Answering all of your CNC Questions

For both STEPCRAFT and Non-STEPCRAFT CNC Systems

The purpose of any CAM program is to take your design file and turn it into G-Code by assigning tool paths to your project and outputting it in a format that a CNC machine can understand.

That being said, you still need a method of controlling the CNC machine, which is where programs like Mach 3 and UCCNC come in. They are designed to connect to the CNC machine and the G-Code files that you create in your CAM program are loaded into Mach 3 or UCCNC to run the machine.

With any CNC router, you have three main steps to creating a project:

  1. Design your project in a CAD/Drawing program
  2. Use a CAM program to assign tools and tool paths to the project
  3. Use a machine control program to load the G-Code files and run the CNC machine.

Software Troubleshooting UCCNC Pre-Purchase Questions 4/17/20, 1:53 PM 3,264 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, 1:53 PM 1,769 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, 1:53 PM 3,164 Views Direct Link