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Make Something Big

"The shopbot is the only machine that can kill" - Henk

"The air doesn't care if you make milling mistakes" - Neil

A Little introduction on the state of the world, our lab and myself.

Local notes

You have only four hours machine time. That means that as soon as you get in, you want to start milling. No design time is left.

There are a lot of steps to get from design to milling with the shopbot. You probably need more time to setup the software and the machine, then the actual milling will take.

How much time do we actually mill. The limitation is the drilling bit.

If the drilling bit is 5mm. The step is 2.5mm

If you cut 12mm plywood, you'll need 12 rounds of milling to go through.

80mm/s is the most common speed for milling.

Regional notes

Inspiration: Check Jeffs documentation He put all the names in the picture of the made board; pointing out what everything is.

Global notes

Lecture notes

Introduction to large format cutting. We use the Shopbot. It is a great performance tool for the price-range it is in.


  • Foam = great to make molds.
  • Plywood = dofferent form available
  • OSB = cheap and good material.
  • HDPE: good plastic
  • Garolite is great stuff to mill
  • Aluminum can also be done, but special settings need to be applied.

Vendors These materials need to be sourced locally. The links Neil has are for Boston only, but they are a good reference.

Don't you forget, the amounts that you need are considered waste to real manufacturers!

Job Shops. There is a list of different shops that can do the work for you. But you'll need to look locally to check if there is a jobshop near you.


Drills vs Mills - Drills has a sharp tip and it goes down - Mills cut on their sides: they go sideways.

We mostly use millbits.

In the end mills, there is flutes. Flutes are the knives. Less flutes have more room for clearance. You start with rough flutes and end with more flutes.

There is often color coding on mills. The color adds to the lifetime as it protects the mill.

We use centre-cutting end-mill; you recognize them as the flutes connect in the middle.

On Milling You can up- and you can down-mill. There is also centre milling. And there is somet stuff around flat/ball end.. and somethign about comprable angulations...?

Speeds and feeds chipload is the V-rate (how fast the tool is going) devided by the number of flutes and the revolution rate. That gives you an indication of the chipload. If chipload is too low; you are not cutting efficient. If it is to large, there is too much strain on your tool.

Cutdepth: A rough rule of thumb is that you go down with each step the size of the tool you are using. So we have a 5mm tool at Waag.

Stepover Half the diameter of the tool. (or less if you want to make a nice smooth last cut)

Fixturing Probably we use nails or screws.

Dustcollection If there is dust on your computer, you have a problem. Dust is hazerdous to you and your surroundings.

What are we going to make?

Some cool 3D shapes! You can make amazing flextures. Check this the recitation links out.

Toolpaths There will be runout: extra cut made by the mill trembling and being inprecize.

Tabs and Onions Make sure that the parts you want to cut out stay attached to the stock; so they don't fall out.

Nesting Good nesting uses most part of the stock; how to nest efectively. Nesting in Fusion

Test Cuts Cut the air first! Do a dry-run in the air. "The air doesn't care if you make milling mistakes"

You can also make small test versions. is a great big cutter machine for small places. Machines that make <€2000,- CNC Last years class notes BOK DUST COLLECTOR Tansegrity