CNC Router for Aluminum Machining?

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SteveHGraham
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CNC Router for Aluminum Machining?

Post by SteveHGraham » Wed Jul 04, 2018 1:15 pm

I have always dismissed CNC routers as clumsy wood machines with limited aluminum capability. Yesterday I saw a video which made me wonder if I was wrong.

Youtube celebrity This Old Tony built his own CNC router, and he used it to make aluminum parts for a pasta machine. It wasn't super-precise machining, but then the majority of parts home machinists make don't need to +/-0.001" tolerances. You can make a lot of useful things and be off by five thousandths. You could also use a CNC machine like a foundry. You could make nearly-done parts in it and finish them with manual machines.

I'm wondering if anyone here has experience with CNC routers and aluminum. There is a prefab machine called a Shapeoko that isn't all that expensive, and it appears to do pretty good work.

Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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WesHowe
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Re: CNC Router for Aluminum Machining?

Post by WesHowe » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:07 am

Steve:

There are some machining videos on YouTube featuring the Shapeoko, see this channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpyCap ... oanzYDLwnQ

- Wes

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ctwo
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Re: CNC Router for Aluminum Machining?

Post by ctwo » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:45 pm

Doesn't K. Fenner have one, or something similar? Having a CNC mill, think I'd rather entertain a 3D printer.
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Mr Ron
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Re: CNC Router for Aluminum Machining?

Post by Mr Ron » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:34 pm

A CNC router is just another form of mill. Instead of the work moving under the tool, the tool does the moving while the work remains stationary. A router is useful for machining parts that are too big for a milling machine. Most woodworking CNC routers are not rigid enough to machine aluminum, although they have been used for engraving. They will definitely not handle steel, but aluminum has properties similar to wood, especially hard woods. I have been building a CNC router for the last couple of years and am about 90% finished. Other projects + being short on funds, has put that projet on the back burner for a while. In the meantime, I'm gathering ideas and making design changes. I want to be able to cut aluminum in support of my locomotive building activity. A CNC mill would be the machine of choice, but moneywise, out of the question for me. A CNC router can handle the job as long as the cuts are not too aggressive. The beauty of the CNC router is being able to make multiple parts with one setup. Think about the steps in making a locomotive spoked driver. You usually start from a casting made from a wood pattern; chucked up in a lathe, turned, flipped and turned some more. Being a casting, it will require some manual clean up. That is for just one driver; what if you have to make 16 more identical drivers? With a CNC router, those 16 drivers can be made with one setup. Of course using a router limits you to soft metals like aluminum. That is not saying you can't machine steel on a CNC router; just substitute the router with a laser head. You could use a machining center, but be prepared to spend 6 figures and more. The CNC router can do that and more at a fraction of the cost, placing it as an affordable machine tool for the home amateur. Milling with a CNC router is relatively new in the machining world and I can see a bright future ahead for that tool.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

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SteveHGraham
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Re: CNC Router for Aluminum Machining?

Post by SteveHGraham » Sat Jul 14, 2018 1:57 pm

Keith Fenner has an X Carve, which is supposed to be an inferior Shapeoko competitor. I don't know what he has made with it.

Starting to think I should just man up and start planning for a Tormach.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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