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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 04-19-2018, 03:39 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by mman1506 View Post
While I'm a huge fan of CNC machines something I always try to stress strongly is without the CAD, CAM and machining knowledge a CNC isn't much more useful than no CNC. I can't even count how many CNC machines I've seen sitting dormant in High Schools because no one knows how to operate them. They aren't magic metal printers.

I'd highly recommend that you first try to reach out to local waterjet, HD plasma and laser cutting places in your area for sponsorship. Mississauga has a ton of shops with these sort of services. Don't just look for shops that are tailored to custom work either, often times custom racking, signage or even headstone manufacturers have in house manufacturing suitable for a frc team.

My high school team, 865 in Toronto has one of the most well equipped shop of any FRC team. A huge beefy 5'x5' CNC router, a CNC mill, CNC plasma cutter, Two Motoman Arms, 2 CNC lathes, 2 other less beefy CNC routers, 8 Mills, 12 lathes.... Even still they get the majority of the robot manufactured by 2D sheet metal sponsors. There's plenty to do in the FRC season and it's just not efficient to manufacture everything themselves. They're relatively close to your team and even in their first year searching they were able to find 4 different companies who came on board as manufacturing sponsors.

Another awesome advantage of a sponsor is they will often supply you with materials for far less than what you normally pay or even for free.
While I somewhat agree, the primary use case here is manufacturing in house to speed up effective prototyping. It is easier for my sponsor to churn out final parts, but would most likely much faster for me to cut quick wood or plastic parts in house for prototyping, as well as quick gussets for post-build upgrades and whatnot.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 03:51 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by MrCamilleri View Post
I want to hear any good advice and I'm open to new ideas. How did you decide to go with a laser instead of a router?

What do drill presses have to do with it? Are lasers not able to cut out accurate holes? Small holes?

This will be used in a public school in Ontario.
The drill press comment was because hobby laser cutter cannot cut aluminum but can mark it we use a cross hair pattern to mark where to do holes then step drill bit. Other than that we use 1/4 delrin and wood.
We also will be getting the rotary attachment and using to fundraise allowing us to customize aluminum water bottles and glassware for weddings.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 03:55 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by Andrew_L View Post
Yo bud, what laser cutter did you get, and what would you recommend?
It's not a full "hobby" cutter from their line but it still meets the criteria for a hobby cutter
https://fslaser.com/Product/Pro2416
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Unread 04-19-2018, 04:03 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by RoboAlum View Post
It's not a full "hobby" cutter from their line but it still meets the criteria for a hobby cutter
https://fslaser.com/Product/Pro2416
$8,000 is pretty steep for not being able to cut aluminum.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 04:13 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by Akash Rastogi View Post
While I somewhat agree, the primary use case here is manufacturing in house to speed up effective prototyping. It is easier for my sponsor to churn out final parts, but would most likely much faster for me to cut quick wood or plastic parts in house for prototyping, as well as quick gussets for post-build upgrades and whatnot.
It is but it's also fairly easy to do without. Every team I've been on has had ample CNC manufacturing resources and we've always done the large majority of our prototyping without them. This specific team has a number of team's nearby them that I'm sure would be happy to assist them if they need just a few quick things made (1241, 865, 5406).

My point is that it's quite difficult for a relatively low resource team to not only learn CAD, design for manufacturing and advanced construction techniques but also CNC machining and CAM. Even if you do get a CNC don't expect to make your entire robot with it in your first build season.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 04:18 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

Maybe not any cheaper than a router, but I'll vouch for the fact that a laser cutter is *way* faster and easier for prototyping than a router. Without any tool paths or work holding to worry about, I can train a student to make and cut a dxf in about an hour, the cuts take only minutes, and the cleanup is minimal

1/4" baltic birch is a really good, cheap substitute for lexan when prototyping intakes and such. OTOH, it doesn't have the strength and ductility to live up to the most critical FRC applications (except maybe a belly pan), so you'd be looking for a CNC router or a fabrication sponsor to turn the design into metal or lexan. (We haven't tried Acetal yet).

Good air-assist and ventilation is a bit of a challenge though (we use the included fan, and a 6" booster and it's still not enough to completely eliminate smokey odour in the shop - we're working on it).

Last edited by nuclearnerd : 04-19-2018 at 04:24 PM.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 04:27 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by nuclearnerd View Post
Maybe not any cheaper than a router, but I'll vouch for the fact that a laser cutter is *way* faster and easier for prototyping than a router. Without any tool paths or work holding to worry about, I can train a student to make and cut a dxf in about an hour, and the cuts take only minutes.

1/4" baltic birch is a really good substitute for lexan when prototyping intakes and such. OTOH, it isn't up to the most critical FRC applications (except maybe a belly pan), so you'd be looking for a CNC router or a fabrication sponsor to turn the design into metal or lexan. (We haven't tried Acetal yet).

Good air-assist and ventilation is a bit of a challenge though (we use the included fan, and a 6" booster and it's still not enough to completely eliminate smokey odour in the lab - we're working on it).
We get this a lot actually that the materials don't seem FRC field suitable but delrin wood both handle deflection really well allowing parts to bend but not break where as metal pieces once bent take time to bend back into place. Also yes cut times way faster we can cut a 20"x12" sheet of delrin in 7-10 minutes that usually produces two gearboxes for us. Plastics and wood also way cheaper than aluminum allowing us to cut multiple backups if problems arise at competition. We still use metal but it's usually versa frame so our main frame is metal but everything else usually ends up being plastic or wood.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 04:35 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by Cothron Theiss View Post
$8,000 is pretty steep for not being able to cut aluminum.
The hobbyist one is 3500 which is still alot

https://fslaser.com/Product/Hobby

But for us it works we do gearboxes intake arms bellypans sponsor boards and mark our aluminum for the drill press
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Unread 04-19-2018, 04:45 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by Cothron Theiss View Post
$8,000 is pretty steep for not being able to cut aluminum.
Aluminum laser cutters are in the hundreds of thousands to millions.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 05:35 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by MrCamilleri View Post
Thanks for your suggestion, Jacob. Have you used this personally? How does the rigidity compare to something made out of aluminum?
While I haven't used one personally. I have heard good things from a few friends who have had them. The rigidity does not compare to aluminum in any way shape or form. But, in my eyes if you are expecting to cut plywood and poly-carbonate on it then you will get great results without having to sacrifice table to drive the price down.

I plan on buying one for the exact same reason you are, for prototyping some of my own projects. From what I have read, you can hold decent enough tolerances to be able to pocket for bearings which is about the extent that I will need it for. Just be aware that your tool load definitely has to be lower than an aluminum router and that Z-plunges will be slow to prevent deflection.

Another perk is that you can use it to manufacture cheap spares of the parts on it that you think might fail over time.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 06:49 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by mman1506 View Post
While I'm a huge fan of CNC machines something I always try to stress strongly is without the CAD, CAM and machining knowledge a CNC isn't much more useful than no CNC. I can't even count how many CNC machines I've seen sitting dormant in High Schools because no one knows how to operate them. They aren't magic metal printers.

I'd highly recommend that you first try to reach out to local waterjet, HD plasma and laser cutting places in your area for sponsorship. Mississauga has a ton of shops with these sort of services. Don't just look for shops that are tailored to custom work either, often times custom racking, signage or even headstone manufacturers have in house manufacturing suitable for a frc team.

My high school team, 865 in Toronto has one of the most well equipped shop of any FRC team. A huge beefy 5'x5' CNC router, a CNC mill, CNC plasma cutter, Two Motoman Arms, 2 CNC lathes, 2 other less beefy CNC routers, 8 Mills, 12 lathes.... Even still they get the majority of the robot manufactured by 2D sheet metal sponsors. There's plenty to do in the FRC season and it's just not efficient to manufacture everything themselves. They're relatively close to your team and even in their first year searching they were able to find 4 different companies who came on board as manufacturing sponsors.

Another awesome advantage of a sponsor is they will often supply you with materials for far less than what you normally pay or even for free.
I have literally spent years arguing with different mentors about the negative aspects of outsourcing. We have bitten by it so many times - suppliers just don't understand FRC timing even when they claim to be able to do it. You constantly hear "we'll throw it in between jobs no problem!" but when it comes down to it money comes before sponsorship every time.

This year was it. Our welding sponsor took 2 days longer to turn around than they should have, and the 2 chassis were wrong. We returned them so they could grind the welds and do them correctly - and they cut the welds with a bandsaw so everything was 1/8" under dimension. We lost 7 days this year (minimum) and ended up rebuilding 2 totally new chassis in a day using brackets and rivets. As a result we ended up meeting 6 days a week for the season, and we are ALL burned out.

Never again. Everything is in house - even if it means using a drill press rather than a waterjet.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 08:05 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

If you get a CNC, think production and not prototypes. 832 has one of those $12k machines and we cut 1/8" aluminum in a single pass at 30 IPM. As long as you have a robust CAD team you will do fine. Eliminating the issue of difficult fabrication has made a world of difference.

I built at home a Kronos KRMx02 for under $5k and it also cuts 1/8" aluminum in a single pass at about 20 IPM. It uses a Hitachi router to spin the bit.

There comes a size below which aluminum gets tricky, but wood, polycarb and foam are always OK. I cut 1/2" plywood in a single pass at 72 IPM at home.
===
When cutting aluminum, we use an upcut bit. This pulls the aluminum up off the table. Since we're cutting full depth - the bit far prefers to work like that - it isn't that critical if it lifts a little. That being said: Our first pass is to put 1/4" holes in 'scrap' or where we actually need a hole. We stop, put in screws (maybe a dozen or more) and then proceed with the cut.
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Unread 04-19-2018, 08:13 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
I was going to send this via PM, but since others have initiated this discussion, I figure it's a topic of public interest.

What sizes/types of parts did you cut with your OmioX8? Have you done much tubing work on the Omio? If so, how long and what type of fixtures did you use? Did you cut both sides of the tubing without rotating the tubing, or was each side conducted as a separate operation?

While I figured the Omio would meet all of our needs for building gusset, brackets, gearbox plates, and other similar smaller parts, I also had the hope of doing our drivetrain rails (and possibly even bellypans) on a router as well. I was afraid that the smaller work volume may restrict our ability to make drivetrain parts in a single pass, and that the workholding and moving the fixtures may result in in center-to-center distance errors in bearing holes.

Usable work area of the Omio X8 is about 17" x 22". We did some tubing work on it as well. With a longer bit we can cut through both sides of the piece without flipping the part. We do one pass on top surface, then rezero and cut lower face. I am sure there is a way to do this with a single two step operation, but it was fast enough to run as 2 steps.

We can do rails of any length. We just cut in stages and index the work over to do the second half. We have a simple process to rezero to a reference point. We never really make big full belly pans like some teams. We always have an out to get waterjetting services to make big pieces, but I have not had anything too large for this machine yet or in the past 3 years of designs.
Sure, a bigger machine would be nice, but then I would need a larger place to put it. Our shop is pretty small

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Unread 04-20-2018, 12:16 AM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by Tom Line View Post
I have literally spent years arguing with different mentors about the negative aspects of outsourcing. We have bitten by it so many times - suppliers just don't understand FRC timing even when they claim to be able to do it. You constantly hear "we'll throw it in between jobs no problem!" but when it comes down to it money comes before sponsorship every time.
This definitely depends on your relationship with the shop, but delays like you pointed out really bit us this year. One of our new waterjet sponsors agreed to cut 40 small elevator bearing plates on the Friday of week 2 and said they would be done by the middle of week 3. After multiple delays, we didn't get the parts until the end of week 4. We probably would have finished both robots over a week earlier if we made the parts in house.

On the other hand, we made buddy climbing forks for Detroit, but for those I called a different shop. I walked in with aluminum sheet and out 45 minutes later with the cut parts. If I didn't find a shop that could cut them same day, we would have made them in house.
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Unread 04-20-2018, 01:30 PM
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Re: CNC router for prototypes

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Originally Posted by nuclearnerd View Post
Good air-assist and ventilation is a bit of a challenge though (we use the included fan, and a 6" booster and it's still not enough to completely eliminate smokey odour in the shop - we're working on it).
I hadn't put much thought into a laser. What would the school board require of you in terms of ventilation and health/safety? As well, what materials can you cut with a laser and what materials are considered too poisonous for a school?
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