could manage such a thing?
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  #2  
Old Sat 24 October 2015, 10:07
servant74
Just call me: Jack
 
Nashville (Tennessee)
United States of America
Welcome!

Your design is doable, but possibly not using MM, at least not as you may have envisioned, still, don't let that stop you!

My suggestion is to read, read, and read the forums until you are sick of it, then come back and read some more. Once you think you have read all you can understand, think of your goals and can you wrap them and the MM Design together.

People have done lots of things over the years with the base MM design. Made a lathe that turns long columns, even a 20x8 or so for making large boat parts!

One thing you will probably need to boost your cnc experience, then my suggestion is to start with some 3D (or at least 2D) design of projects/parts you would like to build, even if you never do. There is software both open-source and paid at all various levels to do this. SolidWorks.com and various Vetric.com Aspire software on the high-end. Cambam.info is a low end but useful software. Even InkScape.org and other software is free.

Once you have absorbed that you will be in a better situation to determine what you are after. The software to design/build the machine and project you have in mind.

MM is generally built as a metal machine to cut wood, mainly sheet goods for various projects. This style of machine is especially liked in cabinet shops, and small manufacturing of wood products. It can cut, and does well, soft materials ( brass, plastic, aluminum, etc ). Some do use it to cut/carve marble and granite for special needs.

The Z-axis range can be pretty good, but 4 to 8 inches tend to be typical, but larger Z has been done.

I saw a really great picture of a large topographic layout (4x8' about 3' high) done by cutting 3/4" plywood in layers to lay up the topographic map (Actually that was done on a ShopBotTools.com machine, but in the same form factor as the MechMate).

I hope some of this helps. This forum is friendly, but it does focus on MechMate builds, and doesn't vary to far off track for other implementations. Not a warning or anything, just a note so you understand the focus of this forum.

BTW, a typical build of a MM is $4 to $10K US, depending on your scrounging abilities and the market in your area. ... That is a question that gets asked a lot <grin>.
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  #3  
Old Sat 24 October 2015, 12:40
DocG
Just call me: S
 
Minnetonka, MN
United States of America
Jack,

Thank you so much for your warm welcome and informative reply. So much to learn, I plan to do exactly as you suggest and read. There is a lot here to learn from.

S
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  #4  
Old Sat 24 October 2015, 18:58
IMMark
Just call me: Mark #119
 
Columbus Ohio
United States of America
Once you try, you'll have the experience!
Best of luck
Mark
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  #5  
Old Sat 24 October 2015, 19:43
lonestaral
Just call me: Al #114
 
Isarn
Thailand
Send a message via Skype™ to lonestaral
Welcome.
Read and read.

You could position a 4th axis under the table with manual height adjustment.
The bowl would protrude through the table.
The height could be adjusted to suit the diameter of the work.

Are there any schools or colleges near you that have courses in CNC / CAD / CAM.
Just some thoughts for you.
Good luck with your project
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  #6  
Old Sat 24 October 2015, 20:31
DocG
Just call me: S
 
Minnetonka, MN
United States of America
I should guess courses should be available here in Minneapolis. I will check. Good idea. It seems apparent that the machine is really the easy part. Learning how to run it looks like the biggest challenge. What should one learn first? CAD?
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  #7  
Old Sun 25 October 2015, 02:57
lonestaral
Just call me: Al #114
 
Isarn
Thailand
Send a message via Skype™ to lonestaral
CAD would be as good as any a place to start.
Any machine shops in your area that want part time operators ?
Depends how ' old a moron' you are, they might have some work and you might gain some knowledge.
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  #8  
Old Sun 25 October 2015, 06:56
DocG
Just call me: S
 
Minnetonka, MN
United States of America
Also a good idea, thanks for that Al. I have a friend that is a retired tool maker that is helping me learn some machining, and learning CAD seems like it might be a logical next step to where I want to go. I spent last evening looking into that. It is a big subject. Looks fun.
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  #9  
Old Mon 26 October 2015, 19:47
IMMark
Just call me: Mark #119
 
Columbus Ohio
United States of America
Aspire is a very popular software. If you search it on YouTube, there is a lot of tutorial videos (also on their website, I think). Might give you some good insight.
Mark
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  #10  
Old Mon 26 October 2015, 20:04
DocG
Just call me: S
 
Minnetonka, MN
United States of America
Thanks Mark. Aspire is one that has been recommended to me. I think it was Aspire 2 or something maybe. I remember it as being very expensive but supposed to be great for what I am wanting to do. I think they also have a cad/cam combo thing or something too. I am going to revisit that and see what it is all about.

Likely a gantry mill like this will not work so well for me, or at least that is how it looks right now. I am being pointed toward used vmcs and bed mills as being better for large hunks of wood. They would certainly have more rigidity, the cost is not that much different. Who knows. There is so much to learn starting from scratch, I am thoroughly confused.
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  #11  
Old Wed 28 October 2015, 05:25
MetalHead
Just call me: Mike
 
Columbiana AL
United States of America
Don't get stuck on spinning your work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueVUawshv3g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VezwXzvOWDg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ESgWASs9zQ

You can get a MechMate to do what you want to do!!
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  #12  
Old Wed 28 October 2015, 06:35
DocG
Just call me: S
 
Minnetonka, MN
United States of America
You may be right Mike. Would simplify workholding and allow shapes other than round too. Cool vids. I have been reading and reading. The more I read the more confused I get. It is to start from scratch, nothing I already know applies. The work I see being done is so unbearable cool though.....
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