Friday, January 11, 2008

X3 Unpacked, Cleaned & Mounted

Delivery of the X3 went off without a hitch.  Rachel and I picked it up at the UPS Freight depot at about 5:30pm.  By 8pm it was disassembled and in the shop waiting to be cleaned.  Disassembly was reasonably straight forward, and it broke down into very manageable chunks.  That enabled me to get it into my basement shop without any lifting equipment.

Cleaning was also straight forward.  WD40 did an excellent job removing the Red China grease.  I per fer it for cleaning jobs such as this as it contains corrosion inhibitors, leaving the shiny cast iron protected as well as clean.

The only thing I wasn't truly prepared for was just how heavy the X3 is.  With the exception of the sheet metal column cover, every stinkin' component was heavy.  Being the first massive piece of machinery I've bought and had to move and clean, I wasn't fully mentally prepared for what to expect.  No troubles though, as I think the heaviest component comes in around 75 to 100 lbs.

Currently the X3 is "mounted" using the included leveling feet, and is sitting on top of a sheet metal tray.  Given I don't have sheet metal bending abilities (yet) I ringed the pan with 3/4" aluminum angle stock, and sealed it with silicone.  It will serve as a chip pan to begin with, and later the drain pan for the coolant system (more on that later).  The sheet metal is screwed to a 2x4 based stand which does a fine job of supporting the weight of this beastie.  The controls cabinet from my X1 (micro mill) CNC project is already mounted to the side of the stand.

The direction I'm going with this mill's CNC/coolant containment enclosure will be a little different than the X1.  Rather than a fully enclosed version, I'm going to use strategically placed splash shields that will direct the large majority of coolant and chips into the lower tray.  It will then drain into the filtering and recirculation system from there.  This mill is simply too large in my mind for a full enclosure.  By scaling down the enclosure I think I can save some money and speed up time to production.

As I said in a previous post, this will be getting a pulley driven ball screw system run by steppers.  I'm going to reuse the 276 oz-in steppers from my X1 project.  I'll probably go for 2 to 1 reduction on the X and Y axis, and perhaps 3 to 1 on the Z axis.  I'm not sure if a counterweight will be needed for the head, but I suspect not with that level of reduction.

Before I get rolling on that though, I'm going to do some testing on the steppers.  I'll be looking for practical upper RPM limitations, as well as realistic torque ratings at various speeds.  That will give me a better idea of what gear reductions I'll need, and what traverse speeds I can expect.

All in all, there's no doubt that I'm starting out with a far superior machine this time.  I'm looking forward to spectacular results!