Wednesday, 2 May 2007

More trouble at' mill

Well things did not quite go to plan. The first problem was that most of my milling bits have ends that are smaller than the top of their shafts so they cannot go very deep. The only exception is a 1/8th inch end mill that came as part of my PCB routing set. It is intended for routing PCB board outlines. The problem was that my first drill did not have a collet big enough to take it. The Minicraft replacement has a three jaw chuck which will. So plan B, I fitted the Minicraft drill into the bottom MDF mount intended for my other drill. Rather than tackle the big block of hard plastic I thought I would try it out on a sheet of scrap polystyrene first. I stuck this down with double sided sticky tape.

I started with a feed rate of 4mm per second. This was far too high as it stalled the drill. I dropped down to 1mm per second and then to 0.5mm. At this point it seemed to be able to handle the cutting but it kept snatching horribly. I dropped down to 0.1mm per second which took ages but it still snatched. I only got as far as the first corner before I aborted. You can see that after the first 15mm it no longer goes right through the plastic. This is because I did not tighten the chuck enough and the bit slipped.

I might be wrong but I think the snatching is due to the set up not being rigid enough. I had already identified that as a weak point and the new motor mount was aimed at improving it. The first drill was supported at both ends but this one is too short so it needs a much stiffer mount, which is what I was trying to make! Perhaps the end mill bit is not suitable for styrene, or perhaps styrene is not very machinable, or perhaps the RPM is too high, or too low. Can you tell I am a bit out of my depth here?

One thing I can do to improve stiffness is to replace the 2mm aluminium plate with the 6mm slab I already bought for the job. I was putting that off until I got the new mount so as not to have to drill two sets of holes in it.

Another thing I might try is to make a top mount out of PolyMorph.

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