Learning the hard way

When I was a CNC girl, I thought things like “Once you make one, you can do thousands, easily!”, “Acetal is the perfect plastic for precision parts and cuts like butter!”. OMG I was so naive. Making these parts were really a pain in the ass. That’s why.

IMG_2782


IMG_2774

Acetal has internal stresses. This mean that if you remove a significant mass from a block of acetal, the final shape will warp a bit. I knew that. But what I didn’t know was that sometimes this natural “stress relief” can take hours. So one day I was turning a lot of these parts, everyone having a perfect bearing fit. But then, on the next day, the bearing fit was really tight; the parts have had shrank a little bit. May be acetal I got wasn’t annealed? Or may be I should anneal these parts? (yes, plastic annealing is a topic).

BTW, in this specific case, a bearing housing should, ideally, not divert more than 5-7um from the nominal size: 10um less and the bearing will not fit; 10um more and the bearing fit will be too loose.

Now the other issue: long aluminum crosslide = noticeable thermal expansion. So the table temperature will change after stepper warm-up. And, it will change again after some machined parts. From what I remember a machined radius can easily divert 0.03um because of thermal expansion. And rehomming after temperature changes can be a bit misleading.

The good thing is that, once you understand these issues, making something to avoid or reduce them is not too hard. The bad is that now I have a full bag of black plastic decoracion parts (not the ones in the pictures, of course).

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