It's finally Autumn! I'm fairly busy in the shop, working time is 2 weeks prior to ship.
It's finally Autumn! I'm fairly busy in the shop, working time is 2 weeks prior to ship.
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CNC upgrades in work!


I finished my CNC machine about 2 years ago after spending about 8 months researching, sourcing, and finally building it.  There was so much to do and so much to learn that I finished it to the point where it would move and cut and be reasonably accurate, but nothing past that point.
     I then immediately went into learning to use it, preliminary product design, and then eventually production.  This meant that the machine was just good enough to work, but had many potential upgrades and refinements needed. 
     Fast forward to today.  I’m working full-time in the shop and cutting parts every day.  The flaws in the machine are more evident and the upgrades I need have started to gnaw at me. So I’m slowly picking through them on the weekends.  Here’s the list.

1. Squareness tweaking.  The gantry isn’t quite square, and I’ve done some adjustments to make it better, but it would use an additional switch which would identify when the gantry was at square.  I’ll put two switches, one on each side of the gantry, when it backs up at the beginning of the day it will hit the switches and automatically square itself.

2. Linear rail guard.  Right now all of the little sawdust falls on the linear rails when a program is running.  Also I lean against them while working on the table and both of these things cause the lubricant to slowly be absorbed and the gantry begins to eventually chirp because it’s heavy and the oil is all gone from the track.  If I add some guards above the rails then the sawdust will fall past the rails and they will retain all of their oily goodness much longer. 

3. Properly mount the emergency stop button.  Right now the e-stop is sitting on top of one of the control boxes.  It works, and I occasionally have to use it, such as yesterday when I didn’t secure the bit tightly enough and throughout the program is slowly slide lower and lower until it was cutting into the spoil board and parts were moving and it was a total mess.  I hit the button and it all stopped, but it would have been nicer if the button were placed in a convenient spot, not just lazily on top of the controller.

4. Fix the Z axis inaccuracy.  This is a really hard problem which still plagues me.  Something is causing the Z axis to rotate the tiniest amount, and this translates to inaccurate Y axis travel.  I’ve adjusted via software the calculations so minimize the effect, but still it bothers me that it’s not right.  The Y axis is currently about 1/32” off at the worst point.  This isn’t much, but it still results in an imperfect fit for some parts.

So that’s the list.  I’m slowly working on them on the weekends with the goal of always getting the machine back to running by the weekdays when I need it.  Since the machine’s performance is integral to my work getting it working perfectly is a top priority for me.

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