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Gerry Bacsik

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Gerry Bacsik

Here is a little something that might be intriguing to some. Maybe not for the miniature purists, but non the less, a little insight to something different.

Since, my introduction to the computer many years ago, I have always been intrigued by it's capabilities, & what's possible. Especially in the world of miniatures.

To make a long story short, I ventured into the world of cnc. For those of you new to this, CNC or (computerized numerically controlled) refers to a machine (saw, lathe, drill press...) controlled by a computer. 

Its by no means a quick replacement for the skill & talent that goes into building miniatures. But more a tool for those that like the CHALLENGE of trying different tools. 

 

I will elaborate later on future posts. For now I wanted to help test the forum. Adding a few pictures.

 

 

 

 

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Debora Beijerbacht

I'm fascinated by the technology and look at it as just a new tool too. The pictures you've posted look very impressive. I look forward to learn more about it, and read about the work you can do with it!

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ElgaKoster

Very interesting!

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Wm. R. Robertson

Amazing, I sometimes think I should start playing with CNC but I really don't even do drawings for my stuff so that would add so many steps. I jokingly refer to my jewelers saw as a "5 axis CNC machine with no set up"

I visited Niels Jalling in Copenhagen and got to his set up on a Proxon mill, just loved the cute little tool changer.

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Gerry Bacsik

I too have met Neils. It was in Castine. I too was intrigued by him talk about his tool changer. I would love to see it in action one day.

Your comment referring to the minimal setup of the jewelers saw made me smile. SO TRUE!!!!

As amazing as CNC is. It is by no means, quick & easy!!!

& yes, learning to draw in 3d on a computer is an essential first step.

A big learning curve for those interested, Very rewarding, but by no means a quick & easy tool to master.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Gerry, I love the glasses.  Do these make you see better?  Are these the new google lens? hahahahaha....  I have a pair of these in the sunglasses version.

 

I love the concept of having a CNC, as the programming means precision... I just could not justify the cost.  Or tell me how I can rationalize the cost.

I bought Corel Draw X6, or does your CNC have proprietary software?  Tamra/Indiana

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Gerry Bacsik

:) I'm glad you like the glasses. 
The software was not proprietary to the mill. I use Rhinocerosis 4.0 for the CAD & RhinoCAM 2.0 for the CAM. Software is not cheap.  My decision was solely based on the fact, that I was trained on Rhino.
I wish i could justify the cost, other than to say it's a lot of fun. Its very entertaining to watch it work on it's own. It was justified in the joy that I had learning.
I have an option on my mill to do a 4th axis. That might be a factor with some software. I'm not overly knowledgeable on other types of software. There could very well be cheaper ways?

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Bill Hudson

Is your Sherline CNC ready or did you have to adapt it? How does it overcome raising the head stock up and down? I really have to crank on mine even with a large hand wheel. I think it is too late in life form to learn CAD etc. but I sure would like to adapt my rotary table to something like the frog.

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WeekendMiniaturist

Ok Bill H - I'm struggling with >"adapt my rotary table to something like the frog"... can we have a link please?  Tamra/Indiana

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Bill Hudson

I don't have a link but you might try goggling  Sherline rotary table on frog and see what comes up.  I found out Frog is no longer produced but there may be some other controller out there. I haven't really looked  as I couldn't afford one anyway.

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jackofalltrades

CNC is great for making models/miniatures!   Yah, I can do hand work and it is always a necessity but if you have deep pockets CNC can save a lot of drudgery and speed up the process!   It has a steep learning curve and saps your wallet!

 

I started by learning AutoCAD LT.   Then went to Rhino 5 solid modeling software along with Flamingo rendering software and RhinoCAM CAM software.

 

The first CNC machine was a Grizzly mini-mill that I converted to CNC which was a major project and lotsa learning. 

 

The picture below is of my second CNC machine that I designed and built.  It is a router with the bed being 24"X48".  The work capacity is roughly 42"X16"X6".  It uses an ordinary router to do the cutting.

 

Jack

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Wm. R. Robertson

Very nice machine! Great job on it.

My problem is I am so "old school" and the learning curve and expense never seems to justify even starting down that road with the nature of projects I do.

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Catherine Ronan

I am totally amazed buy the process Gerry.

Like Bill, I am old school. My jewelers saw has been my best friend my whole life.

The material you are milling looks like jewelers carving wax. Another very good friend of mine. I have always done my own casting.

Sadly, my computer is not a friend of mine. We have a love hate relationship.

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WeekendMiniaturist

I got my Rockler catalog today  The CNC Piranha is $1599 with  XYZ travel of 12" x 13" x 3" and it includes(Rockler?) Vetric Software.  I would want the 3D probe accessory for carving.  I think I would want a minimal 24 x 48 bed for a CNC router.  Dear Husband really does not like me using his table saw, or any ' full size table saw' so we have talked about a panel saw or a CNC router for me, so I can make 1/12th structures  to my hearts content, without giving him a cut list.  He is just trying to control the onset of Tamra's 1/12th subdivision taking over his real life home.  (I got the subdivision term from my friend Anne Ritter, IGMA Fellow, and she is ok with letting me use the term with credit!)

 

All software has a learning curve, but I find that if I'm under a deadline, I can learn pretty fast.  But it is pretty easy to just walk to a saw out and just cut out whatever I want for 1-3 items... but if I am making  25 of them?  Gosh, that is when you wish for production equipment.  I just wish software took verbal instruction  and integrated with Dragon Speaking. 

 

I can think that a CNC router would be great to make things for club activities.  Then I'm not the one standing there and cutting stuff out... still programming the router to cut it out doesn't sound like fun either, so for me it is a question of proficiency.

 

I am enjoying the topic! 

 

Tamra

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jackofalltrades

Tamra,

 

A few thoughts and opinions........

 

Safety is just as big a deal with a CNC router as it is on any power tool.   The router doesn't know the difference between the work, your clothes, and your hand.   You need to follow strict safety rules AND stay mentally focused on the work at hand and pay attention to the details.  Once you have used a CNC router for a while it gets to be about as exciting as watching grass grow.  5-6 hr of running a CNC router is about as much as I can take!   Boredom and fatigue are when accidents happen.

 

CNC routers generate a lot of NOISE and WASTE !   You need to deal with these issues before you run the router.

 

My router bed is 24"X48" BUT the work envelope is more like 42" X 16"X6" max.   Z axis travel is important!   I made mine 6" because I normally work on a wood stage that material is fastened to.   It also allows thick parts to be milled out.    For most 1" scale furniture a router half this size would be fine.   You will still need to use a saw to prepare stock for the router. 

 

A CNC router can do straight lines but that is often done easier and quicker using a band/table/chop saw.  Organic shapes and curves is where a cnc router shines.  

 

Be sure that the router is heavy duty!   Many are pretty flimsy.  Mass is helpful in a router.

 

Software needs to be well supported and easy to get help with. 

 

Good 3D design software is worth the $ and effort to learn.    I you become proficient with it you will be hooked on it if you enjoy design!

 

Jack

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WeekendMiniaturist

In reference to beginning to use a CNC router.... I thought this info that is available from Sherline to be of interest.... How to write G code so your CNC Router or mill or lathe works... And it is available for free. 

 

www.sherline.com/CNCinstructions.htm

 

I can program a simple macro in excel, but much better at programming in Lotus1-2-3, as the math calcs are math, in their proper mathematical terms. To calculate future value, it is future value in Lotus 1-2-3, and something weird in Excel.  (I'm still in denial that Excel took over the world, and I have something difficult to write, I write the macros in Lotus, and then translate them.) I think the best way for me to learn software is with a deadline.

 

Thanks Jack for the safety reminders: I'm very safety conscious.  :)  Still have all my fingers in their right place and a goal to keep them working until my exit stage right.

 

It is hard to cut a door way or window with a chop saw, you are left with the curve of the blade when I use the miter saw, and the band saw is not as accurate as I want.  I want a larger bed, so I can cut walls, less changes of the board.    With Corel Draw, I can draw a 11.5" line, the software tells me the length of the line.  Magic.  Now if I could just talk to Corel Draw and say, I want the X Axis to be 14" and the Y axis to be 11.5".  That would be sweet.

 

But a panel saw just seems so straight forward.  But I can cut out windows and doors with the CNC router, and then of course parts for furniture.  Between husband's wood shop, and my miniature tools, I have just about everything a mid level miniaturist could need for play.  If I would only grow up about 6-8 inches I'd be a lot happier using the table saw, but it just isn't fun cutting up 5' x 5' boards, and I know a table saw is very proficient.

 

Tamra

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WeekendMiniaturist

From Wm R... and "old school" comment.. I suspect that the expense is not so great for a CNC router, its just that you might want to redirect those funds to the cool "old tools" collection...

 

Its ok... I'm sure many of my friends have told me I'm crazy with my collections.... but it is fun!

 

Tamra

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jackofalltrades

Tamra,

 

Corel isn't going to cut it for a cnc router since it is 2D and gives no information on the Z axis.  Learning 3D CAD or solid modeling is important.  If you are on a tight budget Punch Viacad might be a good place to start or even Sketchup. !

 

Manual programing is good to learn and I do it on occasion but is very slow and can get complex.  It is good for very simple repetitive parts.  CAM software is much faster and allows a lot of options that are tough or impossible manually.

 

You can make a door using only a table saw to cut the parts including panels. 

 

A chop saw can be used to cut the parts to length.  A band saw can be used to cut tennons and maybe some other items.

 

Do a lot of research before you buy software or a CNC router to avoid an expensive mistake.  You'll be glad you did !

 

Jack

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WeekendMiniaturist

 I'm not a big person, and I'm reaching over the blade on my toes, could wear high heels to get a board past the blade.  These saws are not made for people who are under 5' tall.  Well, at least I do not know how to cut out a door that is 3" wide by 9" tall and not end up with the curve of the blade on the back side of a 3/8" sheet of plywood.  I want clean beautiful cuts on my structures and walls.  I have cut them out with my band saw.  I am sure the doors and windows are cut with a router in the real good toy kits because the openings are rounded at the corners.  Pin router, CNC router; don't know the kit mfg's production processes, but  I know what I don't want.  :)

 

BobCad Cam is $495, and has a users group and in person training available.  Our youngest son has friends in the tool world, I will look for local support... still all I want for Christmas is a panel saw! 

 

Now, how many women that you know ask their husbands for a panel saw for Christmas.  oh... but this thread is about CNC routers.  In trouble again!

 

Tamra

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ElgaKoster

LOL Tamra, I have asked for tools a few times for a birthday gift over the years.

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WeekendMiniaturist

I purchased Corel Draw for Artwork, and I have a Gazelle;  it is a a programmable "cricut", cuts with a blade on the X,Y axis; it is esentially a printer with a blade, instead of ink jets.  I cut out a bunch of hat brims, cardstock and silk fabric "sandwich" on my Gazelle, so our club members could make 100+ hats and give them away at a local miniature event.

 

Yes,  the Z axis is the depth,  or, the up and down of the cut, so if I emboss the letters in a sign the software creates a tool path...save it in the correct format and load your G Code in Mach 3, set your coordinates of "0,0" where you want the router to start, and you are off and running.  I recently went to the local Woodworking store to watch the CNC Router, and I got to make my first ink pen on a lathe for $20 and ask questions about the CNC Router.  It was fun.  Hopefully I have this correct; it was a lot to absorb in a very short period of time, and I'm sure it is infinitely more complicated then I have written, but that is what I got from the demo.

 

I'll see if I can find other CNC users groups to lurk in to see what they say about software. If any one has a CNC forum that they like please let me know.

 

Tamra

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karincorbin

I learned to use 3D CAD about 25 years ago. I use it for everything I design. The program I have design in for the last dozen years is Ironcad. It  was created for mechanical engineering and product design but it is very different than programs such as autocad and far more intuitive to use.  You begin with 3D shapes from a library that you drag into the scene and then change the size or use holes or sketches on a surface to modify the shape. It is a fairly expensive program however qualified students from acredited schools and educators can purchase the full, time unlimited version for $125.00. The learning curve is not bad and there are many training videos for it posted on youtube plus online tutorials from the company. There is a free 30 day download. If you should decide you want to purchase the program just let me know as I have a good friend who is a dealer and he will take good care of you.

 

I have also taken CNC machining training at a local college just for the heck of it as I wanted to try my hand at the larger industrial machines and learn to write G-code. I found writing G-code to be fun. It helped that I have a background in manufacturing and understand and use engineering blueprints plus have machined and fabricated parts for many years as an aircraft mechanic at Boeing. Plus I had taken a couple of semesters of basic computer programing.

 

I made my first CNC machined part for a dollhouse about 10 years ago using a Roland MDX 650, 4 axis milling machine. The piece was made in several parts that were then joined together. I hand cut in some minor details after milling and of course did some final sanding. I then used that model to create molds for casting the pieces. I had no problem cutting the initial trial master of the piece out of Dow blue foam but for my permanent master I used "tooling foam board" wich is a dense polyurethane foam. It is quite strong and takes good detail.  Here is the fireplace that was my first project on the Roland 4 axis milling machine.  One of these days I should create a fire back for it.

acorn-cottage-fireplace.jpg

 

I use 3D CAD often for designing jigs and fixtures. Sometimes I CNC machine the jigs, other times they are suitable for cutting on the laser. The laser is also handy for creating drilling templates and router templates.  The latest acquisition in our workshop is a 3D printer that can use about 20 different materials. I think of of the greatest derived values from a 3D printer is not just in making miniature items but in using it to make custom tools. . For instance you could make pieces to create a copy lathe or even the gears and follower patterns for a Rose Engine lathe.

 

I also use an electronic die cutter otherwise called a vinyl cutter or drag knife plotter for cutting pieces out of thinner materials such as cardstock, foam board and even thin metals. It can use other tools besides a knife blade such as pens and an embossing stylus.  If you are going to purchase this kind of item stay away from the hobby cutters such as the Cricut and Silhouette and invest in a machine with much better resolution that has more cutting force, you will want at least 700 grams of force at a minimum but there are machines around that are better than that. I got one called "Silver Bullet Cutter that has around 1200 grams of force. The price range to get one of the intermediate cutters of this type is around $700.00 I am pleased with the results of the machine I purchased. There is a learning curve when working with any machine for setting up the cutting tools, speed and such as well as using the software. But the vinyl cutters are on the low end of messing your head up with techy stuff. You can use any of the graphics programs to design in but the more common ones such as Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator and the open source program Inkscape will often have plug ins that allow exporting the design file directly into the software that drives the cutter.  You will also need to learn a bit about node editing as it helps with cutting very sharp pointed pieces or pieces with narrow V shaped valleys in them. These types of cutter also known as drag knife plotters, because the knife is dragged along it has to swivel to change direction which is why it can always cut a tiny sharp pointed tip or sharp V valley unless you redirect the nodes so the knife enters or exits the node at the end of a segment rather than being dragged around the point.  You will also have to learn the limits of design such as how narrow of a thin web section they make without destroying the part.

 

This last couple of years I have been cutting some micro sized paper buidings on my vinyl cutter. I design them in 3D CAD then unfold to create a flat pattern. Export that 2D drawing as a dxf file into Corel draw for post processing of nodes and also to create custom configured perforated lines to enable easy folding. Here is a photo of the latest set showing a ruler for scale. I first tried using a Silhouette Cameo for producing them but the mechanical resolution on the entry level craft machines is not adequate for fine scale modeling. They don't cut accurate circles and arcs, frequently offset cutting lines and have too much backlash, etc. The Cameo also lost cutting force within a year so it had to go into the trash as they don't offer replacement parts for the hobby class of machine. That class of machine is definetly entry level with minimal quality compared to the next step up.

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