CNC Shark

At the Melbourne Woodworking Show, Carbatec were displaying a soon-to-be-available machine – the CNC Shark.

It is a computer controlled routing system, capable of controlling a router in 3 dimensions (a 4th is possible as an upgrade, which you’d use for something like controlling a rotating cylinder for carving into a turned object – imagine engraving into pens)

CNC Shark Demo

CNC Shark Demo

It is connected to a PC via USB and comes with the required software to run the machine. You create the original designs using programs such as Corel Draw, or Adobe Illustrator.

The router mounted in the machine is only there for show – it is not pneumatic, or requiring someone to blow into the tube (not sure if I managed to convince someone at the show of that or not!), and you can use all sorts of router bits for different effects.

It is constructed of steel, aluminium and high-density polyethylene, has 3 stepper motors to precisely control the bit’s location.  It can move a maximum of 24″ longitudinally, 13″ across, and 4.25″ vertically, with a resolution of 1/1000th”

As you can see from the demo video I made at the show (handheld sorry), it takes a number of passes as programmed to remove all the material required.  For part of the video, I used sticky tape to secure the camera to the machine itself (which is why it looks like the material is moving, and not the cutter). And it is a demo of the program running – you won’t see the cutter removing any material (think some people were confused by that at the show).

Resulting Creation

Resulting Creation

It will cost just shy of $5000, so won’t be in every workshop, but I bet there will be some enterprising people who will jump at it, and start creating components for model aircraft, makers marks, wooden business cards, signs (obviously) and, well, wherever your imagination can take you. If your computer could “print” in 3 dimensions into wood, this would be the printer!

If you are particularly interested in the machine, contact Tony Forbes at Carbatec, Brisbane 07 3397 2577, or check out the Carbatec stand at the various woodworking shows. (Oh, and do mention you saw it on Stu’s Shed!)

CNC Shark

Been Thinking….

The Torque Workcentre, with it’s ability to act as a copy device with a wide range of tools mounted in the cutting side opens up an incredible array of possibilities. From making toy traintrack (and the complex intersections), to overhead circular saw coving, item duplication, surfacing and on and on.

I’ve even thought about how you could build in an indexing system to allow items longer than the workcentre to be indexed precisely across using the Incra rails, so oversized items could be processed

Incra Incremental Rack

Incra Incremental Rack

Once you start thinking about it, just how much could be done?  Inlays? Routered boxes?

What happens if you mounted a small indexing lathe onto it? (Or even just came up with a way of mounting a couple of centres to support an item, that you can index around) – flutes?, spiral turning/routing (helical)?  I’m not sure if all this is possible, but it certainly bears considering!

Once you have a prototype, duplication is a piece of cake.

Even 3D routing – use the original 3D router to produce the initial part, then the Torque workbench to duplicate the result as many times as required.  You could even use the Torque Workbench with the initial pattern – would beat using the router handheld!  I don’t know, but I’m hoping it can handle Z axis pattern movement.  If not, that would be a fascinating development!

Just rambling on, as the brain mulls over the possibilities……..

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