Beginner Snapmaker for CNC (drill bits, level, work speeds, density, enclosure, centre job)

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Hi, first a disclaimer - I am a beginner to Snapmaker, and I am relying on other posts and what I specifically had trouble with.

Anybody who contributes to this post (which I will update) will be mentioned at the bottom. Especially sdj544, brdboss and xchrisd (these are the people I can remember who helped me - immensely).

Topics :

  1. Enclosure and updating firmware
  2. Using Wifi
  3. Level (is the machine level)
  4. Level the wood
  5. Luban software - a terrible program (alternative)
  6. Drill (carving) bit usage
  7. Centre your job or put it anywhere perfectly
  8. Running boundary (don’t damage your machine or drill bits)
  9. Stepdown info

1. Enclosure and updating firmware - congratulations (YAY), i found the enclosure excellent (it was better than i hoped and really good quality).

This seems to be a problem for enclosure for many people (me as well), for me (before i updated) the Snapmaker wouldn’t let me print because it said the door was open, lights and fan didn’t work. (after update) works perfectly. it was the machine software (took me a while to work out), just update the firmware on the machine via a usb (after update you will be able to do it via the touchscreen) the usb must be fat32, this link below is where to find updates and go to the bottom of the thread and it will tell you how to update the machine.

Now, you will be able to turn the lights on or off and the fan via the touch screen. (also while it is printing)

2. Using Wifi - connect the computer to the Snapmaker via wifi - the top of the top four left buttons, press refresh (assuming the Snapmaker is on and you are on the same wifi) press connect and verify on the touch screen


“send to device via Wifi” - to send the job to the Snapmaker machine.
you will now be able to send the gcode to the machine via wifi, the wifi will automatically disconnect from your laptop when the job starts (so you don’t have to leave the computer on and running).

3. Level (is the machine level) - there is many threads about the Snapmaker not being level for print - the most common is the machine has been put together with a slight mistake or the alignment of the rails isn’t perfect - the most common solution is to mill the wasteboard (this wasn’t my problem and I haven’t done this).

4. Level the wood - this took me ages to work out, solution thanks to sdj544, “feeler gauges” are your friend, specifically digital feeler gauge - what I do now is get the four corners of the wood and measure the thickness, it is usually out by 0.5mm, now I know how far I need to mill (with the Snapmaker) before i start the job.

In that second link, I asked him specifically about density, speeds, drill bit (very informative), I personally - (create the box by clicking using rectangle (can only do under the editor tab), specify the size in the boxes on the right (why guess by clicking and dragging), right click on your box, choose “reference” then “centre”)
if the wood is out by 0.5mm, I will mill to 1mm depth, (so the mill to smooth it doesn’t look out of place, (by out of place I mean - one side higher and the other, one side will not have a lip)).
I also do 5mm extra for the X and Y axis - to create a box for my job (my job is framed by a box)
Because I have an exact box and the middle for the cnc, I do not take the wood out, but print my job directly onto it.
After smoothing, (lets assume we want a different drill bit) I go to origin, (which is the centre of the box you just created - it should be perfectly centred if the wood hasn’t moved)

a. go to origin,
b. (z axis up) about 7 cm,
c. set origin (so it is still centred but the z axis is wrong),
d. go very high (z axis) and put the board all the way back (Y axis) (don’t want to bump your wood with your elbows),
e. turn power off to the snapmaker,
f. change bit,
g. turn the Snapmaker on again (making it go home and reset, as you have probably moved the head changing the bit) ,
h. go to origin (this will be several cm above the board, but the X & Y axis will be perfect (providing the wood has not moved)),
i. z down to be perfect with the wood (paper test),
j. set origin,
k. read and do “8 (running boundary)” just below,
l. start job

5. Luban software - a good starting point but a terrible program. Luban is excellent for getting your feet wet (if you have never done CNC before)

To give you an idea, watch this tutorial (13 mins) of fusion 360 and easel

video (13 mins) that shows what we are missing with Luban - https://www.instructables.com/id/Fusion-360-CAM-Tutorial-for-CNC-Beginners/
A video from Snapmaker about fusion 360 (the comments are really interesting) Fusion 360 CAD & CAM Tutorial for CNC Beginners [Snapmaker Academy] - YouTube
fusion 360 - free to use for hobbyists (as long as it is non commercial) https://www.autodesk.com.au/products/fusion-360/personal
easel from inventables (free program) - Easel | Free CNC Software | Inventables

6. Drill (carving) bit usage.

This is here because I tried (not knowing) to smooth my wood with a V bit - which made a mess of the board (thanks to sdj544 for setting me straight).
go here - Drill (carving) bits usage (what they are used for), size and density
Scroll down to where I did the testing (easy to see) and - sdj544 post just below

7. Centre your job or put it anywhere perfectly - again, this is thanks to sdj544, click on your box/picture (so those little circles come up), right click on the same box/picture, reference position, centre.
You must be in editor tab to use this.

8. Running boundary. (don’t damage your machine or drill bits)

This is what I do (personal check) - say you are using the V bit (very low on the board), you are not only checking the boundary, but the black clamp around the bit (because it is very low with the V bit) that it will not hit the high point of the clamp, also taking into account the depth you are going with the bit.
Not only checking the boundary front ways, but go to the side of the machine - run boundary again - checking from this angle.

a. Find the middle of the wood and put the drill bit to it, “set work origin”,
b. Raise z axis by about 7cm (higher than any blockage if it goes completely wrong) and run boundary checking if it will hit the clamps
c. If all good lower to about 1cm and run boundary again (or do it at 3cm and then again at 1cm).
d. If all good, click “go to work origin” (because you set it at the beginning)
e. Run the job

9. Stepdown info - with Snapmaker stepdown, say the height of one level is 0.4 but you can do a stepdown of 1.0 (being soft wood), if you set the SD to 1.0, Snapmaker will automatically do the 0.4 even though it is set to deeper. :grinning:

&&&Well, that ends the problems I initially had, if there is a mistake or something I should add, let me know in the comments (i will keep tabs on this thread).

Contributions : sdj544, brdboss and xchrisd

12 Likes

Hi, Am loving the A350 having just bought it and having had no previous experience of 3D printing, laser cutting or CNC milling. I’m getting used to Fusion 360 and Luban.
I’d like advice/comments on trying to score one surface of 6.6mm MDF with a brick pattern (for HO scale model railway building). I’d like 0.5mm deep lines, 1mm wide (mortar joint) to form rectangles (brick faces) of 3mm x 0.8mm size. I assume I’d be restricted to a fine point V bit only cutting 0.5mm deep. If I can do these, I’d like to do concrete block and stone wall facings next - written in Fusion 360?
Is this possible and what are to issues (tip wear, bit speed, dust, etc.) that I’d need to consider?

Any help would be gratefully received.

Cheers.

The hardest part I’ve found with doing something like you’re describing is getting the texture right. Those organic shapes can be tough. (Maybe there’s an easier way to do it in Fusion that I don’t know about) I’d do a search through thingiverse or stlfinder and see if someone has already created what you’re looking for. Then it would be really simple to create the tool path in Fusion.
The other option is creating a grayscale pattern in a graphics program (Photoshop, illustrator etc) and then using image2surface or https://3dp.rocks/lithophane/ to convert it to an stl.
As far as mdf goes there are a variety of types and densities and glues used. I’ve just used some scrap pieces and some left over from our kitchen cabinets were great and showed a lot of detail while others were coarse and not suitable.
As far as bits go either v-bit or I’ve found some .8 ball ends that work fairly well. Bit speed I’d just keep at 12000 and have to play with your work speed. Somewhere between 400-600 probably and up to 800.
Dust is going to be your biggest problem because mdf can give off pretty fine dust and it can be pretty nasty and you don’t want to be breathing it. Don’t have a solution for this. Did some mdf for tests but stopped partly because of this. You’ll need an enclosure with ventilation and some sort of dust removal solution.
Last thing you’ll want to be aware of and play with is depth of cut. Not sure what HO scale is but when you’re doing carving in wood what seems like a shallow cut in Fusion (especially for logos and signs) ends up being deeper than you expected when you actually do it.
-S