tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:/posts BuildsByGideon 2021-02-24T22:24:38Z Gideon Harris tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1658265 2021-02-24T22:24:38Z 2021-02-24T22:24:38Z Machinist Apprentice | Haas Minimill Pausing With Large Program | Day 164b


Finished up the first operation of the first set of parts. 

Unfortunately, I made a stupid mistake yesterday when trying to use the tool wear compensation in Fusion360. I accidentally had the toolpath generate on the centerline of the contour rather than having the cutter's edge follow the wall.

I got to the shop this morning to check on an overnight run, only to find the Haas minimill paused at a single line of code with the spindle on and coolant running. I have this happen several times in the past, and I keep forgetting to save the code that caused it.

I'm not sure what I'm missing, but I hypothesize that the machine is getting overwhelmed by the information and pauses. When I came in this morning, it looked like someone paused the machine rather with a feed hold, but nothing happens when trying to hit cycle start.

It ran through the first 3/4" of the program just fine, and only when the machine raised the tool in the z height did this happen. It seems pretty consistent with the previous times it's happened.

I asked this question on a public forum for Fusion360 and got one person responding with a very probable solution. He said that he had similar past issues where the power would fluctuate and cause the machine to stall for a second, just enough to pause the machine where it is without moving forward or corrupting the file. My thought is that since it's such a large file, the machine has to read through it all at such a pace that it would require less of a power surge the larger the code. 

As it happens, this file had several thousand lines with about a 3 hour run time. 



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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1657823 2021-02-23T22:16:14Z 2021-02-23T22:18:15Z Machinist Apprentice | Tool Organization | Day 164b

I get to work an hour before my boss each morning to warm up the machines and clean the shop. 

Today I had a little extra time on my hands this morning before my boss arrived, so I decided to re-organize the cleaning & deburring station in the shop using some leftover pick and pull foam for shipping the rocket kits. I'm really pleased with the outcome, and it makes it much easier to keep the worktop clean! 

I found that some of the smaller tools that aren't as thick as the foam are more difficult to grab in a pinch. So I only removed half the foam so that the tool would be propped up toward you, presenting itself to be readily available. 

I believe that if your workspace or tools are clean, you automatically take better care of it. This is why some automotive companies require you to sign a document saying you will keep the vehicle clean while it's in your ownership. If you drive a beat-up old car, most probably won't maintain it as much as they would a nicer-looking vehicle.

I absolutely love cleaning and organizing, and I'm in the process of slowly organizing the shop in between contracts and janitorial duties :)

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1657816 2021-02-23T22:00:45Z 2021-02-24T03:58:31Z Machinist Apprentice | Long Reach & Slow RPMS Haas Minimill | Day 164

Working on these somewhat complicated parts, I got to program yesterday.

There are three L-shaped pieces, and I'm doing them all together in a large piece of bar-stock. Unfortunately, I had to run through a somewhat tedious process of removing the material around it before I could finish the sidewalls and get the small details because of their shape. 

Because these parts have such high walls and tight corners (see my previous post), I had difficulty getting good surface finishes. I'm actually a little surprised how well the 1/4" long flute endmill did cleaning the sides at multiple steps. We don't have a tool long enough to get the entire depth of the wall in one shot, so my boss reduced the tool's neck so I could take it at several stepdowns. I would previously have issues where there would be a witness mark showing where the end of the flutes ended and the endmill's neck started; this time, there wasn't!

The difficult feature of this part is the corner where the two inner lines meet up. They have a hole in that corner to ensure the block that gets set into it is perfectly square to the two side walls. Unfortunately, this means that cleaning the inner walls has to be done with a small endmill which chatters more the longer the tool sticks out. I was able to clean up the majority of the wall surface with a 1/4" SQ, but as it got close to the corners, there was a very slight hook where the tool couldn't quite make it. Because of this, I had to take a very long reach 1/8" sq and take very slow cuts (low rpm and feedrate) to make sure that back corner was square.

The problem with this is that because you are using two different endmills to clean the same surface, it's nearly impossible to get a seamless transition due to the actual diameter of the tools you're using. Because of this, I had to guestimate the actual diameter of the 1/8" and compensate for the offset by leaving negative stock to leave on the side walls. It's not perfect, but I was able to slightly undersize the sidewall by 0.0003" (3 tenths) which is acceptable for this part so long as it's not positive). You can see in the image above the faint difference between 1/4" and 1/8" sq endmills. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1657334 2021-02-22T22:38:51Z 2021-02-22T22:38:51Z Machinist Apprentice | Steep Machining Depths | Day 163

Working on a new set of parts that pose a very subtle but interesting challenge.

One of these pieces' requirements is that you can't use any sandpaper or Scotch Brite to finish up the parts' surface due to their final use. This wouldn't normally be an issue; however, many steep walls lead into tight corners on this job. They are all L-shaped, and the parts' outer contour is no big deal, and I can use large endmills for it. However, since they have an inside corner that needs to be pretty sharp, I have to use a smaller endmill. 

In one section, the wall spans nearly 1.5," and I have to somehow get an 1/8" endmill to finish the walls without any burnish marks from the shank. The solution to this problem is using a combination of a 1/4" endmill to finish the majority of the surface, then come in with a reduced shank cutter and get the remaining spots the 1/4" couldn't reach. 

One problem may arise, which is the diameter of the tools themselves; when endmills are ground down, they are typically undersized vary slightly from their written size. To fix this problem, I will be using tool cut diameter compensation (CDC) inside the machine and program to sneak up on the correct size. 

For example, say you cut a square block with a 0.5" endmill, and you want the block to be 1" square. When you cut and measure it, you find it's actually 1.008". You would then input into the diameter offset -0.004" (0.008/2), and the toolpath would adjust to compensate for the offset. Most of the time, this isn't necessary as the difference is so slight it falls into most tolerances. But in this case, where the wall's surface needs to be clean and accurate, I will have to make sure it's as close as possible. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1656169 2021-02-19T21:12:18Z 2021-02-19T21:13:03Z Machinist Apprentice | Machining Speeds & Feeds & Nuclear Parts | Day 162


Working on the first of many parts for this new client. Everything has to be extremely clean, and I spent the previous two days washing down the machine in preparation for these pieces. 

There aren't anything complicated about these parts, just big, fairly straightforward pieces. The tricky thing with these is you can't use any cleaning tools like files, sandpaper, or certain Scotch-Brite pads. Even the cleaning process for these requires no brushes or sponges to be used. 

The part I worked on today was a basic plate with a few countersunk holes. My boss wants to go the extra mile for this company, so I used a ball end mill to get the holes' large fillets. I didn't realize it until working on this project that the boring toolpath in Fusion360 works with tapered faces quite well, and I was able to quickly rough it out for the ball endmill. 

I am also diving in deeper into the speeds and feeds area of machining, reading through a few tooling manuals, and understanding more of the chip-load and how it relates to the SFM & RPMs of the machine. I'm quite surprised how far I can push these tools by using the correct speeds and feeds (who would have known!).

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1655797 2021-02-18T22:27:42Z 2021-02-18T22:27:43Z Machinist Apprentice | New Coolant to Water Ratio | Day 161

I got the Haas minimill coolant tank all cleaned up today and refilled it with the fresh!

Part of this process involved cleaning out the pump, which consisted of running several gallons of warm-hot water through the entire system to clear out any leftover debris or coolant. I accomplished this by taking an empty plastic bin and filling it with clean water, lowered the pump inside it, and let it run for a few minutes to flush everything out. 

Removing the coolant and chips from the machine's bed was the difficult part and took me a while to figure out how to do it. Since this is an older machine, it doesn't have as many fancy features, like an access panel or easily accessible hatches to perform coolant maintenance. So I was subjected to crawling on my knees with an outstretched am and a wide range of long objects to push as much of the grit toward me. 

I eventually cobbled together a method of using a long reach chip scooper to bring the bulk of the junk toward me, then using an (I am ashamed for this) t-square to get the chips from the very back out. I then took advantage of many old shop towels, which I used to suck up as much of the remaining liquid until it was fairly dry. Finally, I used a mop-like cleaner to pull the last remaining sludge from the back corners that the other tools couldn't reach. 

Once the underside was as clean as it could be without investing a ton more time, I poured the new coolant into the machine. Finding the right ratio of coolant to water was the difficult part, and I'm shocked the company doesn't have the ratio printed on the side of the bucket. But after doing a bit of research, I found the correct coolant-to-water ratio (4-10%) and eyeballed each bucket. When there were only 5 gallons left to go, I used a refractometer (a tool that measures the water content in liquids) and measured my new coolant against what was recommended, and I felt right inside the gate of 6.4-12.0%.

There aren't many great resources out there that explain how the coolant ratio work, so I had to jump around to several sites to get the gist of it. From what I understand, each coolant type has its own ratio, but many are very similar and don't need to be spot on. Plus, over time, the water evaporates, so the coolant becomes more concentrated. When you add more to the machine, you have to keep adding less and less coolant per bucket so you can compensate for the concentrate. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1655406 2021-02-17T20:56:47Z 2021-02-17T20:56:47Z Machinist Apprentice | Deep Machine Cleaning | Day 160

Today I got to do the thing I've been dying to do since I got in the shop (mild sarcasm), which is cleaning out the coolant and chips from the Haas minimill!

We just got a couple of jobs to come in that require precise machining requirements due to the part's use. I believe it's got something to do with nuclear prototyping, and so many variables have to be removed when working in that environment. Because of this, the coolant being used on these parts cannot have touched any other metals except that which it is milling.

Since we've made copper and steel parts in the machine, it meant that I had to clear everything out and remove the old chips and coolant and replace it with new stuff. It was a little bit of a daunting task at first, just because there are so many nooks and crannies in the machine that would be super difficult to remove with the tools at hand. This machine is the only one that doesn't have an external hose hooked up to it, so I just extended the host on the machine and manually washed it out. 

It was a very disgusting job, and I got closer to coolant than I ever want to be again, but the inside is now looking beautiful and clean. I haven't yet completely emptied the internal tank, which will require a lot more work involving a wet vac, uncomfortable positions, and long arms. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1654933 2021-02-16T21:47:15Z 2021-02-16T21:47:15Z Machinist Apprentice | Modifing Surface Bodies vs Solid Models | Day 159

My boss recently made the wheels to go on the little truck models I've been working on, and they turned out amazing!

Unfortunately, something neither of us picked up on until after the tires were on was that the back fender's angle that sticks out past the wheels is at a slightly different angle than the tire guard on the other side. It's slight but gives it a weird optical illusion that makes the wheel look slightly off-center. Thankfully it's not super noticeable when the windows and details are cut out after getting anodized, but I was allowed to change it before running the final blocks. 

Initially, I was a little afraid to do this, as making modifications to solid models in the past has been anything but a clean process. However, taking advantage of the surface body features in Fusion360, I was able to delete, modify, and remove faces, rather than solid 3D models. This made the change much easier, and there weren't any weird floating bits leftover that I would sometimes get. It also was able to show me very quickly where there was a disconnect on faces/features before taking it into the CAM environment. 


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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1654594 2021-02-16T04:00:27Z 2021-02-16T04:22:45Z Machinist Apprentice | Slow and Steady Machining | Day 158

One of the steps of this unique machining method I learned from my boss was milling out the small pockets and features in the piece while still in a block. 

The thing I love most about this very different technique is that it's a one-shot go. There is no first and second operation; there are no soft jaws, there are no extra complicated steps. It's a simple push of the button, watch it run for 20 minutes, stick a block of metal on it, and hit the button again. The outcome is a finished part and requires no cleaning up! It absolutely isn't the most efficient way of making these parts, but it makes the most sense for just a couple of them and takes the least amount of time.

I'm really discovering that, not just in machining, but in life as a whole, you really can't cut corners. There is no fast track. You have to take it slow and steady; that is really the fastest way. It's painful at times, but the more patience shown will help you move faster toward that desired outcome. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1653372 2021-02-13T06:12:32Z 2021-02-13T16:22:23Z Hardlotion Pumpkin Planning | Identifying the Niche
Using Mike Machalowicz's pumpkin plan method for improving the MadeOn Hardlotion business to identify and cater to the unique offering rather than trying to be everything for everyone. 

Starting out, there are the three concentric circles to find your "pumpkin," basically the sweet spot that you can specialize in. The three rings consist of Top Clients, Unique Offering, & Systems.

Top clients are the ones you love working with the most. They are most dedicated to your brand and buy from you religiously.

Unique Offering is what you offer that is different from similar businesses. Something that you do better or are the only one offering.

Systems is what you improve on once you identify your top clients and unique offerings. You build your systems to cater specifically to those first two circles, narrowing your area of expertise to do it better.

For Hardlotion, identifying the top clients is as easy as finding the principal customers that bring in the most revenue consistently. The tricky part is separating those top clients into two categories: those who are there for your unique offering and those who are there for your other products. 

Hardlotion's Unique Offering is "Fixing dried and cracked skin with, few, all-natural ingredients that are good for you."

The third circle is yet to be defined as the focus is on finding the top clients.

Sorting out the highest paying clients that match the take-home revenue and unique offering take the top down to only a few (about 50%). I am weeding out those who mostly buy other products that Hardlotion sells, like soaps (a big area that brings in the money though not the unique offering.) 

The plan is to eliminate all the weeds that distract from the one thing Hardlotion does best, fixing dry skin. Removing the weeds will allow the pumpkin (unique offering) to grow. 

Hardlotion's unique offering products are:
Hardlotion bars, Beesilk Jr, Rash Cream, Natural & Peppermint Lip Balms, Shea Facial, Beecool, Tinted Lip Balms, Foot Rub, and Beesilk Sticks. 


Hardlotion's 'weeds' that distract from the unique offering are:
Soap, Soap Pallets, Facial Washcloths, Hair Butter, Rash Sticks, scented Sticks, and scented Lip Balms.


The first step is to identify the actual top customers who primarily buy the unique offering.

Looking through the current top customers and their previous orders, there seems to be about half that fall into the 'ideal customers' category. They buy the unique offering with few or no discounts and rarely buy the sideline products.

Once I've identified several top clients, I will then interview them to find their frustrations in the skincare industry and their 'wishlist' of things they want improved on. Finding out the frustrations they are running into will help me better identify how I can serve my ideal client and attract more like them. 

I would also ask for other vendors that serve them. Such as personal health companies. So that I can collaborate with them to bring better service to them.

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1653301 2021-02-12T22:08:07Z 2021-02-12T22:08:07Z Machinist Apprentice | Fusion360 Over Constraint Issues Possible Solution | Day 157



After yesterday's frustrations, I may have found the cause of the problems I'm getting.

When you edit a toolpath in Fusion360, there are spaces to input your settings. Like stepover, feed rate, etc. An interesting feature Fusion360 has is that you can input equations, or in this case, they call it 'expressions' instead of a hard number. For example, say you wanted to have your endmill take 0.02" stepdowns, you would input 0.02". However, if you wanted it to take a percentage of your tool diameter, say 20% of a 1" tool, you would input "tool_diameter*.2," and the expression would change with the tool. This means if you decide to switch to a 1/2" endmill, then the expression now changes from 0.2" to 0.1" (0.5 * 0.2 = 0.1). 

The thing is, when you have these expressions, there is virtually no way of telling when they change unless you look directly at them. This is where I think my problems are arising from. 

When I input a value in one category, another parameter gets changed without my noticing, and I have no way of finding that out unless I either simulate every micro change or wait until after the part is made (which is too late). The solution to this problem is to remove all expressions and manually input the values myself. 


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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1652971 2021-02-11T23:42:36Z 2021-02-11T23:42:36Z Machinist Apprentice | Fusion360 Over Constraint Issues | Day 156

Whew, am I frustrated, brace yourselves. 

I once again have run into a toolpath changing problem with Fusion360 and have no clue what is going on. My biggest problem is explaining the issue to other people as I can't replicate the issue, and there is no "issue" per se. 

Talking it out with my father, he helped me see a bit more of the problem and where it's occurring. In a very basic example, say you have a square shape, and you want your endmill to follow half the outline of the square to cut it out, so starting in one corner, you have it trace the outside and stops at the opposite corner. This works fine, and you get the machine to run it. 

However, say you change your mind and want the tool to run past the final corner and keep going half an inch longer. You make that change and nothing else and re-export the code. When you run this new program, it goes the extra half-inch, but now it cuts the corners leaving little chamfers, which you didn't input into the program. Technically, if you go back and look at the settings, you can see nothing wrong, and the program is doing exactly what you told it to. The machine didn't crash, the toolpath ran exactly like it was supposed to. But your final outcome was not, because now you have a square with rounded corners. 

My boss thinks there is some issue with the software where it's making changes to 'set' toolpaths, which technically I suppose it is because I am making a change to that toolpath. But I didn't tell the machine to round those corners off, but it did it anyway, and if I simulate it, I can clearly see that it rounds the corners off. 

My only idea as to the cause of this issue is over constraint.

Fusion360 likes to be "automatic" and will have preset values for you when you select toolpaths, which are great. However, those values read off of each other, which is where it gets complicated. Say you have a parameter in the setting of the above example, saying that it will make square corners as long as it is within one inch of travel distance, but anything above that will shave the corners off. Now your first toolpath works fine because it's within an inch, but if I wanted that extra half-inch, then it would push it outside the limit and turn on the corner-cutting setting.

The problem arises when I set up my initial operation, and I inevitably need to change something, so I go back and change it for the next run. Then I run through the new program, thinking it will only make that one change. However, that change may cause another effect, in essence turning on the 'corner-cutting setting.' It's not the fault of the software, but rather how it was setup. If I were forced to input every single parameter and setting into each toolpath, I would not have a problem, but that would take huge amounts of time when you get into more hairy 5 axis projects when you have 50+ toolpaths. So you have to have some preset information to make the workload possible. 

If there is a way to turn off all presets in Fusion360 and leaving them blank so that I would be forced to fill them in before generating the toolpath, I feel that it would solve this problem. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if this is possible or not and will have to do more research. The most frustrating thing about this is that I can't seem to find anyone who really understands this problem or has faced it. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1652514 2021-02-10T23:58:50Z 2021-02-10T23:58:51Z Machinist Apprentice | 4th Axis Small Part Making Techniques | Day 155

Working on these simple 2op parts on the 4th axis today to familiarize myself with the setup when working on the more complicated pieces.

My boss has an exciting way of making small intricate parts that require multiple angles using the 4th axis rotary. On the face of it, it would seem perfectly natural to do this, but it gets a little more complicated when to do it all in a single setup. For example, these two small rectangle pieces that I made today were all in one setup and required no cleanup after pulling them off the machine. 

To make these pieces, I used 1" round stock, and taking a large endmill; I was able to quickly remove the majority of the material, leaving a small shoulder on the remaining leaving a small rectangle box at its final dimensions. Once you complete all your detail work, the problem arises, and are left with the part hanging on the stock. Cutting it off without any skin or material that has to be removed later is difficult, and many people clean the pieces up by hand. However, there is an alternative. 

Cleaning the top surface of the part and the shoulder you recessed, you can then double-stick tape a small metal block on the underside of your piece, attaching it to the stock. Then, taking a small endmill, you can carefully step your way down the material, roughing, then finishing the side face until you part it off. Using this method, I finished the part on the machine and only had to wash it off before bagging it with no cleanup required. 

Everything stayed in its place, and after measuring it, I found I was within 0.0005" on it all. From start to finish, the pair of these little rectangle parts took approximately 3h 32m. Programming them took 37m, and setting up the 4th axis and getting everything dialed in took the majority of the time. One of the best parts of this trick using round stock and tape is that you can keep pulling the material out, and you don't have to reset any work offsets. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1651998 2021-02-09T21:35:36Z 2021-02-09T21:36:15Z Machinist Apprentice | Quick Part Turnaround! | Day 154

Man, I am pleased with this piece; the complete turnaround time was about 3.5h from start to finish. That includes programming, setting up the machine, running first op, soft jaws, and second op. Definitely, my fastest part yet, and everything is within 0.0005."

I'm taking a slightly different method when programming this and the following pieces where I am not relying on any automatic toolpath generation. Previously I would use the 3D adaptive and pocket clearing toolpaths, which take your initial 3D model setup and automatically put together the program for you, which I would run into issues when needing to make small changes to previous toolpaths.

I am taking advantage of this new method of creating custom sketch geometry and manually drawing out boundaries I can select. The downside is that it's not connected to the 3D model itself, and I can run into issues if I move the model geometry. It does take longer to program the parts, but I'm getting that insurance of doing everything manually, so I know right away when something doesn't add up, rather than finding out later. 

The part is very basic and only required two operations, the second being held in soft jaws. I put these pieces side by side in a piece of bar stock and bored a hole in the center I could use as my work origin when flipping them over. When I cut the soft jaws, I could technically use the same setup origin for the second operation, but when I am using any clamping force, the geometry could move a tad, which would throw things off. Utilizing the hole, I can get an accurate location point for the part once it's in the vice and clamped down. 

I've got 5 more pairs of parts to make, which will be done on the 4th axis and get really hairy when it comes to small detail and hard-to-reach places which I'm really excited for. I love making smaller parts vs. big ones; something about it is so much more satisfying.

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1651669 2021-02-09T03:35:25Z 2021-02-09T03:35:25Z Machinist Apprentice | New Parts & Air Ventilation | Day 153

We got some new contracts to come into the shop today, so I spent most of my time programming those. Super small and intricate square parts that I will be making on the 4th axis. None of them are bigger than a square inch and have some deep hard to clean pockets, which will be an enjoyable challenge. 

My boss has got an interesting technique for these, using bar stock and a double stick taping method to part them off. I'm honestly super excited for these as it requires a lot of small cutters and specific deburring methods that I haven't done a lot of before! I will also be using a slightly different programming method than previous contracts. I will be hand drawing and selecting pretty much all the toolpath parameters rather than relying on the 3D ones that take your model and program it for you. 

I won't show the entire process and techniques of making these parts, but I can take some specific instances and share those. 

It gets super cold in the early mornings here in the winter, and the heater takes several hours to heat the building, so my boss picked up an old large fan that I got to clean up and place upstairs to circulate the heat that rises and bring it down to the ground level.


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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1650124 2021-02-05T21:26:18Z 2021-02-05T21:31:49Z Machinist Apprentice | New Truck Program | Day 152

I finished up the new truck program and got it running today! 

I'm honestly shocked how smoothly everything went; I only had to make a few minor changes before it was better than the previous programmed operation. I'm finding that it's not as complicated as I initially thought it would be to draw out most of the sketch references. I've got several instances in this disconnected sketch geometry program that makes up the entire finishing toolpath!

This whole program only took about 5 hours to put together completely from scratch compared to the accumulated almost 20-30 of the previous one. 

I haven't quite gotten the operation setup settings to where I want them yet as it still requires a body as a reference, but I'm toying with the idea of lying to it and just creating a bounding body around the 3D model. That way, I can get the benefits of the default height planes while not worrying about having all the toolpaths connected.

I'm also building a habit of always locking my toolpath once it's simulated and proof checked; that way, I can move on and not have to worry about it failing if I make a change to a previous one.

I also got to finish off one of the anodized setup trucks and cut the windows and engravings on it. I'm super pleased with the result, and the raw machine marks really catch the eye! Putting them back on the machine was actually not as difficult of a task as you might think. Using the cut-off stock from the first operation, I could locate the part on the 5-axis and only had a few minor tweaks to get it all aligned properly! 

I ran through the next batch of anodized rocket kits today and got those packaged up! I thought it'd be fun to take a short time-lapse of putting them all together :)

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1649698 2021-02-04T21:25:55Z 2021-02-04T21:25:55Z Machinist Apprentice | Anodized Truck Surface Quality | Day 151

The anodized trucks came in the other day, and I was quite surprised at the different quality finishes on the raw machined vs. tumbled and bead blasting!

The raw machined parts came out best; they've got a really nice shine to them that the camera doesn't do credit to. Though you can still see the machine marks leftover from the endmills, it makes them much less noticeable.

The tumbled parts didn't turn out nearly as good and had a very rough texture to them. It seems like the anodizing was slightly splotchy with patches here and there that aren't as bold in color. The part I accidentally left in over the weekend was awful and had depressions, giving it a beat-up and rugged look. 

Out of all three, my favorite, though not the prettiest, is the bead blasted finish. It's completely matt but has an amazing feel to the touch. My boss is considering adding a clear coat to give it a shine.

The truck process's next step is to put them back on the 5-axis and remove the material from the windows and door highlights. I'm super excited to see how these turn out! The shine of the windows coupled with the deep blue should really make them catch the eye!

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1649271 2021-02-03T20:59:21Z 2021-02-03T20:59:21Z Machinist Apprentice | Unlinked Setup CAM Programming | Day 150

I've nearly finished re-programming the truck project, and I'm finding that it's actually quite a bit faster to manually draw and select features than working with Fusion360's automatic processes. 

Though I have to re-program this part, I am by no means regressing the progress I made before, and the small changes I made to the previous operation I can implement directly into the new. 

It's a little frustrating at times to be spending so much time working on one project, but I feel it is the best in the long term as I get to practice different machining strategies without having to worry about scrapping a client's work. I'm in a very fortunate situation where the shop has got a lot of downtimes, so I am able to dedicate it to learning and testing out different speeds and feeds. 

One of the biggest things I'm learning through this process of re-programming the truck is how much I relied on 3D adaptive toolpaths to do a lot of material removal. Apart from this new method is forcing me to realize that there are other methods that do take at first take a little longer to set up that have a much larger effect on removing material that is better for the tool and run time. 

I am quite enjoying thinking outside the box and made a major improvement by manually drawing out contour lines for my endmills to follow. I'm finding that in more complex geometry like 3D surfaces, you can quickly remove bulk material by hand drawing the toolpaths.

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1648848 2021-02-02T22:45:32Z 2021-02-03T20:39:40Z Queen Bee Role | Clockwork
The queen bee role (QBR) is the single most important activity that your business engages in for growth and success.

In his book 'Clockwork' Mike Michalowicz talks about the QBR and how every company has the one thing that has brought them to where they are now and will help them grow to where they want to be. Discovering what your QBR is will help you better serve and delegate to keep it alive and thriving.

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In a beehive, the survivability and thrivability are centered around the Queen bee; she is the one that produces eggs that will grow the hive. Until she is kept safe and healthy, the hive does not grow and will eventually die. The worker bees' primary task is to keep the queen bee producing eggs, and until then, all other tasks get put on hold.
Though there is a single queen bee in a hive, there is no single person in a business as the QBR. It's not a person; it's an action, in this case, producing eggs.
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Often, the owner of a small business will try and fulfill the QBR by themselves and get overwhelmed by the work involved. They rightly see that it keeps the company alive, but they aren't able to work on the bigger picture visionary piece of the puzzle due to running around keeping it alive.

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Mike Michalowicz outlines how to find your QBR by looking at the big promise of your business. You can only make one big promise to a customer, and in combination with the delivery of the promise is your QBR.

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1648811 2021-02-02T21:17:33Z 2021-02-02T21:17:33Z Machinist Apprentice | Fusion360 Unlinking Model References | Day 149

I feel I did a poor job of explaining the problems I had yesterday.

For some of the more complex milling operations with many toolpaths in them, I've had some weird issues when I change one of the toolpaths. I can't put my finger on where the problem is coming from exactly, and there's no way of quite defining it. 

As I am putting together a large operation and I find I need to make a change to one of the initial toolpaths or model itself, it almost always causes something to change with the other parameters in the toolpaths that I've set up. The problems are never major and are almost always an easy fix, but most of the time, I don't catch it until it's too late. This has always been an issue since I got started using Fusion360 and became more prevalent in the complicated setups. 

For example, I could get one of the contouring toolpaths to leave a very nice surface finish, but later, when making changes to toolpaths behind it, I come back and find that it's now faceted. None of the settings have changed in the process, but there always seems to be some small deviation from the original toolpath. 

This isn't really an issue if you don't make any changes to your initial setup, but in my case, I have to play around and learn how to find the best machining methods, so I have a lot of small edits throughout the process. 

Thinking through the problem and talking it over with my boss, I think the problem traces back to Fusion360's linking setup, where the initial operation setup wants to link everything to the 3D model you're basing it off of. In contrast with Mastercam, which creates each toolpath independently from one another. In speed runs that don't require a lot of tweaking, Fusion is definitely superior, but making many small changes makes it more beneficial to have toolpaths not connected. 

One solution I'm working on today is breaking the 3D model down into surface planes instead of a solid model. This will allow me to create each toolpath independent of one another and make it easier for isolated changes. I'm also using a few new tips I got from my boss when it comes to sketching geometry, and I'm relying more on that than the hard boundaries of the 3D model itself. It's a bit of an outside box programming method, but I'm finding it's actually quite faster to do it this way. The downside to this method is that if any changes are made to the 3D model, everything must be updated manually, which isn't a problem as the geometry is fixed in contract jobs. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1648489 2021-02-02T04:49:05Z 2021-02-02T04:49:05Z Machinist Apprentice | Fusion360 Small Change Throwoff's | Day 148
I seem to constantly be fighting with Fusion360's CAM software, where I make an edit of a toolpath, and it always seems to throw something else off. 

I'm not sure if there's a way to disconnect things so I can only re-generate one section of the toolpath without having to generate the whole toolpath all over again. There isn't one specific thing that gets thrown off, but a slew of things. I seem to get an operation down, then when I want to make a slight edit to one section of the body, I have to re-generate all my toolpaths and that somehow changes the results. 

Is there a way to machine with independent geometry so that each toolpath is not connected and isn't referenced off of the previous one?

I'm not entirely sure what my question is, but the problems I am running into are very continuous. It's gotten to the point that 'acceptable' quality is the standard even though I know how to fix it, but if I start making changes I now worry that something will get thrown off in the process, thus creating a bigger problem.

One thought I have is to try and use surface bodies instead of solid models, that way they are completely independent of each other. But making any changes to the model itself could be an issue. I'm not even sure if Fusion allows me to create an operation based on faces and not bodies. 

I want to be able to change just one small thing, like tool stepover without having to worry about heights not lining up. 


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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1646974 2021-01-30T03:41:23Z 2021-01-30T03:41:24Z Machinist Apprentice | Surface Issues in Directional Changes | Day 147

Hey guys, I really need help with a weird 3D finishing toolpath problems.

One of the things that bugged me the most with the toolpaths I'm using is that I can never get spiral finishing passes to turn out very good.

It's hard to show on camera, but the surface the ball endmill cuts on leaves weird wrinkle lines from when the tool changes direction in a corner. From what I understand, when the ball endmill is changing directions suddenly, there is an ever so slight pause before it does so, and causes the endmill to cut into the material just a slight amount. And since I'm using a spiral or morphed spiral toolpath, it has consistent stepovers from itself, which means that the dwelling point would start from a center, then work its way out in 4 diagonal directions.

Previously, my solution was to use a parallel toolpath, but having a straight back and forth cut pattern doesn't work too well in more complicated 3D surfaces. I've played around a bit with the P1-3 machine smoothing settings, but I don't seem to get much of a change. I've also tried adding feed optimization, which slows the cutter down as it approaches sharp corners, but that doesn't stop it from dwelling in them. I'm sure some setting allows me to round the toolpath, so it is one consistent flow without stops, but I'm not sure how or where to adjust that.

If anyone has run into similar problems, what did you do to solve them?

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1646279 2021-01-28T21:04:08Z 2021-01-28T21:04:08Z Machinist Apprentice | Surface Finshing with Walnut Shells | Day 146

I'm absolutely loving the surface finishes I'm getting on the underside of these trucks!

My thinking has changed quite a bit on speeds and feeds in general for machining, and though most of it makes intuitive sense, it is still a bit difficult to overcome sometimes. I'm finding that there are precise times and areas you want to use lower vs. higher RPMs and feedrates. And if a part is squealing, sometimes to fix that, you have to speed the machine up. 

There are particular kinds of chips I've found that seem always to produce amazing surface finishes. I'm not sure if it's entirely related, but whenever there are long, wispy strands of aluminum (similar in appearance to hair, just thinner), I've always gotten a very linear clean finish. 

Trying another form of after-machining finish on another truck, which is tumbling them in walnut shells. I didn't know this, but apparently, walnut shells have some quality that cleans up and shines certain metals. My boss had a bunch of dry finish shells leftover from a previous project where he said he could get a chrome finish on a stainless necklace for his wife. 

I'm really interested to see what kind of a change it will do to these trucks and if it's possible to get anything close to a mirror finish. From what my boss tells me, it also takes quite a bit of time for them to run, so it may be a few days before I get a decent result, but I'm excited! 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1645944 2021-01-27T22:28:47Z 2021-01-27T22:29:34Z Agape Love & True Greatness

Through my readings, I'm starting to come to realize what the greatest and hardest challenge in life is and it fits so perfectly into everything else it brings tears to my eyes. 

That one thing, the biggest challenge you could ever overcome is in fact, not a single thing. There is no one thing for anyone. Everyone has their own one thing which if you wanted to put it into words, it'd be perfection, or fully realized potential. I've come to realize though that literally every person is so different and unique it's quite amazing. 

God created this world and not one person is the same as the other. We all have different views, however slight, there is no two exactly alike. 

The only time we consider ourselves above someone else is when we compare, but comparing is imperfect as there are so many factors that come into play to the point where it's impossible to see the whole picture. We can only compare the result or outcome, but even that isn't a very good metric as two people may do the same action but have completely different motivations behind it. 

One son may do the dishes out of love, and the other may do it to avoid negative consequences. The outcome is the same in both instances and is difficult to tell the difference, but one is greater than the other. 


Books on actions don't always lead to the same results and so there is no single best action you can do to get the best results for everyone. Someone may get 90% to their full potential, while others doing the exact same thing only get 10%. 

I've come to realize that actions aren't hard, it's the reasons behind the actions that are the most difficult battles and achievements. Shaping your character is a long time and tedious task that never ends.

An economic principle that I've found applies nicely to the rest of life is that when you trade one item for another, they are not of equal value and the wealth of both parties is increased. Likewise, when you give someone more of something, this does not mean that you are giving less to another person. 

This world isn't composed of 100% where each person gets a portion of the pie, we all have our own pies and perceived values. In addition to that, there is more than one kind of pie, pecan, banana cream, apple, and many more, there is no limit to the kinds of pies. Some may like an apple more than a pecan, does that mean that Apple is better? The answer is both yes and no. Some may trade two pecan pies for one apple, but does that mean the individual trading the pecan pies has the short end of the stick?

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Agape love is the highest form of love. It's complete and selfless. There is no trade or bartering for it. This too has different meanings to different people. There is no 'one love' that you can show to everyone and get the same results. I was first put onto this by Gary Chapman in his book "The 5 Love Languages" where he spoke about how each person has a specific language that they feel especially loved in. He speaks in the context of marriage, but it fits nicely into the idea of everyone is unique and different. Though he divides it into 5 major catagories, he goes even further by saying that each person has thier own unique toung. Simlar to how there are many Indian languages all with similar charisteristics, but each with a different twist. 

Learning to observe and speak in other's love languages is difficult, as you have to set aside your own perceptions of what you think makes you feel loved the most, and actually find out what makes other's feel loved.

I've come to find that greatness, is not what I thought it was. The truly great people are very little known or observed. But the impact they have is enormous on the lives of those around them. Greatness is not made up of wealth, stature, position, or even how many people you know. True greatness is selflessness, living for others, actively seeking greater heights to bring more value to those around them. As it turns out, this is quite a difficult task. There is no earthly glory for this man, many people never recognize them for who they truly are. 

"Whoever exhalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exhalted" Matt 32:12

In his book "Good to Great" James Collins spent a great deal of time and resources trying to find out what made the great companies truely great. He found that the businesses that out performed all the other's in their market were built on the foundation of what he called "level 5 leaders" which are induviduals with humility and great personal will to succeed. These level 5 leaders do not promote themselves, but work hard toward the goal and don't flaunt their achievements. 

It's facinating to see how God blesses the humble in the long run. Some may not see it in their lifetime, but He blesses their decendants. Likewise too, sometimes God curses an induvidual, not by taking away anything in thier earthly life, but rather the curse is on the generations following them. 

It's not hard to build wealth, but building sustainable wealth is a different story. That's why you see many people rise to prominense only to stay there for a short period of time. True greatness is not social stature, it can't be measured by comparison to other's, but only by God's word and commandments. 

As people, we have a desire to become great. That's how Adam fell originally, he wanted to become like God and so ate the fruit. Pride and ego are the greatest enemies to who we are meant to become. Laying down our pride is difficult and there is no earthly glory in it. Announcing ourselves and our achievements is much easier and we get praise from those around us when we do. Truly dying to ourselves and living selflessly is the impossible task of greatness. 

It's difficult to not speak up and let other's know of our prouess. It's hard to let others talk and not throw in our two cents. It's almost impossible to live a life of starving your ego, but that is the greatest challange. Not telling a falsehood, when it's easier to do so. Being completely honest with all that you do and work toward is painful and we get no glory from man in doing so, but God sees all things. 

"For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens" Job 28:24

Outward actions are only results of our inward selves. Shaping and molding your mind and heart is difficult. It too is a great challenge and is the bigger equation that you have to solve. There is no inner secret kept from our Lord, and God sees all things.

"Would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart." Psalm 44:21

Judging others is another interesting topic that I've struggled with. It is so easy to look down upon other's from their actions, not realizing the full story behind it. I've gone back and forth on whether it is right to judge a book by the cover, or by the meaning behind the cover. 

My current understanding on this is to judge neither result or meaning behind other's actions. If it affects me, then I am commanded to forgive. But if it is not toward me, then I have no right to judge another's actions. This is not an easy task as I've had to struggle with not holding their actions against them and looking at them in a different light. When I judge other's it becomes a sin on my part and now I have to seek repentance. This doesn't mean you lay aide the actions done by others, and if you see your brother sinning it is your duty to bring him back, if not you are aiding in the sin by not opising it. But it means that you love the sinner and hate the sin. Going with gentleness to them and not by way of shaming. 

I've come to realize that to genuinly influence and aid someone you have to love them enough to lay down your pride and walk. I given into the temptation of 'stating the facts' or 'being honest' when attempting to help someone, only for them to lash out in anger. They see it as an attack on them as a person, and not the sin within them. We are to be prudent and tread carefully. I've found that when it comes to influencing another induvidual listening is the biggest way you can help them. Too often we want to get our thoughts and opinions across, and not often enough do we shut our mouths and listen with full focus. 

The key thing I've come to realize when you do listen to others is that they will now observe your actions and listen to your ideas. This is both a good and bad thing as if you are not doing the right actions then you are influencing them negativly. On the other hand, if you model good works, then you can influence them posativly. 

I decided to test this idea out, of actually listening to people by way of influencing them posativly and I am honestly shocked by how far it goes. It's brought me to tears on more than one ocasion the past few weeks that I'm writing this seeing how just listening and showing that I am listening changes people. At first those around me were suspicious, as if I was trying to get something out of them, but once they found there was no hidden objective behind it, they started wanting to spend more time sharing thoughts and ideas. And they make very subtle changes to their actions that imulate and model my own, to the point where my little sister went out of her way to setup a show and gave me a shoulder massage. I couldn't have payed her to do that, but she decided to do it on her own without my saying a word. Even my youngest sibling (5) would remind her older sister to remember to pray before eating because she saw me do that. Those are only two small instances of the impact and many other subtle ones that would be hard to determine the exact origins from.

Taking listening to another level is combining it with Gary Chapman's love languages, and observing how those around you feel most loved and loving them in thier languages has huge impact! I find it super interesting and weird in some ways how 'easy' it is to influence people and develop deep relationships in such a short period of time. More times than I can count have I seen my thoughts come to fruition. It's almost as if those around me are able to read my thoughts and take action on them. 

In some ways it feels like manipulation, but the weird thing is, it only seems to work to the good. The bad habits that I have don't seem to influence those around me like I expected. It only seems to allow the good through and not the evil. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1645449 2021-01-26T21:39:20Z 2021-01-26T21:39:20Z Machinist Apprentice | Surface Finish Tweaking | Day 145

Tweaking the truck program here and there to get better surface finishes, and I'm actually super happy with one little change that greatly improved the bottom face!

Since this model truck is cut from a block of aluminum in one operation, there's a very long and slow process of cutting it off the base fixture that requires super slow feedrate and RPMs to avoid marring the surface. In the design, the car has a completely flat bottom with only z-height changes contouring the car's outline. The problem with this is that we don't have a tool with a long flute length to take it all at one pass, so it has to be taken at several steps with a short and stubby tool. This causes the side of the endmill without any teeth to rub against the side of the part, leaving a burnt-like surface appearance. Thankfully it doesn't affect the car in any way; it just leaves a pretty poor finish.

My setup currently consists of removing all but a 1/4" strip of aluminum in the center of the truck, at which point the machine pauses in front of the doors for me to add the clamp fixture. Once I properly secure the truck onto the remaining stock, the machine runs a stubby long-reach tool and takes very small stepdowns until it cuts the truck off the base.

My boss suggested having the long-reach tool not contour the bottom of the part, but a few thou (0.0004") away from the side, so that the shank of the tool (the part without cutting teeth) wouldn't rub against the walls. This actually worked amazingly well, and I got a fantastic finish! I also made some small changes to the corners where previously I would get tool chatter as it runs into a corner. For this, I only had to add a slight radius to those sharp corners so the tool wouldn't have to dwell but could smoothly run through without pausing. Though slight changes, it makes a huge difference in the overall quality.

In the video, the first car I show is the old version where you can see the surface marring and chatter marks; then the second truck is with the new system of having the tool away from the sidewall and smooth corners.  

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1644996 2021-01-25T22:40:46Z 2021-01-25T22:40:46Z Machinist Apprentice | Parts Prepping & Shop Cleaning | Day 144

Working on getting these trucks & rocket cleaned up and ready to get anodized!

The anodizing process requires the aluminum to be completely rid of any oils or stains so that the ink can properly cling to the material. From what I understand, the metal actually absorbs the ink into itself, sort of like a sponge, but for this to work, it has to be in a chemical bath that charges the aluminum to want to suck things in. If you have any grit or grime on the part's surface, the ink can't enter through it and leave splotchy patches; this is why you have to thoroughly clean each part before anodizing it.

Some processes even go so far as to let it soak in an acid bath to eat away any oils, though it's not entirely necessary if you can clean the part properly.

The plates and trucks come right off the machines with a lot of coolant, so I need to swish them around in hot soapy water to remove the coolant, then rinse each part to make sure there isn't any soap residue leftover. Though we don't really need to do this as they get washed before getting anodized, it makes the later job much easier and ensures we have a better finish. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1644992 2021-01-23T20:30:00Z 2021-01-25T22:13:05Z Machinist Apprentice | Truck Tumbling | Day 143

Running through the truck program some more today and refining all the small details I'd missed the first round!

My boss also wanted to try tumbling one of the trucks to see what it'd look like anodized so I got to lightly tumble this one before sending it off next week!

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1643237 2021-01-21T21:35:21Z 2021-01-21T21:35:21Z Machinist Apprentice | Finishing Toolpaths | Day 142

I tried the solution my boss posted yesterday, where I add a 2D contour toolpath before the tracing operation, and it worked!

My brother mentioned this, and I think he's right, where the problem arises from the G1-3 lines of code when it transitions between linear vs. arc milling types. From what I understand, the machine can read each position in the line of code in two basic ways. It can either move the machine to that location in a straight line, or it can give it a slight arc as it travels. For flat surfaces, you'd always want the point to point movement, but for more complicated features like cylinders, you'd want it to break up into small arcs to avoid facets on the side. 

Looking through the code I ran through yesterday, I found it would keep switching between the linear (point to point) and arc as the tool moved along. By breaking the toolpath up and using a 2D contour, it was more advanced to use the proper movement style when necessary and stay consistent until that segment ended. 

I also was able to run through the rest of the program, and I put the finishing touches on the final toolpaths before cutting it off. I also added chamfers to the edges to avoid sharp corners people could cut themselves on. The truck's underside isn't the greatest as the cut-off tool rubbed against the side of it, but my boss doesn't it'll be much of an issue after it gets anodized. Tomorrow I'll run through the whole program one again, this time without stopping it mid-way. And before running all the parts, he's going to send two out to get anodized, one right off the machine, and the other tumbled to compare to each other. 

I've been enjoying using a lot more of the tool setting in Fusion and actually setting up each holder exactly like what I have in the machine. It's given me the ability to get a lot more tool rigidity than I normally would have by eye-balling it. I don't completely trust it with the really hard to reach areas, but it hasn't failed me yet and has saved me on more than one occasion!

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1642798 2021-01-20T21:45:34Z 2021-01-20T21:45:34Z Machinist Apprentice | Complicated 3D Sketch Geometry | Day 141

I'm running into some issues with the 3D trace toolpath on the truck project today, and I'm not entirely sure what's going on.

While I was proof checking the toolpaths for the model truck project, I noticed that the trace toolpath that contoured the vehicle's bottom rim left a faceted surface. This is the toolpath that I had to manually draw out for the endmill to follow as it had some odd heights and angles it had to reach. It seems that the tool is cutting the face, but it's leaving considerable facets as it moves. I thought initially I made a mistake when drawing the spline out, but after redrawing it, I had a similar result. 

My boss thinks it could be the software making things overcomplicated, and the machine is getting overwhelmed by the information. He suggested I add a simple 2D contour toolpath right before it to get the bulk of the material away, then only use the 3D spline in the section that it needs. Thankfully this is pretty easy, and I can test it out tomorrow.

I also ran through some of the deep walls finishes with a long flute endmill, which was a bit sketchy and screeched quite a bit, but at low RPMs and feedrate, I got an amazing surface finish. I'm honestly quite shocked how well it turned out for how much it was squealing in the corners! I did have to play around a bit with the feed optimization setting in the passes tab to make it crawl into corners rather than taking them at full cutting speed. 

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Harris Family
tag:buildsbygideon.com,2013:Post/1642501 2021-01-20T04:45:28Z 2021-01-20T04:45:34Z Three Types of People | 3 Dog Analogy

I was recently walking through the neighborhood and had an encounter with three dogs, each different from the other. 

The first dog I passed by was cheerful, eagerly walking toward me with excitement, and didn't flinch or move as I passed by him and his owner. You could tell he was only looking for a good time and only had to fight if it was forced. 

The second dog I walked by immediately started barking when he saw me at a distance, and as I drew near, he would dart back and forth in front of me constantly barking. You could tell he wanted to be a big shot and show off his power and what he was capable of, though backing down in the face of real danger.

The final dog had a similar countenance to the first, where he was cheerful as I walked toward him. But once I got within a certain distance from its owner, he gave a very low and deep growl and did not waiver in his step. You could tell he was there to serve and protect; he was not afraid to stand for his owner and gave a light warning to those who drew near, nothing against them, but purely a statement that he had a duty and was going to uphold it. 

Each of these dogs was fascinating to me and, from my experience, tends to hold similar patterns to those I see. Some people are cheerful and just going through life simple and happy, not caring to strive for greatness. Others see greatness with its outcome and move toward it being boastful and exaggerate what they've accomplished. And then there are the truly great people, those who strive for greatness, not being showy with what they've done, but are stable and true leaders, tough and steadfast in the face of uncertainty. 

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Harris Family