Help for the CNC Explorer Web App.

Current Version 1.6.2

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About the Cnc Exploerer App

The CNC Explorer Web App is a PWA (Progressive Web Application). A PWA runs entirely in a Web Browser but can also be installed on a Home Screen for quick access. 

The demo version has random selection buttons under the Spindle, Tool, and Material Sections. Pressing will randomly pick from the Libraries to demonstrate different setups and show the libraries

All the data and processing are done through the Browser. It will run on virtually any device that can run any of the following major Browsers:

Flutter web PWA apps are supported on the following browsers on any device look exactly the same:

  • Chrome (mobile & desktop)
  • Safari (mobile & desktop)
  • Edge (mobile & desktop)
  • Firefox (mobile & desktop)

The App is still in development and only a preview version is available at this time.

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Reviews and Comments Received for the CNC Explorer Web App Demo

David I think this will be incredibly useful!

Allen After toying with it for under a minute, I caught on to how it is meant to work and it seems pretty intuitive to me. The hover-over help boxes worked fine on my browser (Firefox 86.0.1 64-Bit). I’m not 100% sure, but the IPM slider at the top is mostly meant to let you see the impact that changing feed rate has on spindle/router power consumption (as well as volumetric material removal and surface speed). I really like this approach already, compared to the spreadsheets that I’ve tried using. I can see myself using this app a lot in the future. Well done!

Edwood – Exactly right the top slider is to mainly give the ability to fine-tune the feed rate to adjust the power consumption and MRR. If you are using a router like the Makita or Dewalt the speed steps are rather a course and it is sometimes not possible to pick a speed that is in the sweet spot but yet not overpowering the spindle. But in those cases, the CNC has a much finer adjustment to find an optimum solution. And very glad you are noticing the tool is intuitive. Thank you for your great feedback.

Brett –  like the layout. Seems like it will be easier than the spreadsheet. I would suggest lot fewer colors. Its really busy. Colors should be reserved for the info to plug into your cnc software. When running locally, will users be able to add tools to the tool database?

Edwood – +1 on the look and ease of use. I get your comment on the colors. My idea was to group the sections by color but perhaps I went a little overboard? I am trying out some combinations now to see if that can be cleaned up. BTW whenever you click on the link you will get the latest version on the server although you might need to do a refresh on your browser to see it. If the App has been installed there is a “Flutter Feature” that requires you to close the instance you have and the next time you load it will update from the server. I do hope Flutter can fix that “Feature”

And yes you will be able to add tools and materials into the databases. It actually won’t matter if you run from the link or install locally. The data will always be stored locally which is a very cool feature about Flutter Web. Initially, this will be the approach I will be taking. The downside of this approach would be the database would be tied to a specific device. For those only running on the same device, it’s not an issue but for someone who would like to occasionally run it say on their mobile, I am not sure yet how to handle it. The other option would be to make a cloud database that could be accessed everywhere. That approach would be I think more difficult to implement. Maybe some will have an opinion.

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How do I download the App?

Click on this Link. It will open on your Web Browser

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How do I Install the App on my Device?

Now it is perfectly fine to keep running the App in your browser link and bookmarking. However, a PWA also allows installing the app on your home page. I will say however the Flutter universe is not very consistent on how to do this.

Using Chrome on a Windows machine is the easist:

You can run just from the Browser link or you can install it on your device:

Chrome you will see this icon in your address link. Click on the install button to install on your device.

Using Edge on Windows you have to jump down the menus:

I don’t have an Apple so I can’t run Safari so the install is TBD

On an Android Phone Chrome installs very similar to the Windows Edge. But strangely enough Edge gives an install button on the bottom of the page.

Again I don’t have an iPhone so install is TBD

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What does the Fine Tune CNC Feed Rate Slider do?

Trim routers are often used on Hobby CNC machines as a lower-cost option. They work fine but generally only have course speed (RPM) adjustments. Sometimes it hard to find a good Feed and Speed solution with the limited settings. However, the CNC can be programmed with much higher resolutions. The slider will adjust the Feed Rate only between the recommended range calculated for the current cutting parameter. The Center Feed Rate Display will be updated along with SFM, MRR, and Spindle Motor Displays as you adjust the slider.

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What does the Feed Rate Displays Indicate?

The Feed Rate displays are showing the suggested range of optimum speeds to program the CNC Feed Rate Speeds. To keep the App manageable the range is reported with an adjusted cutting Chip Load with a +/- 0.001″ Low and High range. In other words the Slow is calculated with the Adjusted Chip Load -0.001″, The Sweet Spot is with the Adjusted Chip Load, and the Fast is calculated with the Adjusted Chip Load + 0.001″.

Using +/- 0.001″ is reasonable. If a feed rate is picked much below this range it is likely the bit will end up over churning the material and building up heat and damaging the tool. Much higher and the bit will be stressed and deflected as it cannot clear material fast enough which could lead to chatter in the cut and tool breakage. The CNC Explorer will suggest Feed Rates that are calculated to always be in this range depending on many factors

  1. Feed Rate – How fast the tool is being driven by the CNC
  2. RPM of the tool – The rotational speed of the Trim Router or Spindle holding the tool bit.
  3. The Tool Bit Diameter. What is the cutting circumference of the tool?
  4. The Number of Cutting Edges or Flutes the Toll has.
  5. The design of the tool by the manufacturer
  6. The Width of Cut (WOC). What step over distance is the tool path programmed.
  7. The Depth of Cut (DOC). How deep is the tool cutting per pass.

The actual formula for calculating Feed Rate is pretty straight forward:

Feed Rate (IPM) = RPM (spindle) x number of cutting edges x Chip load. RPM and Flutes (cutting edges) are clear to understand. Chip Load on the other hand is a combination of Art and Science and some mumbo jumbo magic mixed in.

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CNC Router Basics

A CNC Router cutting or milling operation moves a rotating cutting tool bit along a programmed path that controls how fast the tool is spinning, how fast it is being moved, and how deep into the material is being cut. This is generally called a path. To complete a milling operation, it often takes many passes of varying depths. The depth may be dynamic as in the case of a 3D carving but the amount of material removed can be called the pass depth. Related to the depth of a pass, stepover controls the overlap the cutting bit makes on each pass. Fine steps result in a high-quality finish but require many passes. Making the stepover larger results in faster cut times but leaves small ridges on the surface that will be cleaned up with a finishing pass with the smaller stepover setting.

But the intention of this instruction set is not to explain all that entails CNC Router applications as that is a book onto itself. But rather to explore some of the things that affect the cutting operations and to gain a better understanding of how and why the CNC settings are chosen.

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Why Setting Proper Feed Rates and Spindle Speeds Matter.

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Important Parameters That Directly Determines Feeds and Speeds.

Feed Rate (IPM) = RPM (Spindle / Tool Bit) x number of cutting edges x Chip load.

Calculating Feed Rate is very straightforward if you know the Spindle RPM, the number of Flutes on the cutting tool, and finally, the chip load i.e. how much material each tool will need to shave off the material on each pass. The first two terms are always readily known but the “Chip Load” is often hard to know. Even if the tool manufacture specifies a tool’s chip load, it is generally only given for a very small set of materials. Some tool designs are created to cut specific materials such as plastic or aluminum. Cutting a different material requires adjusting the chip load requirements. Also, the type of cutting pass made may require additional adjustments to chip load. Cutting more than 100% depth per pass puts a great deal of strain on the tool. Manufactures recommend slowing down the feed rates in those cases. Small stepover passes less than 25% do not allow cutting edges to make effective bites. This effect is named “chip thinning” and it becomes necessary to actually speed up the feed rates to keep the effective chip load in the proper range. So indeed it can quickly become quite a labor-intensive job to calculate proper feed rates. The CNC Explorer will help sort out these parameters and recommend a good range of feed rates under many different conditions.

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