Cutting stainless steel?

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thatoneguy
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:39 pm

Cutting stainless steel?

Post by thatoneguy » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:58 pm

First of all I would like to start off with saying thank you Mr. Ford! My Shapeoko is still in transit due to New Years/weekend shipping but I've been reading about this router for months and I'm confident it will take my projects to a whole new level.

That being said, I was wondering if anyone has had success in milling steel with the Shapeoko? I have parts on the way for a 750w RC spindle. The plan is to use a belt and pulleys to take the 18k RPM motor down to 8-9k and have it push an ER20 collet. By my estimation that should be enough power to slowly mill steel. However estimates and reality hardly ever meet.

If anyone has milled steel, any specs on your setup would be greatly appreciated. If not, any thoughts or suggestions are also very welcome!

levlandau2
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:52 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by levlandau2 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:32 am

Well, aluminum has been done by many people. It would be interesting to see if steel can be milled.

Cwalster
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:12 pm

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by Cwalster » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:43 am

I'd be very, very careful with stainless. I have not done any milling of stainless (I work with foam and aluminum at work), but I dabble with it on a lathe. That little experience has taught me that it's no joke, and you can't come in blind. few points:
1. The grade of stainless greatly determines the difficulty, so 303 stainless is going to cut differently than 304. 416 is different than 304. You need to know exactly what your cutting.
2. Shapeokos arent very rigid, which leads to chattering, in turn to broken tooling. Do what you can to make a heavy, beefy, machine. Put an enclosure on it too, as you face shrapnel hazards.
3. Chances are to get the proper feeds and speeds, your going to have to use very small diameter tools. Do your math to find the proper feeds and speeds.
4. It loves to kill tools compared to aluminum. It takes quality tooling, so don't even think about tackling it without quality carbides. Have plenty of spares.
5. Get your machine set on aluminum first. Don't even think about doing this out of the gates.

All that being said, do it. You will learn a lot. Just don't accept any jobs doing it.

levlandau2
Posts: 187
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:52 am
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by levlandau2 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:04 am

@cwalster

This is off-topic, but what application is there for cnc milling foam at your work? Sounds very interesting, and I am always curious what people are doing and for what purposes.

Cwalster
Posts: 22
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 8:12 pm

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by Cwalster » Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:46 am

We do prototyping for foam packaging and other foam products. EPS and EPP mainly. We also produce the molds for those products out of aluminum. We use Haas GR-510 routers for our foam work and occasional aluminum work that wont fit into our other machines. Even those we try to avoid doing metal work on, and these are machines weighing in at well over seven tons. Gantry machines just lack the rigidity for it. Now, I'm sure if we babied it, it would be able to do light stainless work, it most definitely wouldn't be able to do heavy cuts, or last very long. It also has a hell of a lot more torque than our shapeokos, and can run at much lower speeds, which is critical for steel. For comparison, I run aluminum at 600 SFPM and stainless at 250 SFPM in our lathe.

jimmybuckets
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:46 pm

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by jimmybuckets » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:51 pm

I think you will have a very hard time trying to mill stainless. You will need coolant and special tooling. I would think heavily about just not doing it.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk HD

danielfarley
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:15 am

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by danielfarley » Wed Oct 08, 2014 3:58 am

Hi Guys,

I have found you can if you have to!

Never thought i was going to do this with my Shapeoko, but i needed to mill some 316 stainless steel.... and it has worked... slowly but it has worked. Here is a video of it going.

Done with a Chinese carbide tool that i had for wood work so parallel flutes, two flutes, 2mm wide. Ran ok at 100-140 mm / min, used some WD-40... as lubricant... although i see some tooling works better with no lubricant on SS! Centrer hole i did once like this, but all the rest of the parts just marked and drilled out on drill press. Steep down was only 0.05mm... So a it takes quite a while! Plate was 6.3mm thick.

Video of it cutting http://youtu.be/e7K-pWJcd7A, and pics of the parts it made attached (and tool, and pen for reference)
Attachments
cnc.jpg
cnc.jpg (450.31 KiB) Viewed 7011 times

megeshg
Posts: 91
Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:08 pm

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by megeshg » Wed Oct 08, 2014 1:53 pm

what is the power of your spindle?

WillAdams
Posts: 8542
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2012 6:11 pm
Location: Pennsylvania --- south of the Turnpike, East of US-15
Contact:

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by WillAdams » Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:11 pm

Added to the wiki.

I'm curious --- how well is the tooling holding up?
Shapeoko 3XL #0006 w/ Carbide Compact Router w/0.125″ and ¼″ Carbide 3D precision collets
Nomad 883 Pro #596 (bamboo)

danielfarley
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 4:15 am

Re: Cutting stainless steel?

Post by danielfarley » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:25 am

Spindle power is 800w, but it is never loaded up enough to be using this.

Tooling is not holding up well at all one part per tool is all i can do... as you are only using a tiny bit of the cutter to do it it does all the work im not surprised tho.... I have on order some tooling that is hopefully a bit better for the job.

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