Technical Education Made Easier with Real CNC Machines

Hands-on learning is quickly becoming the best-known way for students to fully grasp concepts and curriculum, especially in the world of technical CNC machine education. To this end, classrooms have started to change in accommodation for this type of hands-on teaching. Because 3D printers are becoming more regular in everyday classrooms (not just tech ed rooms), machine tools, like multi-axis CNC mills and lathes, are more commonplace in the shop.

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Why You Need a 3D Printer in Your Shop, and Why You Don’t

Over the last decade, 3D printing has grown in popularity and decreased significantly in price. Even though 3D printing is a long way from bettering CNC machining in speed, materials, or reliability, additive manufacturing technology may have a place in everybody’s shop. If you have a mill, why do you need a 3D printer in your shop?

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Making Chips at Maker Faire

This last weekend, bus-loads of makers descended on the New York Hall of Science in Queens to attend the 2016 World Maker Faire. Tormach was there to show off our PCNC 440, which was unveiled at the same even last year, and we got to see quite an array of projects and maker tools. The booth next door specialized in molding materials for masks and costume prosthetics. Of course, there was an array of 3D printers and customizable PCB companies. There were several FIRST Robotics teams on-site to show off their builds from last season. There were all kinds of art sculptures and kinetic activities for kids and adults – plus the occasional musical break-out. We even had several customers stop by the booth, one of which (ReDeTec) also had a booth at the faire and is using their PCNC 770 to make a plastic recycling unit for more sustainable 3D printer filament. Photo Credit: Mike Senese, Make: Magazine And, Make: Magazine put us in their photo-roll of the event, showing off a Raspberry Pi Zero case that just came off the PCNC 440. We’re already looking forward to the next Maker Faire in San Francisco next spring, but we always love to see what Tormach owners are making. Send your projects and machining pictures to marketing@tormach.com, and you may just see them pop up in the blog!

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Settling the Debate - CNC vs 3DP

Now that 3D printers have emerged as the tool-of-choice for many makers and educators, there seems to be a line drawn in the sand between CNC and additive manufacturing. Many manufacturers even worry that 3D printing may one day replace traditional manufacturing in the form of at-home production (perhaps sooner than we think).

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PCNC 1100 Helps Company Innovate in 3D Desktop Printers

Founded by Nathan Patterson, Kevin Harris, and Nathan Schumacher, Radiant Fabrication in Fitchburg, Wisconsin hopes to bring 3D printing into the mainstream. Their consumer-level 3D printer, Lionhead™, incorporates 3D printing and 3D scanning into a single device. Using a voxel-based editing environment in their 3D modeling software, Radiant Li™ runs in an environment similar to the popular video game Minecraft. With the scanner, printer, and software bundled, Radiant believes they have created one of the most durable and easy to use 3D printers available today. Current marketing efforts for the Lionhead are focused on public sector markets including schools and libraries. Patterson notes that the combined hardware and software package is a perfect fit for these environments. “A lot of high schools, middle schools, and libraries are looking at purchasing a 3D printer for their location or district. We’ve got not only the hardware they need, but also the software that young people already know how to use.” Radiant Fabrication purchased a Tormach PCNC 1100 for the purposes of product design and development as well as small-scale production. “We’re using the PCNC 1100 to make components for the Lionhead, including all of the components for our polar-type mechanism. We also use the 1100 for facing various components created on a laser cutter and a router. “The Tormach PCNC 1100 has been extremely helpful in developing the extruder drives and heater blocks. It has allowed us to create multiple versions of our print heads and filament drives and iterate on the designs very quickly. These components need to be repeatable and machined accurately,” Patterson added. “Filament drives tend to be the point of failure for a lot of 3D printers. The fact that we have been able to quickly make and test so many iterations has allowed us to converge to a great design." He continued, “A lot of other printers have extruders that have been designed to be quickly taken apart for maintenance. This sounds great, but in reality, they’re designed that way because they fail so often. “The Lionhead is different,” explains Patterson. “With other machines, filament drives can be so sensitive that holding the filament back with two fingers can stop it from working. Because we’ve been able to quickly iterate on our designs and also precision machine these parts, we’ve been able to create drives that are capable of exerting substantial forces on the filament without losing motor steps or stripping the material.” For more information on the Lionhead 3D printer and the innovations at Radiant Fabrication, visit them online at www.radiantfabrication.com.

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