CNC JR. CONVERSION KIT: REVIEW/TESTIMONIAL
I have a small prototype shop, and already had an RF-31 mill/drill. I selected the CNC Table Top Mill conversion kit to augment the capabilities on hand, and to be able to machine complex shapes for some upcoming jobs.
The kit arrived in a timely fashion, and was well packaged. I ordered the 4th axis rotary table and the hand held remote options. I have some minor criticisms but overall I am very pleased with the system’s performance.
I had several “issues” with the system and the actual conversion. These were dealt with and resolved in a timely and professional manner by CNC Masters. In fact the “issues” I brought up with them have resulted in improvements to future models. They do have an excellent and evolving product.
All told my conversion took a little longer than their advertised time, due to taking the opportunity to thoroughly clean and re-grease my table components while apart.
OK, my “issues” having been resolved, the system is most excellent! Great accuracy/repeatability, and very easy to use and learn. (assuming you already are very adept at manual machining, and have some programming experience) And the system is a real joy to use compared to the tedium and drudgery of manual machining.
Within an hour or two of having the system completely assembled (4th axis not installed yet), and testing travels and getting used to the directions and so on, I had written simple programs in the Master Controller software, and performed some machining.
In the above image, a test block of acrylic was used to test the accuracy and play with manual programming in the Master Controller. Nice features and programming is VERY simple to learn. First cut at left was a big “oops”: feed too fast. next is a simple square using a 1/4″ 4 flute end mill, and doing 3 passes @ 0.100″ plunge increments. I wanted to test the accuracy in a manner consistent with manually doing this. The outline is bang on the program dimensions: 1.250″ x 0.750″
Then I wanted to try my hand at making a pocket bore for a bearing journal with an interference fit of the bearings I often use. Simple program using the arc command making several passes at larger arcs to the final dimension, and repeating at successive plunge depths. This took about 15 minutes to write and debug (you can “draw” exactly what the tool does in the master software to check), then about 8 minutes to cut. The bearing was a perfect interference fit first time out, with only this “roughing” and quick and dirty program! Man that is fantastic compared to taking an hour or two to do manually with a rotary table – getting close and measuring, eeking a little more radius and cutting again, measuring etc. This is going to be an immense time saver in addition to being able to make complex 2D and 3D parts!
OK, I elected to get 3rd party CAM software, i.e. BobCad. Once I learned the basics, I have begun making complex parts already (in less than a week since assembling the system, including ordering new tooling). Integration with master controller is a cinch, and machine performs flawlessly. (but as with any computer controlled system, GIGO garbage in garbage out – not only does your drawing have to be right, but you have to know how to machine things)
In closing, the CNC Masters CNC Table Top Mill conversion kit is a very good system, with some minor “issues”. But the issues were resolved quickly by contacting tech support, and the heart or core of the system is well done and performs nicely for the price.
PS: you really HAVE to get the hand held remote! I cannot imagine not having it. Getting the system without it is like ordering a new car without steering wheel and gearshift! (you can jog and position from within the controller software, but having this in the handheld, plus the micro positioning feature is something that makes system much better overall)
Stan–Primary Energy Systems, Inc. Florida