49 Replies Latest reply on Feb 15, 2013 12:31 AM by Erik Bilello

    Ordering cnc work online

    Shar Fa

      Hi guys,

       

      I have this small work I want to create using cnc machinning (kind of an iron stamp to heat and engrave on wood - 3cm in diameter).

      Do you know any good, affordable cnc workshop I can order small jobs like these? It's only 1-2 pieces.

      And to get the price estimate from the workshop what kind of solidworks format do you send? is it .stl?

       

      Thanks,

       

      Sharon

        • Re: Ordering cnc work online
          Peter Nichols

          Do not know where you are located, but you could try FirstCut (www.firstcut.eu/gb/).

          • Re: Ordering cnc work online
            Lenny Bucholz

            Most CNC shop now only need your SolidWorks part because most up to date CAM software opens native SW parts and assembly files.

             

            stl file are used for 3D printing not CAM because no vectors, lines arcs, spline to use for toolpath. you can send iges, parasolid and step file also.

             

            the parts you need machined sound more like a 2D cutting from your discription. CNC shops can run from $60 to $120 bucks an hour, but I know some that have done small jobs for trade or BEER, yes I said BEER....I have

             

            Anyway, call around, someone may just have time and be thirsty. or call one of the tech schools or community colleges they may do it for less as a training for the students???

              • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                Shar Fa

                I live in Israel, the one in my faculty is broken :-(

                I guess im looking for someone from around europe? firstcut seems a bit too big for this kind of small projects, I recon it would only take a couple of minutes to mill

                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                    Lenny Bucholz

                    Remember even though you think it may take only a couple of minutes to cut, that is not the real time it takes.

                     

                    most shops will charge a minimum of 4 hrs, that is to program the part, setup the machine ( tools, vise, fixturing if needed), bulk out the material to be machined (saw, deck, square up) and lastly cut the part. That is if it is as you say simple.

                     

                    then there is the shipping cost and customs you will have deal with. so that simple part is not so inexspesive anymore.

                     

                    try one of your tech schools and see if you can have a student do it for you.

                • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                  Richard Gergely

                  I can supply info on several toolmakers in the UK that can mill or even spark what ever you want. Usually they will request step or iges files.

                   

                  To get a reasonable price you need a small cnc toolroom / toolmaker not a large one.

                   

                  PM me if you want some info.

                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                    Roland Schwarz
                    • Don't worry about whether a shop has SolidWorks.  If the shop is any good, it won't matter.
                    • Any high quality neutral format should do.  STEP seems preferred, followed by IGES.  Parasolid is nice because it is SW's kernel, but fewer shops like it.
                    • Personally, I never send a parametric model to be CNC cut.  I've had issues with parts getting changed or wrong configuration used.  My part orders always get files specific to the order (not just pulled out of vault), and no parameters, with zipped copies filed away with order information so I know exactly what I ordered from the vendor.
                      • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                        Lenny Bucholz

                        Roland Schwarz wrote:

                         

                        • Don't worry about whether a shop has SolidWorks.  If the shop is any good, it won't matter.
                        • Any high quality neutral format should do.  STEP seems preferred, followed by IGES.  Parasolid is nice because it is SW's kernel, but fewer shops like it.
                        • Personally, I never send a parametric model to be CNC cut.  I've had issues with parts getting changed or wrong configuration used.  My part orders always get files specific to the order (not just pulled out of vault), and no parameters, with zipped copies filed away with order information so I know exactly what I ordered from the vendor.

                        Roland,

                         

                        Now that more shops are using CAM software in SW, it would benifit you to send Native SW files and A good shop that gets a good drawing along with the SW part file will give the correct part as the will do a QC to the drawing and not the part file.

                         

                        As for configurations, there a many ways to get a shop the not to guess with is the correct one to use, Save out a copy and delete the configs you don't need, simple.

                         

                        the reason for the native file is the machinist can supress features that wouldn't be there during the rough out like holes, slots and then they can unsupress as they continue to add more detail. Also if they have made fixturing and you send a change the part file will update the fixture to save time and your money on change orders. again this all depends on how you made the model and how good you are at design intent.

                         

                        I have been taking SW navtive file since 97 for prototyping were change happen within hours sometimes and because I have the native file i never lost a beat because of monkey farting around with a dumb model....

                         

                        JMO,

                          • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                            Roland Schwarz

                            When I want machining done, I want it done right, first try.  In my career, I have found zero correlation between quality of machining and which particular flavor of CAD a shop favors.  It's the people, no more and no less.

                            • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                              Richard Gergely

                              You can get rid of holes in decent CAM software in seconds for roughing/finishing. Basically in the UK the biggest player in the CAM market is Delcam for top line work.

                               

                              I'm modifying step/iges/parasolid files from Pro-e, Catia, Rhino, Vero all the time in solidworks and just send them back a step//iges/parasolid. You get used to it and it's no biggy really.

                                • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                  Lenny Bucholz

                                  Yes no biggy but lets say even faster and easier with no translating when you have Delcam for SolidWorks, just suppress the holes and run the toolpath, then unsuppress to drill or interpilate the holes.

                                   

                                  or if you make cogfigurations thru the SW built by rolling back you'll have the steps from rough out to finish.

                                   

                                  I will even redraw the part that has been given to me  Part with control drawing just to get that because some people just don't build the parts in a friendly machining maner. then I sent the part I made back to them and most of the time they are like...how heck or why didn't I know how to do that.

                                   

                                  As time consuming CAM can be for some parts, modeling the solid, no matter what perimetric software is just as important if your CAM sees the changes and automaticly updated the toolpath.

                                   

                                  by the way we have one seat of Delcam for SW and love it, engineering student are constently making changes to their parts, change feature or add feature....toolpath recalculates, post and remachine...minutes not hours.

                                    • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                      Richard Gergely

                                      Hi Lenny

                                       

                                      Whats the state of importing to delcam at the minute. At my last company we tested the solidworks import add on (think it cost £2000) and it was worse than iges! Think that was 2007??? Anyway we just continued with iges import after that.

                                       

                                      Perhaps now Delcam comes with SW import as standard without paying a fortune for it and it works properly?

                                       

                                      Yeah Delcam is good but expensive. At the last company we found it that good we didn't bother with CGtech varicut software anymore as it was pretty pointless.

                                        • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                          Anna Wood

                                          Delcam for SolidWorks is integrated Into SolidWorks.  You are working in SolidWorks.  You are not importing a SolidWork file into Delcam.

                                           

                                          Cheers,

                                           

                                          Anna

                                            • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                              Richard Gergely

                                              I was refering to the full delcam software as such. Perhaps I didn't make it clear Power shape, Power mill etc = Delcam products.

                                               

                                              TBH never come across a company in UK using solidworks and having a add-in Delcam package. No doubt there are some but most tool makers would use the Power shape & Power mill etc instead.

                                                • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                  Anna Wood

                                                  I am familiar with Delcam products.  Wasn't sure if you were clear that Lenny was referring to Delcam ingegrated SolidWorks solution.

                                                   

                                                  Now that we all are on the same wavelength.... 

                                                   

                                                  Cheers,

                                                   

                                                  Anna

                                                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online

                                                    "At the last company we found it that good we didn't bother with CGtech varicut software anymore as it was pretty pointless."

                                                     

                                                    What's pointless and problematic is forcing a CAM user to work with STL files. Here is a much better approach from a company that has superior technology that I'd like to see Delcam adopt:

                                                     

                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAarhFrWW2s

                                                     

                                                    In the real world, trying to manipulate (rotate, flip, mate, etc) tessellated meshes is a major pain in the ass so trying to solid cut part simulate machining over multiple setups often isn't possible or practical. It doesn't get any more real world problem not solved than this! 

                                                     

                                                    Even if you spend 20K or more on Vericut or NC Simul, it's still not the answer to this problem.

                                                     

                                                     

                                                    Jon Banquer

                                                    CADCAD Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

                                                      • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                        Richard Gergely

                                                        Hi Jon

                                                         

                                                        Interesting stuff looks good. Many years ago varimetric vision/machining CAD/CAM was going down that potential path. Machining to surfaces/solids. Don't know if you ever cam across it, it had potential but the software had a lot of bugs. Think it was taken over by a company from china in the end.

                                                          • Re: Ordering cnc work online

                                                            Richard,

                                                             

                                                            Varametrix / VX was sold to ZWSOFT and is now called ZW3D. All kernel development is still done in Florida. User interface development is done in China. As far as I'm concerned the Chinese are excellent at user interface development and in another year no one will ever be able to tell Varametrix / VX / ZW3D had a Unix heritage. It's simply amazing the job ZWSOFT has already done with overhauling the pitiful Varimetrix / VX user interface.

                                                             

                                                            ZW3D still has a ton of bugs in it and its CAM is years behind what it needs to be but then so is Mastercam. It's going to be a lot easier to make ZW3D good at CAM than it's going to be to overhaul Mastercam which suffers from severe problems with its core that CNC Software refuses to fix:

                                                             

                                                            http://whymastercamisthewrongchoice.blogspot.com/

                                                             

                                                            Jon Banquer

                                                            CADCAD Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

                                                        • Re: Ordering cnc work online

                                                          "TBH never come across a company in UK using solidworks and having a add-in Delcam package. No doubt there are some but most tool makers would use the Power shape & Power mill etc instead."

                                                           

                                                          Delcam For SolidWorks hasn't been ready for prime time and it still needs plenty of work done to it to make it ready. One example of why DFS isn't ready for prime time is how it handles multiple parts. DFS leaves a lot to be desired when machining multiple parts compared to something like CAMWorks.

                                                           

                                                          Jon Banquer

                                                          CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

                                                            • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                              Richard Gergely

                                                              Hi Jon again.

                                                               

                                                              I see so it's not quite up to scratch yet from your experience.

                                                                • Re: Ordering cnc work online

                                                                  Richard,

                                                                   

                                                                  I'm very unhappy with all CADCAM packages at this point but some do a much better job at production machining than others do. DFS has got a long way to go to make me happy when it comes to multi-part production machining.

                                                                   

                                                                  I have several US Delcam employees who get what I have to say about CADCAM and who agree with my points about what's needed for Featurecam / DFS. While I have a good relationship with some of Delcam's US employees, the UK Delcam employees stay as far away from me as they can.   For years, I've asked Delcam to make PowerShape the CAD used in Featurecam. The CAD used in Featurecam is a sad joke. I've been pushing for this change for way too many years.

                                                                   

                                                                  Jon Banquer

                                                                  CADCAD Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

                                                • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                  Shar Fa

                                                  I think i'll take Lenny's advice and search for local shops

                                                   

                                                  Thanks!

                                                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                    Tim Cochrane

                                                    Hello Sharon,

                                                     

                                                    I do 1-5 piece runs, I prefer solidworks files.

                                                     

                                                    Fee free to contact me tim.cochrane@dynamicmechanix.com

                                                      • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                        Shar Fa

                                                        Hi Tim!

                                                        I'll be in contact with you and hopefully send you the sw file next week,

                                                        It's my sister's project, she wants a wood stamp burner, probably made from brass and shes's driving me crazy with the design i'll wait for her to give me her final sketch to create on solidworks.

                                                         

                                                        Thanks!

                                                          • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                            Joe Kuzich

                                                            Wood working is a hobby of mine and I have thought about making wood burning stamp like what your talking about.

                                                             

                                                            Are you making it for a soldering iron or is it a torch-n-brand?

                                                             

                                                            I'd be very curious to see how it comes out and if it works like you intended it too. Would you mind posting pics when you your done and let us know how it worked?

                                                        • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                          Shar Fa

                                                          Got one more question guys,

                                                           

                                                          When planning my logo I need to know, how small of a details can I add to the work?

                                                          Meaning, what is the smallest diameter of the endmills that regular cnc machines usually use?

                                                           

                                                          Thanks!

                                                          • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                            Shar Fa

                                                            Hello again to all of you guys,

                                                             

                                                            Do you believe a cnc milling machine is capable of creating something like that attached file? How would you price the cost given the material is iron / brass ?

                                                            Tim, do you think you can run it? some of the spacings between letters or the leaf are around 0.5 mm

                                                              • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                Lenny Bucholz

                                                                Sorry don't have SW2013, can you post a couple of pics??

                                                                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                    Shar Fa

                                                                    The one on the right is the final form

                                                                      • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                        Roland Schwarz

                                                                        One possibility is to wire EDM cut the pieces and then fit (welded or brazed) onto a back plate.  Maybe the back plate wire EDM with negatives to fit and place the cut shapes (or laser-cut a thin sheet metal template to position pieces).  All of this can be done with a 2D DXF export.

                                                                          • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                            Shar Fa

                                                                            Thanks, How do you estimate the costs for my small project?

                                                                            The all thing is about 5X4 cm, the cut goes 3mm in, given material is brass (could go for other soft metals or even iron)

                                                                              • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                Roland Schwarz

                                                                                Didn't realize it was that small.

                                                                                 

                                                                                You could have the part made with SLS (laser-sintered metal from 3D computer file).  Pricey, but maybe not more than CNC.  I've had similar-sized parts made for about $200 (US).

                                                                                 

                                                                                Another possibility: make with SLA or 3D printer, plaster cast to make negative, then cast the stamp in the plaster mold (similar to investment casting).  More work but more fun.

                                                                              • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                Joe Kuzich

                                                                                Wouldn't you risk the brazing coming undone when you heat it up to brand something?  I would think welding would be pretty difficult in something so intricate, since the welds would have to stay pretty low from the face and be dealing with thin material that you don't want to warp.  I would think it would take an exceptional welder, if its even possible. 

                                                                                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                    Shar Fa

                                                                                    Good point..

                                                                                    Scrolling through the following website: http://www.infinitystamps.com/stamps_for_wood.html  i've seen some really highly detailed brand stamps and it seems they were cnc milled

                                                                                    • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                      Shar Fa

                                                                                      investment casting a 3d printed model into plaster to create a negetive and then filling in with molten brass seems pretty cool :-) though im skeptical if its that easy to pull off

                                                                                        • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                          Erik Bilello

                                                                                          Sharon,

                                                                                           

                                                                                          When I got a look at your model (Lenny, I don't have 2013 installed yet either, download eDrawings 2013) my first thought was that you might be going way overboard.  I could have had that mostly cut out with a jewelers saw by now. And then, as Roland suggested, silver brazed the pieces to a backing piece. Wood burning temperatures should never need to be high enough to melt the silver solder, it would be close to red hot.

                                                                                          Do you have any jewelry students near by?  That's exactly the sort of thing that we would have used for a practical way to fill the sawing and sweat soldering assignments.

                                                                                          Unless you need, or want, the degree of accuracy or repeatability that CNC will provide, hand sawing, or carving wax for investment casting, would probably be most cost effective.  Acid etching might also be viable,but your cut depth to land width ratio might cause problems.

                                                                                           

                                                                                           

                                                                                          The second thing I thought was that I hope you remember to reverse the design before you have it made, however you have it made.  I'm assuming that the "LUIZZA" part is a name and that you want the burned wood to read that way.

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Now, if only I had a jewelers saw handy. . .

                                                                                           

                                                                                          Erik,

                                                                                            • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                              Shar Fa

                                                                                              Wow great advice!

                                                                                              Accuracy isn't the main issue as you said, and i can allways sand out bits that didn't cut well. I bought a small metal saw today, it uses a hacksaw thicker than that of a jewelers saw hopefully ill make it work out. now i need to visit some scrap yards to get 2-3mm brass plates

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Any tutorial on how to do silver brazing ? just heat up the plates and use the BAg-5 silver on the attachment points?

                                                                                                • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                                  Erik Bilello

                                                                                                  Sharon,

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Sorry for the delay replying, Unexpected events.  Now, before you do anything else, go and make sure non of your credit cards have any unauthorized charges on them. Now! Stop reading this and go do that, I'll wait.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  You're back, everything looks OK?  Good.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  I don't know of any tutorials (I sort of assume you mean on-line videos), I'll have a look when I get a chance (one of my other computers has now decided it's 1994, hope you can wait just a bit) and report back. In my student days we had books (the paper kind) and I have Tim McCreight's "The Complete Metalsmith" here, it covers the basics well if you can find a copy.  Also, of course, Google terms you don't know.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Briefly here the basics, I've tried to mention what I would consider the important and sometimes overlooked parts.  Given the direction the "What CAM program is best" debate went, I'm sure someone else will have a completely different opinion, and let us know.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  We used to draw our design and then use the copier (yes we had those, it wasn't that long ago I did this) to scale it to the desired size of the piece.  Stick the paper to your metal with a thin layer of rubber cement and then cut along the lines.

                                                                                                  It might be hard to cut out some of the shapes, even with a small hacksaw.  A jeweler's saw would make it very easy, you could probably use the largest jeweler's saw blades. They don't break as easily as the small ones, but still get a few, no way around practice for that. Assume you might go through a dozen jeweler's saw blades for that piece.  If you make another one you might do it with just two or three. The hack saw will not break so easy but the teeth will still get dull, or clogged with chips, so clean or replace it as often as needed, you'll notice the difference.  Get some wax to lubricate your blade, bee's wax is traditional and smells nice, but any will do OK and it makes a BIG difference in cut quality and blade life. Tip the blade just a little into the cut direction, more vertical for going around corners.  Ease the pressure on the up (non-cutting) stroke, a TINY bit of drag will help clear the chips from the teeth, very much at will just dull the teeth and lead to shorter blade life.

                                                                                                  A bench pin will make it much easier to do your sawing.  They are premised on a proper jeweler's saw cutting on the down stroke so flip your hack saw blade around if you're using that.  A lot of people hold the saw in pretty much one place and move the metal more when they use a bench pin. Keep the cut close to the edge of the pin for good support, don't worry about nicking the pin, that's why most are wood.

                                                                                                  Don't forget you can cut out and shape the pieces individually so the spacing between them is not so important as the profile of the shapes themselves. You might also want to get some small needle files.  The sets look cool, but it's a better deal to get good quality in just the shapes you need.

                                                                                                  For soldering it looks like your choice of alloy should be fine (as advised, I Googled it). Be sure and get some appropriate flux when you're getting the solder, the supplier should have something to match it.  Do NOT use electrical or plumbing flux, it's not the same stuff at all.

                                                                                                  I would first "tin" the base piece, clean it very well, flux it, heat it from the top and flow on a very thin layer of solder over the entire area your pieces will cover.  Let it cool and then clean the soldered side well. Get a stand of some sort to put the base piece on so you can heat it from underneath.  Flux the soldered area lightly and clean and lightly flux your pieces.  Heat from the bottom until the flux turns clear and just stops bubbling, then place your pieces with an old pair of tweezers keeping the base piece just hot enough for the flux to stay thin. Press the the pieces down so they don't float on the flux and increase the heat until the solder re-flows. Do a few pieces, then clean it well and repeat.  If the first pieces are on well they won't move the next time it is heated,  make sure the pieces are where you want them.

                                                                                                  That's the gist of it, there's obviously more than that.  For the soldering I would really advise finding someone with some experience to step you through it.

                                                                                                  Cutting the pieces out can be a little more DIY.  If you mess one piece up you can just cut a replacement.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Got'ta go now keep us posted on progress and/or questions.

                                                                                                  It will be fun! And you'll learn other things than you thought you would when you started this project.

                                                                                                   

                                                                                                  Good luck, Erik

                                                                                  • Re: Ordering cnc work online
                                                                                    Richard Gergely

                                                                                    A toolmaker could engrave most of that to be honest.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    He might need to make his own cutter but it's no big deal.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    There are loads of potential methods personally I would go down the edm route as the copper is soft and a tiny cutter would be able to do most of what you need. Engrave it negative into the copper and then spark it straight into some tool steel 55HRC (I assume you need it hard)

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Also you could go down the sls metal route. Used them several times over the years for very small details in injection mould tools for headlight units etc. Probably expensive though this method.