CNC FAQ


Answering all of your CNC Questions

For both STEPCRAFT and Non-STEPCRAFT CNC Systems

UCCNC is the machine control software that moves your STEPCRAFT machine and interprets G-Code. In order to use your STEPCRAFT machine, you will need the UCCNC software as well as the STEPCRAFT machine-specific profiles. You can download and install both from the STEPCRAFT Multi-Installer that comes on your orange USB flash drive, please email [email protected] to get a copy.  STEPCRAFT will always have the latest compatible version of UCCNC included in the Multi-Installer. 

 
 
 

Software Troubleshooting UCCNC 10/5/20, 2:09 PM 4,227 Views Direct Link

Understanding the Homing Procedure

Whenever you open UCCNC, the very first movement you should make with your machine is "Home All". On a STEPCRAFT, the homing procedure begins with the Z-Axis, then the X-Axis and finally the Y-Axis. Each axis will run towards its limit switch until it engages the switch, then will run the opposite way until the switch disengages. Once all three axis have hit their limit switch, your machine is now ready to travel the full length of each axis!

This is known as a reference movement for the machine. Without this reference movement, the machine has no idea where it is along its axis and may not travel the full length back and forth. If your machine is stopping short of the full length of travel and you aren't noticing any binding, make sure to "Home All" and try running again.

One important thing to note is that if any axis ever travels in the opposite direction of its limit switch when homing, check to make sure a limit switch is not engaged somewhere on the machine. All of the limit switches are on the same circuit, so if you tried to home your machine and the Y-Axis limit switch was pressed, the Z-Axis would travel in the OPPOSITE direction. This happens because the machine is going through the stage of homing when it backs away from the switch until it disengages. Because the Y-Axis switch was pressed, the Z-Axis will infinitely try to move away but it will never disengage.

UCCNC CNC Basics 4/17/20, 2:58 PM 3,979 Views Direct Link

What is a surfacing bit used for?

A surfacing bit typically has a larger than normal cutting diameter (1 to 3 inches) and are used to flatten or level uneven surfaces on your project material.  They are also used to take the thickness of a material down to a final required size.  For example, you might have a piece of rough cut lumber that measures 1 inch in thickness but you need it to be 3/4 inch thick.   If you don't have a surface planer in your shop then you can use a surfacing bit with a pocket tool path to plane the material down. Another common use for surfacing bits is to clean up and level a spoil board.  After continuous use your spoil board's surface will have a lot of cuts in it and you might want to clean it up so it is perfectly smooth again.  A surfacing bit is perfect for this, especially with machines where the spoil board is physically attached to the machine - you might want to prolong the use of it for as long as you can before replacing. Leveling your spoil board is also important. If you are looking to engrave .005" into a piece of metal and your bed is off by a couple thousandths from one side to the other or front to back, then the thickness of your engraved lines will vary.  By using a surfacing bit, you will ensure that your spoil board is perfectly level in relation to your gantry which will result in a uniform engraving. Note: Because of the larger diameter of a surfacing bit, it is important to note that you can not take as deep of passes or run as fast as you might with smaller end mills on most machines.   Consult your machine's manufacturer for assistance with proper speeds and feeds for surfacing bits. 
 
 

Working With Wood End Mills and Cutters Working with Metals Working with Plastics 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 3,557 Views Direct Link

The following video will show you how to level your heated bed for your 3D printer... 

 
 

3D Printing Maintenance 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 3,605 Views Direct Link

The D-Series 420, 600 and 840 all have a max Z height of 140mm (5.51"). However this does not represent the maximum height of material you can process. From this height you need to subtract the spindle collet nut stick out as well as the length of the cutting tool you are using.

The following represents the spindle and spindle nut stick out you get on a D-Series machine with the HF-500 and MM-1000 spindles

HF-500: 31mm (1.22")
MM-1000: 38.6mm (1.52")
MM-1000 (with single spacer): 32.56mm (1.28")
MM-1000 (with dual spacers): 26.34mm (1.04")

  • NOTE: This is the case with just about every CNC machine on the market, not just STEPCRAFT CNC. Most all CNC machines will have spindle and spindle nut/tool holder stick out that takes away from the usable Z height.

So if you take into consideration the MM-1000 with dual spacers, you would have a total Z height of 140mm (5.51") minus 26.34mm (1.04") leaving you with a new max Z height of 113.66mm (4.47").

Now depending on what you intend to do, you can use this new value to plan your project. If you want to cut all the way through material, you would need to have a tool that is long enough, which you would further subtract from the new Z height value.

Example 1: New Z Value is 113.66mm (4.47"), if you divide that number in half, that would mean you can use a piece of material that is 56.83mm (2.23") thick and the tool would have to stick out 56.83mm (2.23") as well.

  • NOTE: This would also mean that the cutting height of the tool would have to be a min of 56.83mm (2.23") or you run the risk of rubbing the shank of the tool on the material.

Example 2: If you intend to only engrave on top of a piece of material, then your tool stick out can be much less. If you use an engraving blank that sticks out say 12mm from the bottom of the collet nut, then that means you can have a max material height of 101.66mm (4").

  • NOTE: please keep in mind you should also allow for a couple 2-3mm of Z height clearance for rapid, non-cutting moves on the CNC as well. So you would subtract another 2-3mm from the above numbers in a practical application.
Visual Example, Kress spindle with double 5mm spacers

TWO SIDED MACHINING - For thicker material

One way that you can increase your max material thickness that you can cut through is using double sided machining.

Example: You can take your new Z value of 113.66mm (4.47") and divide that into thirds. This would mean you can have a material thickness of 75.33mm (2.96"), or two-thirds and using a cutter with a length of 38mm (1.49") you can cut one side of the project and then flip it over and cut the other side - so you are using a shorter cutter to cut through a thicker material by cutting each side.

Here is the profiles of the MM-1000 (top) and HF-500 (bottom)
The HF-500 has a stick out from the bottom of the orange tool holder to the bottom of the collet nut of 31mm.
The MM-1000 without spacer rings has a stick out from the bottom of the orange tool holder to the bottom of the collet nut of 38.6mm.
The MM-1000 with a single spacer ring has a stick out from the bottom of the orange tool holder to the bottom of the collet nut of 32.56mm.

The MM-1000 with dual spacer rings has a stick out from the bottom of the orange tool holder to the bottom of the collet nut of 26.34mm.

Pre-Purchase Questions Stepcraft Specifications Working With Wood 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 3,660 Views Direct Link

Z-Axis Alignment for STEPCRAFT D.Series Machines

The following videos will walk you through a typical Z-Axis Alignment...

Here is a video showing you how to do the cleaning and greasing procedure

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZb9LHzGlwc

An Example of an Aligned Stepcraft Machine

 
 
 

How to strength-test your Stepcraft CNC

 
 
 
 
 
 

Homing Each Axis

Speed Test

 
 
 

Alignment-z-axis

Z Axis Alignment - Disassembling the Z Axis

 
 
 

Z Axis Alignment - Setting the Z Axis Rollers

 
 
 

Z Axis Alignment - Lead Screw Nut Alignment

 
 
 

Z Axis Alignment - Inspecting Your Z Axis Stepper Motor

 
 
 

Z Axis Alignment - Reassembling Your Z Axis

 
 
 

Z Axis Alignment - Final Alignment and Testing

 
 
 

Maintenance Assembly Questions 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 3,199 Views Direct Link

To connect your remote switchable power controller system, follow the diagram below...

Stepcraft Attachments and Access Spindles and Routers 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 3,568 Views Direct Link

The Oscillating Tangential Knife requires no special software outside of the standard CAD/CAM program used to design and create toolpaths. Cut2D, VCarve Desktop and VCarve Pro are all compatible with the OTK-3. As of May 2019, the only "special" software needed to run the knife is the free version 1.2110 of UCCNC.

Securing your workpiece for use with the OTK-3 may require use of a vacuum table or sticky table, as materials such as hard foam, cardboard, leather, cork and carpet can be tough to hold with traditional clamping methods.

Pre-Purchase Questions Stepcraft Attachments and Access 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 2,748 Views Direct Link

The HF-500 can support up to 8mm ER11 collets.  The most popular in North America are 1/8” and 1/4”, but they have collets that range from 1mm to 8mm that will work.   The ER11 is an industry standard that determines the overall collet size.  ER11, ER16, ER20, ER25 are all common sizes.   But the HF 500 and our Tool Changer tool holders for the MM-1000 are both designed for the ER11.

 

Spindles and Routers Stepcraft Specifications 4/17/20, 2:53 PM 2,183 Views Direct Link