9 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed on Your CNC Workbench

Every shop, whether you’re a veteran machinist or a newbie to CNC, should have some basic tools – from wrenches and a socket set to proper tool holders and vises. But, there are several tools and utensils that you never knew you needed on your workbench. Some are more obvious than others, but here are nine tools every CNC workbench should contain.

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A Guide to Selecting the Right Vise for the Job

A good vise is a fundamental tool for precision machining. In addition to choosing the right size vise for your machine, identifying the right types of vise for workholding is critical to making sure your workpiece is secured while its being milled. There are a three types of vises that you’ll commonly encounter in CNC milling – the machinist vise, the CNC vise, and the toolmaker vise.

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6 Go-To Resources to Make You a Better Machinist

The Internet can be a wasteland of information, but it can also be incredibly helpful – the challenge is navigating through it to find the most valuable and accurate information. How-tos, and general knowledge about CNC and machining can be even more challenging to navigate. While there are piles of resources to help you discover your machining prowess, these are our top resources to help make anybody a better machinist.

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Machining Isn’t Just for Machinists

The Tormach mission is focused on enabling the ideas of our many users, who find themselves at varying levels of knowledge and skill when it comes to machining. CNC machining has often been restricted to those with the means to house massive manufacturing machinery and those with the knowledge-base to keep from crashing said machinery. Even those in highly technical fields have previously been relegated to outsourcing their manufacturing and prototyping efforts because of the cost and learning curve of using CNC machinery. Now, Tormach has an array of scientists and researchers using our machines to put together some of the world’s more complex experiments. NASA has several Tormach mills that are used to do everything from prototyping components that will eventually end up in space to wrapping wire and milling brackets for nano-satellites that will also end up in space. That being said, rocket scientists also act as machinists at NASA. Inprentus is a startup company in Champaign, IL that uses their PCNC 770 to make components and workholdings for their high-precision CNC machine. Making refraction gratings for the likes of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory isn’t a business that can be taken lightly, but the team of scientists found the sweet spot in prototyping and quick manufacturing with their mill. A field that we’ve seen grow quickly is the study of microfluidics. Edmond Young, Ph.D.  is the director and supervisor at the Laboratory of Integrative Biology and Microengineered Technologies (IBMT) at the University of Toronto, and a Tormach PCNC 770 was one of the first pieces of equipment he purchased for the lab. He says, “Given the combination of affordability, rapid turnaround times, and ease of setting up, it was an easy decision to incorporate the system into my lab’s plans when I move to Toronto.” His work on developing microfluidic devices has been published in many peer-reviewed journals, including Lab on a Chip, where he discussing micromilling with his Tormach mill. 

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Diamond Drag Engravers

As some readers may know, in addition to blogging here on Milling Around, I also contribute a quarterly column to Digital Machinist magazine about CNC machining topics of interest to hobbyists and small garage shops.  The Fall 2012 column is set to be on newsstands in the next week or so.  You can find it at major bookstores- Barnes and Noble comes to mind, but I know its available elsewhere as well.  Lots of great content, including many project ideas. The topic of my Fall 2012 column is engraving - and in particular, drag engraving.  These are great tools for part marking, whether it be logos, serial numbers, graduations, or similar.  Probably the best thing is how easy it is to get a very professional looking engraving using simple 2D cutting paths from Vectric Cut2D or similar.  Drag engraving works well on just about any material, thanks to the diamond tip. Here's a couple examples of the drag engraving process in action. First, in Acrylic [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsrVJKbUtQo[/youtube] Second, in 4140 Steel [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eCsngVlKso[/youtube] You'll notice that they are spring-loaded, which makes the process forgiving if the workpiece isn't perfectly flat with respect to the spindle.  All you need to do is preload the the tip a few thousandths of an inch ( a bit of experimenting with preloads and feedrates is usually necessary to really dial in the process).  Our TTS drag engraver kit comes with two springs of different stiffness.  There are also two different point angles available, 90 deg and 120 deg.  If you're interested in trying any of these tools out for yourself, you can buy those tools here: Purchase TTS Drag Engraver. Here's what things look like up-close: The height of the "TM" is approximately 0.050".  Line width is approximately .005".  Feedrate in this particular case was 30 ipm.  You'd need a very fast spindle to do that with a rotary engraver.   *By the way, If you're visiting from the magazine and would like to subscribe to this blog, its easy, simple, and free - just use the links on the upper righthand corner of the page to register and updates will be delivers to your email as they happen. If you've never heard of Digital Machinist and would like to subscribe to that magazine, Home Shop Machinist, Machinist's Workshop, or any of the other Village Press titles, that's easy too.  Click here to get started. Digital Machinist also sends out very nice email tips through out the year - and you don't even have to be a subscriber. Click here to sign up for the Pass Along e-Tips Special thanks to SDM Manufacturing for the videography  

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Custom Knife Makers Embrace Modern Technology with Tormach and YouTube

Meet John Grimsmo. 28. Canadian. Self-taught metal worker. Up-and-coming artisan in the custom knifemaking industry.

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