I have ordered a HDM and have a ton of questions, some of which I was able to find answers to in the community.
The only experience I have with any sort of CNC is 3D printing, and not a lot of experience there. I have a fair amount of traditional woodworking experience and no metal machining experience to speak about.
Carbide Create vs Fusion 360. Should I start out with CC? Ultimately I’d like to do some more advanced things, but I’m starting from zero knowledge so I don’t know if I should start with CC and then graduate to Fusion 360 at a later point, or it’s better to just dive right into Fusion 360.
Mills. Eventually I’d like to dive into machining aluminum and brass, but initially it will be just wood so I’ll be focused on that as far as mills go. I’m a bit overwhelmed on what mills I should get. I have a decent collection of router bits in both 1/4" and 1/2" shanks. I suspect most of them will be of little use for CNC so I’ll need a collection of mills to get started.
a) Shank size. The ER20 collet will handle 1/2" mills, so are there any down sides to standardizing with 1/2" mills as much as possible? I realize they tend to be more expensive, but there seems to be an advantage in rigidity and heat dissipation. This is the collet I’ve been considering as I assume I’ll need a good one given the RPMs involved.
b) Facing mill. The one I have my eye on is the Amana Tool RC-2250. Is this a good choice or is there something else I should be looking at?
c) End mills. Which ones to get started? Near as I can tell a 1/4" and a 1/8" upcut spiral seems to be the workhorses many are using. I’m guessing I’ll need one or more ball nose mills and maybe some kind of V bits. Should I be looking at carbide or HSS? The brands I’m familiar with are Whiteside and Amana, but are there any import ones I should be considering instead? I’m assuming I’ll also need a downcut and/or combination spiral mills, but which ones?
Accessories. Right now the only thing I have on order is the BitZero V2. Is there anything I’ll need initially? I have a decent Fein vac and pretty much all the woodworking tools I’ll need for rough cutting, sanding, and drilling.
Mounting. I have a built-in workbench that’s plenty big enough for the machine, but Carbide 3D seems to recommend a rolling solution. Is this a big advantage to have access to all sides of the machine? I’m considering something along the lines of a [mobile workbench]. Any thoughts here? I don’t have an plans for an enclosure, at least initially.
Do you have any experience w/ Bézier curve drawing or CAD programs? What sort of work do you wish to do and how do you wish to approach it?
If you’re starting from scratch, learning Carbide Create should serve you well in terms of basic concepts and so forth, even if you move on to other programs
Router bits which don’t have bearings can be used in a CNC, if they can plunge/center cut, and if the geometry can be entered into the CAM tool you are using, or if you are able to work up a suitable toolpath in some way, e.g.,
a) expense will argue for matching shank size to cutting diameter as much as is possible — reasons to use tooling which has a larger shank size than cutting size:
increased precision — the cutting diameter will be turned down from the larger shaft and won’t be subject to the variation of the base shaft diameter
b) pass — I have only used the McFly tooling which I get for free for working for Carbide 3D
c) carbide tooling is far tougher and more durable than HSS — the only reason I’d suggest HSS is for its being sharper when cutting materials where that matters — there may be other cases though
Which accessories you use depends on how you wish to work — the BitZero is great for setting origin relative to rectangular stock
I wasn’t aware that we specifically recommended something which rolls — that actually works against stability and so forth — that said, a suitably sturdy/quality workbench w/ good quality casters on a level surface shouldn’t be an issue, and if your working area wants the mobility may be worth the expense.
They type of work I plan on doing will have a wide variance which is why I picked the HDM. I plan on making jigs, signs, furniture components, tools, and whatever else seems interesting. Another reason for the HDM is an interest in metal working, but I think I’m better off starting with wood. Ultimately I’ll be wanting to make small parts out of mostly aluminum.
I recommend getting cheap endmills off eBay / Amazon when you are first starting. You are going to break them while you get used to things. I bought a set of these:
when I first started. It gave me a chance to play with various endmills without feeling like crap when I broke one.
Same thing with a facing mills. Till you get into less forgiving materials like Aluminum I would recommend using something inexpensive. I have been debating getting something like this:
There are 1/2 in versions available as well.
One thing I did not see you mention was an enclosure. I highly recommend building one. They contain dust / chips, reduce the noise, and add a layer of safety. Like I said you are going to break endmills. Always fun having chunks of razor sharp carbide flying around uncontained.
So many opinions/experiences here. My thoughts (as an HDM owner).
The HDM is heavy, the gantry is a lot of moving mass. Swinging said gantry around at 5k rapids speeds and cutting aggressively demands a solid foundation. In my case, I had my SO3 XL mounted on a torsion box which in turn was mounted on a 3/4” MDF cabinet sitting on 4” casters rated for 250 pounds each. This was my HDM base start point.
The HDM doesn’t require a torsion box but I had it and it makes a solid, rigid base so I kept it. Plus, I know it’s flat. Early testing at max settings made it clear the casters had to go, too much movement even with all four locked. But, I hated to lose the mobility even though I seldom used it. I ended up, after some trial and error, jacking the cabinet up slightly higher then the height of my casters with four 6x6 blocks.
I think front/rear access is essential. Side access is handy, you def want to leave 8-10” clear space on both sides.
Also, do not bolt the HDM down. C3D went to a lot of trouble to ensure the bed is flat and rigid, bolting it to anything less then a granite block could affect that flatness.
I started off in 3D printing at home as well. I did have a job in CNC machine operation when I got my first Shapeoko, so I had some knowledge going into it.
1 – CC is a good start to get the concepts of things like feed, speed, depth of cut, etc. But the variables available in CC do not have nearly the scope of Fusion 360. So maybe get cutting with CC, but be watching Winston Moy, NYCNC, and Lars Christensen on YouTube to get started on that Fusion 360 deep-dive.
2 – Most router bits are not suited for CNC well. If they have bearings…….definitely not. To get started the 3 flute that comes with the machine will work great in wood. They have a starter pack or three that are nice. An assortment of ¼”, 1/8”, in both flat and ball endmills will be nice. It is popular to get v-bits and 90 and 60 degree are the workhorses there. 3/8” is about the perfect size to remove more material once you get to optimizing. I only use the ½” collet for my surfacing mill and some measurement tools.
3 – The HDM is pretty complete. The Hybrid bed is amongst the best platform out there for many projects, and I HIGHLY recommend the Gator and Tiger clamps. They are great workholding solutions. But once you venture into plastics and metals it may be a good idea to get the Saunders Machine Works plates and mod vises. My HDM sees almost exclusively plastics and metals and I tend to push pretty hard. The SMW plates and mod vises are now something I have trouble working without. But again, I push mine hard. The C3D Tigers and Gators are the highest quality stuff for most projects.
4 – If you have a rolling solution, I recommend the casters that either lift and le the legs hit the ground, or the type that have solid pieces that lift the casters off the ground. The HDM can make a bench on casters walk across a shop.
The HDM is pretty complete. The Hybrid bed is amongst the best platform out there for many projects, and I HIGHLY recommend the Gator and Tiger clamps. They are great workholding solutions. But once you venture into plastics and metals it may be a good idea to get the Saunders Machine Works plates and mod vises. My HDM sees almost exclusively plastics and metals and I tend to push pretty hard. The SMW plates and mod vises are now something I have trouble working without. But again, I push mine hard. The C3D Tigers and Gators are the highest quality stuff for most projects.
I’m definitely looking into the SMW plates. What I’d really like is a single plate that runs down the center in which I can use a mod vise and other fixturing while leaving the sides original. I have emailed them to see if they will sell just a single plate for the HDM rather than the 3 plate set.
4 – If you have a rolling solution, I recommend the casters that either lift and le the legs hit the ground, or the type that have solid pieces that lift the casters off the ground. The HDM can make a bench on casters walk across a shop
That’s good to know. I’m considering something like one of the Husky tool boxes which I hope would be heavy enough to keep the thing stable. I’m not sure if this one provides a large enough surface, but I can always attach a larger surface on top of it. I like the idea of having lots of storage underneath. Another option would be to just build one and use jacking casters that would allow me to rest it on the floor.
If you had to remove casters have you thought about these bench casters. The only down side is they stick out some so mount them on the side. They take optional plates so ypu can remove casters and use wheels on other shop equipment.
If you don’t need the ½” vises, then you can use the Shapeoko 4/Pro ¼” plates and just out them on the bed extrusions as well. The hybrid bed spacing is the same for the SO4/Pro/HDM
The Husky boxes are nice. But replacing the casters would be a good idea. They are heavy duty enough, but the locking mechanisms combined with swiveling casters is not really up to handle all that mass shaking around. I believe you would have to extend the surface to get the depth you need. I have also seen people put 2 of them back-to back to get the appropriate surface area.
I use the jacking casters that have pads that screw down to lift the casters. They have been the only ones I likes so far. The are out of the way and support the weight straight down as opposed to from the sides.
Just curious, why not make your own? You will have the tool for it. Your only restriction will be to make it a size you can surface all in one go. Or, swap ends to surface the remainder if you decide to go all the way to the back of the bed.
I’m a cheapskate I’ll admit but I don’t understand buying something you can make, it’s why we have these machines isn’t it?
I thought about making something for my S3 but came to the conclusion that I would not be able to match the accuracy of the SMW plates. You can probably do better on an HDM. I would still caution that matching the accuracy of what you get with SMW is not trivial. It can probably be done (or get close enough) with a decent amount of effort. One other thing is that all of the holes on an SMW aluminum plate are form tapped and not cut which makes them significantly stronger.
I didn’t notice anyone talking about these casters, but this is what I’m using. These specific ones are no longer available but there are a ton like them in design. They sit down on rubber feet and when you want to move the table you spin the middle and they come up. My HDM is on these and they’re great. Now I will admit it takes a minute to spin all 4, but my goal was only moveable as needed.