Something cookin' over here

Hey gang, great to be here again!

Some pips says that the art of wax milling is not so actual any more, but I somehow have got too involved with it.

So after many years of working with different kinds of Jewelry CNC Mills and never being completely happy with any of it I've got myself bold one day and decided to design and make one.

Then after the 3D prototype was ready the decision was made to go with the plywood model at first to test all the ideas in real life. So happy I've moved that way: gazillion of initial design's errors was quite easy to fix and start all over. Then was the long saga with electronics, motors and such...

As of today I'm on the stage of being almost happy with the main parameters, geometry,features and capabilities of my mill prototype and probably ready to introduce it to the trade colleagues.

Most comments in videos are in Russian, some English spiel in the second part of the second vid. But anyhow - it's all there. Later I will show some more vids and pics if there will be any interest.


  • Amazing mill build!

    Please post more details and videos about your milling machine.

    I really like your tool setting "eye" with its dust cover.

    What 5 axis control software are you running?

    What axis motors?

    Nice workshop as well with both a Hardinge and Monarch lathe showing.

    Must be a milling machine there somewhere as well?

  • edited May 12

    Thanks jdr, you do know your machines ))

    Yes, it's A Monarch 14K for a big one and a Hardinge HLV-BK for a second operation lathes and of course one Bridgeport there and also a Swedish universal miller Abene and lots of other usual hobby machine shop stuff.

    It's all started with the idea of building the CNC "Dream Machine" for a Jewelry trade. At that time all I had was a few screwdrivers and a hand drill )

    The very first parts ordered from local machinist set me back like a couple of grands and at that time I realised that to build the machine that way was quite a shaky proposition.

    So the only way out was to build a machine shop of my own. That's how it's all started in usual Brooklyn apartment.... Long story ))

    Well, to answer some questions:

    As of today I'm using a "MyCNC" ET-6 controller and soft (much better solution for a 5 Axis compared to Mach3) from a Canadian manufacturer . Thinking about some other controller options as well.

    For Longitudinal axes the best I've found are ClearPath motors (so called "Stepper Killers"). They DO perform real well. And sure the most important part of any 5 Axes machine is a main Rotary axis motor. Here I've choose a servo actuator by Harmonic Drive. Quite expensive but nothing is better out there. So both rotary heads here use Harmonic Drives. Practically zero backlash and superb performance and precision.

    Being an active user of other CNC mills at work I've kinda knew all the pros and cons and had some wishes. Probably the most frustrating thing was a Tramming of a 5 Axis mill. So I've put a lot of thoughts and time in designing the most user friendly Tramming options. It's all there by now and it is real easy to understand and to use ).

    The microscope - well, there were many attempts by different parties to build a touchless tool setting method before and some are awesome but very expensive, some just plainly not working. And for the tools with 0.1mm (and thinner) cutting points the touch probe is not an option. So few years back I've came up with the Idea of using a usb microscope for that. Simple, affordable and really working as you can see. Lots of work behind implementing that in real life too but now it's done and ready for work.

    I will put some more info on the progress.

  • edited May 11

    probably first real work done on a prototype:

  • Great choices on the Hardinge, Monarch, Bridgeport and Abene machines.

    All these brands have a almost "cult" following to them. Very desirable pieces of equipment.

    Your workshop shows some tool collecting/purchasing passion. I bet you had some great adventures tracking everything down.

    How much Z axis travel do you have on your machine?

    Those ClearPath servos have an built in autotune setup that is impressive to see in action.

    Do you think a higher encoder count on the ClearPath servos would make a difference for your wax cutting?

    How you milled any of the small 2 piece aluminum plastic injection molds on your machine yet?

    Thanks for the posts.

  • edited May 12

    Z travels 180mm or 7 inches.

    The idea was that the machine would be capable to work comfortably within 100x100x100mm cube in the 5 Axes mode and the very crucial A-axis maximum work angle is up to 158° witch is important for difficult to reach undercuts and work inside the hollow models.

    ClearPaths comes with regular encoders of 800 lines per and an enhanced ones with 6400 lines. I tried both and frankly do not see any difference yet. Maybe in metal it'll be more noticeable. It seems to me that only the linear axes encoder scales with the closed loop servos would make the real difference. I'm working in that direction also.

    I didn't try to cut anything besides wax and wood, it's still a plywood prototype. But the final version of the machine will have enough rigidity to work with any kind of materials. It has a modular design witch means it'll be quite easy to change some aggregates like spindle, motors etc if needed.

  • A axis max angle with the cutter point in the center of rotation

  • Wow man, that is so cool! Wish I could understand what you are saying.

  • LOL buddy, long time ) I wish I could understand how to be as artistic as you are ))

  • Zeefly, Beautiful machine you have built! I love it!!!!

  • Thanks fixittt! Still working on some improvements but basically it's almost ready to go metall.

    Here's a pic showing the creative part )))

  • Thats so cool Fantastic machine !

    Revo mills ,resin printer ,Rhino, Deskproto & MS Paint

  • Thank you Joe! I believe it will be. ))

  • edited May 14

    And here's the video about yet another upgrade. Mainly in the comment I'm saying that the Doctor Evil had visited my shop once again and I teared apart everything. I've changed a big internal PC and ET7 controller with ET6 board with paired Tinkerboard. Less space taken without any performance lost.

    Also I was trying many kinds of mini keyboards to control the machine. Nothing was perfect.

    So I designed one in Rhino the way I see it , found a factory to make it real and already received first 5 samples. They are soooo cute, real jems. So between an onboard computer, control panel and a display it's going to be a real independent CNC control unit now, like on the big machines.

  • There will be an indication/selfanalysing of axes state, spindle and E-stop. Anything goes wrong - LED goes red.

  • ...thank you, info like this is is what makes this place special👍

  • edited May 16

    Here's another short vid about that part of a Tramming action. I've developed a jig to hold two small pieces of wax to make a calibration cuts. It fits on both A and B axes and provide much more rigidity compared with any long wax pieces that usually suggested by other methodics. One with the good eye will see that Z stays on Zero during the cuts, this way any Z up and down moving errors are eliminated. Besides it's faster, more economical and logical to go that way. Also I've wrought a short programs to do cuts automatically, so it takes almost no time to do the cuts and analyze the results.

    Even in foreign language one might notice that author was a little on the funny side with that one extra shot of brandy )))

  • Great work! Thanks for sharing.

  • Thank you Ken :)

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