I had an opportunity to visit the Gene Haas Center for Manufacturing Innovation last week. I loved it! I was like a kid in a candy store. This brand new center has areas for CNC (subtractive manufacturing), manual milling, lathe work and grinding, 3d printing (additive manufacturing), pneumatics, hydraulics, robots, mechatronics and more! I was there for a lunch and learn that featured 3d printing technology from HP and MarkForged and also 3D design software from Solidworks. This facility is used by Greenville Technical college, Clemson University and also by local industry. They are also starting an business incubator very soon. Watch the video below for more information.
DIY Pneumatic Saw Clamp
I made one of theses many years ago when I was helping my father with a shop he was building. We were using very long 2×4’s and this style pneumatic clamp helped hold the extra long boards while we cut them down to a more manageable size. It can also save a finger or two by keeping your hands aware from the blade in the event that things go sideways 😐
What you’ll need:
Your saw or other application may vary, so these parts are just examples based on what I’m showing in the video. The pneumatic components directly below are from AutomationDirect.com
- AVS-53D2-HL 5 port 2 position toggle valve 1/4 NPT (Qty 1)
- A17020SN 1 and 1/16 bore 2 inch stroke 1/8 FNPT spring return air cylinder (Qty 1)
- SBC-14N Bronze cone silencer 1/4 MNTP (Qty 2)
- MS14-14N Male straight 1/4 tub to 1/4 MNPT (Qty 3)
- BFRHP-14N recessed hex head plug 1/4 MNPT (Qty 1)
- PU14BLK100 Black poly urethane 1/4 OD tubing 100ft (varries)
- ME14-18N 1/4 tubing to 1/8 MNPT (Qty 1) OR if you want to control the flow of air into the pneumatic cylinder so it doesn’t move so abruptly then use FVR14-18N flow control valve meter IN for 1/4 tubing to 1/8 MNPT (Qty 1)
Along with the pneumatic items above, you’ll also need:
Some material to mount the pneumatic cylinder. I used 3/16 (4.76mm) thick x 1.5 inch (38.1mm) wide flat steel bar. The piece that connected the 5/8 bolt (15.875mm) to the pneumatic cylinder is 6.5 inches (165.1mm) long. The “spring” top piece is 4 inches (101.6mm) long. The 5/8 bolt was 10 inches long and it fit the clamp hole on the saw perfectly. I used 2 5/8 nuts to sandwich the 2 pieces of flat bar. I didn’t have a large enough drill bit to drill the 5/8 hole and cylinder hole properly. I ended up using an old step drill bit that was large enough to get us there. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done. The last thing you’ll need is something to mount on the end of the pneumatic cylinder so you don’t damage your work piece when you clamp it. I used a small section of UHMW rod. You can find small lengths at McMaster-Carr (1 inch (25mm) rod a foot long for @ $3 at the time of this post) or you can use a rubber stopper or wood. You’ll also need to use one of the MS14-14N connectors and either plumb it to your air supply or mate it with a quick air hose disconnect.
Here’s a recent video series where I talk about the X-Carve CNC machine from Inventables. I also have some pictures of the assembled unit as well as a few shots of their newly released X-Controller.
I think the X-Carve is good for beginners and people looking to make crafts. With the spindle upgraded to the DeWalt 611 you can cut much faster and use larger bits. This comes at the price of increased noise from the router. I’ve seen others build an enclosure to keep the dust and sound at bay.
For the price, it’s a decent introduction to CNC. Especially when considering the larger of the two with around a 40″ x 40″ work envelope. With the drive mechanisms being belt oriented, be prepared to tighten them occasionally.
I found the control software very easy to use. Its a very pleasurable experience in fact. The first job on the Shapeoko 2 (version prior to the X-Carve) used the same Easel software and it was so straightforward that my 9 year old son ran it.
I beta tested the X-Controller and was also very pleased with the ease of setup and use. As I said in the video, the last thing I want to do after I finish building the X-Carve is building the electronics. The X-Controller solves that. It’s very plug and play and well thought out though I’d like to see some dust control and an external e-stop option on it.
Click HERE for the picture gallery.
When I was researching how to finish the LoopAliens, I decided to build a tumbler. It turned out well after I converted it to a larger, more capable motor. It’s ended up being more of a ball mill than a tumbler, but it did work. Creating it gave me a good excuse to turn out some really nice parts on the larger CNC machine I built some years ago. Click HERE to see the CNC machine I used.
After the proof of concept, I ended up buying a very large vibratory tumbler to run production parts with. It allowed me to finish hundreds of parts at a time rather than 50. Creating the “ball mill” was a good educational experience.
Here are some decent pictures from the DIY parts tumbler build I did some time ago
LED Can Light – Start to Finish
In this start to finish project we go through the entire process from Ideal to finished part. First we do the 3d design on the computer using Onshape. We then CAM (create the tool paths that tell the CNC machine how to actually cut the part) using BobCAD/CAM. Next we use a 5C collet fixture to hold the stock and test cut the part in plastic. Finally we cut the design from 1 inch (25mm) 6061-T6 aluminum bar stock. The lens is made from 1/8 frosted acrylic. You can tell in the pictures that this process made a big mess! The tolerances on the lens were “spot on”. The KR33 CNC is a beast of a little machine
I polished the aluminum version and that made it pop. It’s a nice, compact unit. I still need to finish them and mount them to the machines. One issue I have is finding good wire to use.