NPO TOOLs, metal cutting and wood sanding

I would love to see a CNC controlled version for more metal cutting, fiber plasma. I’m not including links to certain kits, because I believe a home built version would benefit more, in terms of bang for your buck. I’ve also heard this could be in the pipelines already. I’d be willing to help move the wheels on this project, however I could.

I’d also like to see a more professional grade sander in the shop. I recently purchased an industrial machine that needs some rehab. I haven’t started on the rehab yet, but hopefully will be able to get it up and running soon. I was going to ask about hosting it at the shop if all goes well, but didn’t want to get hopes up before I know. It’s similar to this machine, and would be a huge upgrade, in my opinion.

Those would be two great additions I’d love to see.


My 2 cents are that it would be a shame to offer tools like this without personnel to operate and maintain them. Onsite so they are not misused by the uneducated or uninformed. I have no idea what goes into operating a fiber laser. But the wide belt sander might / could / will eat expensive belts when misused.

AND they would attract a more sophisticated user base.

It might bode well for restricted use only while a shop steward (paid?) is on site,

You probably heard about the the fiber laser @dannym bought last year, but it’s just the laser – the whole CNC system needs to be bought or built still, and the project basically stalled out when Covid happened. Executed properly it would take up a fair amount of space, so we’d probably need a dedicated crew willing and able to keep a deadline (not to mention Dannny’s buy-in – it’s his laser after all) before the space could make any commitments on that front. I think (maybe a laser guru will correct me) that a CNC fiber laser would be lower-maintenance than the CNC router or laser cutters we have now. The optics are simpler and the cutting head doesn’t exert any force on the material, so wear is less of a concern. I would absolutely rather maintain a fiber laser than a waterjet.

Regarding the sander: I personally would support hosting one (or accepting a donation :slight_smile: ), but $13K is a pricey bit of kit so we’d need a more thorough proposal and enthusiastic support before considering buying one. There’s a lot of cheaper things that a lot of people would use that we could spend money on. David’s concern about care and feeding is also warranted, for sure.

Personally, my wishlist item is a grown-up 3D printer. I don’t know what I’d do with it, but it’d be damn shiny to have even a vintage Sinterstation in the shop. I fear operating costs would eat us alive if anyone actually used the thing, but I’m keeping it on my wishlist if we ever shake up a corporate sponsor. A mid-market Stratasys FDM would probably be more realistic.

1KW Coherent Highlight with controller, chiller, fiber cable, and head. Prior owner documented 1KW output on meter with photos. It’ll do about 10mm carbon steel. Can do aluminum, stainless, brass, and copper. They’re slower and are a bit more limited on max thickness.

Fiber lasers pretty much only cut metals. As impressive as the power output is, fiber is 1.6um, as opposed to CO2’s typical 10.6um. Acrylic is mostly transparent to 1.6um and it goes through without cutting. Wood is also too transparent to cut with fiber, just the wrong tool. It is far better quality than plasma cutting on metal. Maintenance and operating costs on fiber is very low. The heads are super expensive, and that’s a really good one.

Just to clear up the sander, I wasn’t suggesting buying a new one for that price. I was saying that I’ve already bought a similar one, not new or currently running, and will be working on getting it running. I do agree with some of the concerns about it’s operation, and think the use would need to be limited to trained users, i.e. having a class for it. However my mention if this sander solely relies on me getting it operational.

I also agree with the preference of a fiber laser over a water jet. I wouldn’t count out a plasma either. I think the foot print would be large, but having that capability should open the doors for more membership interest. The reason I suggested a home built version, I believe having a full size table vs a hobby size would help with the interest. I’m assuming the home built table would come in cheaper, assuming people are willing to help build it.

Actually highest on my list- drill press. Seriously. The Craftsman was actually a really great one for metal, but it’s been beaten up quite a bit over the years. Also got declared “no metal” for some reason.
The Ridgid drill press got declared the metal press, but I found it to be pretty poor for metal all around.

If anything, I’d put the Ridgid over as the wood one, and designate the Craftsman for metal.
But, really, lots of great metal drill presses in the world to get. My Harbor Freight at home does metal pretty well, better than the Ridgid anyways.

Part of a larger conversation re corporate sponsors… ACC operates as adult education resource for area industries. Don’t have any idea whether something like that is an option for funding, training, operation, mfg facility for small business customers to pay for the facility. Just tossing out an idea for consideration.

Agreed! I was perplexed by the drill press situation when I started out at the space, but I don’t use it so it wasn’t really on my radar. Something like a PM2800 would be nice for woodworking; changing speeds by yanking belts around doesn’t seem compatible with our shared usage pattern.

I’m less familiar with metal but perhaps we should keep an eye out for a surplus gearhead or something similarly heavy-duty.

My harbor freight drill press does great on metal as well. Much better than I would have ever expected.

The Rigid was designated for metal so the Craftsman would not have coolant on it. I designated it.
We could use a variable speed drill press so we don’t have to change belts.

Regarding the drill press mentioned above, I use the craftsman a ton and with some special jigs, so give me aheads up if we decide to swap them.

I also have a standing drill press at home that’s not getting a lot of use and I could possibly host it at the shop if we need another one.

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A cnc plasma 4x4 table with ohmic torch height controller and a water table

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Wow, I had no idea those were so cheap! Looks like we could get a halfway-decent CNC plasma setup for $3k?

(he says, knowing nothing about what makes a CNC plasma “decent”, exactly…)

edit: I just noticed that’s a bring-your-own-plasma-cutter setup – would one of these be an appropriate CNC for the fiber laser?

I looked at that unit recently for a student. It is better that a lot of units for that price. I would definitely get the water table and torch height controller. It looks like the torch height controller is not the ohmic kind.

An empty gantry frame would work perfectly for a fiber laser setup

I kinda just want the biggest press HFT has, for metal work.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier, but a nice belt/disc sander to replace some of the castaways in the sanding station would be nice too.

This one may be overkill, but let’s start with a goal then work back to a budget :slight_smile:

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One thing that has gotten missed in all the power and computer stuff: We really need a nice shear and brake for sheet metal

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True. We do have a baby one (it’s stored under the welding table) but I have a project in the queue that I think I could make in one piece if we had a bigger one.

I think for the shear. We would need training even though it seems simple. A max gauge for measuring max material thickness. Also a guard that could limit someone from sheering something beyond the rating.

I just got a mental picture of safety sign illustrated with a cartoon guy waving a hand with three fingers. “Stumpy Says: You need training to use the shear!”