Monday, March 31, 2014

cnc router rebuild

It's been a very busy couple of weeks. Two weeks ago, Madison and UWM hosted the NCECA Conference (Ceramics) in Milwaukee. I kept the DCRL open all week as people were touring the Kenilworth building as a part of the conference as there were a few exhibitions in the building. Regardless of keeping the the labs open, I was expecting a visiting artist the following week and he was going to need to use some of our equipment to create a piece that he had designed for an future exhibition in the INOVA gallery (on the first floor of the Kenilworth Building). This meant that I needed to get our CNC router ready for some intense use the following week. So in between tour groups, I worked on getting things set up. 

Chad and I had previously built a stand for the large router (as seen in the top six pictures), but we found that it was a waste to not use the base as storage for our extra wood and scrap. The stand could also have used a little stiffening since the uni-strut is just bolted together. We decided that over Winter Break that we would dismantle the router and my SURF students would assist in building it back up. This would assure that everything would be ready by the time our visiting artist came in. The students and I worked on the stand and cut sheets of birch ply to fit the various sections of the table. We eventually were able to get the router rails back on and then Chad got to work adjusting all of the bearings and he and I made sure everything was square. We had to modify the bolts that the bearings run through in the main bearing blocks as we had rubbing issues the last time we built up the router. We figured it was best to modify them to keep this from happening again. Chad tuned everything so that the gantry moved freely and smoothly before we attached our stepper motors. I hung the CNC controller underneath the machine in a ventilated channel that runs the middle of the table. This should keep things dust free and cool. 

I spent the rest of the Spring Break week (and NCECA week) getting the 1/2" mdf bed on and then putting a spoil board on. To get the most cutting area out of the router, I biscuit joined two large pieces of 3/4" mdf together and then bolted and screwed it down to the 1/2"mdf. I loaded the table with all of our extra sheets and Chad organized all of our scrap. We still need to put in dividers and such for further organization. We ended up shifting the table a bit as Leo (our visiting artist) would need to hang twelve foot Corian sheets off the table for cutting and we would need four feet of space between the router and the wall.

I talked to a ton of people that came through for tours during the week and was able to get quite a bit of work completed on the table. Leo arrived on Saturday and then he and I worked Sunday night to prepare the Corian sheet. On Monday morning, Alissa and I prepared things for using the CNC router. Alissa is one of my SURF students and she and I wrote a program to "level" the 3/4" mdf so we could insure that the bed was completely flat. Now we were ready to cut Corian!

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