Aaron sent me a text today and asked if I could come over to Bryan's studio to help him set up his Taig mill. I've been wanting to go see how Bryan has transformed the place since seeing it when he first moved in; so this was a good excuse to take a look and see what the guys have been up to since Aaron moved into the space.
When I got there, I was blown away. Bryan had painted all of the walls and floor and he had things super organized and set up. They have space for printing, soldering circuit boards, laser cutting, use of basic power tools, milling, and general workspace. The addition of new equipment was also quite impressive. Aaron had just put the mill together and he had everything waiting for set-up, including a fresh install of Windows XP and Mach 3. He ordered it with a trunnion table so that was a cool accessory to check out and I was intrigued by the robust additions to design of the Taig mill. It seems they've beefed up the headstock as well as the y axis saddle since my last purchase of my cnc mill. We got to work and configured Mach 3 with my basic Gecko540 profile (that I use for one of my Taig mills) and had to tweak a few settings and set the keyboard functions for jogging. We "air cut" some test code that I had brought along and now I think he's ready to start cutting.
Aaron also showed me his Full Spectrum laser cutter. I was really excited to see this. I have been eyeballing these for well over a year and half now and I had never had the guts to pull the trigger on one. There were too many interweb stories floating around out there about broken parts, misalignment, and general junky quality reviews floating around out there in cyberspace. Arthur had just gotten an FS laser cutter and his review had left me feeling more confident about what a person would get if they were to purchase one of these lasers. Aaron walked me through the machine and honestly I was astounded by how simple the machine is. With our knowledge of building 3D printers, I pretty much would compare it to a simple Rep Rap with a big laser attached to the back of it and some lenses for redirecting and focusing the laser. It even uses the same Nema 17 steppers that we use for the printers. The sheetmetal frame was more robust than I had thought it would be and the overall quality was way better than expected. Aaron explained the software to me and showed me some of the multiple level engraving that he had been doing with it. In typical Aaron fashion, he had the software mastered and was pushing it to see what it could do. He had done these little multi-pass pieces that start to reveal a 3d form coming up through the grid pattern that were really nice (made from junk scrap wood from the packaging of the Taig mill). I walked away from his demo wondering why I have been such a chicken to buy one. I'll have to save my pennies.
It was good to catch up with Aaron and to hear about school and to see what he and Bryan have been up to. I think they've got a great studio and I'm sure they're going to be able to do some cool things by pooling their resources. Good to see!