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Scratch and Kit Built Aircraft Discuss and share your scratch built or kit built aircraft as well as building techniques, methods, mediums and resources.

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Old 09-23-2011, 04:06 PM   #1
payne9999
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Default Laser Cutting to do custom builds

I am curious if anyone out there has invested in their own laser cutter and is designing with CAD (besides the kit manufacturers out there).

I use SolidWorks CAD and am having some success modeling aircraft. I would like to get a small laser someday but when I look at the Asian made affordable ones, it is hard to tell if it would ever work out.

I have a friend who built his own CNC mini router but building one is a pain in the backside. I may consider it because it only costs about 4oo bucks for the parts.

Also, I am interested in places that will cut for a fee. Anyone have a good recommendation for a shop that will cut a few kits at a time that is reasonable?

Thanks,

Dave
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Old 09-23-2011, 04:46 PM   #2
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A good laser setup (you don't want to cheap out here) will probably run you $10-15K. Some places I know of that do laser cutting for a fee:

jtechlaser.com

ejf.com

leeulingermodels.com (you have to contact him directly)

manzanolaser.com


I design all of my foamy kits in QCAD and send them over to JTech Laser since he is only 5 miles from my house.

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Old 09-23-2011, 05:48 PM   #3
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Hi Pat,
Me and Dave were having a little discussion about laser machines.
That's exactly the point; we don't want to send our projects to be cut, we want to cut it home. I live in Brazil and I would have to ship the wood and plans to another State to cut my projects, and the prices in my country aren't so cheap (including shipping, insurance...).
There are lots of cheap chinese machines (around U$900 with shipping) that works around 1000 hours. The machine's quality is not so good, but it cuts very well, and with some small changes it could become a very good laser cut machine.
I bought one of these and I'm doing a research about how to convert it to cut balsa a ply using vectors (DXF files).
If someone have the same idea please share with us.
Thank you
Raphael
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Old 09-23-2011, 06:43 PM   #4
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Dave,

Unless you have a reason and a lot of $$$$$$$ do not buy a laser. A good one is expensive and the cheapo lasers lack a number of refinements. I have been looking at chinese made lasers and have seen that they cut a lot of corners on quality. Many do not even use proper linear bearings. You get what you pay for.

A much cheaper alternative, though not exactly cheap, is to get a CAM program to go with your Solidworks, CNC controller software, and build a cnc router.

A CNC router is a lot more versatile than a laser. This is especially true if you are making only a few parts at a time. If you get true 3D CAM you can make not only plane parts but tooling also (like vacuum forming plugs).

I am designing in Rhino, using Rhinocam (aka Visual Mill) and using Mach3 as a controller. I built a simple 3 axis router. This winter I plan to make a vaccuum table to hold balsa sheets. My router is made from precision tooling plate but it could have been built from wood. I used a Gecko540 controller and stepper motors along with transportation grade ball screws. Not a truly precision machine but good enough for model parts.

Jack
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:32 PM   #5
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I am considering a CNC router build, I have access to several good plans. I was just curious about what other folks are doing. There is an off-the-shelf CNC woodworking router out there now but I think it is still over $2k.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?p...r=CNC%20router


Dave
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:38 PM   #6
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Seems to me I saw a quote for lazer cutting wing ribs for a 120" thermal glider for like $50. Thats a lot of detail cutting. And they do cutome ribs same price - you just supply the dxf file.

You would need to do a heck of a lot of home cutting to justify the cost of even a router not to mention a lazer setup.

I think I need a signature.
Larry
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Old 09-23-2011, 11:55 PM   #7
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The router that I am considering building appears to be less than $500. The guy who I am working with is a 30 year veteran machine builder. If he is right it would be worth it. If it costs much more than that I would agree it is probably not cost effective unless you do some cutting for other local flyers.

I am not interested in making money though, I just have some really specific models and sizes I want to build.

He has a metals shop and I have a wood shop so since most of the parts are actually machined from wood we were thinking of working together to just build two at once.

The other thing is when I build something I want to be able to rebuild it easily if the plane needs to be optimized by changing the materials or some design element or just to replace a wing or other structure in case of an unfortunate accident.

Dave
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:00 AM   #8
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Nothing wrong with that. If I win the lotto, I plan to have a lazer and a 3D router

I think I need a signature.
Larry
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Old 09-24-2011, 01:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by payne9999 View Post
I am considering a CNC router build, I have access to several good plans. I was just curious about what other folks are doing. There is an off-the-shelf CNC woodworking router out there now but I think it is still over $2k.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?p...r=CNC%20router


Dave
I dedsigned man built my router for less than 2K but it was the precision metal that cost the big $.

Steppers can be had for <$50 ea, controller card $100 and up depending on what you get.

I would build with plywood now. Look on eBay for linear bearings and slides.

Truly, the CAM software is the expensive part.

All that being said, sending out laser cutting is the way to go if you can. I send out laser cutting for my business.

Jack
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Old 10-09-2011, 01:23 AM   #10
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China has a few quality laser manufactures that you can select from… I can advise you first hand that the motion controls within a few of them are Japanese and some tubes have 10000 MTBF… even if one was to derate the tube by 50% you still come out way ahead.
It’s a long journey home if you decide to buy direct from China, you MUST do your homework…
Ask me how I know…
Cheers
Dave
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Old 10-21-2011, 03:41 PM   #11
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Have you considered a phlatprinter?
http://www.phlatboyz.com/Phlatprinter-3-Kit_p_9.html

it's a cnc machine in a box. like IKEA furniture

I've been drooling over them since it was first released. I just can't justify the costs just to build foamies etc.

I wanna be a pirate. Arrrrr

AMA - 885997
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Old 10-21-2011, 09:56 PM   #12
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Also look into a DIY hot wire cnc foam cutter.

http://www.8linx.com/cnc/day6.htm

http://www.8linx.com/cnc/cnc.htm

http://www.hotwiredirect.com/product...ting-machines/





I may be getting Older, But I Refuse to grow Up I am Having to much Fun to Grow Up LOL
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Old 10-21-2011, 10:08 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by payne9999 View Post
I am considering a CNC router build, I have access to several good plans. I was just curious about what other folks are doing. There is an off-the-shelf CNC woodworking router out there now but I think it is still over $2k.

http://www.rockler.com/product.cfm?p...r=CNC%20router


Dave
Now you guys have gotten me thinking. I have a benchtop CNC vertical mill; bought it as a package with its own computer, software, controller, and power supply. It's worked good since I bought it in '06 for my custom knife business. I needed a CNC grinder to profile blades, so I built one. All I needed to do was buy a couple more step motors like the ones on my mill, and run it off the mills computer.

I've made some small plane parts such as struts, firewalls, servo trays etc. on the mill, but it's too small for any major airframe parts.

I'm becoming interested in making a CNC router with about 18" x 36" capacity for wings, etc.. I've got everything but the base and X-Y ways (I'd use linear bearings like the grinder I built). Might be a good winter project.

Let's compare notes.

Tom
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Old 10-21-2011, 10:25 PM   #14
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Here's the router I built. It's a bit of over kill for model airplanes because it has a 6" Z axis. Work envelope is about 42"X16"X6". For model airplanes I would build from the same bearings and hardware but substitute birch ply for the aluminum. I'm running it on a Gecko 540 with 2 steppers on the x axis. It's a noisey beast to run. Accuracy is a bit disappointing but it is plenty good enough for model airplane parts. The table has many 1/4-20 threaded holes for attaching work holding fixtures. I need to make a vacuum table for holding balsa. I design in Rhino5. I render parts with Flamingo. I use Rhinocam 2 for generating tool paths. I run the router and a small mill with Mach3. The variac is used to tame the router just a bit.

Jack

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Old 10-22-2011, 12:00 AM   #15
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Very nice looking piece of work!

I like the way you've got the rails supported. Thompson linear bearings?

What I have in mind is opposite; cheap and dirty. I too think birch ply is good, but have a piece of 1 1/4" laminated desktop that works for these things. Will have to see if there's enough left.

Tom
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Old 10-22-2011, 01:22 AM   #16
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Hi Tom,

I'm one city to the west of you!

I bought all the used linear componants on eBay and while they weren't cheap they weren't all that bad. Not like new stuff from the usual sources. The black super slide on the z axis is used Thomson. The ball screws are 5/8" transportation grade thomson. The other bearings are china stuff and are ok. W/O the aluminum fixture plate the router could have cost less than $750. The aluminum and machining it was expensive. I machined some parts but others were farmed out due to size/complexity.

To do it cheap for model airplanes, I would build with wood and go for smaller bearings. Trying to make your own bearings and rails is probably going to be frustrating if you want some accuracy. Steppers are pretty much a comodity item now and less than $50 each new. You can get by with 3 motors. 4 axis drive boards can be had for about $100. I have a Mechatronic board from eBay that I think goes for $109. I would build a 36X8X4 work envelope for model airplanes though less X axis would work. A laminate trimmer might be cheaper and better then a router. Transportation grade ball screws can be bought new from McMaster Carr at a reasonable price

The big expense is in software. Good CAM software is not cheap. Hand writing G code is not fun and is very limiting.

I have 3 linear superslides and steppers sitting in my shop and eventually plan to build another smaller router and sell the big bugger. I'll probably build mostly from wood and the work envelope will probably be about 24X8X3. I want something easy to move!

Jack
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Old 10-22-2011, 05:19 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by tr4252 View Post
Very nice looking piece of work!

I like the way you've got the rails supported. Thompson linear bearings?

What I have in mind is opposite; cheap and dirty. I too think birch ply is good, but have a piece of 1 1/4" laminated desktop that works for these things. Will have to see if there's enough left.

Tom
Hi All Cheap and Dirty are my middle Names I have a hot wire cutter that I cut most of my foam parts with, you use a flormica pattern on the bottom, a few tacks sticking up from the Pattern to hold the foam with, and thats about it




I may be getting Older, But I Refuse to grow Up I am Having to much Fun to Grow Up LOL
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Old 10-22-2011, 03:18 PM   #18
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Chellie, what kind of transformer are you using?
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Old 10-23-2011, 07:32 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Turner View Post
Chellie, what kind of transformer are you using?

Hi Turner Its an old toy train Transformer, you can get them on Ebay.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MARK-O-TRANS...item2eb850e091

I may be getting Older, But I Refuse to grow Up I am Having to much Fun to Grow Up LOL
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Old 10-23-2011, 03:58 PM   #20
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Yeah, I bought one off ebay a couple years ago. Not even sure now why I wanted it. It didn't work when I got it though they refunded my money. Odd thing was the specs said it had AC output. It seems a lot of newer systems use AC rather than DC. Can an AC transformer be used for hot wire setups?
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Old 10-23-2011, 10:35 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Turner View Post
Yeah, I bought one off ebay a couple years ago. Not even sure now why I wanted it. It didn't work when I got it though they refunded my money. Odd thing was the specs said it had AC output. It seems a lot of newer systems use AC rather than DC. Can an AC transformer be used for hot wire setups?
I Dont see why not You will just have to give it a try, I bought my nichrome wire on E Bay too, I think Hobby People sell it too.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nichrome-Wir...item3a66cf867f

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=....c0.m270.l1311

I may be getting Older, But I Refuse to grow Up I am Having to much Fun to Grow Up LOL
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Old 10-23-2011, 11:51 PM   #22
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Okay, Thanks.
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Old 10-24-2011, 02:12 AM   #23
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"Cheap and Dirty are my middle Names "
Bow chicka wow wow!

All of my landings are three point landings if you count the spinner, too
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Old 10-24-2011, 05:10 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by earthsciteach View Post
"Cheap and Dirty are my middle Names "
Bow chicka wow wow!
Here you go, I think you might like this Pic



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I may be getting Older, But I Refuse to grow Up I am Having to much Fun to Grow Up LOL
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Old 10-24-2011, 12:46 PM   #25
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LOL!!!!

All of my landings are three point landings if you count the spinner, too
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