Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be bringing in a couple of new machines that we have received through a very generous donation. These both will produce better results faster, with much less frustration, and with more joy. We’re going to see more smiling faces around the shop, I’m sure.
But first, let’s give thanks to Jack and Betty Olsen, of Olsen Mastermark, just around the corner on Mt. Hope. Jack is closing up his custom window and sign business and is generously donating some equipment to LMN! Thanks also to Charlie, @cafwood, and Evelyn, @Evelyn, who met with Jack and did the important thing: made the ask!
Here’s what’s coming:
Trotec Speedy 400 Laser Cutter
This is a very high quality machine, with a bed about 40" x 24", twice the size we have now. It’s also a CO2 laser, so it will work on all the same materials (and not work on all the same materials) as our current machine. But it’s a more powerful laser, and the carriage moves faster. It also has a rotary axis accessory, for etching on cylindrical and tapered workpieces like pint glasses or little baseball bats.
(I don’t know any details about the lens, or anything else yet, so I can’t say if this can produce better results on thicker materials.)
The plan at the moment is to expand the laser parlor into the first bay under the storage loft, and run more power into the room. The current machine will stay, and get some much needed servicing.
NewCNC Smart ER Series II Router
This thing is amazing. It’s a very high quality CNC machine with a bed size about what we have now, but also with a full-length rotary axis for lathe work. It has many cool features we don’t have on our current machine:
- Vacuum hold-down
- Automatic tool changer
- Proper dust collection
Here’s a 3-minute video showing the machine: https://youtu.be/ibU_romfDdQ?si=UntZHUCeE593TbKo
(We will have the optional rotary axis; we will not have the 10-spindle drill bank or the side fixture, and our tool changer is different than in the video.)
This machine is about as professional as it gets. Manufacturers run these all day long in production environments. It’s been well maintained, and from what I have seen so far, is in great shape.
The ATC alone is a tremendous improvement. Changing tools is the most common source of errors leading to spoiled work and broken bits, and that problem just goes away. We can have more bits in our standard lineup, and worry less about how many tool changes we’re making. A tool change happens in maybe 20 seconds instead of several minutes, and you just sit there and watch.
The plan is to put it where the current machine is now. It’s going to stick out into the room a bit further. The current machine will likely go around to the other side of the wall in the machine shop. It’s future is undecided. We could sell it as-is, fix some deficits and sell it for more, or maybe repurpose it for a CNC plasma cutter, or something else. But if it stays, it’s going to have to get smaller somehow.
This is not a top-down operation
Getting these up and running is going to take some work! I’m going to dive into the deep end of the pool on the CNC machine, and I’m inviting anyone else with an interest to dive in with me, regardless of your experience. We’ll need to get it powered (220V @90A!), get compressed air to it, get the vacuum pumps and dust collection set up, figure out the software, and then create a checkout procedure. That’s a lot.