Machining parts

Robots are a combination of electronics, software and mechanics. On the first two parts I spend 20 years on mastering these arts, the last part is new to me. I have a lot of interest in mechanics and over the last years I gained of lot of basic knowledge by working with several experts in this field. Luckily mechanics is very visible, you can see what you are making and you can see how it works (or not). With electronics you only see the physical form but not the function, with software you don’t even see the physical form….

During the search on how to produce mechanical parts there was one thing clear. The start should be a 3D modeling CAD program like Alibre or Pro-Engineer and the part should be machined by a CNC machine using aluminum or plastics.

The CAD program was easy found since one of my customers uses Pro-Engineer and allows me to work on their CAD systems as much as I want. I would not advice this software for private use due to costs, in that case I would advice to buy the Alibre software, the standard version will do just fine for basic modeling.

The CNC machine was also easy found due to the help VDH Machines and Tools which is a local company in the Netherlands who still take the time to advice a novice engineer like me. I ended up buying an Optimum Opti BF20 L vario milling machine and the stepper engine kit that converts it into a motorized milling table. The lathe is an Optimum D180x300 Vario, for now I did not put stepper engines on it since the amount of work on it is very limited.

The rest in the middle was a very long search, it took me about 8 months from File | New in Pro-E and having the first part in my hands. The process to follow is listed below, for a full step-by-step manual start with machining the part.