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Question #: 2365

Question: How feasible would a vacuum hold-down system be for a vertical CNC like the greenLean?

Current Solution

Building a vacuum table, for any CNC machine is possible but doing it right might take a adequate amount of information and extensive planning. Depending on the overall complexity you want to build.
Example, you want sections, and valves that can be operated to close sections of the table to allow vacuum to a specific spot of you material.
It is possible and would be a very precise method to hold down your material.


Additional Information:
Thanks. It may be something I'd like to try on my greenLean at some point. Dan Spangler wrote a nice article on building a "Universal" CNC vacuum table in the latest issue of Make magazine, volume 41.

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Other Possible Solutions to this Question

  • Can the vertical CNC router do about what a horizontal router can, like cutting out 3/4" cabinet doors from a 4'X8' formica clad sheet? If so, how do you hold it - with Vacuum? Is a vacuum system available?

    Our hold down method is screws. For a 4'x8' 3/4" sheet, we use 6 screws around the perimeter of the sheet. This provides sufficient hold down for milling. For the vertically oriented machine, the sheet also rests on a small ledge, making it easy for the board to maintain position while fastening.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    Can the vertical CNC router do about what a horizontal router can, like cutting out 3/4" cabinet doors from a 4'X8' formica clad sheet? If so, how do you hold it - with Vacuum? Is a vacuum system available?

  • How would LinuxCNC be used with the vertical laser?

    It is possible to use LinuxCNC for laser cutters and engravers but not advisable. The efficiency and control with traditional CNC control programs cannot match that of Laser controllers. This is because laser controllers are very good at matching speed with power, especially with raster image burning. Moreover, controlling the laser tube while cutting and engraving is very built in with gcode. Special software can be used, but the processing and execution is not efficient.

    Laser controllers and associated software have matured well and can do cutting and engraving very well and is worth the extra expense.

    If you are still interested in getting LinuxCNC to work with the laser, let me know and we can discuss this in great detail on this FAQ.

    Additional Information:
    A better question might be "What are some good ways to control the vertical laser directly from a Linux machine without having to hop through Windows?" Let me know if you want me to post this as a separate question.

    If I were buying the blacktooth, I'd order the parallel port board for it and skip the anywells controller -- I notice that you don't show that as an option on the vertical, which is what's generating this question.

    Some background: All of our CAD/CAM is done in Linux (openscad, freecad, librecad, cadquery, blender, pycam, python gcode generators...), we use git and Makefiles and other automation scripts extensively, and we need to be able to avoid doing the double-hop from Linux via Windows to get files sent to the laser.

    An example use case is that of being able to say 'make' in a project's directory on any Linux machine on the network to ship the file to the laser, including power settings etc. Needing to ship it to Windows first, and then manually mouse around to set power etc. is what I want to avoid.

    With Epilogs, I used to always bypass the Windows/Coreldraw toolchain by using Gershenfeld's cam.py, sending PCL from Linux straight to the Epilog.

    Something equivalent to that -- being able to run a script in Linux to convert and ship the file straight to the laser -- is what I'm planning to do here. I mentioned LinuxCNC because it's what I'm already using for our mill, and I'm comfortable hacking on it. I'm not wedded to LinuxCNC for a laser, but I am looking for open-source flexibility and future-proofing.

    We don't even have any Windows machines any more -- we got rid of the last of them years ago, and I'd like to avoid going back.

    Additional Information:
    I've split the more general Linux use case out as a separate question at https://buildyourcnc.com/FAQ/13989

    Additional Information:
    Starting to find some answers -- forums have a thread which addresses some LinuxCNC questions at http://www.buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=3452 for instance.

    Additional Information:
    Example LinuxCNC config for the buildlog 2.X laser is at https://github.com/jv4779/2x_laser

    Additional Information:
    I'm going to need some time to digest this information. Curious, are you able to develop a program to change the g-code if need be? Will you be doing vector style cutting operations only? If so, the process may be pretty straight forward.

    Additional Information:
    Before we adapted the blackTooth laser to use the laser controller, we operated the machine using Mach3 and the z-axis direction signal was the chief mechanism to fire the laser (down=on, up=off). It worked like a charm. It would be better to use one of the output triggers to do this for safer operation; however.

    Additional Information:
    Blacktooth adaptation of the above buildlog config can be found at http://www.buildyourtools.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?p=18157#p18157

    Additional Information:
    Answering the earlier comment (is that you Patrick?) -- yes, we'd be doing vector primarily, though my wife (and CEO) is salivating over the potential for raster. I've got no problem writing a python script to massage gcode if that's what it would take to make things work. CAM is always a problem on Linux but I've been using a mix of things to generate gcode for milling (including just writing it by hand), and can get by as needed. Expect to spend this weekend looking around to see what others are doing.

    Additional Information:
    Yes. This isn’t Patrick. I manage the Customer Service section. I will try my best to help with this over the weekend and balance family time. Haha.

    I will check the links. If raster is a must, you can have two controllers controlling the machine using tri-state gates to the drivers. I did this for a customer a while ago to run CNC and laser with an external switch. You could use an external switch to switch between LinuxCNC operation and laser controller.

    Additional Information:
    This is Patrick. Auto correct on my phone turned the "is" to "isn't". Ha!

    Additional Information:
    The buildyourtools links doesn't really have much to do with LinuxCNC and the buildyourtools information on that thread (by MUK) implements a very similar configuration that I introduced when I first started selling the blackTooth (with the parallel control board). That style of configuration may work well with a LinuxCNC scenario.

    I would rather jump-in cold with the LinuxCNC solution and see if we can address each step. What CAM program will you be using? I ask this question because that program may have the ability to inject g-code at specific points where we can turn on and off the laser.

    Also, I'm going to merge the two FAQs once we pick the one we use the most often to figure this out. I'm also more comfortable using this Customer Service system to address the question for many reasons, one of which is I can tie these questions to the products directly to benefit many others.

    Additional Information:
    For laser CAM on Linux we have used cam.py in the past; it's just a python script, so modifying the gcode it generates is easy.

    I think we've reached a purchase decision; your responsiveness here has helped a lot with that, Patrick. It looks to me like we're going to be able to make this thing work, one way or another.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    How would LinuxCNC be used with the vertical laser?

  • Hi I want to build a cnc laser table 13'x15' cuttting area. Is this feasible. Also would the 80watt laser be enough power to cut through carpet

    Yes, it is feasible to create a machine with a cutting area of 13'x15'. Your mechanical and structural systems will need to be able to span a bit more than the 13' if that will be the axis travel along the gantry.

    We have not cut carpet with our lasers, but I don't see why not. With that said, be extremely careful with the materials in the rug. Read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) for the rug you intend to cut as some materials will emit corrosive and harmful gases and chemicals when lased.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    Hi I want to build a cnc laser table 13'x15' cuttting area. Is this feasible. Also would the 80watt laser be enough power to cut through carpet

  • Online sending options are very expensive for European customers (~50% of the material cost). Could you tell us the weight and size of the greenLean Vertical CNC Machine Kit, allowing us to find better options ?

    We are able to ship internationally but unfortunately we cannot control the shipping costs incurred for international customers. However, if you are associated with educational programs or Makerspaces and/or Fab Labs we do offer certain discounts in some cases. Please send an email to customer service for more information on receiving a quote.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    Online sending options are very expensive for European customers (~50% of the material cost). Could you tell us the weight and size of the greenLean Vertical CNC Machine Kit, allowing us to find better options ?

  • I am looking at the greenLean cnc machine 4'x8' Vertically Oriented CNC. I am based in the UK. What sort of shipping costs would we be looking at?

    You can determine the cost of shipping the greenLean or any other product to your country by adding the greenLean option to the cart. In the cart, click on the calculate shipping button and the shipping costs will be presented directly from the carriers that we use. You will also see the number of packages and weights of the packages in the cart, under the items in smaller print. Make sure that your shipping address is entered in the form prior to clicking on the calculate shipping button.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I am looking at the greenLean cnc machine 4'x8' Vertically Oriented CNC. I am based in the UK. What sort of shipping costs would we be looking at?

  • Hello, I'm wondering if you could make a larger laser cnc if someone asks for it? Something like 36" x 52". And how much would it be?

    We are developing a 4 foot by 8 foot (48" x 96") laser with 80 watts of power. If you need a laser at 36" x 52", you could use the 4'x8' laser and just build a shorter table. We will have this machine available in the latter portion of 2015.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    Hello, I'm wondering if you could make a larger laser cnc if someone asks for it? Something like 36" x 52". And how much would it be?

  • What is your shipping costs for the greenLean CNC machine to Perth Western Australia

    You can determine if the country is serviceable by:
    - selecting the items you want to purchase on the website
    - go to the cart (shopping cart top left of any webpage)
    - log in, or register
    - Enter the address and click on calculate shipping.

    The webpage will return the direct rates and whether your area is serviced or not. Feel free to enter any address as long as you are able to receive the package from that address.

    The shipping times are determined by the service you select in the shopping cart. If a machine is purchased, we generally have a one week lead time unless otherwise stated in the description of the machine's product page.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    What is your shipping costs for the greenLean CNC machine to Perth Western Australia

  • Hello  We would like to buy a greenLean Vertically Oriented CNC Machine we start from scratch and want to make sure that we get all the pieces, we need  hardware and software we have a PC and a Mac

    If you purchase the greenLean, you will get everything you need except a router, computer to operate the machine, and software to control the machine. You state that you have a computer. You can use this computer, but you will need to determine if it has a parallel port, or if you are going to need the USB controller option. As for the software, there are too many different options for you to choose from. We would not be able to tell you which to get, and how much it will cost you. This is a matter of preference. I can tell you, however, that you will need 3 types of software to complete a CNC project. You will need CAD software to design your design, CAM software to add tool paths and convert the design to g-code, and then control software to take the g-code and operate the machine.

    Additional Information:
    20

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    Hello  We would like to buy a greenLean Vertically Oriented CNC Machine we start from scratch and want to make sure that we get all the pieces, we need  hardware and software we have a PC and a Mac

  • Hello  We would like to buy a greenLean Vertically Oriented CNC Machine we start from scratch and want to make sure that we get all the pieces, we need  hardware and software we have a PC and a Mac

    If you purchase the greenLean, you will get everything you need except a router, computer to operate the machine, and software to control the machine. You state that you have a computer. You can use this computer, but you will need to determine if it has a parallel port, or if you are going to need the USB controller option. As for the software, there are too many different options for you to choose from. We would not be able to tell you which to get, and how much it will cost you. This is a matter of preference. I can tell you, however, that you will need 3 types of software to complete a CNC project. You will need CAD software to design your design, CAM software to add tool paths and convert the design to g-code, and then control software to take the g-code and operate the machine.

    Additional Information:
    20

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    Hello  We would like to buy a greenLean Vertically Oriented CNC Machine we start from scratch and want to make sure that we get all the pieces, we need  hardware and software we have a PC and a Mac

  • I would like to use Mach3 instead of the software for my CNC router. Can you fix the electronics for me?

    Yes, you can send your electronics to us for repair, or retrofit to work with either Mach3, Mach4 or LinuxCNC. You can send us an email at customerService@buildyourcnc.com to set up your appointment.

    Some of the types of CNC electronics we will consider.

    - We will work on electronics from other manufacturers as long as you are ok with the Mach3, Mach4 or LinuxCNC control software for your CNC machine or CNC router.

    - We will repair or retrofit used CNC electronics.

    - Some customers find that electronics are overwhelming to put together so we will finish these electronics wiring and assembly for you.

    The cost for these includes labor cost for the time it takes to finish the CNC electronics repair or retrofit and for any parts that need to be replaced or added.

    Here is an example of CNC electronics that we worked on for a customer:



    This is the type of response that you can expect to receive after the CNC electronics are repaired or retrofitted to work under Mach3, Mach4 or LinuxCNC. You can see the entire work, which also shows the time involved. We also show what we were able to accomplish at the beginning of the video.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I would like to use Mach3 instead of the software for my CNC router. Can you fix the electronics for me?

  • I have a 4x8 CNC and would like to cut my own parts for the Blackfoot. What is the price for the plans and the electronics ?

    The available options for the blackFoot, is only structural components with hardware, and structure components/hardware with electronic components.
    However we currently do not have any plans available for public use/distribution.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I have a 4x8 CNC and would like to cut my own parts for the Blackfoot. What is the price for the plans and the electronics ?

  • Do you have any videos or plans for how to make a strong table for a large CNC router? I saw the torsion box videos but would like some more guidance on how to build just a good table.
  • HAVE PORTER CABLE 7518 ROUTER ON MY CNC AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOUR ER20 COLLET NUT, FOR THE CABLE, WILL FIT ROUTER.

    Yes, our porter cable collets and nuts will fit the porter cable 7518.

    Additional Information:

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    HAVE PORTER CABLE 7518 ROUTER ON MY CNC AND WOULD LIKE TO KNOW IF YOUR ER20 COLLET NUT, FOR THE CABLE, WILL FIT ROUTER.

  • How can i get a complete list of all the components (electronics) I need for a CNC laser cutter with the laser controller? A wiring Diagram would probably be very helpful.

    All the options for and variations of our blackTooth laser cutter/engraver are available on our website here https://buildyourcnc.com/blackToothLaserCutterAndEngraver.aspx#prettyPhoto. The wiring diagram is available here: https://buildyourcnc.com/blackToothLaserCutterAndEngraver.aspx#prettyPhoto/0/
    We do not offer plans or a bill of materials for our machines at this time, but if you are interested in doing your own from scratch you can learn a lot about the design and build process from our tutorials. We wish you success in your endeavors.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    How can i get a complete list of all the components (electronics) I need for a CNC laser cutter with the laser controller? A wiring Diagram would probably be very helpful.

  • I am wondering if you also supply plans for the bigger machines, also the vertical CNC that you have in your product range?

    The only plans we sell for any machine, are the ones that relate to the book we create found here, http://www.buildyourcnc.com/Book.aspx

    Here is the link to those plans that we sell, http://www.buildyourcnc.com/cnckitintro.aspx

    We do not sell any other plans, only full kits, with or without electronics.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I am wondering if you also supply plans for the bigger machines, also the vertical CNC that you have in your product range?

  • I have an Advantage Router 600 table, the control system seems to have gone out or died, would like options on upgrading the control system to be able to use the router again.

    Please send an email to sales@buildyourcnc.com outlining your requirements and we will be happy to discuss the various ways to meet them.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I have an Advantage Router 600 table, the control system seems to have gone out or died, would like options on upgrading the control system to be able to use the router again.

  • I would like to make a handheld remote for the USB CNC Board using a joystick instead of momentary switches. Could you suggest one that will work with your board.

    The USB interface only works with momentary switches unfortunately. If you have extensive knowledge of digital electronics, you can apply a receiver that uses a microcontroller and a transmitter with another microcontroller that produces the pulsing signal with the controls that you need.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    I would like to make a handheld remote for the USB CNC Board using a joystick instead of momentary switches. Could you suggest one that will work with your board.

  • DON'T WANT TO USE MY OWN MOTORS FOR THE REDLEAF CNC COMPUTER SYSTEM.

    That shouldn't be a problem. I will need the current rating for the motors. We can subtract the price of the motors. and you can add you own. If you want us to solder the cable to the round connectors and them motor, you would need to send the motors to us.

    Let me know and I can send a paypal invoice for the redLeaf without motors.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    DON'T WANT TO USE MY OWN MOTORS FOR THE REDLEAF CNC COMPUTER SYSTEM.

  • What size motor is powering the y axis on the greenLean CNC machine?

    For our greenLean CNC vertical machine, was built and controlled using 2 651-oz in motors/425 oz-in motor.
    The 651-oz motors runs both the x/y axis, as our 425-oz motor controls the z axis.

    Click the link to add information to this solution:
    What size motor is powering the y axis on the greenLean CNC machine?

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