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This months MEW are 3 CNC features two too many

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Steve Garnett14/05/2011 00:26:40
837 forum posts
27 photos
So Steve gets in from the pub, reads the thread, roars with laughter and concludes that:
1) Martin (blowlamp) = truly Renaissance Man, I'd guess, who gets my vote for what he said, and
2) Everybody should read Plato's Allegory of the Cave and correlate it with this thread. Then you might appreciate why I'm laughing!
I can't read too many articles with CAD programming details in either, FWIW. But I understand why they're there, I think. But I also think that as usual, the real answer is to exercise moderation in all things - including CAD articles with actual code in them...
blowlamp14/05/2011 00:29:02
1613 forum posts
105 photos
Posted by NJH on 14/05/2011 00:00:22:
But Martin - surely repeating is just what CNC does so well?
True, so you could actually make some extras to sell too, but just to repeat myself, it also turns those awkward 1 offs into triumphs of little bundles of pleasure.
IanH14/05/2011 07:52:35
117 forum posts
67 photos
Iam going to vote for CNC here. I produce patterns for lost wax casting vintage car and engine parts - the patterns are always one offs - no repition work here. I moved into CNC milling simply to extend the range of geometries I could handle. Making a pattern for the expansion link illustrated earlier in this thread for example would be easily handled by my CNC mill.
What I don't do is reproduce the original parts themselves with CNC - there are folk doing this and to my mind the finished articles, whilst serviceable, do not make adequate reproductions of original parts. They shout out "billet made CNC" some indeed even make a virtue of this.
My approach is to come via the casting route - it is more expensive overall but you get a more authentic product. I am off to the foundry this morning to pick up some prototype Rolls Royce Phantom III oil pump castings - whilst some aspects of this pattern could have been done by hand, there were a series of ribs that curved and sloped that would be beyond me without my CNC mill.
Also don't underestimate the tooling challenges of using CNC machines - it stretches everything I have learned in many years of manual machining.
blowlamp14/05/2011 09:12:18
1613 forum posts
105 photos

So if you haven't stepped into the sunshine to read the Plato's Allegory of the Cave link, I think Peter Kay can be usefully referenced as the next best thing.

When a man that is set in his ways, is presented with the potentially life-changing experience of trying Garlic Bread for the first time, he responds thus:-

Garlic Bread...? [pauses for though], Garlic Bread...? [pauses again for though], ...Garlic and Bread?? [gives up and goes back to eating his Mothers Pride and Dripping sandwich]

That's you, that is.

As for me, I never hand write Gcode and hate looking at it - so I never do, because that's what the CAM program's for. In fact I'd have to think hard about a specific Gcode command to even tell you what it does.
I totally agree with IanH about the challenges of CNC and how it stretches your learning.


Gordon W14/05/2011 09:41:12
2011 forum posts
I'm just a beginner at model eng., but I think there is far to much CNC, and CAD, and 3D drg. Not because I'm a Luddite, tho' I am, but because like many others I've done it, and now want a hobby, not more work. I still read the articles and learn a bit, but am often struck by the thought that it would be quicker to get a hacksaw and file. The survey, I can't find freepost address, am I expected to pay for a stamp and envelope ? Is there an online survey?
StirlingSingle14/05/2011 10:03:58
40 forum posts
I am a total novice, the reason i like traditional methods and not CNC and worse still DRO!!!!!!! is:
1. I enjoy learning traditonal skills
2. I like to fit parts with feel, rather than what the computers says!
3. Hand made items, using craft skils look and feel nicer
4. Sawing is good for you....Laser cutting is not for me
I jest, but I do hanker for engineering skills of days gone by. I enjoy what I do and I find basic traditional articles to be of great interest. However everbody has their own interest and thats what makes the world an interesting place!!!!
Of course the down side to my method of work is every part is a different size!!!!!
All the best,
NJH14/05/2011 10:36:07
2314 forum posts
139 photos
Martin !!!
"......turns those awkward 1 offs into triumphs of little bundles of pleasure."
What are you talking about now ? !!!!!!
Peter G. Shaw14/05/2011 10:59:13
1421 forum posts
44 photos
Let's look at this from another point of view, or two.
Fair enough, CNC enables items to be produced to a better and higher standard, and to a greater level of complexity. In business it also allows these items to be produced more cheaply. And it avoids one getting one's hands dirty.
But what happens when the "electronics" fail? I know they are supposed to be more reliable these days, but they can fail in which case all that expensive equipment suddenly becomes a very expensive lump of dead and useless equipment. Dead and useless that is until someone pays to have it repaired or replaced. In business this goes down as an expense which can ultimately be claimed back from the end purchaser. But what about the hobbyist? He/she has only the depth of his/her pocket for support, there not being the luxury of being able to pass on the cost. At least with manually operated equipment, this is less likely to happen.
There is another very important point. Our society is gradually being turned into a society where people are becoming more and more dependant on I.T. Now in some respects this may be a good thing, but in other respects it is removing the capability of the individual to be able to sort out problems himself because the complexity of these I.T. systems is such that only a select few trained people can actually repair it, if indeed a repair rather than replacement is possible. If you want an example, take the almighty rush towards digital television. 30 years ago, I as a trained telecom technician, could with a small amount of training safely and reasonably easily repair an analogue television with a minimum of test equipment. Today, I haven't a chance with digital signals multiplexed onto an analogue channel. So when my television fails what do I do? Pay someone to mend it? Or scrap it? Possibly the latter with all that entails in respect of the environment.
In our hobby we are seeing electronically controlled equipment which we, as amateurs will not be able to mend ourselves. Ok a select few may be able to do so, but not Mr. Average. On the other hand, our manually controlled equiment is repairable by Mr. Average.
Furthermore as society travels further along the road, we are slowly losing even that ability to repair even simple items. I would therefore argue that those of us who whilst seeing what CNC can do, but remain wedded to our manual machines and skills, are actually keeping alive the tradition of doing it ourselves.
Peter G. Shaw

Andrew Johnston14/05/2011 12:13:30
6601 forum posts
701 photos
My turn to stir the pot!
I do have a CNC mill, as well as manual vertical and universal horizontal mills. So, obviously I'm in favour of CNC milling when appropriate. I use the CNC mill for two reasons. One, to make multiple parts, eg, the spokes for my traction engines; I have no interest, or the time, to spend hours twiddling handles on a manual mill just to make the spokes. Two, to make things that I cannot make on the manual mills, eg, the bevel gears for my traction engines.
There seems to be a slightly old fashioned view here of CNC as it applies to industry. Very few professional machine shops are now entirely manual, except for some niche markets. Even for ones and twos CNC milling is used. Why would I want to pay some-one to spend ages twiddling handles on a manual mill?
However, having said all that, my initial reaction on opening the latest edition of MEW was exactly the same as the OP. Too much CNC, and wasteful listings of G-code. For a variety of reasons I acknowledge that CNC is a specialised interest; so may be one article an issue, or every other issue? I don't believe that the answer is a separate magazine. I doubt it would be viable. It may also take subscriptions away from MEW, which would damage the viability of MEW too. I wouldn't subscribe to a CNC magazine, and if there was no CNC in MEW I probably wouldn't subscribe to that either. I did try a free trial subscription to 'Digital Machinist' from the US, but didn't take up the paid subscription, as I didn't think it was 'meaty' enough to justify the cost.
Finally a note to those who don't like the articles on CNC; don't whine about it, write an article on your own favourite topic!
blowlamp14/05/2011 12:37:50
1613 forum posts
105 photos
Posted by NJH on 14/05/2011 10:36:07:
Martin !!!
"......turns those awkward 1 offs into triumphs of little bundles of pleasure."
What are you talking about now ? !!!!!!
I'm not sure now, Norman, but I think it was along the lines of:
1/ A difficult job lands in my lap that others can't do (because they aren't interested in learning anything new), that's the awkward bit I refered to.
2/ I succeed in using CAD, CAM and CNC machine to make the thing, which I see as a triumph because I've overcome the problem.
3/ The little bundles of pleasure can be seen as both the part itself and/or the money I get for doing it.
By the way, can I ask the Luddites how they're managing to post their replies on this forum with their chalkboards, while I'm having to use a computer to write mine?
Why not work towards making Model Engineers' Workshop magazine, entirely non electric in its content?
A picture of a someone we can all identify with.

Andrew Johnston14/05/2011 12:50:11
6601 forum posts
701 photos
Why not work towards making Model Engineers' Workshop magazine, entirely non electric in its content?
Quite! Let's get rid of all those pesky electric motors and revert to the treadle lathe; then parts made can honestly said to be a product of one's own blood, sweat and tears. Might mean the end of milling machines though, as I've never seen a hand-cranked mill?
And as for VFDs, well, who on earth in their right mind would use such new fangled technology.
Mark P.14/05/2011 13:14:37
625 forum posts
8 photos
I stopped taking MEW because of all the CNC articles,it does not interest me one bit.OK CNC may have it's uses in industry but in the home workshop I fail to see its use.
jomac14/05/2011 13:19:50
113 forum posts

Hi, I am not a Luddite, what I am, is a retired person, Thus, not enough cash, I have a lathe and a small mill, Have done an Autocad course at tech school a few years ago, BUT if you dont keep up working with CAD, if your like me, you tend to forget how to do it, So with no extra cash to spend on CNC, or the programs and extra gear to go with it, Im'e up the creek, besides I dont seem to have much trouble doing thing manualy, which, from a lot of the post on this site, covers a lot of "Model Engineers". Thats not to say CNC is a bad thing, just that it only covers a small minority of battlers.

John Holloway.

Steve Garnett14/05/2011 13:24:14
837 forum posts
27 photos
Posted by IanH on 14/05/2011 07:52:35:
Iam going to vote for CNC here. I produce patterns for lost wax casting vintage car and engine parts - the patterns are always one offs - no repition work here.
Ah, but they could be used again, couldn't they? So, whilst on the subject of pot-stirring, let me introduce people (no not you, IanH, the luddites) to another radical idea - this one's a simple concept though:
Castings (any sort) = Industrial Revolution's CNC...
(retires to a safe distance!)

Edited By Steve Garnett on 14/05/2011 13:33:39

Tony Pratt 114/05/2011 13:33:13
1961 forum posts
12 photos
CNC gets the thumbs up from me, it's not new technology and has been around for years. The editor can only print what articles he receives so he must be getting more CNC biased at the moment and he cannot please everyone all the time!. Just remember CNC is only a tool and like any tool it has it's uses and if you don't want to use it you don't have to.
Steve Garnett14/05/2011 13:38:47
837 forum posts
27 photos
Posted by Tony Pratt 1 on 14/05/2011 13:33:13:
The editor can only print what articles he receives so he must be getting more CNC biased at the moment and he cannot please everyone all the time!.

The other possibility (and I think that this is very real, and possibly why he hasn't commented) is that he knows darn well what sort of reaction he's going to get, and is publishing all the backlog CAD articles in one go, so that the Luddites can vent their spleen with all the vigour we've come to expect from them - and then it all goes quiet again for a while whilst some more evil plotters come up with fresh articles...

Tony Pratt 114/05/2011 14:13:12
1961 forum posts
12 photos
Good point Steve, I hadn't considered that.
Clive Hartland14/05/2011 14:29:24
2820 forum posts
40 photos
Surely the answer to all this is to have a few 'Pull out' pages in the middle of the magazine so that those interested can file and read to their hearts content.
If you are not interested, then you can file those pages in file 13, the waste bin!
I do read the CNC pages and wish that I too could use a CNC machine but finances prevent me even having a mill anyway.
All my milling is done on the lathe and cleaned up by filing.One point that has been missed is that CNC can produce intricate shapes accurately and with 'Wizards' driver software is easy to create.
I am sure that CNC owners have no wish to braze a boiler but use their time in a different way.
Thank heavens for the difference!
Terryd14/05/2011 15:01:03
1936 forum posts
179 photos
Hi Clive,
Surely those articles should go to 'Room 101'.
And yes, thank heavens for the difference. Some enjoy the journey, some enjoy the destination, but the lucky ones are those who enjoy both. As for economic activities, with relation to my hobby, I gave that up when I retired. To paraphrase Wilde, 'there are those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.'
As for Plato's parable, it works both ways. It just needs a little more intellectual endeavour to get below the obvious (but I don't expect much of that to go on - it may be worth reading the attitude of the Tribe to NewFist Hammer Maker when he started thinking - here).
The Parable on the level used here could also be summarised quite succinctly by that immortal phrase "I like what I know and I know what I like".
Amusing thread, especially the antagonistic and insulting attitudes of the so called modernisers.
chris stephens14/05/2011 15:04:50
1049 forum posts
1 photos
Hi Guys,
You might, with some justification, complain about his months issue but I notice that next month there is an article which you all should appreciate.
There is to be an article on a "swing up screwcutting holder" or as I like to call it a "clapper box" holder. For those who have not tried one, they are the bees knees and the dog's gonads of screwcutting toolholders. For added recommendation, John Stevenson said to me at Sandown last year that he now uses his for all his single point screw cutting, can there be a better advocate?
So. if you are in doubt about purchasing MEW next month don't be, it should be worth it just for that one article alone. Mind you, it is always worth buying even if it is not all to your taste, occasionally there are gems hidden within it's covers.
Let's face it we cant know it all, but the more we know the less chance there is of finding the whole magazine interesting. MEW is a magazine for all levels of workshop users and has to regularly cater for near rank beginners, as well as those time served. It even has to cater to modernists, although hopefully not exclusively in one issue.

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