"One Perfect Part at a Time"

3D

Tormach xsTECH Router

Tormach xsTECH RouterA first impression. My impression.  NOT a user report.

Note well:  It called a ROUTER not micro-mill. Or any type of mill.  Routers and mills are cousins, but don’t live in the same family group.

I was extremely excited when I saw this tool for the first time.  I like Tormach equipment and I especially like their Linux based PathPilot controller software. This little baby OH router, the Tormach xsTECH actually runs full strength PathPilot!

It’s also a complete, full house, tools and all, everything one needs to get up and running — 3-axis micro overhead router. WOW! Continue reading

Plastic Rut

Man Sitting In deep rut.

Gosh! Haven’t posted here in a while. Got derailed and off track by playing with the demon of three-dimensional printing. You know, push a button and out pops a three-dimensional PLASTIC component.

Pretty much a sit back and watch effort. Similar but different than CNC machining. No chips flying around, or mist cooling required. Additive rather than subtractive manufacturing. It has its place but IMHO not for durable goods. Great for prototyping and making plastic models.

It is not the printing that is the most value. The printer is just another tool. The most value for me is the amount of CAD drawing (and mastering) acquired in designing parts for printing. The same skills that instantly transfer to good old fashion CNC machining.

The point is Plastic 3D printing is here. I have learned how to use it at a hobbyist level. But for making real, functional items, subtractive machining is still holding its own.

Continue reading

Dimensional Decision

I am presently using two very good 3-dimensional CAD programs. They are Autodesk Fusion 360 and Robert McNeil & Associates Rhino3D. I am at a decision point on which one will be my standard go-to drawing program.

I have had the longest association with Rhino. I started with version 3 and version 6 has just been released. Major version number upgrades must be purchased. That’s why I am at a decision point.

Fusion 360 is free for users like myself. That is a major advantage. The Rhino3D upgrade is $375.00.

It seems like a no-brainer to stay with the free one. But for me price is not always the sole determining criteria.

My problem is that both programs are very good. The largest difference is the cost-to-own. If I had to pay for Fusion 360, I must admit that cost would be a very large determining factor. I certainly don’t want to be paying for two programs that are almost equal in results for how I use them.

My decision is to continue using both. I will pay for the upgrade in Rhino. It’s about $1.05 per day for a year. I can live with that. Major upgrades do not occur yearly, so the cost spreads out thinner.

I have no idea if Fusion will remain free. It does seem to be a very friendly marketing strategy.

One hesitation I have with Fusion 360 is it is cloud-based and dependent on a connection to the Internet. It seems to me it access could be shut down very quickly. But every computer activity today depends heavily on an Internet connection.  I feel any change in the free use policy won’t be immediate.

I have just changed my business accounting to a web-based service. It’s how we work today.

What keeps… Continue reading

Autodesk Fusion 360

fusion360logo

fusion360logo

First look. I poked around looking at the trending in 3D CAD/CAM tools. Autodesk (AutoCAD) has always been at the top of my unobtainable list because of cost. I have a now quite old LT version which is strictly 2D. I also have a standard AutoCAD I think is version 4 or 6. Neither are installed on my machines. I need 3D.

In my web search I discovered a new tool from Autodesk called Fusion 360. I was actually reading about Apple’s new super powered iPad Pro. I thought if I owned an iPad Pro, it would have to do 3D CAD. I discovered a new 3D CAD program for the iPad Pro called Shapr3D.

Shapr3D looks very Avant-garde performing on the iPad Pro. Here is a quote from their home page: “All you need is your iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil and Shapr3D.” The program is listed as “free” but the first two requirements are a bit beyond my budget. That didn’t stop me from exploring the application features,

In the reviews I read on this product, there was a mention of the Fusion 360 application. I followed the hyper-link and discovered it is an Autodesk product. Now I am paying attention.

Fusion 360 is more advanced than Shapr3D. It is also one of the new wave “cloud subscription” products. For professional users, it is a subscription service with a monthly/yearly user fee. It provides a huge amount of professional services, sharing, cloud storage, etc. I expect something from Autodesk to reek with such high end features,

What is truly startling, is a full featured, fully operational, free installation is available for start-ups groups and developers and individual hobbyists (me), no strings attached. I will have to confirm my non professional use on a yearly basis.… Continue reading

Adding and Subtracting

Taig CNC Mill

Taig CNC Mill with 3D Parts.

I purchased a new 3D printer I have been using intensively for a few weeks. It is a low end hobbyist machine of what is called a RepRap design. You can read much more about it in Ramblin’ Dan’s Workshop. Here is a link to the section on 3D Printing.

What’s so cool is that now I am capable of both additive and subtractive creating. I have put the two together in an article, Taig Mill Swarf Blower, in the THMS main web site. The resulting combination is shown in the picture on the right.

I have a little struggle with where I should publish my efforts with the 3D printer. Does it really belong in with the regular “old school” machine shop?  It’s certainly not old school but I think it would fit in well here. I have chosen to publish what I do with 3D printing over in Ramblin’ Dan’s Workshop as I include all my nonspecific to machining activities there.

The 3D printer I own and wish to afford cannot compete with the precision I can obtain with conventional machining. It’s the second reason I don’t publish it here. My output surface quality with the printer is a little bit in conflict with the “perfect” in my slogan, “One Perfect Part at a Time.” But that doesn’t make it a bad tool.

3D printing, as I can produce it with my machine, will have a lot of application in the machine shop. The first practical application I developed is linked in the second paragraph above. I can make plastic parts I would not try to do otherwise. The entire process is based on slicing a 3D object into 0.1 mm, 0.2 mm, or 0.3 mm layers. Then building… Continue reading

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