Last Friday I have visited Roland DG (Digital Group)
I wanted to see how their CNC machines work...and I must say I got very happy seeing how it works, the end results and the potential this has.
I got a demo of one of their bigger machines with an automatic tool changer and a rotary axis unit.
Not sure who of you have any experience with CNC and designing for CNC production but in general you can state that the level of details in a product is defined by the layer height and smallest tool used. Smallest tool defines the smallest inside radius.
Here are some pictures of some of the samples they made for me.
What do you guys think of this? Do you like it? Why ....? How...??
Helisys Laminated (Paper) [Object Manufacturing] is a free-form fabrication method using a
recyclable material -- or, at least you can use recycled paper as the build material, rather than first-generation wood. And laser-cut paper takes on the appearance of wood when finished.
I don't work for Helisys, but I can see the couple of advantages over CNC in a not-so-sustainable material. Just a suggestion.
Nice. I have access to a Roland MDX-15, which is their tiniest model - the size of an inket printer, not even an all-in-one. (The software even loads in Windows as a simple printer driver, which is beautifully apropos.) Which is cool, but the absence of things like a tool changer and a fourth axis have always made it hard for me to utilize effectively. I would certainly expect better results from their higher-end models.
I think this would be an amazing addition. Of course the constraints of cnc milling would be completely different than for 3d printing, but for one thing, larger objects would probably come in scope. And having (sustainably sourced) wood as an option is great.
Important is the final quality; is it good enough to be used as a product out of the box? Will you consider options such as sanding, oiling and lacquering?
First of all; it would be very nice to have! In wood and maybe (later) even in aluminium or other metal.
Next, although my CNC experience is limited (only worked once with a 2.5D w/ auto-tool changer) my impression is that setup is much more difficult and time-costly (remember that it goes per product; not per print build) than with layered processes. And this is not just a machine-operation issue; it depends for a large part on the design as well; can the tool reach the part to be cut - without hitting and breaking the part? At what points do you want the affixing-points ("opspannen" in Dutch); how many operations does it take. Unless Roland has awesome automation software (I don't know, would be great) there is a great deal of 'feel' and experience from the machine operator that goes into this. It will be tough to communicate what you can and cannot design and equally hard to bring pricing down to an simple equation like you have with the layered processes (because of the unpredictability due to a part's design). Nevertheless, please don't pay attention to my negativity and just do it! It would be a great addition.
P.S. Any plans for 2D (laser) cutting and taking the fight to Ponoko? .
this would be a great addition to your current services. For materials I would like to see wood (multiple types), aluminum (while you are filling my fantasies please offer an anodizing service), and a Corian-like material
You can also use FOAM with CNC machines, which is great for prop makers who want a "non thethal" or heavy weapon they may try to replica. I hope if you guys do this that the foam is also considered.. usually its done in multiple foam layers or styrofoam.
I've wanted to do things in wood for ages!
I would definitely do characters and toys, but also a lot of "normal" objects, like designer handles, buttons, candle holders and so on...
One thing that would be important though, is the type and quality of wood we choose from and also being able to tell you which way the wood rings should be.
I love it :D
What also becomes possible with CNC.... and I say also because it's also possible with 3D printing... is making is making Lithophanes (aka Lightsculptures) http://www.deskproto.com/support/videos-lithophanes.htm I have seen this version in really live and it looks really good. It's made from PVC.
The larger Roland mills may be fine, but you might also take a look at MiniTech and Modelmaster CNC mills, they're typically more robust and mechanically solid than the smaller Roland machines. I use a 13 year old Modelmaster CNC 1000 mill to cut wax for jewelry prototyping.
The surface resolution is very smooth. You'll have to consider toolpathing strategies when pricing a project. Sometimes a model must be cut from 2, 3, or 4 sides to reach all the detail whereas some designs such as simple rings are cut on a rotary table.