Home Workspace | Re-Making the Clamp | Pocket NC

Going to start by saying the remake of the clamp piece didn't go too well, and I ended up having had to walk away from the computer before making any more mistakes. 

The first of many things that went wrong was getting the stock for the clamp. I had some 10"x2"x0.7" 6061 aluminum I got from Wayne (local machinist) and wanted to cut it down to a 2.5" bar stock to fit in the vice setup. I did pick up a bandsaw the other day but didn't have any blades for it, and none of the local stores had them in stock. So I opted to cut it manually with a hacksaw, though after 5 minutes and making a dent in it, I am ashamed to say I took it over to the drill press and drilled tons of holes in a straight line to use the hacksaw then to cut the remaining material. It worked but was not a pretty sight. 

I then did a few adaptive facing operations to ensure the CAM setup knew precisely where the material was, and this is where the second thing that went wrong happened. As soon as I started the machine, it sounded horrible, and I could not for the life of me figure out why, toward the end, I noticed it left a groove that was rounded over and not cut square as it should. I then took a closer look and found that the tips of the endmill where gone, I have no clue how that happened, but they were cut off somehow, so I had to toss it and use a four flute bit I got from @designtheeverthing and continue from there. 

I was able to get through an adaptive clearing toolpath on the top without much issue and then went to the side faces. I drilled out the holes for the locating pins and the center hole to attach it to the bed before removing the bulk of the material from the other side. Unfortunately, the size of the hole was more significant than the 1/8" drill bit I was using; I did a pecking toolpath to make its way down to the bottom. However, when I inserted the pin into the hole for a test fit, it had quite a bit of wiggle room, which I am not entirely sure why. The stock did move a bit when it was drilling, which may be part of the reason, but since it's a drill, it can't cut sideways, so maybe not. There is way too much room for the pins to be useful, so that put a damper on the whole part, making that it is effectively useless to use locating pins. 

I was then working on finishing the inside faces of the hexagon shapes where the nuts would sit. I stupidly sent the endmill crashing into the material with a pocket clearing toolpath eating away more material than it could handle, and the sound it made was horrible. I paused the machine, but since the endmill was still spinning, the sound continued, and this was the first time I ever had to use the emergency stop on the Pocket NC. After that, I had to stop before I made any other mistakes.

I went into the project without a plan and just layered toolpaths on top of each other and in no particular order, then exporting the g-code for each one similar to what I did with the previous clamp piece. Very unorganized and ended up with 20 code files. 

I need to take a step back, organize my toolpaths and set default feedrates depending on the tools, so I don't have to manually enter in so much information each time, and export my code with a bunch of toolpaths instead of one per file. The very frustrating situation, but I've meant to reorganize how I do my CAM systems.