Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

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jimg
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Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by jimg » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:53 pm

We manufacture a product made from aluminum extrusions up to 32" long. The final product bolts together using 1/4" bolts.

We're currently doing all this by hand using a drill press and jigs. We'd like to automate it using a CNC machine.

I'm considering purchasing a Shapeoko3, trying it out on our shorter pieces, then lengthening the bed using some MakeSlide if it meets our expectations.

I'm also considering a Probotix Meteor for the same task (as well as any other machines you might suggest). I'd prefer the Shapeoko3 due to its lower cost and open-source design if possible.

I have two concerns:

1) I have seen no mention of a Shapeoko3 used for drilling. (Nor, for that matter, any other CNC router :( ) How well would it work for drilling? Would any other CNC router perform better?

2) Since these parts bolt together, the holes on different pieces will obviously have to line up properly. What kind of tolerances could I expect for drilling holes? Most people seem to be getting about .005" when routing. Would drilling be any better? Will extending the bed reduce the accuracy significantly?

TIA,

-Jim

Fablicator
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by Fablicator » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:21 pm

How deep are your holes?

How many holes?

How many units a day do you drill?



You won't want to just plunge a drill with a router, but to use helical interpolation and an end mill smaller than your hole.

Tolerance will still be around +-.005"

Expanding the Shapeoko 3 is currently problematic, but you would also be able to do half the part, flip it, and do the other half.

Definitely get the metal bed if you plan to have a fully repeatable process.

WillAdams
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by WillAdams » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:24 pm

Drilling w/ a drill bit requires a lower speed tool than the routers which are typically used. Usually people just use a center-cutting endmill, and if the hole doesn't match the diameter of the endmill, cut it as a pocket.

Extending the machine is the subject of on-going development, and it's to be hoped that precision and accuracy won't suffer. Using 9mm belts should help quite a bit.

Some links:

http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/ ... #Expansion

http://www.shapeoko.com/forum/viewtopic ... 919#p45917

http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/?u=e81 ... 34ae074512
Shapeoko 3XL #0006 w/ Carbide Compact Router w/0.125″ and ¼″ Carbide 3D precision collets

jimg
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by jimg » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:11 pm

Sorry, I forgot to mention the holes are 1/4” through holes in tubing or plate. The thickness of the wall or plate would be no more than 1/4" thick. The tubing would be up to 2" across, so the holes would be up to 2" deep. We'd drill at most about 100-200 holes per day..

I'd rather drill than mill. I realize that routers typically rotate much faster than a conventional drilling machine. I thought I could mount a different head on it instead.

What is the main difficulty in extending the machine? Doesn't it use MakerSlide extrusion like the earlier models?

TomDChi
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by TomDChi » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:03 pm

The extrusions are custom engineered and very much not MakerSlide, so it's up to Shapeoko/Carbide when they are able to release kits with longer sections (and longer bed parts to go with.)

Another issue is with the Shapoko3's Z travel and clearance. I'm sure you can make a 1/4" deep hole in a 2" high workpiece. The wiki ( http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/ ... 3#Overview ) lists the Z travel as ~4.25" so you might just barely be able to pull off drilling through a 2" thick workpiece with the perfect tool, but it would be close, and would require the workpiece to be essentially right on the bed, not up on top of a clamp.

These issues along with the drilling speed issue point to you possibly being better served with a CNC mini mill which will have the Z travel and slower spindle speed it sounds like you need. (It's worth pointing out that Shapeoko themselves use one to drill the mounting holes for the electronics in their own extrusions.) One downside being that no mini mill has the 32" workspace/travel range you might be looking for in order to avoid flipping the workpieces. Some larger (much more expensive) CNC mills do, though.

Particularly if a lower RPM spindle is smaller than the DeWalt (72mm diameter off the top of my head?) it's easy to make a jig that will fit inside the stock spindle mount. I don't know enough about the world of spindles to know what the ideal would be for this type of drilling, but there's likely to be a good option. Plus, if the spindle speed control is compatible, you will be able to have the Shapeoko's control board output on/off to the controller from g code commands, which is probably a bit safer than leaving the spindle running while swapping out workpieces.

For any system, if you're doing a lot of repeated operations, you'll be able to rig up a fixed clamping system that will improve accuracy within the run.

For any benchtop CNC system, running +/- 150 holes a day, 5 days a week, ~200 days a year might be pushing what they are designed to handle. You probably wouldn't be stressing the X and Y motors/pulleys/bearings/belts (or screws) much, but the Z would be getting a workout. I'd guess that you'd want a few full sets of parts on hand, and that you'd be preemptively replacing some parts a few times a year to avoid failures. But in the end, there's a big difference between how much wear and tear a US$1,000 system can handle versus a US$10,000+ system that's designed to be worked hard in a production environment.

WillAdams
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by WillAdams » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:05 pm

The Shapeoko 3 now uses a custom extrusion: http://www.shapeoko.com/blog/archives/1416

Image

An expansion kit is in the works, but not yet available: http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki/index.php/ ... #Expansion

If you mount a suutable spindle, then yes, you can use a drill --- if you can arrange the operation so that the drill doesn't shift anything to a degree which causes problems.
Shapeoko 3XL #0006 w/ Carbide Compact Router w/0.125″ and ¼″ Carbide 3D precision collets

AnonymousPerson
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by AnonymousPerson » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:50 pm

Fablicator wrote:You won't want to just plunge a drill with a router, but to use helical interpolation and an end mill smaller than your hole.
Hmmm, I have a 3mm drill bit which I have used to drill about a hundred holes (in wood though) without any issues. Fiddled with the plunge rate to make
sure it didn't go downwards too fast, and also used "peck drilling" so it would come back up and clear any chips several times during the drilling
operation (playing it safe-ish). The drill bit looked practically unused afterwards (for me), so didn't seem to have been hurt.

As long as the drill bit size is a good fit for the collet, it might be worth a shot. jimg mentions they need 1/4" holes, which is good as 1/4" collets
are a common thing. :)

No idea how long an S3 in daily production usage would keep tolerance though, without needing belts retightened again, etc. That might turn out
to be a bit of a daily chore. :(
Shapeoko 3 #516

DRobs86
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by DRobs86 » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:27 am

Jimg.... I think you are a good candidate for having work done on a tube laser. Watch one in action on YouTube to get an idea of the volume of work that can be done on one. I have been quoted as low as 160 us dollars per hour for tube laser work. For the price of a Shapeoko 3, I bet you could get the equivalent of two months of drilling work done in one day.

I don't have a Shapeoko, but I do have a fairly largish hobby cnc. No disrespect to the Shapeoko or hobby machines in general, but I think this class of machine is just the wrong tool for this job.

Even if you can't get a tube laser to do the work, I bet you come out ahead paying a shop with a production flatbed laser to lase and flip.

jimg
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by jimg » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:22 pm

Thanks for everyone's help. I think I'll try building our own machine using Open Build's V-slot instead. It looks like that would be better suited to customize to fit for our needs.

-Jim

WillAdams
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Re: Using a Shapeoko3 to drill aluminum

Post by WillAdams » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:23 pm

FWIW, there was a video just opted of an SO3 machining aluminum: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yrUDVBHc9 ... e=youtu.be
Shapeoko 3XL #0006 w/ Carbide Compact Router w/0.125″ and ¼″ Carbide 3D precision collets

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