Introduction: Vacuum Table for Mini CNC Milling Machine

Picture of Vacuum Table for Mini CNC Milling Machine

Tired of having to drill into your Milling Machine's Table?
Tired of having to plot out where supports and clamps are located?

Look no furthur, because you have found the right place.

I will show you how to make an effective Vacuum Table for you CNC Machine.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Materials:

- 6" X 6" X 3/4" MDF
- Surgical Tubing - Can be free if you go to a hospital and get all the tubing that they use for I.V. food bags.
- Some of the accessories that usually come with the surgical tubing (plugs)
- A Vacuum
- A Drain Plug

Tools:

- Drill
- Drill bits
- Counter Sinking bit
- Ruler
- Pencil

Step 2: Make the Vaccum Table

Picture of Make the Vaccum Table

First, you want to plot out where you are going to drill the holes

I chose to have a 4 x4 of 1/4" holes in the center of the table. This will make it so that the vacuum works for small AND large pieces of material.

Using a 1/4" Drill bit, drill 1/8" down into the Mill Table

then, use a counter sink bit to clean it off and give it a professional look.

using a counter sink will ensure a smooth finish, cleaning off any burrs on the top of the mill.

Step 3: Drill the Pipes for the Suction to Effect

Picture of Drill the Pipes for the Suction to Effect


Now you need to drill holes from the side of your machine, to the furthest hole that is going through the top of the table.


Step 4: Tubing Assembly

Picture of Tubing Assembly

First, get some of these plugs: 1st picture
Second, cut off the sharp points (i used wire cutters)
Third, attach tubing to the plugs
Fourth, attach all tubes to the Tube bay
Fifth, punch hole in the drain plug and stick the tube from the Tube Bay into the drain plug

EDIT: Make sure you turn the valve for the other tube connectors in the tube bay that aren't being used, to the closed position, or else your table wont have any suction.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

Now, just plug all the plugs into the side of the vacuum table and then set the drain plug at your vacuum's nozzle.

Step 6: Finished and Testing

Picture of Finished and Testing

Now, just turn on your vacuum and stick a piece of material on your mill and ur set!.

Since the tubes are fairly skinny, it will provide a strong suction because air that would be trying to go through a vacuum's big tube, is being forced to be pulled through tiny tubes.

No more clamps or supports or ANYTHING! :D

Might make a new design that won't require the tube bay.

Comments

KayjayUK (author)2011-10-28

I used to be a cnc programmer/setter, the mouldings we trimmed were held onto the tools with vacuum. With this system you may find some leakage of vacuum especially if the material being cut isn't totally flat. All our moulds had a seal around the holes thereby making sure the product was held firmly onto the trimming tool.

It would be a simple matter using your cnc to cut one track around the outside of all the vac holes of a suitable depth and width to suit the seal. I'm not sure where we bought our seals from, we had rolls and rolls of the stuff but car door seal or fridge door seal may well do the trick and it will make the trimming far more secure, no more slipping jobs.

Keith

speaking of seals, i was just thinking i could get my hands on some small rubber o-rings, and use a ring for each hole in the table.

Atleast 1 pro is that it will lift the material slightly above the table, so there wont be any risk of damaging the mill table.

:D

I'm not sure if o-rings will do the job, we found that circular cross section seals didn't hold the vacuum too well. The seal we used was about 5mm square cross section but had a flap rising from one corner, the groove was made the same shape to take the seal square section completely, this just left the flap proud of the surface and perfect to make a good seal keeping the job flat on the tool base.

We didn't have a problem with the base being damaged as each job to be trimmed had it's own tool board, the cutter was set at Z= -5mm so the cutter made a groove in the base but because it was unique to the job the cutter just ran in the previously made groove on each subsequent trim. The tool baseboards were made of 18mm MDF. You could use a similar method if you plan on trimming a lot of parts that are the same.

It may be worth trying the O-rings just because it's an easier solution if it works but if not then you know how to proceed. I'll try and find out a supplier for the square section seals if I can get hold of one of the guys I used to work with but I can't promise, I'll post or pm you if I do find out.

Keith

KayjayUK (author)KayjayUK2011-10-31

I forgot to mensh, in our system the seal would be one piece surrounding all the vac holes rather than an individual seal around each hole, this made the seal more effective and simpler to fit.

Keith

Very interesting, and thank you for the ideas. I will look more into that and see what would be feesable with what i have.

Thanks,

Ian

Electronics Man (author)2011-08-22

Awsome job!

andican1967 (author)2011-04-10

Nice work. If you use a standard vacuum cleaner it may brake. There is no cooling for the motor if not enough air goes through! There are shop vacuums which have a bypass for this.

Well, we had to get a new vacuum since the carpet power head broke, so i have the old one that i can rip off the outer casing, providing sufficient cooling.

tomblik (author)2011-03-19

This is an awesome idea. I used to work for a company that sold CNC woodworking machines. Most of them used vacuum to hold down the material and they worked very well. Good job.

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