I am fortunate enough to have industrial CNC machinery at my disposal, so it was an obvious choice to machine all of the mechanical parts for this machine myself. This blog post gives a brief overview of the process.
The largest and most challenging components to machine were the Gantry Side Plates. I began with 19 mm 6061 T6 aluminium plate stock and performed a light facing cut on the first side. It was then flipped over, faced once again and drilling/reaming sequences performed.
As we have vises permanently installed on the bed of the machine, it makes it difficult to perform external profiling cuts. My solution was to rough cut the outer profile on a band saw by hand and mount the plates onto a fixture using the 10 mm locating dowel holes I drilled previously. You can see the location dowels in place in the image below, once the bolts were tightened securing the workpiece to the fixture, the dowels were removed and profiling/chamfering of the outside of the component could commence.
Another challenge which I faced was drilling and tapping into the edges of the Gantry Side Plates, these operations required awkward orientation of the parts in the CNC machine. The holes allow attachment to the main Gantry Platforms and the Gantry Bases, therefore their location and accuracy were critical to the assembly of the machine. This challenge was overcome once again by bolting a fixture to the component. The top edge surface of the component was used to align itself on the bed of the machine whilst the vice firmly held the fixture.
The below images shows a test fitting of the main gantry components.
The next task was to begin machining some of the smaller components, ball-screw mounts, ball-nut holders, linear slide end stops, etc.
Another interesting machining setup below, using F-clamps to affix the X axis carriage back plate to the side of the vise. The X axis carriage is a tight fit but turned out nicely I think.
Below is an image showing all of the machined components prior to anodising.
I was hesitant about getting the components anodised as it was an extra process which wasn’t necessarily required, but in hindsight I am glad I made the extra effort. They came out with a really nice matte finish and the coating should protect the surface from tarnishing and other marking for many years.