When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The right tools always help!

I had gotten a set of cutters in the summer from Tools Today, and was saving these cutters for some aluminum milling work I had planned on. However that project never seemed to have gotten off the ground!
It was an 8 piece O flute set specifically made for routering aluminum on a cnc router. A router not being the ultimately ideal machine for this, due to the incredibly high spindle rpm. I have always had my share of problems dialing in feed and spindle speeds perfectly in aluminum. But with these mirror finish, single flute Amana cutters, the prospects looked good.

I still haven't cut any aluminum yet.....


It's a really nice kit, in a wooden box, with a clear plexi cover. I secretly enjoyed having these cutters, un-used, all shiny and razor sharp, waiting for the day they would hear their calling, and jump to attention. Well our current project was just the thing. Although not aluminum, acrylic can have it's drawbacks cnc routing as well. I decided that they would be shiny no more..

It's a pretty sweet deal when a simple tool can make things easier, and give 10 times the professional finish that you were getting before.
These cutters are amazing! I ran 80 hockey stick blades in a sheet of cast 1/4" acrylic. These were all cut with the single flute, 1/4" upcut bit, in one pass. I had my feed speed at 71 ipm, and surprisingly, there was VERY LITTLE up pull on the sheet. But the edge finish was something that I was really impressed with.
The clarity was incredible on the finished part. It's pretty awesome that you can see my hand through two cut edges, on a part that's 2.5" deep. If I had had more time, I would have played around with my speeds a little more, to see if it could be even better, but at 71 IPM, there was no issues with cutting. These weren't even held down with the vacuum table, just some screws through the sheet into the spoil board. I'm a believer!!! I think on the next acrylic project, I'll give the downcut spiral version a test drive. With these results, I think I'm going to permanently switch over to Amana cutters. Ordering from Tools Today seemed to go pretty smoothly as well, with the kit arriving in a very timely manner. I would definitely order more from these guys, especially these O flute cutters.

 The other portion of our crazy hockey stick chandelier was the center plates that hold all the sticks together. I cut this from 1/2" cast clear with the same cutter. Although, my bravery ended at a 1/4" per pass, so the plates were pocketed in one pass at 1/8", and cut out in 2 passes, at a 1/4" per pass. The thought of busting my amazing new cutter friends was more than I could bear!
The edge finish on the 1/2" acrylic was just as good as the 1/4" pieces, even though it was done in 2 passes. If these were any better, they'd rival laser cut edges! In-fact I'm pretty sure flame polishing would go very fast, with the edge quality being 3/4's the way there already!

Next step..............sand blasting!

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