"One Perfect Part at a Time"

mini tools

No Mistakes – Making My Point

I seldom, almost never make mistakes… HA! But I found one in my tool definitions for Vectric Aspire. Um… maybe I do make a few mistakes.

I use a very fine pointed, down to 0.003 tip tapered ball-end milling bits. Tapered ball-end milling bits are defined by their one side taper angle and the tip radius in the Aspire tool table. That was what got me. The tapered bits are identified by the manufacturer with total (combined) taper angle and the tip diameter.

So, what the maker defines as a 10-degree 0.005 tapered ball-mill is defined in Aspire as 5-degree taper bit with a 0.0025 tip radius.

I got the side angle correct but I was entering the full tip diameter as the radius. I realized the problem when I would define stepover as a percentage rather than specified absolute distance. The percentage calculation was showing twice the correct distance.

Therefore, Aspire was also calculating the tool path to be twice as wide as it actually was. That’s because that is what I specified.

Hmm… wonder how long I have been doing that!*

I am trying to imagine how that would affect the milling operation. Probably some dimensional errors, the program calculating the bit to be twice as wide as it actually was. With the tiny bits, there error would not be noticeable or of any importance. Pocket sidewall distance would be a couple of thou’ too small.

I think the biggest issue would be the stepover. If I wanted 20% it would be cutting… Continue reading

Proxxon TBM 115 Micro Drill Press

DSC06356I ordered in a Proxxon TBM 115 for personal testing because a visitor asked my advise on small or micro size drilling.  Not ultra small drilling but in the number drill range, about 1/64 and larger. I immediately thought of the TBM but never used one.

My Proxxon dealer status is still viable so I ordered one in for my evaluation and perhaps passing it on to my new friend. The truth is I may keep this one for myself.

I have published a full, first look review in The Hobbyist Machine Shop. I was a bit undecided whether to publish it there or in Ramblin’ Dan’s Workshop. THMS got the post as I have another one there about the Proxxon MBS/E Micro Bandsaw. They belong together.

I think the TBM will be very useful in the A3 project as well as my silver work. I am always drilling small holes.

The Micro Mill

The micro mill is what it is, a micro mill. The micro mill should be considered and purchased for its size and not the price.

I occasionally read (like today) where someone has purchased a micro or a mini mill then reported it wasn’t up to the tasks they had in mind. I am not that kind of person who finds the micro mill design inadequate so I don’t know the full reason.

The first thought though is the mill was purchased because of the low price compared to larger machines. That means it is a good place to try out milling work for not too much money. Small projects and parts are the original consideration as well as the price. That is actually a good strategy starting out.

A bit of success with the micro mill leads to larger projects and more demands on the machine. The micro machine is soon determined to be “inadequate” which is certainly true. But that is not a fault of the machine. A tack hammer should not be used to drive railroad spikes.

What I seldom read is praise from the thousands of micro mills owners who use their machines comfortably within their machine’s designs limits. When not pushed far beyond their inherent limitations the machines will perform wonderfully for years of work and probably for a lifetime of hobby type use. The key to satisfaction is understanding limitations with a positive attitude. There is a term I like called finesse. It’s the art of getting something done in a subtle and delicate manner without exceeding limitations.

Many folks have it, some don’t. Other folks actually need the right tool, a bigger hammer.

Hey! While I have your attention, Have a Great and Happy New Year 2016!

Tiny Taig Sleeper CNC Mill

Art-Deco-Sleeper-Train2I just called the Taig CNC Micro Mill a “sleeper”. I do that because I think there are probably a lot of people who don’t realize what is “under the hood” of this little machine. It doesn’t have all the catch word components of larger CNC mills. Especially the anti-backlash ball nuts and screws. It also uses good old fashioned manual oiled guide ways. Very non high-tech components. I consider it the KISS principal of machine design.

The truth is it doesn’t need the balls when used within it’s design parameters. It is a MICO mill. A well designed micro-mill.

I have been running one in hobby type CNC operation for nearly a decade. Nothing is worn out our causing reduced repeatability or accuracy. Note I said HOBBY USE. I figure I have at least 1000 hours of (moving) operation on the mill. Perhaps up to 1200 hours. I often run 3D carvings with a continuous run time of two hours or more.

Twenty five weekends a year with 5 hours of actual run time (a lot) is only 125 hours a year. That time ten years is 1250 run hours. If someone is doing more run hours than that with a Taig, they should probably look towards a midi mill like the Tormach 770 with auto oiling and forced (flood) cooling.*

I have milled all types of hobbyist metal such as Iron, steel, stainless steel, brass, aluminium and many other materials like Corian(r), wood, plastic and wax.

I have involved myself with lost wax casting and for several years have pressed my ageing Taig CNC mill into micro fine 3D wax carving. The spindle is constantly at top speed and runs from two to four hours continuous. The Taig mill doesn’t miss a single bit.

My favourite wax… Continue reading

Micro Machinist Association

I know there are a number of Taig Tool owners in the Dallas, “North Texas” area. I have been contacted by about a half dozen in the past few years. Some close to Dallas and all within what we would call the metro and suburb area.

I believe there is an existing hobby machinist group in the area and I assume the members are more into general machine shop work (as I am) and perhaps less involved with the small (Micro) machinery like Taig (or Sherline). I haven’t pursued more information or membership as my time until recently has been at a premium. But I do run a fair number of web sites.

So what I am wondering is if there is an interest by a few local folks for an online low profile member only (private) meeting room for micro machining? No travel involved. (Maybe later?) I am open to all suggestions, but I envision a local club type BBS group where members get to know and help each other. Not a wide open “my tool is bigger than yours” brag forum.

I believe many home machinists may not want to participate in a wide open public forum. However, a private group of like-minded local folks (an association) may be just what is desired. I have had a request many times on how to “join my club” when in fact I never had one. I don’t want to own one either. I don’t intend to be the “main voice”. Just provide a communication service if I can.

The design for this registered member site is wide open for discussion. My offer is to provide whatever online service the members’ desire. New members join by asking. It could be a simple Taig or Micro Tool owners list, a forum… Continue reading

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