Working With Carbon Fiber
How come my circles are not perfectly round?
Then you are machining circles on a CNC and your circles are not coming out perfectly round, it is commonly caused because there is some backlash developing on the machine. Backlash is a tiny amount of play that appears over time and is noticed when a drive changes direction.
When running in a positive direction, the gears/lead screw are engaged with the lead screw nut on the gantry, but when the stepper motor reverses direction there is a tiny space between the lead screw and the lead screw nut that has to be made up before there is positive engagement in that direction. After many, many hours of use or if your machine is not properly maintained and lubricated, then this backlash can develop.
If this is happening to you, please download this document: Stepcraft UCCNC Backlash Compensation.
This will show you how to setup backlash compensation in UCCNC so that you can “dial” out any backlash and go back to having perfect circles again.
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.
Is the STEPCRAFT CNC system able to engrave or cut through carbon fibers?
Yes, the STEPCRAFT CNC will cut carbon fiber very well and very accurately. However, due to the hazardous nature of the carbon dust, STEPCRAFT has a Milling Bath that can be used where you cut the Carbon in water and the water captures the dust not allowing it to become airborne. You can see the Milling Bath here: https://stepcraft.us/product/milling-bath-840/ (They are available in sizes for the 420, 600 and 840 machines)
The following videos show you how well a STEPCRAFT can do with Carbon Fiber:
Can I cut carbon fiber on the STEPCRAFT CNC?
Yes, you can. In fact, carbon fiber cuts very easily on the STEPCRAFT. The main issue with cutting carbon is the dust that is created is very hazardous to your health if you breathe it in. To combat this, STEPCRAFT has a Milling Bath in three separate sizes for the 420, 600 and 840 machines. You can find information on the Milling Baths here: https://stepcraft.us/product-category/accessories/system-accessories-accessories/cnc-accessories/
Additionally here are a couple videos that you can watch containing more information on using a STEPCRAFT CNC for carbon fiber.