Hi everyone, very new to here and also to the CNC scene in general.
A little background of how I stumbled upon and why I entered the world of CNC.
I originally studied 3D and Ceramics and had always tried my best to merge the 2 worlds. Working with a 3D printer - The PrintrBot - since 2 years ago has opened my eyes greatly to the world of fabrication and proto-typing. Before, learning 3D was just a simple digital hobby of mine while ceramics with molds was something I did as an artistic practice. In fact, I have never heard of CNC until just a year ago. Seriously, I did not know this technology even existed despite having learned a bit about 3D printing. Very sad.
I am planning to use my CNC machine to directly create plaster molds for my ceramic slip casting projects. Having come across this idea one day by luck was truly a wonderful thing. Making molds has always been an hands on process for me and hand made molds have its downsides - especially high ratio symmetry flaws. Coming from an artistic background, I am no big techie and have zero knowledge with mechanics and engineering. I am sometimes envious of those who can so easily understand or quickly learn such topics and subjects as numbers have never been my strong point.
So far, I am taking my time to build my machine gradually - the 12 x 12 with the long gantry.
I have a couple of beginner questions I would like to ask, and of course, any input, tips or help is deeply appreciated.
1. While simply jotting by hand in the Universal Gcode sender (Following online ZenCNC instructions) for test purposes of the axis's, I realized it takes 2 presses on the keyboard to achieve 1 mm of movement (I set the increment at 1 mm). Is this normal? Should it not move 1 mm per key press?
2. I have encountered a similar problem with a couple of other people who had purchased the 12 x 12 3D long gantry only to discover they have difficulties reaching the bed at the beginning.
I am planning to purchase a bigger collet - perhaps 1/4" - 1/2" and to buy a longer CNC Bit that is around 2-3 inches or even 4 inches long. I read somewhere that the longer the Z-Axis Bit, the higher the chance of runout - or the acronym TIR is used? I also understand a successful milling project via the CNC involves many variables and factors in the end, which I still do not know all by heart yet.
I am planning to build a spoil board to accompany my milling projects because my molds will be milled in, hopefully, 1.5 - 2 inch deep layers, to be stacked and combined together later on into one final mold. Therefore the middle layers will be cut right through.
Currently, I am about to finish up my CNC assembly and to dive into the electronics component aspect with the spindle. Afterwards it's off to study ArtCam. Xin had mentioned to me Fusion 360 and I also plan to take a look into that.
3. What sort of software do most people recommend on here? I am using USB set up with Arduino if that makes any difference.
4. Levelling the bed, I see many people have their own approach and at times, I do not know which one fits my production best. It seems the most intricate levelling processes involved those who were milling electronic boards...? They were using digital dials and usb direct input into their computer software to create some sort of a 3D topographic surface map. It looked very complicated.
My question here is what sort of method do people use in general to level their material, machine etc to help even things out? So far, I took a ruler to all 4 corners of the CNC bed itself and 3 corners are the same height while 1 of them is off by 0.3 mm - 0.5 mm. I think I got lucky but I do not know if that will make a huge difference later on.
5. Finally, one last little question, just for peace of mind sake. While I was jotting by hand the Z-Axis, I accidentally went over the limit and the entire thing hit the top of the board itself, creating a slight machine motor jerking noise because obviously it was pushing its limit. I have not added limit switches yet. Out of fear, I quickly pulled the power plug to the Z-Axis itself.
Will this have inadvertently damaged any components on the Z-Axis? I imagined it might have damaged the Anti-Backlash nut hence I am thinking of ordering another one. I did jot around again and it is moving very smoothly with no apparent physical deformations or errors.
The steps are the same as before, like in question 1. taking 2 presses of the key to move 1 mm.
As you can probably see, this is all very new to me and I am sure I will be spending some money on error alone. I am just hoping to meet and hear from others who have already encountered common problems and can help me mitigate or avoid the trouble beforehand.
Thank you all for reading this lengthy post. I look forward to any input and replies.