Tag Archives: machine shop

CNC machine, max. feed, 5000 rpm, no big deal

I mentioned Chalmers workshop last time. Today, I’ll say a few words about students that are running wild in the CNC workshop.

(photo: I am learning how to write G-Code on the CNC lathe machines)

Yes, students operating CNC machines. CNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. You are probably not so impressed, if you have no idea about CNC machines.

  1. They are freaking expensive (an inexpensive HAAS lathe costs about half a million SEK, or $100,000 USD)
  2. They aren’t easy to operate (people go through three years of college training)
  3. It is really easy to screw up the machine (if you clash two moving components, you will hear the loudest bang in your life…and then your wallet shrinks into a black hole)
  4. A nice Sandvik Coromant carbide tool cost 10,000 SEK, and it breaks easily when misused.

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Photo: a typical CNC milling machine. 

Ok, the students are not running “wild” in the “irresponsible” sense. They are operating the machine at its performance ceilings (meaning the machinists know what they are doing). IMG_1149

Photo: Niklas & Marcus on the CNC lathe.

I have never seen & heard a lathe running at 5000 revolutions per second. It sounds like an aircraft engine. Not exaggerating.

Of course, not anyone is allowed to fool around with these machines. The Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) machinists operating these CNC machines are extremely talented.

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Photo: Göran from Sandvik Coromant visiting the CFS team and showing Victor how to realise a tool’s full capability.

Let me list a few:

  • Isak from CFS 2014: he is probably born inside a CNC machine. Even the engineer at Sandvik Coromant (a Swedish tooling manufacturer) is impressed by his knowledge and ability.
  • Johannes from CFS 2015: he is probably born with a welding gun in his hand. After seeing him laying down a perfect bead of aluminium weld, he goes into the CNC lab and mills out quite complex geometries.
  • Niklas from CFS 2014 is a man of the north. He is from Umeå, where the SI bloggers visited last year. He is so familiar with the CNC lathe that the machine shop head comes to him with questions. (The flat hierarchy in Sweden also means the student-teacher relationship is quite sincere).

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Photo: Johannes tooling around the CNC mill

Lately, Niklas is investing a lot of his free time to teach CNC lathe to Marcus and I.

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Photo: Carefully running the program in “single block” mode, baby steps, one block at a time.

I can’t fly on my own yet. I don’t think I will have time to practice enough on the CNC lathe to earn my “license”. Nonetheless, I feel quite privileged to touch the CNC machine and rev it up to 5000 RPM (under Niklas’ presence).

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Photo: Trying to understand which tool goes where and does what…

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Photo: Taking baby-steps, learning each tool and figuring out its “cutting position”. It’s not a selfie. I couldn’t determine the position of the tool that is oriented upside down…. position 3, matching?

Ok, back to the workshop.

 

Löv,

 

gimmygöteborg

 

somebody is in charge of 3D printing… was it you Josue?

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Chalmers trust his students so much, it’s almost Stupid!

“If your father just bought a €200,000 Ferrari, would he let your 15-year-old brother drive it? Chalmers would.”

(photo: Josue from Ecuador waiting for auto-feed to complete a pass)

1 March 2015, Gothenburg, Light intermittent Snow, 2 degrees C

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After breaking another personal record, 15 hours of continuous sleeping, I feel my mind and senses have been recalibrated again. IMG_1061

I have been busy at the machine shop lately.

Today I wanted to say a few good words about Chalmers’ machine shop resources and this “CDIO” thing.

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It’s not a massive machine shop… smaller than U of Waterloo shop. But it does the trick!

Chalmers is in the vanguard of CDIO development back in the late 90s and early 2000s. It is spread worldwide now. CDIO stands for Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate. It is an engineering teaching philosophy that is aimed at increasing graduate engineer’s “competency”. (I am not saying engineer graduates are useless, but I have met graduates that don’t know how to use a wrench…).

In short, most engineering schools focus on theoretical part of “Conceive” and “Design”, but overlook “Implement” and “Operate” part. But under CDIO, students must be responsible for the “manufacturing” and “functionally” of their design. (In other words, you earn your marks by designing something and then proving your design physically works).

BUT there is a catch. In order to realize the “Implement” and “Operate” in CDIO philosophy, the school has to provide the necessary manufacturing resources. If you are not familiar with mechanical engineering equipment, they are EXTREMLY expensive (to purchase, to maintain, etc.).

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Chalmers wood workshop

Not many schools in the world have such student machine shop resources. While studying at U of Waterloo, I remember a fellow U of Calgary comrade “drooling” over the Waterloo machine shop. Apparently at U of Calgary, they have a few primitive handheld tools. Waterloo has a great workshop, I am very proud of it.

 

But my concern with the Waterloo machine shop is not all students receive the necessary training.

00        School blindly trust students’ “common sense”

10        Students (often unintentionally) mess up the machines

30        Many “fancier” machines are off-limit to students.

40        The machine shop closes at 9PM and reopens at 8AM. Opening hours are even shorter on weekends.

50        School trust the student less.

60        Go to “00”

 

Chalmers machine shop is run very differently. 

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The students have to earn their “driving licenses” by proving their capabilities (both theoretical, but also his or her “maturity and responsibility”). The entire process reminds me of going through driving school. Finally, once you have earned your “credibility”, you can work without supervision after hours (1700-2400).

INSANE! So much trust invested in us!

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Yes, there is a lot of theory behind machining! Machining isn’t just “muscle” work.

Så, I was playing around with the TIG welding machine in the machine shop the other day. It was quite possibly the happiest moment in January. It is fantastic that the school’s machine shop has two TIG machines (one for aluminium welding and one for steel welding) and a MIG welding machine for students to “play around” with!

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Welding room

As I was exclaiming how “trusting” Chalmers is to let me “monkey” around with fancy welders, Johannes slams my praise “oh this is nothing. The school let us play with expensive CNC machines…” (Johannes is our “Design Expert” on the Chalmers Formula Student (CFS) team. He is a very talented guy. I’ll write about him and other gods from CFS next time.)

 

True. Johannes is right. It’s no big deal. If welding machines are comparable to “brand new BMWs”, then those CNC machines are like “Lamborghinis”.

I’ll write about those CNC machines the next time.

 

Back to the workshop!

 

Löv,

gimmygöteborg

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