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Thread: Intro and of course questions, tons of questions

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Pennsauken, NJ
    Posts
    6

    Default Intro and of course questions, tons of questions

    Hi all,

    I'm a sign maker in NJ and just placed the order for a 6x10 PRS alpha with ATC and vac hold down, Aspire software and a bunch of bits. With luck I'll have it here in 5-6 weeks, then the assembly fun will begin. Wish me luck. And yes, I do fully expect to waste a good amount of materials getting it all dialed in. I've been saving pieces of aluminum, plastic etc. for a while now and have lots of stuff to play with.

    A couple quick questions, though there WILL be more. I expect to be cutting aluminum, ACM panels, plastic (acrylic, pvc and polycarbonate), HDU foam, etc. all the normal sign making materials. I'm, shopping for a dust collector system. Suggestions anyone? It can either be single or three phase.

    For the assembly process (I'm going to allow a week with one or two helpers hoping I don't get interrupted too often), are there any specific tools or special items I will need other than what a sign maker/installer might need? I have a shop full of hand and power tools, full sheet metal shop, welders, electrical tools (we make/install mainly electrical signs), table/miter saws, forklift, etc. I figure we probably have everything we will need but it never hurts to ask.

    Thanks all!

    Rocco

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Memphis TN
    Posts
    839

    Default

    I think you'll find the assembly process easy, especially if you have helpers. I assembled my 60x96x12 PRS Alpha by myself with a tiny bit of help from my then 5 year old daughter. That was back in 2013...

    My strong suggestion is that you spend extra time getting your unit level and square when assembling it. Buy a new level. Your old one is likely bunged up from years of abuse. I suggest a Stabila. Very expensive but well worth it. The entire process moving forward after assembly will be much more satisfying if you've got as close to a perfectly level and square table. A framing level is absolutely inadequate. You need to get your table level to about 1/32" or less. A framing level won't get anywhere near that. You'll need a way to bridge the table from end to end with a stable, straight bar to balance your level on. I used aluminum extrusions from 80/20 for this purpose. These extrusions can be used for many things later on. I use them in many hold down jigs. Look on ebay for deals, or buy a couple from Grainger or some local distributor. No shipping of a ten foot long extrusion. You'll have to find it locally.

    My second suggestion is to redouble your efforts on making your table square and level. Critical.

    The only special tool I needed for assembly was a torque wrench. I only needed that because my Z axis was off and needed tweaking. Hopefully, your Z axis will be perfect (as is the usual case I'm told) so you won't have to do anything remarkable getting it square. The level is critical too. Did I mention leveling your table is critical? It is.

    Another important consideration is grounding. Take this part seriously and you'll avoid a lot of pitfalls that others have faced. I routed a grounding wire (12ga) to every single component on the machine. I also ran the same grounding line to the electrical box so that everything is on the same neutral. The rod is right outside my shop. If you're going to cut plastics, grounding can be the difference between a completed run and ruined material. Grounding is critical. Don't take any shortcuts. If you're not familiar with electrical systems, hire a pro to do this part for you. The better your grounding, the less problems you're going to have with shorts and static screwing with the low voltage the steppers and controllers run at.

    The rest is going to be a lot of trial and error. Be prepared to snap a lot of end mills. It's part of the learning process. I went through a lot of expensive end mills before I realized that end mills can be shopped just like anything else. Sure, the Onsrud end mills purchased from Zoro or one of the majors are great but they are also way over priced. You can find excellent deals on the same units on ebay and other discount outlets. Shop for your end mills and the sting of snapping one won't be so painful.

    After your initial disappointments with breaking end mills is past, you'll go into the zone of confidence where you automatically know the feeds and speeds for a particular material and job. I haven't broken an end mill in more than five years from incorrectly specifying the speeds and feeds. I have broken several in the last year from stupidity. I broke one a few weeks ago by pressing the left arrow key instead of the up arrow key when the end mill was in a hole. Stupid.

    As for dust collection, get a cyclone style unit. I bought a 2hp unit from Oneida that sucks the skin off my fingers. It's perfect for my shop and has served me well for years.


    Here's a link to a superman sized unit that will probably lift the tiles from your floor at four feet.

    https://www.oneida-air.com/dust-coll...dust-collector

    A proper dust collector is the perfect addition to a CNC. I never have a dust problem in my shop.

    Good luck and have fun! I think you'll find the machine a blast to work with if you spend the time up front being sure it is set up as perfectly as you can.
    ShopBot Details:
    PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Hobby-Tronics, Chiloquin Oregon
    Posts
    1,325

    Default woodmaster dc

    I've got a woodmaster dc and I love it. 5hp and twin 50 gall buckets.

    https://www.woodmastertools.com/shop...ust-collector/

    My shop setup with 4 in pvc with ground wire inside all pvc pipe. Multiple blast gates for all of my machines are hooked up to it. I think the current price is around $1200 or so. Great unit great company just like ShopBot. I also have a woodmaster 24 in planer. Russ

    Attached Images Attached Images
    AKA: Da Train Guy

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2020
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Speaking of Zoro, because of their fast & free shipping (and occasional discounts) it can be a good source for 80/20 components if they have what you want in stock and you can work with standard sizes rather than the custom cuts that 80/20 will do for you. I've ordered a lot of 80/20 stuff from both, and have been happy almost every time. I recommend against ordering stuff from Zoro that will be drop shipped from 80/20 (even if it's less expensive that way), because 80/20's order status communication, is, um, a bit weak and the issue is magnified if two companies are involved.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Pennsauken, NJ
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Thanks for the info folks.

    Cory, I'm having an electrician do the 3-phase work but will do the assembly myself. All my electric signs need to be grounded so I'll make sure to get everything properly grounded. Thanks for bringing up the torque wrench. My son took his auto tools home and I'll have him bring back one, just in case.

    I'll check out the suggested vac systems and will report back.

    Which size spoilboard cutter do you folks use? Since I know that there is a lot of real estate to smooth on a regular basis, I got them to sell me a 3" dia . Is that overkill? i figured it was like a larger deck on a lawn mower, fewer passes, etc.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Memphis TN
    Posts
    839

    Default

    The larger the diameter of the cutter, the more it will magnify any out of plumb condition you have on your machine's Z axis. A 2" flat bottom cutter would be fine. Shopbot has a router bit starter set that includes a spoilboard cutter. The kit could probably be had for less if carefully shopped but their kit is pretty decent and pretty broad. I suggest buying that.
    ShopBot Details:
    PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Pennsauken, NJ
    Posts
    6

    Default

    The starter set is already on the order. I thought that the larger bit would be better, but what you say does make sense. IIRC the cutter in the starter kit was 1.25" or 1.5". The 3" cutter is pretty expensive so if I eliminate that I can get some other items. Thanks!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Memphis TN
    Posts
    839

    Default

    I suggest having on hand several 1/4" two flute upcut end mills to start with. They are the most commonly used and the least expensive. You'll likely break a few of these when you start out so having a four or five of them on hand will be useful. I like to have at least three of my most commonly used end mills on hand, just in case.

    Good sizes to have:
    1/4" standard length 2 flute upcut
    1/4" standard length 2 flute downcut
    1/4" long 2 flute upcut
    1/2" standard length 2 flute upcut
    1/2" long 2 flute upcut
    1/8" standard length 2 flute upcut
    1/8" long 2 flute upcut

    For plastics and aluminum, you'll probably want a selection of single flute "Super O" end mills too. The single flute seems to work best for sticky materials like aluminum and plastic that can jam up the channels in a two flute tool. The smaller the diameter of the bit, the more likely it is to clog. For instance, using a 1/2" end mill at low RPM's works quite well in plastic and aluminum but using a 1/8" end mill will probably clog no matter what.

    If you're doing lettering, you'll need a nice selection of V carve end mills. I'm not in the sign business but it's likely you'll use a 60 degree and perhaps 90 degree cutters. I personally like the CMT end mills like this one: CMT 858.501.11 (1/2" 60 degree).

    The pricing for end mills is all over the place. If you carefully shop, you can find bargains that are quite good. If you need an end mill right now because you broke one, you're going to pay through the nose to get it quickly. It's a good idea to check ebay and other discount sellers way in advance of needing the tool and get the discount price with the long shipping time (could be weeks if ordered from China). A pack of 10 single flute 1/8" plastic bits can be had for as little as $15 or $20 or you could pay $15 for a single one if you don't shop.

    There are all sorts of cool gadgets one can buy but one of the most useful is a good dust foot. The one that came with my machine was pathetic and poorly designed. I bought a Kent dust foot which is far better than the one Shopbot threw together. I hope they've improved their design since my machine was made. It truly sucked. The Kent is the cat's meow.
    ShopBot Details:
    PRS Alpha 96x60x12
    4hp Spindle
    12" indexer
    Aspire
    Rhino

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Springfield Mo
    Posts
    835

    Default 3 inch heads

    I think one would want to be careful spinning a 3 inch head on a ShopBot.

    ... not sure if they are supposed to spin at 10 grand or above.

    So have you picked out what you are going to build for a spoil board ?
    The decimal point seems to be the most important on the z axis... x & y not so much....
    ShopBot... Where even the scraps and things you mess up and throw away are cool....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,343

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by curtiss View Post
    I think one would want to be careful spinning a 3 inch head on a ShopBot.

    ... not sure if they are supposed to spin at 10 grand or above.

    So have you picked out what you are going to build for a spoil board ?
    He said he was getting an ATC so that means a spindle.

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