Clear cuttings using a propeller?

Folks, has anyone thought about 3d printing a mini propeller that could be interference fit on the collet of the Nomad to clear cuttings? Our Nomad is for my classroom and I need to S I M P L I F Y it for high school students. I am a little worried that they will present me daily with bits that have melted aluminum covering their cutting surfaces. I own an X-Carve CNC mill (similar to a shapeoko) and the Dewalt 611 router is used as a spindle and pushes air down to the bit. It clears most cuttings until you get around 1/8" deep. I was thinking about 3d printing a tiny fan that would direct air down on to the bit and clear cuttings out of the way. Has anyone tried something like this?

This one I’m aware of offhand ;

Yes, folks did that early on, and someone noted that you could just use some painter’s tape to the same effect.

I tried it, and was shocked by how wildly it dispersed the dust — took forever to clean the machine up again — some sort of simple vacuum setup seems a much better idea. Chip recutting doesn’t seem to be that much of an issue though — the rotation of the endmill itself seems to do a decent job of clearing them.


emerges from lurking for ages

I haven’t run my machines in a while because life, but where I ended up on this was that rather than having a prop fan, a vacuum collection system is waaaaay more effective. I had started work on re-designing a setup for that to fit comfortably in my Nomad, prior to a big move (from Virginia to Boston) for work and haven’t picked it up in a bit.

I want to cut custom ornaments this year again so it’s a project for me to get my machines setup and running this fall in my basement, and I’ll likely print some vacuum fittings and plenums and such (I work at Markforged now, no excuses not to print stuff) and will share those designs when I do!


Thanks Jonathan. If this were for my personal use; I’d go vacuum all the way. Problem is that this is for my classroom. Everything that produces noise is a problem. I had one group of kids that could not stand the plasma light disc nor the plasma light that I had on my desk. The noise level of Nomad is already too much for my Chemistry and Physics classes. The kids in the Engineering class should be able to handle the noise of making their own projects. So the extra noise of having an air compressor or vacuum in the classroom would not work.

I would like to cut down the cycle time of producing one project as well as milling 1/4" aluminum. So getting the cuttings/heat out of the way is my main goal. It might be possible to charge an old BBQ propane tank and then use the charged tank as an air source… then you could mist or blow cuttings out of the way. Maybe some sort of venturi vacuum system using a venturi and compressed air?

Not enough capacity in a tank that small.

1 Like

You should be able to find a way to set up a vacuum. Noise reduction enclosures are not terrible to build (monetarily or complexity). You can also put additional filtering on the outlet to reduce airbourne particulates.

DO NOT use an old bbq tank as an air tank. Especially not in a school. In most jurisdictions in the US, things you could get away with at home are not acceptable in any place of business or public assembly. Misuse of a pressure vessel, or use of an uncertified pressure vessel, is a liability nightmare, and likely to be illegal. Where I am, all but the smallest air compressor tanks in commercial or public buildings need to be registered with the state and are subject to periodic inspection.

Also, if you are using forced air to clear chips, you want a vacuum or greater capacity than the air source to control release of chips and dust.

1 Like
  1. Shopvac has some low-noise versions, the “SNR” vacs, which helps.

  2. budget permitting, take a look at BOFA’s DustPro line-up. Some of these are pretty quiet.

  3. some people have some DIY approaches to this that might fit the bill:

Good luck!

1 Like

Thanks for the advice.

Thanks Jonathan. Budget is very tight and I have no space. Very good ideas though.

Thanks Paul. I was looking at reinventing the wheel (in this case prop).

Thanks Will. I guess the trick would be to get just enough air to clear the cut. But if you are adjusting the rpm of the spindle on the fly and milling different density materials… too many variables. It would be really nice to flood the cutting surface but then you are messing with the simplicity of the Nomad design.

You are probably right Mike, but if might be enough to pressurize a mister system. Pain to keep filling it with air though. I probably should keep this very simple because it is for a classroom.

check out ;

id search bit fan, propeller, fan, etc

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.