Oneshop Redding Cutting Aluminum

After acquiring the aluminum stock and endmills to cut it, I need to figure out what feeds and speeds to start cutting the material to achieve a decent outcome.

I started with a flat plain cut to remove some of the access material and give it a smooth surface to begin my next operation. I didn't realize till I started cutting that the aluminum stock is not perfect perfectly flat on top, I added an extra 0.5mm to the top of the stock to clear it off in case it was imperfect, which worked out well.

I set it at 203mm/min (8in) and 0.5mm stepdown with a 1/4" 4 flute endmill. I can probably have more of a stepdown and even increase the speed, but I'm playing it safe for now. These bits are seriously expensive, and I don't want to ruin anything in my first go.

The outcome was not a huge success; the tool edges were a bit worn just slightly enough that it left some stock when it should have cut. The chip evacuation wasn't the greatest either, so I'm going to try using compressed air and silicone wd-40 lube to give it more of a chance. Overall though the places it did cut have a very nice finish to it, something about CNC cut aluminum feels so good, such a perfectly smooth top.

The sound of the machine didn't sound like I was hoping. So for the next cut, I'm going to lower the optimal load on the bit, which should decrease the size of the chips and have a smoother finish. While cutting the aluminum heated up quite a bit and got to the point where it was too hot to touch, I think the reason why it was heating up so much is because of chip evacuation; the chips couldn't get out fast enough and so were recut and started welding with the tool. The outcome was a very rough finish and a definite color change along with it being much sharper of a surface finish.

Attempt number two, it was more successful than yesterday, I bought a can of wd-40 silicone lubricant and sprayed it periodically while it was cutting, and that did the trick, I sped it up quite a bit faster than before, and it kept up. This time the aluminum only got a little warm and all the chips consistent and small. It sounded much much better than before and had a cleaner finish. 
I tried running a few cleanup passes but didn't quite get them down right, so I ended up cutting places where I shouldn't. Very pleased with the outcome, even though it didn't look as clean as I would have liked. One thing I keep forgetting to try is compressed air that would remove the chips from getting recut, and I feel it would keep the material from overheating.

Oneshop Redding CNC Aluminum & Bits

I finally got down to it and ordered a couple of aluminum cutting bits for the Shapeoko CNC router. I bought them off of the site Bits and Bits which has a wide selection of them to choose from. I ordered a 1/8" 3 flute end mill bullnose and the same of 1/16" for smaller details. They were both about $22 each and adding shipping that bumped it up to $54.00 which is quite a lot for just two bits.

Shortly after they came in my brother gave me 14 used endmills from his shop down in Nevado CA as a late birthday gift. This was great as they were easily $20-35 a piece which I could never afford on my own. They were a bit worn from cutting titanium but a few of them where in decent shape. They ranged from a 1/2" thick to 1/16" which is going to really give me a wide range to practice with. Unfortunately, the Shapekoko can only hold up to 1/4" bits so I won't be able to use the 1/2" unless I get a new holder for it.

As for cutting material I looked a bit around online for different grades what's recommended for first cuts and found some inexpensive 6061 aluminum for $17.00 for a block 11.5"x 2.5"x 1/2".


Creating Outlines and Paths in Adobe Illistrator

One of the machines I have access to is a Wazer water-jet machine that uses a combination of water and an abrasive to cut through pretty much any material you desire under 3/4" in thickness.

After doing a bit of research on how to prepare the machine for cutting I realized I would need a template file to work off of to get a real experience with my own project instead of using the sample files.

I decided upon my side business logo, a basic design so easy to work off of. Now I couldn't directly drop this file into the Wazer program as it was a .png, and did not support .png files. It requires a file with a tool-path embedded in it to know where to cut. 

After doing a bit of searching online I found this tutorial which showed exactly how to convert an image into a traceable form in which I could send to the Wazer program.

Basically you import your image, select it, and under Objects > Image Trace > Expand it would trace the object outline and its ready to go to export and send to the Wazer program to get ready for cutting. If the image isn't black and white or easily traceable then you need to convert it to either a grey scale or black and white. You can do before clicking expand, under the Properties panel at the top go down till you find the Image Trace > Preset > Silhouette and this will convert it to black and white. Then click the Expand button below it.

You can see the trace lines more easily if you go to View > Outlines which will show you only the outlines of your image.

I came back the next day to laser cut it out to see if that worked fine like in the program. I placed it in the Voccell laser engraver's application and prepped it for cutting. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn't have everything cut so I figured out which parts I wanted to be engraved and which cut.

I am very pleased with the outcome!

CNC Machining Oneshop Redding error33

Alright, back at it again. So after running through a simple path to see if it would stop before completion I found that it still does, what would happen is it would go through about 40% of its path, then give the carbide an error code (error33) and stop the toolpath, I've gone through a bunch of different cuts, sometimes trying them several times and nothing worked. I've tried different outlets, different power banks entirely for the router but always had the same result. I asked my brother as he mentioned having some similar issues and tried his solutions but didn't work. What he had done was to lower the fine tolerance of the passes to have a rougher cut out, then come by later with another tool to clean it up.

After looking a bit online forums I found a few possible solutions. 

Carbide 3D's Shapeoko cnc machine was originally designed in metric VS imperial. It supports imperial, however it wasn't designed specifically for this and so has to do calculations to convert it to that and so has a lot more of a load than if you where working with metric. If this is the issue then simply designing everything in imperial then just switch the units it measures to metric when setting the tool paths.

This would also explain why not so many people are having this issue as most people use metric for designing and creating toolpath's. Which I primarily use as well but didn't have any metric measuring tapes when setting the stock and so set the unit of measurement to imperial.
Another possible reason for the issue is the sheer amount of digits it has to calculate and one guy said he solved the issue by rounding everything to only have at most 3 decimal spots. For instance, if the side load cutting rate is at 0.04195 you would simply round that to 0.042 and etc with all the settings. Apparently this reduces the overall load the machine has to take.

Here is a link to the forum that I got this information on: https://forum.shapeoko.com/viewtopic.php?t=8237

So after making a few modifications to the tool path settings, I set it running again and await the results.