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Thread: What keeps you from using your indexer/rotary/4th axis?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    391

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    I am someone who uses the indexer. It is not a tool which you could build a turning business around. There are much more efficient machines for that. However, I build bespoke furniture and it is an invaluable addition to my bag of tricks and I use it on projects at least several times a year. It gives me capacity and convenience I did not have before.

    Having to setup and take down the indexer every time I used it would be a huge impediment. I expect that dialing it in every time would be hours of screaming and cussing. My machine is a 5 X 8 PRT and I designed the stand to accommodate a lathe down the back 8' side.I have added another Y target and modified the XY and the Z Zeroing routines to be able to zero these axis as easily and quickly as the basic machine. Without these things keeping the indexer at the ready I'm sure that I would not use it much - if at all.

    A lot of my indexer use is what I call value aded - things that I couldn't't easily do another way. Here are three examples. These candle stands illustrate brass inlays which would be exceedingly difficult without the indexer, texturing in the round and spiraling.The next photos of a college graduation mace show some small turtle inlays (with 1/16" bit) and a brass and InLace river inlay.These examples show work that would be difficult and beyond my patience without the indexer.

    The capability and convenience is the biggest selling point to me. I am just finishing a bed with posts over 7' tall and almost 7' long 1 3/4" rods connecting the top. While it took a while, as with much CNC work, I was at the other end of the shop for much of it and it was still probably more cost efficient and quicker than the time spent finding a turning shop or component manufacturer (undoubtably out of town), communicating my needs, waiting and hoping everything was correct. While the bed is a lucrative project, outsourcing the turnings may well have placed it outside my client's budget.

    Vectric's wrapping functions have really been a game changer. While not as elegant and effortless (if you can use that term with any software} as the rest of Aspire with perseverance, patience and hardheadedness you can get to some nice and interesting places with the indexer that are really not possible without it.

    Randall, I hope that was close to on topic with your thread.
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  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    7,819

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    When I bought my Shopbot in 2006 with an indexer, it was specifically with the intent to be able to turn columns and legs. I soon found out there was scant instruction or software out there to help you accomplish this. After a year or so of frustration I wrote (with a lot of help) a spiral turning app that i used for a long time. Here are a few pictures of things i've turned on my indexer. Here is also a tutorial I contributed to that you may want to add to your instructions Randall:
    http://www.humblesticks.com/cnc-rotary-tutorial.html
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  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Jasper, TX
    Posts
    504

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    I recently purchased a used indexer. Been wanting one since I saw Wayne's at one of his early ShopBot camps. I have yet to install it.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Pittsburg Kansas
    Posts
    84

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    I didn't get an indexer until I had a project that spanned 5 years of orders since 2013.


    Now I'm not saying I can't do these any other way as I quite happy work on my lathe and letting the chips fly can be very relaxing day spend in the shop.


    Have several friends which are police officers, they approach me about monthly awards, they had to switch to a small plaque after an older woodworker that was making the old award had passed away.
    They wanted to go back to the old award which was an old style police baton, and don't worry they don't actually carry them on the street or at least that what they are telling me;-)




    First years batch off of the lathe.


    Making 26 at a time, making sure they all were the same would not be easy on the lathe with my Crismas rigged duplicater maybe 4 or 5, but not 26.


    I found this out the first year I made them in 2013 then used that payment to reached out to ShopBot and ordered me an indexer for my older PRT96.


    Build a nice and extra strong table at one end of the Bot using the steel legs from the older PRT96 table from ShopBot.





    Since I'd been following all of the posts the indexer one always got a read or two.
    So I used them as my teaching tool and proceeded to draw up the batton they wanted.
    After about 5 tries I had an exact copy of the baton they wanted moving forward.
    The first batch showed me two things one they all came out the same, second what took me 4 weekends to complete on the lathe, I got done in two.
    Still you the lathe but only to do finish sanding after the finish pass.
    And around my shop time is money and sleep loss.




    Nothing fancy but it's what the client wanted, have suggested additional changes but at this time I've been using the same file to cut these since 2014, it a great quick project and has paid for the index 4 times over.

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  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Creative Solids, Fairfield Glade Tennessee
    Posts
    119

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    Randall, thanks for starting this thread and taking on this project. I am going on 18 years with my bot and just last year got into the indexer. Two things kept me from an indexer sooner - first the focus on learning cnc machining, the second the cost of a ‘turn key’ indexer. The shopbot has always been a retiree hobby/ small home based business item for me, so the cost of the indexer an obstacle. Then i saw the thread on making an indexer for under 1k and had a V-8 moment. Years ago i had given away a lathe of ‘no need for me, maybe you can use it’ logic. So here is what got me into an indexer 1. The idea of building it myself, if you will - the lower cost yes, but there is a great feeling to build it from scratch, if you will. 2. I have a ton of 1.5” solid surface strips - what to do with them?? One idea - make rolling pins - only way i see is an indexer.

    having gotten into the indexer i am dismayed by software limitations - apsire allows you to see what you you will get, but not in rotary - i am still at 2.5 version and would have upgraded, but i understand even the latest version does not have much more funtionality than what i have now. A read on the vectric forum says this may change - that it great - indexer should not be an afterthought in the software but stand on its own - be able to see what your product will look like has been such a problem solver in 2d and 3d, it is even more so with the indexer.

    another good area is designing the indexer - i made some choices that will limit what i can do, but i did not understand enough before i started and there was little info to help with the design - so a good tutorial would be helpful - just finding compatible gears was a ‘trip.’

    super that you are going to be at McGrews but i will not be able to be there - and i could almost see a camp/woirkshop totally devoted to indexer - not sure with the agenda at MccGrews there will be enough time for good indexer discussion.

    looking forward to seeing what you put together and i thank you for taking on this task
    cheers
    don

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    iBILD Solutions - Southern NJ
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    7,866

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    Quote Originally Posted by don62 View Post
    having gotten into the indexer i am dismayed by software limitations - apsire allows you to see what you you will get, but not in rotary - i am still at 2.5 version and would have upgraded, but i understand even the latest version does not have much more funtionality than what i have now....
    Not true. Starting somewhere around Aspire 3.5 or 4.0 things got a LOT better, including complete rotary/wrapped toolpath simulation all the way around the model. Many, many other improvements have also come down the pike from 2D drawing and 3D relief creation/sculpting to additional file format i/o and printing options, 2-sided machining setup and a ton of gadgets that extend what Aspire can do. It's worth having a look, trying a demo and upgrading for sure.

    Now having said that, tell us who told you there wasn't anything new compared to v2.5...Hmm?

    -B
    High Definition 3D Laser Scanning Services - Advanced ShopBot CNC Training and Consultation - Vectric Custom Video Training IBILD.com

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Creative Solids, Fairfield Glade Tennessee
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    119

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    Hey, Brady - not trying to create an issue here - you are my hero.
    But i was able to find it on the vectric forum - this was in response to my query about
    Apsire indexer capability

    by dealguy11 » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:51 pm
    To be honest, I don't really remember exactly what was in 2.5. The rotary stuff hasn't changed much. The following things are useful to rotary in the newer versions:

    - Higher resolution options which is good for rotary carved stuff because the models tend to be large
    - There's been some work on the rendering engine, plus it's been updated to be a 64-bit program. This means some additional speed and larger models. Rendering of 3d models when wrapped toolpath drawing is turned on is faster.
    - The new Molding Toolpath makes modeling spindles easier and also results in nicer toolpaths due to the options to vary stepover as shapes go to vertical, and to automatically machine flat regions with an end-mill.
    - Don't remember if toolpath notes were available in v2.5. In v8+ they can be used to pass custom g-code to the program to, for example, flip the A axis between toolpaths.

    Otherwise, I think it works pretty much the same.

    so maybe i misinterpreted - i probably should download trial version of latest version -
    don

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    San Jose, CA, USA
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    The wrapped preview in Aspire is much better now than it was in V2.5. You should definitely checkout out the trial version to see for yourself.
    - Randall Newcomb
    10 fingers in, 10 fingers out
    another good day in the shop

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    iBILD Solutions - Southern NJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by don62 View Post
    Hey, Brady - not trying to create an issue here...
    Oh no no no....no issues...maybe a little friendly ribbing though

    Now I won't say the changes are mind-blowing, but they are much better than 2.5 in terms of ease of setup (they cleaned up the gadget for wrapping around 2D & 3D stuff) and visualization (you can see the toolpaths wrapped around the entire rotary model). Aspire will let you unwrap 3D models into a flat plane & then rewrap them back to a rotary model. This is how both Aspire & Artcam handle rotary. It is completely model dependent whether you get some rotary distortion on the model or not, and this distortion can skew the model is places where there is an undercut or make it a bit wonky in places. In a number of cases, there is no way around this & keep in mind that unwrapping is in NO WAY the end all be all method of preparing a model for rotary work.

    Truth be told, I use a number of programs for rotary work. For 2D stuff, where a regular wrap or spiral wrap is in order or shallow 3D reliefs that are wrapped, I find Aspire more than adequate for the task. However, for full 3D models, like a gun stock, propeller or non-symmetrical statue is to be machined, and you need it to be true to form and precise, you need to look at other options.

    -B
    High Definition 3D Laser Scanning Services - Advanced ShopBot CNC Training and Consultation - Vectric Custom Video Training IBILD.com

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    18

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    Brady is right; while the "wrapping" technique can work in some cases, it's basically a kludge. If you can make a real 3D model, there are better ways to generate tool paths that will carve it. I'd suggest trying DeskProto; it's capable of generating live 4th axis tool paths as well as indexed ones from your STL files, and it can write .SBP g-code files. There's a substantial discount for hobbyists, and we offer additional discounts on both the hobby and commercial editions.

    Andrew Werby
    computersculpture.com

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