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Old 06-07-2018, 10:25 AM
Jim_in_PA Jim_in_PA is offline
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Default Vacuum Fixture for Small Sign Production

This week I started to move forward on setting up for a small sign thing for equestrians after making some prototypes that I like. Because these will be personalized, I needed a work holding setup that was accurate, quick and secure. Vacuum is excellent for this and that's the route I chose. I happen to have a nice Gast vacuum pump that I've owned for many years for lathe work. It's not appropriate for larger CNC tasks, but perfect for fixtures that hold smaller workpieces. So I relocated it from the lathe stand to under the CNC machine and then proceeded to create my fixture for these small signs.

I chose to use some Corian scraps for the fixture...no leakage, easy to cut and very durable. I created the design in VCarvePro, starting with the existing prototype sign profile to provide a recess that increases lateral hold and then milled an air chamber and gasket groove. The end result...



Since I need provide for an air path from a connection to the vacuum pump, I setup for a double sided job using indexing pins so I could flip the workpiece and route a groove in the underside of the top layer to provide for that path. Note I stopped this groove shy of the edge so its essentially asymmetric nature wouldn't interfere with drilling a 1/2" hole in from the edge for the air connection.



I then used Gorilla glue to laminate the machined piece to a second piece of Corian, using cauls to insure things stayed absolutely flat. Once that cured overnight, I cleaned up the edges and then drilled my 1/2" hole for the threaded air connection. Theoretically, I should have used a slightly smaller drill bit and then tapped the hole, but I'm not setup with tooling for that, so I decided that I'd get just enough bite from the threads cutting their own and then the epoxy would insure everything stayed tight and sealed. And that turned out to be accurate, especially since the nature of vacuum pulls the connector tighter, rather than the opposite as it would with compressed air.



Interestingly, when I tested the holding power, even without a gasket installed (material arrives tomorrow), I could not pry the sign blank off the fixture even with a flat screwdriver.



So this is setup job one ready to go. I have a few more things to work on before I start offering actual product, but I'm happy to be making progress. I'm setup with the local Corian distributor, too. I seem to be getting pretty comfortable with the toolpathing aspect of these simpler projects and get get through a design and set of cutting files pretty quickly at this point. Still "walking" before "running", but going in the right direction.
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Jim Becker

SR-44, 1.7kw spindle, Performance Premium, USB, Keypad, T-Slot table (y-axis configuration), WinCNC, VCarve Pro

Non CNC stuff...

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Retired from full time work in the telecom industry 9/2017
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Old 06-07-2018, 06:21 PM
de5 de5 is offline
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Good job Jim, That ought to work well. Is there any reason you made it so much bigger than the sign? I'm cheap and try to cut the corian closer than that.
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  #3  
Old 06-07-2018, 07:38 PM
The real JP The real JP is offline
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This pic is a bit extreme but a few of these could help you work with many different sized pieces. You could make some flat ones out of mdf and paint them to seal them as well.

Painted mdf is what the vacuum tables are on the non phenolic camaster machines.

You don't need a block the same size as the project unless stiffness is an issue.

Just an idea anyway.
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  #4  
Old 06-07-2018, 08:13 PM
Jim_in_PA Jim_in_PA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by de5 View Post
Is there any reason you made it so much bigger than the sign? I'm cheap and try to cut the corian closer than that.
I guess in an ideal world I could have made the fixture smaller, but I used the two pieces of scrap in the size they were already cut to by their former owner...Mr. Outten. :) In one sense, there's an advantage to this size in that it allows me to use the tee track clamps to hold it down in the center portion of my table and provides plenty of room to work by both the human and the machine. The mass isn't a horrible thing, either.

I still can't get over how secure this setup holds the workpiece and I anticipate I'll use this method for other things I decide to produce that require customization/personalization. In this case, the job is stall plates for equestrians...horse and owner name. There will be a standard graphic, but for "a little more money", a custom graphic can be part of the deal, too.

----

JP, that's a pretty crazy looking setup! But yes, the "puck" method can provide a lot of utility for all kinds of work.
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Jim Becker

SR-44, 1.7kw spindle, Performance Premium, USB, Keypad, T-Slot table (y-axis configuration), WinCNC, VCarve Pro

Non CNC stuff...

SCM/Minimax - slider/JP/BS
Festool "a good collection"
Stubby - lathe
Oneida Cyclone
more...

Retired from full time work in the telecom industry 9/2017
Commission work for equestrian tack storage and other custom furniture and cabinetry
Located Bucks County PA
http://bvww.us
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2018, 08:27 AM
tbrookins tbrookins is offline
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I love that design. I will be using your idea for sure!
thanks for sharing
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