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ShopSabre 4896 in the Idea Shop Prototyping Lab

About ShopSabre

The Shop Sabre is a 3-Axis CNC Router and is the machine of choice for cutting large parts quickly and accurately.

You must make a reservation to use the Shop Sabre. To make a reservation, your file must be tool pathed and checked by a qualified Idea Shop staff member. See the below calendar for toolpathing help availability.

General Stats:
Material : MDF, Plywood, OSB, Wood, Foam.
Maximum Part Size : 1219.2mm x 2438.4mm x 101.6mm (48in x 96in x 4in)


Main Article : RhinoCAM
ToolPath Simulation Running in RhinoCam

RhinoCam is the software used to create toolpaths for the ShopSabre, and is available on every computer in the IdeaShop. If you do not have much experience using Rhinoceros or RhinoCam, have a staff member help walk you through the process, since it can be tedious. Before creating a toolpath, feel free to use AutoCad to create the 2D geometry you wish to cut out since DWG files from AutoCad can be opened and used to create toolpaths in Rhinoceros. After creating and opening a file in Rhinoceros, double check the geometry and delete any duplicate lines or points. Join the remaining lines to create one solid geometry. Once you have your final geometry, you can begin creating your toolpath. If you are familiar with this process, go ahead and create the toolpath. If you are new to this process, have a staff member come and assist you. If you create the toolpath without a staff member, before you generate the G-Code, have a staff member double check all the settings and parameters you set for your toolpath.

Prepping the ShopSabre

Main Article : Before Starting CNC : ShopSabre

Before the ShopSabre is ready to run, there are a few steps that must be taken in order to safely operate it to the best of its abilities. First, with all components of the machine off, secure your material to the spoil board. Line up the your material on the northeast corner of the spoil board, to get as close to the machine home as possible. Next, make sure all the tools you will be using in your job are in the correct holders on the machine. Make sure the compressor is on in order to supply air to the machine. It requires at least 100 psi to run, which can be checked by the gauge on the airline next to the machine. Once the machine has enough air pressure, the wooden block can be removed. Next, ensure that the power to the spindle is turned off. Power to the spindle is controlled by the large electrical power box above the ShopSabre Computer. After making sure spindle power is off, select the home button on the machine. You can now use the computer to manually move the spindle to home in the X, Y, and Z directions. Once you have homed the machine, you may now turn on power to the spindle. With power now supplied to the spindle, select the warmup button on the computer. The spindle will move to the middle of the table and begin to spin. Place an orange cone at the spindle home so passersby know not to be there when the machine finishes warming up and returns to home. After warming up, the machine is ready to run the generated G-Code. Have a staff member double check that all of these steps have been done correctly before beginning to run the machine.

Running a Job

Once a staff member has confirmed the ShopSabre is ready to run, you may begin the job by running the supplied G-Code. You must be present while the job is running to ensure the machine does not do anything unexpected. Some things to watch out for are making sure the spindle does not hit any screws while running a job, or making sure that it changes tools correctly if your job has tool changes. Once your job is done, you may remove your material and parts from the spoil board.

Strengths and Weaknesses

"Main Article : Strengths and Weaknesses"

The ShopSabre CNC excels in creating large, primarily 2D parts quickly and cheaply. The ShopSabre can also machine more materials than the Epilog Laser Cutter since it can work with materials up to 4 inches thick. This creates the possibility of creating strong mechanical parts quickly. The ShopSabre is also used over the laser when parts have a 3D aspect to them, since the laser can only cut in 2 dimensions. Some weaknesses of the machine are that the geometries it cuts cannot be as detailed as the laser, since an endmill is much larger than a laser in comparison. Also, the ShopSabre cannot make sharp 90 degree edges inside of a part, the inside edges of the cuts will be rounded. Also, generating the G-Code and creating a file in Rhinoceros can be a time consuming process, especially if you are not familiar with the process or the shop is busy. Since it can take awhile, if you are not familiar with the process of creating toolpaths, make sure you are not able to laser cut or create the part by hand before considering the ShopSabre.

Tool Pathing Availability

Machine Proficiency

In order for an individual to advance in machine proficiency they must demonstrate ability to perform certain actions or tasks. All levels include abilities and concepts from lower levels.

This section is primarily for student workers.

Level 0

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Turning on the appropriate switches and valves to be able to move the machine.
  • Setting XYZ zero according to appointment description.
  • Properly fixing material to spoil boards.

Individual understands the concepts:

  • The limit switches on the machine.
  • How the machine is powered and how it moves.

Level 1

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Safely parking the machine.
  • Attaching a tool using appropriate collet.
  • Posting a created tool path for the appropriate machine.
  • Creating the tool path for a 2-½ axis job with profiling, slotting, pocketing or drilling features.

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Differences between Climb and Conventional milling.
  • What tool to use and when to use it.
  • Understanding how different materials react when cut
  • Basics of G-Code.
  • Basic RhinoCAM knowledge.

Level 2

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Picking appropriate feeds and speeds based on tool and material.
  • Creating a 3-axis toolpath including roughing and finishing.

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Understand the math behind determining feed rates and speeds.
  • Balance between Speed vs Surface Finish, and when to apply them.
  • Excellent RhinoCAM knowledge.

Level 3

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Creating a toolpath for a double sided job.

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Spatial awareness between RhinoCAM, the machine, material, and fastening the material.
  • Maintaining accuracy when moving the material.