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IndustryArena Forum > Events, Product Announcements Etc > Want To Buy...Need help! > WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10K
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  1. #1

    WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10K

    WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making (foam tooling board) & carbon fiber trimming / drilling

    Budget is <= US$10K

    We are a small early stage UAV startup in Texas and we do in-house carbon fiber fabrication for our structures. We are looking to purchase a CNC router to help us with mould making and trimming / drilling of carbon fiber composites. The shape of composites are anything from plates to contoured surfaces.

    So far I am considering a PDJ 5 Prime with 36" z axis travel (website is very low quality). Possibly also considering Avid but not sure these machines will meet our needs.

    If anyone can please recommend PDJ or another maker, please reply to this posting.

    Here are more detailed requirements:

    1. budget <= US$10K
    2. turn key assembled & tested machine
    3. XY table 4' x 2' minimum, 4’x4' preferred
    4. Z axis 12” minimum, >20” preferred
    5. 5-axis
    6. bed: reconfigurable for vacuum or locating hole (peg hole).
    7. Bonus: reconfig for vinyl and pre-preg carbon fabric cutting

    I know we are asking for a lot of performance on a tight budget - I haven't found any commercial pro machines priced less than $20K for a basic 3 axis but there are some DIY kits as well as open source machines priced in my budget.

    Thanks,
    Skyways.com

  2. #2
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    754

    Re: WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10

    Without wanting to appear too cynical,have you ever done any 5 Axis programming from hand calculations?You will need to do a lot of trig calculations involving the pivot distance from the 5th axis centre of rotation to the tool tip.Or you will have to double your budget for some 5 axis software.I wish you well with your efforts but there is a lot to take into account.

  3. #3
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    Jul 2018
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    2011

    Re: WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10

    Hi Skyways - There are PDJ 5 threads here do a search and have a read. I'd start with a good 3 axis before you migrate to 5. That's a very low budget for a 5 axis and its a steep learning curve. Better to get to know 3 axis really well before you go to 5 then you will be much better informed and resourced to go to 5. Cutting CF needs a stiff machine and that does not look stiff enough to me.

    There are very good reasons commercial machines cost what they do. You will find all of this out as you choose your rabbit holes... If you cannot afford the correct solution do not buy anything and contract the work. A compromised machine bought in hope is a pain and a commercial disaster. Always buy the right tool for the job if it exists....

    combined prepreg and routing operations are a disaster. Cutting foam and CF is a terribly messy business and it will take a week to clean your machine then it only takes one bad day to contaminate a bunch of prepreg and you will never use it to cut prepreg again. You need a seperate room with a dedicated cloth cutter and a seperate room with a router...been there done that. Again if you can't afford the machine contract the work. It may end up cheaper in the long run....

    I've started up a few small manufacturing businesses so know what your thinking but you have to grow the biz up a bit to get what you want at that budget....cheers Peter

  4. #4

    Re: WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10

    Quote Originally Posted by routalot View Post
    Without wanting to appear too cynical,have you ever done any 5 Axis programming from hand calculations?You will need to do a lot of trig calculations involving the pivot distance from the 5th axis centre of rotation to the tool tip.Or you will have to double your budget for some 5 axis software.I wish you well with your efforts but there is a lot to take into account.
    routalot: thank you for the candid reply. Not cynical at all. I have not done any CNC programming (3 axis or 5 axis except for 3D printer FDM type programming). I appreciate your realistic feedback. Did more homework and thinking and yeah, I think a 3axis is a good starting point for now.

  5. #5

    Re: WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10

    Quote Originally Posted by peteeng View Post
    Hi Skyways - There are PDJ 5 threads here do a search and have a read. I'd start with a good 3 axis before you migrate to 5. That's a very low budget for a 5 axis and its a steep learning curve. Better to get to know 3 axis really well before you go to 5 then you will be much better informed and resourced to go to 5. Cutting CF needs a stiff machine and that does not look stiff enough to me.

    There are very good reasons commercial machines cost what they do. You will find all of this out as you choose your rabbit holes... If you cannot afford the correct solution do not buy anything and contract the work. A compromised machine bought in hope is a pain and a commercial disaster. Always buy the right tool for the job if it exists....

    combined prepreg and routing operations are a disaster. Cutting foam and CF is a terribly messy business and it will take a week to clean your machine then it only takes one bad day to contaminate a bunch of prepreg and you will never use it to cut prepreg again. You need a seperate room with a dedicated cloth cutter and a seperate room with a router...been there done that. Again if you can't afford the machine contract the work. It may end up cheaper in the long run....

    I've started up a few small manufacturing businesses so know what your thinking but you have to grow the biz up a bit to get what you want at that budget....cheers Peter
    Peter,
    Thank you for the reply and guidance. Totally agree with you on the statement "the right tool for the right job" - thank you for this piece of wisdom. Will also not combine prepreg cutting with foam cutting / composite trimming.
    Fortunately we've been doing well as a start up and have grown the business so we have room to get some better tools. As for cutting CF... our structures (wings, fuselage, tail) are quite thin - usually 3 layers of cloth at most (200 gram density) and most (99%) of the cutting and trimming is done by hand using a dremel and it's super laborious and inconsistent - this consumes probably 80% of the labor in our composite manufacturing (assuming we have good molds). I really want to get away from most (at least 80%) of the hand cutting. That said, I think a low end 3 axis router could do the job at lower feed rates. Aside from the thin structures that we layup in house, we will also want to route CF plates (wing ribs and various other shapes), and those are usually 1mm thick or less. Again, we've been using a dremel and cut off wheel to cut by hand. So possibly the router could also do this. Although contracting it out would be ok too.

    As I mentioned to routalot above, I'm pretty sure we'll go the 3 axis route for now. I get what you are saying about learning 3 axis first then going from there. I will do this first.

    Thanks,
    Krishna

  6. #6

    Re: WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10

    I am also open to used 3 axis machines that are in good working order. As I mentioned, our budget is up to $10K. If anyone can help direct, that would be great.

  7. #7
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    Re: WTB 5-axis CNC router for mould making & carbon fiber trimming / drilling; <US$10

    If you are planning lots of CF trimming,get the best extraction possible.It will reduce,but not eliminate,the likelihood of dust getting into places it shouldn't and causing expensive damage.The trimming will be a lot faster and more accurate than a hand held Dremel and equally,the wearing out of cutters will be happening in less time-so keep a decent stock of them.It seems to work better with parts made from prepreg as the cure is complete when de-moulded and the wet laid parts may need a post cure to aid clean cutting.

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