ShopBot tips

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Q: What is the max feed rate of the ShopBot?

A: Depends on bit, pass depth and material. 1.5 IPS (90 IPM) is a good starting point for most use cases. If you are cutting very soft foam you could go much faster but anything over ~250 IPM would lose steps.
If your material is thinner than 0.25 inches you might consider using a spiral down bit.

Q: The Shopbot "Feeds and Speeds" doc talks about "soft plywood" and "laminated plywood". But isn't all plywood laminated by definition?

A: They mean veneered ply, different feeds will leave cleaner cuts.

Q: The Feeds and Speed doc doesn't list any settings for '1/4” Downcut Carbide End Mill'

A: The doc is far from comprehensive. The ideal tool is a 3/8" compression for small projects but the 1/4” Downcut Carbide End Mill is 90% as good for less than half the cost.

Q: What is a reasonable chip load?

A: For a quarter inch bit I generally run a chip load around .010

Q: I have a 1/8 inch bit but the collet is larger than that.

A: Put the bit in and squeeze the collet in one hand. Try yo lightly pull the bit out of the collet, if the bit is in snug, then you can use that collet. Many collets have a range of about 1mm, or 0.04“

Q: How do I run an air pass on the MN ShopBot?

A: If you use the special MakerNexus post processor it’s pretty hard to do an air pass. Two strategies come to mind, both requiring a second output of your shopbot code. First, lie to VCarve about the thickness of your material by an inch or two, (e.g. set it to be 2.25" thick when it is really .75" thick) and write a file using the zero-ing post processor. Second choice - create a separate output file (or files) and use the “no-zero” post processor, and manually set Z-zero to be somewhere above the actual surface of the material, run that file and when it is all good run the one with the z-zero code baked in. Anytime I post any tool paths out, I make a folder for auto zero and a folder for no zero. That way if I need to manually correct something on the fly or do an air pass, I just go to the no zero folder.

Q: I'm looking to make some 6mm slots and was wondering whether to get a 1/4" or 3/16" shank bit. I figure the latter allows deeper contours.

A: 3/16" is getting into fragile territory. Control your feeds and make sure you're checking that the dust is clearing out of the slots. Pause the job periodically and break up any compacted dust with a thin rod; vacuuming it out is a plus. The danger here is not to the ShopBot but that you can easily snap your bit. An up-spiral bit would do better at clearing chips but will produce poorer cut quality.

Q: Can I output from Fusion 360 to the ShopBot?

A: Fusion has a driver called OpenSBP, which works fine. I used it this afternoon to do a cut, and if my measurements had been more accurate it would have been a Success. You have to do the manual Z-Zeroing for each tool, so having your Origin at the lower left will be Best Practice. Note our ShopBot doesn't have a software-controlled spindle speed or on/off.

Q: While moving one of the axis will struggle in spots and lose its position.

A: Our Shopbot cannot tolerate a jog speed of more than 4 inches per second. Reduce the jog speed and the problem should go away.