5 axis machines

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Captain Starfish
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5 axis machines

Post by Captain Starfish » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:30 am

Not a great match for a printer forum I know, but I see hints that there are a few guys into the subtractive side of the force.

Now that I've had a year or so with a computer driven printer, wandering down to the old hand driven lathe and mill is feeling a bit limited and bulky.

So I've started looking around at maybe selling those and condensing into a single CNC 5 axis machine.

This guy threw up a video of exactly the kinda thing I want as a DIY but I haven't been able to find anything else about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTTpnNGzk4U

Then there's the ubiquitous HY-3040, 5 axis version: http://www.ebay.com/itm/271434433386

Plenty of these around, but usually (even with the 1500W motor) being pushed as an "engraver" and any videos of them seem a little, well, tentative when it comes to cutting into plastic, let alone aluminium.

So bearing in mind I'm not after a brand new $70,000 or more 5 axis workcentre and I don't have three phase, and knowing that I don't want to replace my basic but fairly rugged equipment with cheap crap that won't cut more than a couple of thou per pass without choking, are there any recommendations out there?

Or can someone put their hand on their heart and say the 3040 isn't as bad as it looks? :)

Mostly looking at building dive equipment parts for the moment which means delrin (POM), brass and aluminium mostly. But I'd like to be able to do the occasional piece in steel as well.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by JFettig » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:22 am

Why are you looking into a 5 axis machine? Its usually a lot over the top for what most do and without a huge rigid machine, you will have issues doing every day 3 axis work.

I programmed and ran a Haas vf2ss with a trunnion table to do some production parts and it was a lot more work than it needed to be. It did make some awesome parts and very fast but it could have been done faster on a 4 axis machine because it would have been more rigid.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Polygonhell » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:28 pm

Very cool, I notice he doesn't do any 5 axis coordinated moves in the video.

Building a trunion table for a CNC Mill isn't too difficult, assuming you have or buy the Mill. Making it backlash free does require expensive motors/gearboxes but if you use ebay you can find the occasional bargain, but you'll still have greatly reduced rigidity.

Biggest issue with 5 axis though is finding CAM software that will generate tool paths, it gets dramatically more complex than 2 and 3D stuff, and more niche, so more expensive.

I'll second 5 axis way more than most need comment, I have a 4th axis on my mill I hardly ever use, it's almost always quicker to stick something in a lathe if it's round, and I rarely design anything that requires the extra axis.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by JFettig » Mon Apr 13, 2015 1:41 pm

Lots of CAM packages will do 5-axis positioning, whether natively or if you're clever. CAM that will do 5-axis simultaneous motion is $10k+ generally.

It sounds like a really cool thing to do and I'd love to, I have some projects that would require it but I can't justify it - I'd love to build a CNC head porting machine.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Captain Starfish » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:16 pm

Mmmkay - the reason I'm looking at 5 axis is so I can roll lathe and mill operations out of the one machine. I want to be able to do facing and 2.5d type routing which can be done by having another go* at CNCing my current vertical spindle mill. I want to be able to do turning and indexing operations, which I could do (I guess) with a 4th axis bolted onto that mill. The fifth axis? Well, I could probably survive without it to be honest, but what I keep seeing is that it opens up more options for tool access when trying to do complicated pockets and shapes and when I'm seeing it as a not-much-more expensive add-on to the cheap units I thought "Why not?"

I could add a trunnion and rotary table to my current mill and motorise the drives, but I'm hesitant because it's a cheap machine with big backlash issues on the shitty ACME screws and half nuts. And last time I tried to CNC it was a pretty sad result - I did the electronics, the firmware, the mechanicals to throw some NEMA 23 motors on there with a 48V supply but as soon as I tried to get through anything but light plastic or timber it would just bite in, bog down and skip away on the steppers. I ended up pulling it all off and going back to manual.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Generic Default » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:13 am

5 axis doesn't have to be a mill. A 5 axis lathe with live tooling is a lot more productive; you can still do the small complex parts but workholding is much more simple and reliable.
Other than mold making, most 5 axis work for aerospace and stuff is done on mill-turn centers that are just huge lathes with milling capabilities.


I bought a Taig CNC ready mill last year and I love it. It cuts everything faster and more accurately than other hobbyist mills, plus the tolerances for the machine are around 0.001 and everything is adjustable to eliminate backlash. My setup is CNC'd with a smoothieboard and a 4th rotary axis, total cost of the thing right now with tooling is probably around 2,000.

If you want to make your own 5 axis you will have to start with a 3 axis CNC that can make high quality parts. I also bought a sherline lathe and converted it to CNC, but it doesn't perform nearly as well as the Taig mill. I'm in the slow process of making a CNC scratch built lathe for live tooling and a big stepper motor to cut threads and index stuff. You will find that cylindrical lathe pieces are impossible to make accurately on any additive machine; 3d printers can do 5 axis mill parts easily, but lathe parts still need a lathe.
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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by 626Pilot » Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:59 pm

Generic Default wrote:My setup is CNC'd with a smoothieboard

I wish Smoothie had a working e-stop feature. If yours does something unexpected, do you just shut off the controller box? I've had to press the big red button a couple of times on my own mill.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Generic Default » Mon Apr 27, 2015 9:50 pm

I don't even have a control box! I never got around to printing one for some reason. So my smoothieboards are inside cheap tupperware knockoff containers with some holes drilled/melted into them for wires and a cooling fan. The 12v fans have been running on the 24v power for almost a year now. Not sure how, but that's the reason I use them for the Tri hotend kits.

When I have a crash or problem with the lathe or mill, I just have to yank the USB out of my laptop as quickly as possible. Nothing too horrible has happened yet!
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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by jlmccuan » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:25 am

I have one of these. Well under $10K with tooling. Does almost everything I need with the exceptions being items on the mill requiring over 24" machined in one axis.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Captain Starfish » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:23 pm

Sorry @jlmccuan, are you referring to the HY-3040?

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by jlmccuan » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:01 pm

Sorry. I was sure I included the link, but it's not there, so I guess I didn't.

http://shopmasterusa.com/


There we go.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Captain Starfish » Thu May 28, 2015 8:45 am

Cheers for the link. Had a look but not quite what I was after.

Looking further, turns out one of the guys at work is half interested on flogging his Sieg KX3 4 axis machine. Seriously tempted.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by JFettig » Thu May 28, 2015 10:31 am

Those shopmaster machines are terrible! They will do both but suck at both! Very poor design and implementation. Fly cutting a couple thou off of a 304SS surface and the whole machine moves.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Polygonhell » Thu May 28, 2015 12:54 pm

If you need to do both and your not trying to do too much with the lathe, the Tormach duality lathe solution is probably the closest to a viable solution.
Basically it just bolts a removable mini lathe to the mill bed, that way at least you can remove the lathe and not compromise the milling performance.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by TFMike » Thu May 28, 2015 2:09 pm

Thoughts on this? http://5axismaker.com/

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Generic Default » Thu May 28, 2015 4:08 pm

I saw that thing a while ago. It looks cool and I'm sure some people will get a lot of use out of it.
But it's made out of hollow aluminum extrusions and the Z axis is a single bar. It looks like it's only rigid enough to cut foam or maybe plastic with a small tool. Both foam and plastic blocks are expensive.

If that thing was made more rigid so it could cut metal, I'd definitely get one. Open source electronics can drive the cost of CNC way down but the machine frame and precise parts are still expensive and need to be done right for good performance.
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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by barry99705 » Thu May 28, 2015 4:40 pm

TFMike wrote:Thoughts on this? http://5axismaker.com/

Looks like the same motor I have on my quadcopter...
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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by Captain Starfish » Thu May 28, 2015 6:10 pm

Yep, looks cool but they only cut foam in the video for a reason. It's an even lighter build than the 3040 I started looking at which just seemed a little lightweight. Having set up an underpowered rig before I know and never want to see again the frustration of dropping a bunch of time and effort on something that simply won't do the job.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by jlmccuan » Fri May 29, 2015 1:57 am

JFettig, I don't have any problems with rigidity, but I work almost completely in aluminum. My issue is the lack of speed as I normally machine using HSM. I have done some mods to mine which is the generation before what is on the web site now which likely contribute to rigidity. I understand earlier machines did have more issues. Given the scope of what the original poster was looking at the Shopmaster is a better solution. What did you buy for less than $7000 that is capable of lathe and mill work and CNC? I'll take the Shopmaster over the Harbor Freight/Little Machine Shop/Grizzly/etc conversions. But then again, I'll be buying a Tormach lathe and mill in the next few months.

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Re: 5 axis machines

Post by JFettig » Fri May 29, 2015 9:59 am

You can buy a used vmc for less than 7k. I just passed on a milltronics a couple months ago for 5k that was in good condition, had no place to put it at the time.

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