I love CNC! I fell in love with it when I was able to see how close to perfection CNCing a part into fruition is. When you use a conventional milling machine or a manual plasma cutter, you get errors with a part somewhere around it. We are human and as the old adage states, “to ERR is human!” Well, as it turns out, I don’t want errors. I want parts! I want parts that mesh together perfectly and allow my project to operate as intended. I may be bold while stating that CNC is perfect, but even if it isn’t it surely is as close as we have ever gotten.
I built my first CNC machine in 2010 but the results were not as fantastic as I would have hoped. I then realized I had TOO MUCH to learn! Instead of learning it all blindly I thought about buying an already operating machine in which I could only need to learn how to use it. I looked at CNC routers and perused the local Craigslist at all times when one day, some-when during February 2011, I saw a posting for a practically new Tormach PCNC1100 milling machine. The price was preposterously low, so I practically ran on foot to acquire this machine!
When I showed up at the gentleman’s house, he told me two things: 1) the machine had already been spoken for and 2) he had messed up on the advertised price, he would have to sell it at a larger sum, if the first guy was to ever back out from the deal. I will never know whether this was a trick to get me going or not, but it is supremely irrelevant as the rest is history. The first guy backed out, and the new price was still too attractive to let such an amazing opportunity pass. A few days later, I was driving my new-used Tormach PCNC1100 CNC milling machine of awesomeness home.
For months I got up at 2:00 AM so I could have at least 4 hours for myself to study Inventor (my CAD platform), Sprutcam (my CAM platform) and MACH3. It all paid off! All the mysticism behind CNCing was left behind. But was it?
It would be my pleasure to be able to tell CNCers all around the globe that CNC is piece of cake. But it isn’t. Although I am bold (I shave), there are plenty of virtual hairs I am continuously pulling as I try to get different projects cut. Every now and then I break tools as if it was my first time. My CAM processes work every now and then, with the rest of instances causing everything except that which I need to happen. It is hard to quantify how much frustration attempting a project can induce, and although I can assure you that any frustration is easily overcome by the shear joy of seeing it all work, that only happens when at then it all works. In the meantime, no MACH5 blades from Gillette will keep me from pulling my non existent hair.
Luckily the answers are out there. Other Tormach users are continuously putting You Tube videos and the amazing people from Tormach are always showering us with a decent amount of hungrily needed information. This blog will be my attempt at sharing those tidbits I have learned since February 2011 as I joined the CNC ranks. Hopefully I can document my “nightmares” so you don’t have to wake up sweating on a continuous basis.
On the other hand, I also expect this blog to be a learning experience for me. I am not a mechanical engineer or a machinist, so there is way much more I don’t know than that which I know. If you feel like using this website to share an important piece of information, hey by all means! Feel free to enlighten us!
CNC, here we go!!!