Problem of Tool Chatter Dominates CNC Session

Obtaining maximum spindle RPM was the last bit of preparatory setup for our next CNC work session. There are still lots of parameters we don’t yet understand for Autodesk Fusion 360 CAM, but we knew the fundamental bits and put them in as parameters for G-code generation calculations.

Specify offsets and toolpaths using Fusion CAM, though, is still a skill we’re not very practiced at just yet. In the spirit of incremental learning, we try not to let the unknown stop us from experimenting. Mistakes are expected and, as long as nobody gets hurt and nothing is broken (well, even if something is broken) each run should teach us a little more about the process.

And the lesson of the day is tool chatter. Lots of it.

In action the machine really sounds unpleasant, but not quite bad enough to make us think breakage is imminent, so we would let it run in short sessions while we experiment and try to understand its cause. Slowing down our feed rate and adjusting our RPM appeared to have little effect, the variable that mattered was the depth of cut. Even though we had expected MDF to be relatively easy to cut, we now believe the machine is not rigid enough in its current state to cut 3-4mm deep with our 1/4″ cutter. The final cutting pass in this test program (creating the X shape) was only 1mm deep, and that ran quite smoothly even at higher feed rates.

Lessons from this session tells us we can take two parallel approaches: mechanically, we’ll need to think of ways to improve machine rigidity. And while that is under development, we’ll need to learn how to tell Fusion 360 CAM to take shallower passes.

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