I’ve had my Snapmaker 2 for about 2 months now, and I think I’ve probably made most all of the easy-to-do newbie mistakes. I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned with regard to working with the laser and CNC heads.
- Measure twice, cut/engrave once (actually I learned this from my father 50+ years ago).
(a) Actually measure a bunch and from different sides, unless you have a lot of spare material to work with.
- Never do your first run with your final product material, always do at least one test run on scrap material before committing to the good stuff.
- Know where the origin of your gcode is because that’s the point that corresponds to the work origin in Snapmaker. That’s part of what you’re measuring to in step (1).
- Once you set the work origin for a piece of material. Write down the machine coordinates, that way if you have to start over you know where to go.
- Never assume the work origin has stayed the same between runs
(a) it can drift, so double-check before pressing “Go To Work Origin”.
(i) don’t ever use “Go To Work Origin”.
(ii) it’s a great way to break bits and/or damage your material.
(b) if you’re doing multiple passes, always re-home between passes and then manually go to the origin.
(i) there’s a second page of options from the jog screen that will allow you to go to the x/y origin without lowering the head.
(ii) always lower the head manually.
(iii) be careful with multiple presses on the 10mm step, it’s frighteningly easy to jam the head full speed into the material.
- After setting work origin, raise the z-axis at least 20-30mm, preferably above the level of the clamps. ALWAYS
(a) The work origin isn’t usually where the work starts and if your bit or laser head is just touching or barely hovering over the material when the Snapmaker moves to the starting point it will drag that bit/head over the material. If your lucky you’ll just scratch the material, if you’re not you’ll break the bit or scratch the laser lens
(b) Related, don’t assume that because your head is nominally above the material at the origin that it will be above the material all the way to the start point. My experience is that material thickness variation/warping is more common than you’d like and those variations can cause damage to the bit or the material.
- When you run the the boundary test have your hand on the power switch and be prepared to power off if it looks like you’re going to run into a clamp.
(a) when you’re running the boundary test don’t just consider what the tool head is likely to hit, look at the whole tooling module. If your clamp screws are too high you can run the body of the module into the clamps which is not good (for the material, the job, the print module).
- Print some alternate clamps(there are some good ones on Thingiverse)
(a) if you do any kind of deep routing with the CNC, the torque on the material can overwhelm the supplied clamps unless you’ve tightened them so hard they leave marks
(b) if your clamps are leaving marks in the material that’s a sign you’re using the wrong clamps for the material.
- Commercially purchased material is never as square or as flat as you expect/want it to be. Rip cut material even less so.
(a) if you’re trimming/beveling a piece, square to the side that your cutting along.
- Cutting wood with the CNC will produce way more dust than you would believe.
- Keep good notes, write stuff down and keep track of where you put it.
- Double-sided tape vs the Blue Tape trick. Mostly it’s a wash. Double-sided tape is tricky to peel off the second side and it’s a bit difficult to move if you don’t set the piece correctly right off. The Blue Tape trick if you use the super-glue accelerant you better set your piece right the first time because it’s going to lock in place, if you don’t use the accelerant you can adjust the piece to get it placed properly if you don’t get right at first, but you have to wait 5-10 minutes for the glue to cure. So a bit of a wash.
But either tape solution beats the Snapmaker clamps hands down.
- If you’re cutting all the way through material, then put some sort of scrap material between what you’re cutting and the tool bed. Messing up the Snapmaker scrapboard is going to be expensive in the long run.
- Put your tools away when you’re done using them. Especially the ones you use frequently (and the screws and nuts)
- Run your CNC g-code through a simulator like ncviewer.com because what you see as output in Fusion 360 or Cardide Create isn’t necessarily what the output code is going to do and it’s cheaper to catch the mistake that way than by ruining some material.
- If only one file appears on the Snapmaker Touchscreen files screen, your tool head is probably unplugged.
(I’ll keep adding to this as I make more idiotic mistakes)