Please be warned, this is a mega long post…
One of the things that I’ve noticed with the CNC Depot ATC spindle setups is that there isn’t always a lot of detailed information or conversation regarding the more banal components that go into these setups; regulators, fittings, solenoids, storage, etc.
I am in the process of figuring out all the other parts that I need to get air to the spindle and make things work. Here’s what I’m current working through, from compressor to spindle. Hopefully capturing this and the subsequent discussion might help others who are just getting started with one of these spindles and the things that need to go along with them.
First, let’s start with supplying good clean and dry air (5-6 delivered CFM according to CNC Depot):
- Compressor: I went back and forth on this a LOT. I work in a residential basement and am conscious and sensitive to the sound of a piston compressor; I just can’t do it. I know there’s a lot you can do to help reduce sound levels of piston compressors, but I wasn’t thrilled about that path. Ultimately I decided to bite the bullet and purchased a rotary screw compressor, specifically this one: ELGI 5 HP Rotary Screw Air Compressor
It is WAY more compressor than I need, and I had extensive conversations with a few folks who own this type of compressor (including the manufacturer) and how to effectively mitigate condensation issues that can arise from these compressors not properly heating up and evaporating any condensation that accumulates in the oil. As I get some time on this compressor I’ll report back and let anyone who’s interested know how it works out for a small shop. Also, I’m not saying anything against good piston compressors, but after extensive conversations with my wife we decided we were willing to pay the premium for quiet(er). I’m sure any high quality piston compressor will work, but based on what I’ve seen I’d avoid the big box store compressors if you run jobs that are going to run “long”. I found this video particularly enlightening (and disapointing). !WARNING: Profanity laced educational video! Why are CFM ratings BS? Do not watch if you are sensitive to potty language
- Air Drying: I’m considering going the route of an after cooler, but not the type that you usually see online where folks use copper pipe runs attached to walls. I’m considering a stainless steel HERMS Coil like you see in home brewing setups. It seems especially well suited to cooling the air to condense and trap water (with the right fittings), is more compact than the copper pipe runs, and if I choose I could place the coil in a water bath to even further lower the temperature to condense out more water. Of note, this coil would go between the compressor unit and the 60 gallon air tank. Here’s the one that I’m considering (NTP fittings pre-welded): HERMS Coil
Note: I did consider getting an actual Air Dryer, but thought to try an inexpensive chiller approach first and see how effective it is. My workshop is climate controlled to 45% RH year round (I primarily build guitars), so I don’t have high humidity to deal with.
Air Distribution: I’ve decided to go with the 1/2" Maxline system from Rapid Air. This is really pretty basic, and I did not opt to go with one of the kits. It was a bit more money, but the setup that I wanted to go with would have required me to buy more components AND have a bunch from the kit left over that I just wouldn’t need. For me, it felt needlessly wasteful so I just pulled together the necessary plumbing parts to connect my compressor tank to the Maxline.
Air Line Termination: My Maxline setup will ultimately run to the wall near my machine and terminate with a ball valve, manifold and two quick connect fittings. I went with the ball valve and two port manifold from Rapid Air and since I use Prevost quick connects for other things in my shop (with my small compressor), I decided to pick up a few more for the manifold. 1/2" Male Prevost Euro High Flow S1 Coupler.
So this is where I am in the planning and shopping phase of this project. What I’m left with are a bunch of questions that I’m hopeful some of you might be able to chime in on and recommend products, alternative approaches, or other considerations. So far in my build I’m trying to focus on quality components rather than the financial impact of decisions; I’m a buy once, cry once kind of person.
Air Distribution (quick connect) to Machine: I’m not really sure how I want to go from my quick connects on the wall to the rest of the components for the S30C spindle. For now I’m thinking of just a short 1/2" NPT air hose to connect the Maxline/quick connect to the regulator for the CNC.
Filter Regulator: Admittedly this is the part where my inexperience is really kicking in. There are a ton of different regulators and filter combinations to consider, and I’m just not sure what I want or actually need. I found a few options on McMaster that look good to me, I just don’t know which I’d go with, or if I’d just find something on Amazon and go on with my day: Festo Modular Compressed Air Filter/Regulator, SMC Modular Compressed Air Filter/Regulator, Norgren Modular Space-Saver Filter/Regulator
Coalescing Filter: I’m not really sure if I need this, but since the S30C spindle requires “clean, dry air”, I figured I’d look at adding a coalescing filter: SMC Air Filter, Series Afd40-A, 1/2 NPT Female
Drawbar: My understanding is that I’ll add a solenoid to the air line that will go to the drawbar inlet. I watched This video from Clough42 where he covers the solenoid setup he’s using with his spindle. I kinda like the footpedal idea, but I’m nervous that something will boop the pedal while things are running… cuz that’s how things go…
In the video from Clough42, he mentions installing a diode into the solenoid. This seems like an oversight from the solenoid manufacturer, no? Or am I just missing something here? Have any of you installed a diode in your solenoids?
In my S30C order, Alex included an AC-DC DIN rail power supply and a AVS-5111-24D Solenoid. How do the power supply, solenoid and CNC electronics get connected? The diagram in the online instructions isn’t terribly clear since I think it assumes you have the CNC depot control box (mine is the original AVID VFD box).
I’d like to manually actuate my tool changes since I’m not setting up full ATC at this time. Is this footpedal idea a good way to go, or are there other simple approaches for me to consider? I saw another thread on here somewhere where a button was installed in the dust shoe. Regardless, I was thinking of following the model from the Clough42 video, unless there’s a reason I shouldn’t.
What type of fitting do you use to go from your 1/2" NPT threaded filters/regulators to your 1/4" push to connect fittings? Ultimately I’d like to hook a push to connect manifold up to the air system to provide air to other tools (workholding, coolant maybe, etc.).
I’m thinking of just mounting the regulator and filters directly to the CNC frame / legs. I can’t fathom there’s anything to be concerned about with this, but thought to ask.
I think that covers Air…
I think it’s pretty well understood that getting into an ATC spindle represents a high bar of financial commitment. That said, I think I’m pretty well covered with tool holders and collets for my tools (18 to start). However, there are a few places where some recommendations would be welcome.
I purchased a simple ER32 collet wrench, nothing fancy. I am curious though, do any of you actually torque your collet nuts for your tooling? If so, what torque wrench setup did you go with?
I’m a bit lost on what tool tightening stand I want to go with. The prices seem to wildly vary, and I’ve never used one before. Any suggestions on a nice ISO30 tool tightener?
Tool storage is something I’m also a bit daunted by. I have several friends who are professional machinists and they all have these nice carts and racks and things filled with a gagillion dollars worth of tools and holders. Is it worth buying a cart at several hundred dollars, or just to CNC something out of ply and be done with it? I have no issue firing something up in Fusion, but I dont know if theres a benefit to one of the carts vs. just a stand I can put on a bench somewhere. I’m curious what you guys use.
Since I’m not really doing any automation (yet) with my system, I decided to ditch the AVID touchplate since for reasons I cannot figure out it doesn’t always seem to be accurate and is obviously limited to really only finding corners and Z. So I decided to go the route of a Haimer Zero master. As of now, I’m thinking to have tool 1 (one) be a 1/4" precision dowel pin with an arbitrary stickout (0" offset in the tool table), my cutters as 1 to N with appropriate stickout per tool, and my haimer as tool 99. Providing I use Mach 4 to precisely measure each tool offset, once set I imagine my tool offsets will work just fine. I would use tool 99 to locate the fixture offset(s), swap to the first tool of my operation and run the program, tool changing as appropriate.
Then, to add future tools I’d just zero Z with tool 1 (the dowel pin), and go through the tool measuring process with each new tool.
- Not really a tooling thing, but this spindle seems a bit heavier than my 4HP unit. What have you done to reduce the load on the Z axis motor? I’ve seen some mentions about gas struts and things like that, but no concrete part or mounting recommendations (that I could find).
Finally, dust collection. I am asthmatic and allergic to pretty much everything (I should have been a machinist instead), and this is a big deal to me. I run an Oneida V3000 dust collector with a 35 gallon drum and it’s been great. The dust shoe I have, one made of clear plastic works “fine”. With the new spindle, I’m considering new options for a shoe since the old one won’t fit (obviously). For the short term, I’m probably just going to create an adapter ring out of BB ply to attach my existing shoe to the new spindle. With that in mind, and with dust shoe’s a near holy war topic, are there any units out there for the S30C that you’ve used and work well with a 4" hose? My vacuum trunk is 7", so in theory I could go up a bit if there’s say, a good 6" unit out there. I can design my own and either machine or 3D print it, but I think I’d rather just buy something that works and focus on other things.
Once I get all this pulled together, I’ll provide a full shopping list of the things I went with and some information of how it went together and things I’d maybe do differently.
Thank you for being patient with my long post here. I’m hopeful this thread will be helpful for those with, or getting into the CNC Depot spindles.