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Messages - Jennifer

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Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: The Laser Project.
« on: March 10, 2011, 12:50:30 PM »

i went with the Mini 24 in a 60 watt confugiration. it has servo motors rather than steppers, 20w more power, high grade optics with a different lens more geared to vector cutting rather than engraving, a vccume table and air cooing. it cost me a couple bucks more but it will allow me to grow without outgrowing the machine.

delivery will be after i retun from Floriduh, in about three weeks.

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: The Laser Project.
« on: March 10, 2011, 12:09:46 PM »

I love Celtic Knots. You did a very nice job. now shrink the whole thing to about an inch and a half, use abalone shell for the part and you will have an idea of my challenges :P


Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: The Laser Project.
« on: March 08, 2011, 08:59:31 AM »
Hi Tweakie,

I use a software package called V-carve Pro ( http://www.vectric.com/WebSite/Vectric/vcp/vcp_index.htm ) for my inlay tool paths. it can create two different tool paths for each drawing i make. One for the piece and one for the pocket. It even tales into consideration the radius of the tool you use and corrects outside corners on the parts so you do not wind up with the old square peg in the round hole problem. You can also just specify your offset so the pocket will be a little larger than the piece thus allowing for glue space and finishes. it is really neat stuff.

They allow you to download the entire package for free, you can even save your drawings. it just will not generate the G-Code from them. But if you are nice to me i will let you send me a drawing or two and generate if for you.

they also have many hours of video tutorials on-line i think one of them is geared specifically for inlay basics.

inlay is big fun especially when you get into real intricate patterns, but it can also be maddening. It really is not the best candidate for a CNC solution unless you, like me, need to repeat the same design many times. it is a lot faster to cut your part with a saw and route out your pocket by hand, unless you are getting into a production scenario.


That was a quick reply,

No need to fret (luthery humor) Tweakie, i will still be using the router a lot, just not for cutting abalone. you are right i should post some pictures of my art, i am pretty proud of my work.


Thanks Everyone!

well the answer to my question Mill or Router has been resolved. the answer is: Laser!   :D

i have ordered an Epilog "Zing 24". it can cut abalone like butter, gives me a sharp corner with only a .004" radius, will rip thru the thin woods i use when building a stringed musical instrument and has a bunch of other applications like carving or engraving. A few people in my industry are using them with really nice results. One example can be seen here: http://www.rgmusic.com/gallery.html . it opens up a lot of possibilities for additional aesthetic techniques not normally applied to luthery.

I want to thank everyone who put in their two cents regarding this post. You all made me think about my decision process, regarding what direction to take regarding my next machine purchase and to take a look outside of the box. for this i am grateful.

If any of you are interested you can check out the laser i picked at: http://www.epiloglaser.com/zing_24.htm . The only regret i have is the name of the machine "Zing" sounds pretty tacky. This model can be had for around 10-14k, depending on options, their smaller "starter" model in the 7k range. really not much more than low end industrial router.

some of my decision factors were: table size an nice 16x24 inches, cutting speed measured in dozens of inches per minute as opposed to single digit feeds, accuracy close to a low end milling machine, no tools to break, few wear parts, quiet operation, spot size of .005" and ease of use.

These things just use a modified windows print driver you can "print" any common graphics file, like corell draw, dxf etc..., to this driver and it will interpret fine lines as a cut and thick lines or gray scale as a carve. Gee i should sell these things, i'll get off my soapbox.

i guess you can see i am enthused, we shall see what the reality of this thing is like in a few weeks when i take delivery.

Again, thank you all,

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: The Laser Project.
« on: March 02, 2011, 02:35:01 PM »
Thank you both for your comments,

i will check out the CNC zone thread and see what they have come up with. a simplified way to visualize this "wave effect" is to simply push in teh center of a belt with your finger. When you do the gantry will move a few thousandths, but spring right back. Now picture a wave running up and down teh belt from rapid repeated changes in direction, like when routing the apex of a triangle.

my machine will repeat with wonderful accuracy, even after a thousand traverses, thats not really an issue, it is this jiggling of the router head when i am attempting very fine sweeping inlays of abalomne or some other shell that drives me nuts. i have to go back and manually sand off this roughness. once i am involved in doingthat i have lost any time i may have gained by cutting the part with the darn machine in the first place.

i have a meeting, but will check the ink out in a bit... Thanks again, Jen

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: The Laser Project.
« on: March 02, 2011, 10:52:08 AM »
Thanks Chris,

sorry i posted this in the wrong place. not so much stretch, these are very large kevlar reinforced belts, it is more of a vibration issue. when the router head changes direction quickly, like working a tight corner with a 1/64th inch (.015") bit, yes they make them that small, it sets up a vibration you can see in the belt, especially with those nice machine generated G-Code files, the "wave" in the belt is what i think is the culprit. if i could figure a way of dampening this wave, i think it would improve accuracy.

with the laser it seems to work more like a printer making long sweeps with a single direction change at the end of each pass, so this condition may not occur. in fact i think a lighter (less mass) belt may be another consideration. Less mass less inertial force to set up vibration. gawd i sound like a freakin engineer, this is supposed to be art :)

i'll stay tuned,

Tweakie, Shoot i replied to the wrong post! see "the laser project" for my comments. :P Jen

Show"N"Tell ( Your Machines) / Re: The Laser Project.
« on: March 02, 2011, 08:34:12 AM »
Good Show tweakie!

that is my one remaining concern, that blackening around the edges, it is not an issue with woods like ebony or rosewood, so fretboard inlays are safe. However if i needed to inlay on a spruce top or someone who wanted a maple neck or head I could be in trouble. From what i am seeing it is mostly contained to the surface, so a little rigorous sanding could help. The nitrogen gas thing may help, or perhaps less heat by doing many light passes as opposed to one heavy pass with the laser, or maybe immersing the part in liquid nitrogen and cutting in a total vacuum :P

I am almost ready to "pull the trigger" on an epilog laser system. they have incredible accuracy for a small machine and their speed is blazing. while it would not replace a lot of what i am using CNC for it sure will improve my throughput with regard to cutting the inlay materials. cost is negligible about 15-20k for a mid range machine.

I also recently purchased a copy of V-Carve Pro. It is really nice stuff. generates nice tight G-code and has a lot of cool bells and whistles, the one i especially like is the 3-d images it renders, images of what the finished job looks like. you select the material, "run" the toolpath and voila you get a 3 axis rotatable image that you can export in a number of formats that i can send my customers. it is wonderful for getting them to "sign off" on a job before i ever have to cut a thing. comes in handy for thwarting the old "gee that's not what i thought i was getting" problem.

the only thing is the laser does not accept G-Code, and here i just spent the last six months immersing myself in that discipline. not to mention all the monies Ive put into that silly router and software. but the education i have received is priceless. Also i would not have met so many nice people into machinery if it was not for the Mach3 back end.

Speaking of the router, i have decided to change the X&Y axis from belt to a ball screw setup. Both axis already have pretty hi precision rails they slide on, it is just that little bit of play in the belts that gets frustrating, especially when there are a lot of quick direction changes. they sort of vibrate, which sometimes causes a couple of thou error in the parts.

Would it be worth exploring some kind of belt vibration dampening before i embark on changing it to ball screw?


Hi Tweakie,

please forgive the plagiarism:P

I figured it was not a cheap device. Like i said i owned a laser aesthetic clinic for a few years. we did skin peels (erbium laser), hair removal (alexanderite & NDYag), tattoo removal (ruby, KTP and YAG) and other stuff like spider veins and age spots. each of those machines were high durability fast switching and very fast switching, from about 3ms pulse width to 10ns pulse width anywhere from about 10-400 joules of output. the cheapest one cost me about 80k and the standard 3 year service contracts were similarly priced.

they all had fiber optic delivery systems, every time i broke a fiber it cost me about three mortgage payments!


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