It’s Alive…..ALIVE!!

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Tonight, things became a much bigger deal! First with the assistance of the BlasterBoyz who came recently to assist lifting the machine into the workshop.

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Then it was a matter of getting the software up and running

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Didn’t take much! Once installed, the CNC was plugged into the computer, and the two had their first conversation.

It can move fast, very fast. And extremely slowly as needed. The stepper motors are huge, so even though the machine is heavy & solid, it moves very smoothly and accurately.

The spindle is also very quiet- no screaming routers here! Comes with 12 different collets for different diameter router bits.

Not much else achieved tonight- jogged the head around the limits of the table, starting to build the familiarity with the tool. Will study the UCCNC manual closely to get to properly understand how to use the software, and will be looking to make the first actual cuts over the weekend.

Addition and Subtraction

The battlefield of the very near future could be quite a different place indeed.  At least as far as logistics and materiel supply is concerned.  I imagine it will be even more profound for the Navy, who have a stable working platform (stable by our standards!)

Where once, a battle was fought only as far as the supply chain could stretch, and every spare part imaginable was carried, it will soon get to a point that all that will be required is the generic raw material, and the ability to fabricate any required part in the field.

The age of one-off part creation is upon us.  It may still be in its infancy, but RP (rapid prototyping) and RM (rapid manufacture), in the form of 3D printing is about to become an unbelievable growth industry over the next 6-10 years.  Even the Formula 1 is taking it very seriously.  They already use 3D printing for prototyping parts for their vehicles, but it won’t take long before the cars themselves have 3D printed components on them, especially where it comes to recovering from an accident.  Cars are occasionally knocked out of the big event due to a crash during practice, and the inability to get the required spare.  This costs the team a fortune in lost exposure, lost advertising, let alone potentially lost championship points.

3D printing is a form of AM – additive manufacturing, where raw material is processed and added to build the required component, layer by layer.  This is no longer restricted to plastics either, with companies now able to utilise titanium 3D printers.  This results in products that goes far beyond prototyping and concept models, and results in fully functional products, some which cannot be made by any other method, with moveable components in seemingly impossible locations.  Impossible if traditional fabrication methods were used.

So where 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process, CNC routing is a subtractive process.  You start with a block of raw material, and carve away everything you don’t want.  Each have their advantages, and CNC machining has now been around for decades, so is a very mature process.

Soon, both additive and subtractive computer manufacturing in my workshop.  The Redback CNC will give me the subtractive process, (in spades), and a soon-to-arrive 3D printer will let me start to become familiar with additive manufacturing.  The rolls of filament arrived during the week, so hopefully the 3D printer is not too far behind!

Homegrown Engineering

No question, I am a fan of local manufacture and engineering. My degree was in manufacturing processes, metallurgy and welding (all under the banner of mechanical engineering), so seeing local business buck the trend of offshoring is always something I am keen to support.

So in a small street in Yandina, there is a workshop like many others, but it is never the workshop itself that makes a place, it is always the shed owner. And in this case, the shed owner is Keith, and this workshop is YAS Engineering.

Yas Engineering

Yas Engineering

For those that don’t know, YAS Engineering is the home of the Slab Master, the Router Master, and the Torque Workcentre. It is also where Keith makes custom CNC machines, and is producing a new CNC machine for the Australian market.

CNC

CNC

It was estimated to be around the $8k mark, then had the estimate upped to $15k, but in discussion, it sounds like the (external) QS on the machine was significantly overquoted for unknown reasons, so the original $8k is in fact much closer to the mark.

We had a good chat about the past, the present, and the future. The TWC is definitely continuing, and with ongoing refinements. One of those refinements (although not one that impacts on performance), is likely to be a colour change, and a name change.

The router master is a platform that masters the router. The slab master allows you to master the surfacing of a slab. But what is the relevance of “Torque”? If you have any suggestions for a more applicable name, fire them in (comments below).

In the foreground of the first photo, you can see a bunch of TWC end frame about to head off for finishing. And there were a lot more parts inside.

Workcentre components

Workcentre components

It has been great getting to catch up with Keith, and Larry on this trip.

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