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  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    A bit of advice needed

    Background:
    Career fabricator that built a cnc x2 mini mill 10 yrs. ago with the help of this forum. got it built but sold it before I did much with it.
    Mostly just learned how to make decent cad drawings to give to actual machinist's

    I am working with a small start up that is considering bringing our modest machining needs in house.
    Basically we need to drill and tap a number of vertical holes in 1/2"x2"x up to 12" solid aluminum extrusion.
    About 1-200 pcs a week would be plenty.

    I am thinking a 3 axis mill with tool changer, but maybe that's overkill. We can afford the mill but I recall that software can cost a good bit.
    Played with mach3 back then but would that be suitable? I would like to learn to run this myself but we would be willing to hire someone with experience if necessary.

    Fortunately we are thinking ahead so there is time to determine the correct path. Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    13253

    Re: A bit of advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Hutkikz View Post
    Background:
    Career fabricator that built a cnc x2 mini mill 10 yrs. ago with the help of this forum. got it built but sold it before I did much with it.
    Mostly just learned how to make decent cad drawings to give to actual machinist's

    I am working with a small start up that is considering bringing our modest machining needs in house.
    Basically we need to drill and tap a number of vertical holes in 1/2"x2"x up to 12" solid aluminum extrusion.
    About 1-200 pcs a week would be plenty.

    I am thinking a 3 axis mill with tool changer, but maybe that's overkill. We can afford the mill but I recall that software can cost a good bit.
    Played with mach3 back then but would that be suitable? I would like to learn to run this myself but we would be willing to hire someone with experience if necessary.

    Fortunately we are thinking ahead so there is time to determine the correct path. Any advise will be greatly appreciated.
    You may not need a cnc mill to just drill and tap holes.

    For a machine control Acorn, it one of the better controls that can do rigid tapping, Mach3 is still good for anything to do with milling, not so good in the rigid tapping area though.

    Need to know if you need to do any milling on the parts??

    A flex arm can be better for taping production run pieces like this, it can be mounted onto a work bench, and you would use fixtures for your parts.
    Mactec54

  3. #3
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    5242

    Re: A bit of advice needed

    We are a small manufacturer and went through the startup phase about 4 years ago. It was a big decision for us to move from manual machine prototyping to full on in house CNC machining. Our machining needs were a bit more complex than drilling & tapping a few holes, but after getting some quotes from local shops it made our decision much easier. We purchased a used, but like new, Haas TM-2p with a 20 tool changer and never looked back.

    If you have the budget for purchasing a CNC machine, then I would say go for it. Probably overkill for your current needs, but you will find a lot more uses for it in the future. Take a serious look at roll form tapping, works great in aluminum. That is what we use and have had very good luck with it.

    CAD/CAM software ranges from free to crazy expensive. NanoCAD, an AutoCAD clone, has a free version and you can purchase the ''pro'' version for <$100 as I recall, CamBam is a simple CAM with some CAD capability software for $150. I can't remember if it supports rigid tapping.

    For professional CAD/CAM 3D modeling software Fusion 360 is my go to choice. It is a subscription pricing model but is still a pretty good value, I think about $1200/year. Free subscriptions are available for hobbyists and startups. It works well and has a short learning curve if you have some CAD experience.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2022
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    0

    Re: A bit of advice needed

    Typical Mechanical Properties in different states

    We can produce aluminum sheet products in this project. Please refer to:
    Make nice holes in thick aluminum sheets, I think a laser CNC machine is needed, here are some punched aluminum sheets I made. https://www.tigersalu.com/

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