Mill Turning on the Tormach PCNC440

I just dared to hit run on my first attempt at Mill Turning.  I need to qualify this in that the first run I was cutting air above the set up.   It looked OK so I put the real material in the spindle and I got a turned part as designed in Fusion 360.   I didn’t part it off and you can see the result below.

Mill Turning set up for first trial run

Mill Turning is where you place the material you want to shape (usually a rod of some kind) in the mill spindle instead of a milling tool.   The tools are mounted on the milling table (see above in the vice) and are completely stationary but move via the actions of the table in the X axis and the spindle in Z.   The software is conned into thinking the material is really a milling tool and that the tools are the material.

It has taken me the best part of a week to work out how to model this in Fusion 360 and I have been helped enormously by watching Jason Hughes on YouTube.  It involves allocating a different Work Coordinate for the location of each tool.

If I can get this more streamlined and get some better lathe tooling in place to support it, then I will be able to turn clock pillars.   This was the last stumbling block in moving to CNC assisted clockmaking.

Tonight I am a very happy bunny.  A glass or two of Merlot with dinner perhaps ?

Update – For a full write up on the process and how I got there go to my mill turning page and download the pdf.

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Open Thinking when Solving a Problem

I think I have mentioned this before …. when you have different ways to solve a problem it is often easy to get locked off into a long winded but potentially elegant solution and miss the point.

3D printing has brought this home to me on a number of occasions.

An example – I have variable speed controllers on my Myford Lathe and Myford mill.   The controllers are identical and each have an ON and OFF push button.  The bezel around the ON button on one of these had cracked and come away leaving the switch floating in its mounting hole.

My first reaction was to replace the switch.  I contacted the controller supplier to ask for a part number and distribution source to buy a new switch.  They ignored my email which was fortunate as I would probably have ordered a complete new switch assembly.  I would then have had all the grief of stripping down the controller case and wiring in the new switch.   This would probably have invalidated any warranty etc etc.

Instead I stepped back and looked at the problem from a different angle.  The bezel while broken still had enough of the ring and thread intact and simply needed gluing back together.   However it would not have been strong long term.   What it needed was an outer strengthening ring.

Fusion 360 called and the Sindoh 3D printer.   A ring was designed and printed  (20 minutes) and the bezel strengthened and made good.   I also printed three more rings and put these around the remaining three switch bezels as a preventative action should they also weaken and crack.

A simple, low cost and effective solution with the added benefit of reduced downtime in the future.   But the point is that it wasn’t the first solution I was considering correct though it might have been.

3D printing is such a useful resource to have available but you need to think outside of your normal approach to a problem to realise its potential.

Sorry that wasn’t mega interesting but I thought it worth sharing …

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Tormach Tooling System and a Spanner in the Works

Tormach provide a rather nice tooling system for their milling machines.   This is known as the TTS.   There is a master collet permanently fitted in the spindle.  If you have the automatic tool changer option fitted this collet is depressed by a compressed air driven ram.   This opens its jaws to allow grabbing of individual sub collets holding the tool of choice.

The great bonus of this system is that you can have all your regular (and not so regular) tools permanently mounted in collets ready to go.  Press the button driving the ram and push the next tool home.   This also means you can populate the tool table in the PathPilot CNC driver program with all the tool length offsets without having to measure each time you do a setup.

It does mean quite an investment in the sub collets.   These are available for all manner of capacities both metric and imperial either with fixed diameter grips or standard ER ranges.  There are also custom tools such as the Super Fly and Shear Hog plus fittings to take a Haimer shank.

What was always a fiddly job was mounting a new tool in a collet and trying to contra-rotate the collet tightening nut while holding the body.   This is now no more ….. I have just taken delivery of Tormach’s simple but elegant solution to this.

It is a ball race mounted in a block but a ball race that only rotates in one direction.   You simply push the collet shank into the ball race and it is gripped tight.  To loosen the collet you simply put it in from the other side.  Magic !

Now you have probably realised I am a bit OCD and like things in their place and ordered.   Having got the tool gripping sorted I would now need two spanners to fit the collets of my most popular ER16 and ER20 nuts.  That was one too many spanners for my liking and was tying up standard shop spanners (which also have their allocated place in the shop …. oh dear how sad is that).

Now I happened to have a strip of 50mm wide Ground Flat Stock sat idle and Fusion 360 was calling.  A quick drawing on Fusion delivered a customised spanner sized to suit the two most popular sizes of collet I use.    I ran the CAM and off to the 440.

I put a piece 6mm hardboard on top of my tooling plate and put a couple of M8 holes at 75mm spacing on the centre line of the stock and fastened it down through the hardboard into the tooling plate on the 440 bed.   I made sure the Z clearance was OK for the screw heads (important !) and hit go.

It was the first time I had machined GFS and the 440 handled it well.  I now have a nice customised spanner hanging on the wall above that fancy bearing block.

Disclaimer : –  This post and many others on my website feature references to Tormach and its products.  I have no connection to Tormach Inc financially, commercially or otherwise.  I acknowledge that Tormach®, Tormach Tooling System®, TTS® and PathPilot® are all registered trade marks of Tormach Inc.

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Black Saturday and a Napkin Ring

Had a bad day on Saturday.   I was milling a small tooling plate on the PCNC440 and got distracted.  Result was a coolant puddle migrating into the bottom of the Tormach keyboard followed by a broken Haimer tip.  Doom and and major gloom.  The keyboard was a write off as the fluid had got into the capacitive keyboard laminated sheets.

As it turned out a new keyboard was much cheaper to buy from Amazon than import another one from Tormach being only GBP6 and the Haimer tip while a bit more expensive was imported from Germany via Amazon.

I was in the process of trying to work out why the Z settings appeared to be changing while drilling the matrix of holes on the tooling plate.   The drill bit length was still the same figure as entered in the offset tooling table but the hole depth had reduced.   I think it might be the Tormach Tooling Collet not being fully seated into the spindle and it had jumped home.   Having just installed a new air compressor for the Fog Buster and the tool changer, it could be the air pressure was a bit low and not fully opening the R8 collet. As soon as the new Haimer tip arrives I will get back to it.

While ‘off-air’ so to speak I have been doing some 3D modelling on Fusion 360 to create some home grown Christmas gifts for the kids.   First one off is a customised napkin ring with a brass ring at each end.   The exercise  taught me how to form text around a circular body (thanks to John at NYC CNC for the demo video).  Not very sexy but functional.

sindoh, Fusion 360, kennedy power hacksaw
3D created napkin ring designed in Fusion 360 and printed using Sindoh 3DWOX and embellished with two brass rings

I struggled with cutting the brass rings and was about to design them out and go to all PLA when I had the idea to use the Kennedy Power Hacksaw like a bacon slicer to cut off thin circular shims of brass from a 2″ tube.   It worked well, was more efficient on waste than parting off in the lathe and gave a consistently wide slice.

Next request is for customised wine bottle stoppers.  Not sure wine bottles stay unfinished long enough in our house to justify this but let’s see what Fusion can deliver for the kids.

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France Visit, Golf at Brive and a Shumatech DRO350 connection pod

We have had a few days in France to chill out and cut the grass …. lots of grass. The first weekend was spent in Vichy supporting our son at the IronMan event.  It was very hot but he did well, coming 7th in his age group.

Once back at our home in the Lot we had a few friends and family drop in to visit which was nice.  Euro exchange rate is awful, almost parity with GBP, so things are a bit more expensive than normal.

Brive Golf Course

Our son arrived and he also plays golf so we played Souillac Country Club course and a few days later decided to try the Brive Municipal course.  As members at Souillac we got a discount at Brive from the normal EUR40 for 18 holes down to EUR32 which was worth having.  The Brive course is long and runs along a valley with a stream running through.  Lots of holes with water as a result.  The weather was warm so we drooped quite badly after the half way point.  Between us we lost quite a few balls.  Given the choice I think we would all prefer Brive over SGCC.

Always things to do but Fusion 360 connects

Done quite a few jobs about the place while here and also some home workshop related activity.   One of the many things that is good about Fusion 360 is the cloud storage so I could log on in France as if sat at home.  We get a 9Mbps connection in the village which for rural France is very fast so connecting to Fusion 360 is no problem.

Shumatech DRO350 Pod

I bought a ShumaTech DRO350 readout kit for my Myford Super 7 before we came out.   It is a well thought out kit but sadly the originator of the product no longer seems to be around and promised later versions never appeared.   Wild Horse Innovations are the US outlet and they are promising a replacement kit some time in the future.  The UK source is Model Engineering Digital Workshop.   There are allegedly electrical noise issues with the product and looking at the PCB layout I can see why but I have yet to power it up.

The kit comes with a box with all the connections out of the back face which is not ideal for mounting over the Myford Super 7.  My DROs are cheap Chinese caliper devices and have RJ11 connectors on them which is not compatible with the kit connectors.  Some of my time here in France has been spent designing a pod in Fusion 360 to fit on the end of the readout box to allow the connections to come off the end.   Looking forward to getting home to run the 3D print of the pod and get the project up and running and of course getting back to the Tormach 440.

shumatech 350, DRO
DRO350 connection pod for RJ11 devices

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