Category Archives: CAD

Learning from the Big Boys

Yesterday I took a few hours to go over to the Artisan’s Asylum, a “hackerspace” just outside Boston proper, to get checked out on their 2-axis Sharp CNC mill. If you live anywhere near Somerville, it’s a seriously cool place, and for $75 a month, you get access to a full shop with the aforementioned mill, a 13″ Clausing Colchester lathe, woodworking shop, and welding shop with 220V MIG and TIG machines.

My main reason to be there was that every so often, I have a part I can’t quite fit on my benchtop machines, but I was also interested to get a chance to work with a “real” CNC control, in this case, an Acu-Rite MILLPWR of early 90s vintage. Compared to a VMC, which is designed mainly for production, 2-axis knee mills like this are used to assist the machinist in making one-offs or very short runs, rather than replacing him completely. As such, they’re probably the closest “serious” industrial equivalent of what we do with little “toy” machines like mine.

While the control was organized differently than EMC or Mach, I found it very user-friendly and efficient to work with. After the jump, a few more detailed observations on what I really liked about it…
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