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Fellow woodworkers, I am seeking your input and feedback for a new machine concept I am developing as my term project for my masters degree.

As a brief background, in addition to my day normal job, I am in my last semester for my masters degree in systems engineering. For those unfamiliar with this discipline, it is one that develops a concept and specification document for a complex system to be built. The process by which this specification document is created is by generating requirements which are ultimately derived into a specification through the process. It is these requirements that are important, and they come from numerous discussions and input from users, like yourselves.

As woodworking has been a passion and hobby of mine for 2 years now, I thought it best to use my interest to fulfill my term project needs. However, to do so, I request the input of any that are willing to participate in the development of this school project. Should you be willing, I ask that you monitor and contribute to this thread as I plan to use this as the means to discuss.

I have generically named the project the "Woodworking Helper 1000", as the concept is to be a multi-function machine. While I know these machines are by no means something new, my concept is to incorporate a computer controlled aspect that has a user interface. It may sound complicated, but the aim is to develop this system for beginners to the craft, those wanting to improve their skill, or those seeking to automate aspects of their building process.

To begin the process, here are some initial thoughts to consider:

• As a multi-function machine, what functionality would you want? I.e. planer, jointer, saw, drilling. Etc. (Note, don't be concerned with the technical aspects/challenges of implementing as that is my job. Only consider the functionality it should have)
• For the computer controlled aspect, what features of those functions would you want to be controlled? I.e. ability to select a thickness to be planed
• What features should be incorporated into the user interface to cater to beginners and aid in teaching? What features would be beneficial for improving your skill with machinery? What automation features would be advantageous to have? I.e. 4-squaring a board

Lastly, I look forward to hearing what you all have to say and generating some unique ideas. I will be checking this daily and provide periodic updates as I compile feedback, to share in the process with you all and keep the discussion going.

Dan

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Let me preface this by saying this is an academic exercise and no machine will actually be built.

 

This may not be the answer you were expecting, but it depends. At this moment, the machine is nothing more than an initial concept I came up with on paper. The process has only begun in defining what the machine is to be ultimately (over the next few weeks). The process starts with gathering input and feedback from the user base. Based on this, what the machine should do becomes clear (functional aspect becomes defined). Only once the functional aspects are understood can components (hardware) be selected or designed to really create the machine. But, as I mentioned, we aren't at that point yet.

 

So, to answer your question with another question, how would you like it to be different from existing CNC offerings? Do the existing CNC machines not do something you wish it did? What dislikes do you have regarding CNC machines? Often, knowing what users dislike about something is equally important as I can make sure to avoid those in the concept and ultimately, the design itself.

 

If you could provide me model numbers of the machines you have in mind, they would be a great addition to my research.

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You might consider a CNC type machine with a 12-18 inch Z axis so it could function as a true 3D carver. And, while you're at it, devise a method whereby a 3D object could be read (with a laser) into the machine for duplication. 

Edited by Gene Howe

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How about having optic functionality to read grain direction, knots, etc. which may impact other functions or cutter/feed rates.  

How about having optic functionality to measure distance (length, width, thickness, parallelism, concentricity,  flattness, etc.   Danl

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Such a machine may exist already, but hey this is theory so why not.  How about a router table that has computer control lift and a read out.  Maybe speed control and such as well on the screen.  Below is a router table / cabinet drawer build I did last year.  It has all manual controls and such but gives you a visual  to work with.  Heck I am just shooting off the hip but ya never know.  I have moments of divine insight, but mostly long spells of stupidity.  :D

 

IMG_0804.JPG.ce9107dda5575386bc7fcbed8f9efe7d.JPG

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You mentioned computer controlled. Perhaps the functions could be interpreting a drawing/plan into a cutlist. The cutlist would then be used by robotic conveyors to select the most efficient use of materials as they are scanned and transferred to laser guided saws/manipulators/shapers

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• As a multi-function machine, what functionality would you want? I.e. planer, jointer, saw, drilling. Etc.

 

Here are the operations I do the most (and I am definitely not a wood turner) in the following steps:

 

  1. Smoothing the wood on both faces and both edges (jointer and planer, table saw, hand planes)  AKA S4S
  2. Convert long, skinny boards into shorter wider boards (i.e., edge gluing) to rough dimension where needed. (glue and clamp)  Paying attention to grain patterns and selecting pleasing arrangement.
  3. Cut above boards to final dimension.  (Table and/or miter saw)
  4. Cut joinery (generally for me, table saw, making mortise and tenon, rabbet, miter, dovetails, dadoes, etc.   Sometimes specialized tools like mortiser, biscuit cutter, doweling jig, drill press, etc.). Edge profiling with router, when needed.  Tapering or cutting and sanding curves, when needed.  Break sharp edges with sanding or palm router.
  5. Preliminary sanding
  6. Glue and assemble joints, attach trim and other pieces (base molding, plywood edging, dividers, keys)
  7. Final sanding
  8. Staining (when needed) and finishing (wipe, brush or spray)
  9. Adding hardware (hinges, pulls, drawer glides, shelf brackets, glass) with positioning and pilot holes as needed.

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The machines in a wood working shop are mainly a motor of 1 HP to 5 HP.  So your computer controller can reduce the power of the motor as needed.  What would be great would be a jointer for 8' for shorter boards.

a thickness planar for 15" wide or wider material.  A cabinet saw. A router/shaper utilizing the standard size bits.

An ocilisating spindle sander and a disk/belt sander.

 

If you look at a cabinet saw it normally has fence with  a very large table.  By utilizing different inserts and additions onto that table I am sure the motor mounted under that table cold power them all.  

 

When in saw mode remove the inserts or table additions for the sanders and routers and jointer/TP.

When in jointer / TP mode add the required apparatus to the existing saw table.

When routing just drop in a hole add the router then power by belt the spindle and using the existing fence.  Add horizontal grooves in the table for use with a router.  Think of this as more of a shaper but for 1/4 and 1/2" bits.  Then the same table and motor can be used for a spindle sander just replace the router shaft.  

Then the disk/belt sander could be a sub or super table attached to the saw table that would work as a sander.

 

The change over between tools should be limited to no tools and 5 minutes or less.

If you think of the normal material preparation the machines used in order are. 

1. Jointer

2. Thickness Planar (TP).

3. Saw

4. Router/Sander/Oscilating spindle sander.

 

One other addition to this all in one macine would be a lathe.

The lathe can be powerd but will need it own fence and tool rest.

 

The space constraint this has to be smaller than all the machines combined.

 

I hope this is at least interesting.

 

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Sorry all, not sure how to edit a post of mine as I wanted to keep the compilation towards the top. Either way, here is what I've compiled thus far:

 

FUNCTIONS

[3D Functions]

-Carving

-Duplicating

[2D Functions]

-Interpret 2D drawings

-Generate cut list

-Determine grain direction

[Measuring]

-Length, width, thickness, parallelism, concentricity, flatness, etc.

[Drilling]

-Pilot holes (hinges, drawer glides, etc.)

[Turning]

-Lathe operations

[Routing]

-Profiling (CNC with read out, speed control)

[Surfacing]

-Planing

-Jointing

-Sanding (range of grits; oscillating; spindle)

[Cutting]

-Rough cut

-Final dimension

-Angle cut (0 to 90 degrees)

[Combining]

-Gluing

-Veneer

[Finalizing]

-Staining

 

[Requirements mentioned:]

-Change over between tools should be 5 minutes or less, without use of tools

-Drilling functions to use 1/4”, 1/2” bits

-Motors (more than one is highly likely) should be between 1 and 5 HP

-Surfacing operations for up to 15” wide boards

 

[Traditional Joinery for consideration:]

-Mortise and tenon

-Dovetail

-Grooves (Dado, Rabbet)

 

Traditional joinery encompasses many aspects, like cutting, drilling, surfacing, etc. For these, I will categorize them by their primary function. I.e. mortise and tenontenon is a cutting operation, mortise is drilling.

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My experience with planing is that snipe is almost inevitable.  Maybe a method to detect the conditions that will result in snipe in time to adjust the infeed or outfeed table or the cutter head to prevent the snipe from occurring?  Or maybe a scanning procedure done on a test piece that would result in some sort of self-calibration of the process to eliminate the snipe on the work piece.  I realize this sounds like a solution in search of a problem, but just spit-balling now.

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Systems engineering 

So you aren't looking to actually build  the thing. 

you want to talk about managing  - -  what?  The manufacturing process of the thing?  Or managing the thing in it's theoretical service life?

Or a managing the  facility where many of the things are used?

 

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13 minutes ago, Cliff said:

Systems engineering 

So you aren't looking to actually build  the thing. 

you want to talk about managing  - -  what?  The manufacturing process of the thing?  Or managing the thing in it's theoretical service life?

Or a managing the  facility where many of the things are used?

 

At this point it's a very interesting theoretical excercize, it's how many inventions start. In theory, on paper. It's how creative minds join together and collaborate. And it's fun!:)

Thanks @Dan P!

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On 1/6/2020 at 2:23 PM, Dan P said:

Let me preface this by saying this is an academic exercise and no machine will actually be built.

 

This may not be the answer you were expecting, but it depends. At this moment, the machine is nothing more than an initial concept I came up with on paper. The process has only begun in defining what the machine is to be ultimately (over the next few weeks). The process starts with gathering input and feedback from the user base. Based on this, what the machine should do becomes clear (functional aspect becomes defined). Only once the functional aspects are understood can components (hardware) be selected or designed to really create the machine. But, as I mentioned, we aren't at that point yet.

ok, how about cad made easy? start with a board, then size, then have it go to an end and ask what type of connection, state types including nails, screws, glue, follow to sizing that board, etc. etc. etc. 

cad and other programs suck because it requires too much of a learning curve just to operate the program, much less actually build it.

after it's all drawn out cnc cuts the parts.

with numbers on parts and instructions (a-b-c-d)

this could be done from a library of plans and shop that will mail the parts to you, including carvings on doors, details, trims, etc.

back panels, shelf pin holes, the works.

but mostly the addition of carvings and gingerbread details.

just an idea, and make it so the puter anticipates your next move. such as one piece of wood into a whole project.

could be applied to steel, cement, brickwork, plastics, etc. etc. etc. 

my 2 cents worth.

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On 1/14/2020 at 11:21 AM, Cliff said:

Systems engineering 

So you aren't looking to actually build  the thing. 

you want to talk about managing  - -  what?  The manufacturing process of the thing?  Or managing the thing in it's theoretical service life?

Or a managing the  facility where many of the things are used?

 

For the purposes of my term project, no management occurs other than managing myself (interesting at times) to meet the deliverables I need to. In the real world however, as I explained the process which ultimately leads to a specification document, this document would be put on contract. The managing mostly comes into play once that contract is established to ensure that the terms are being met (on a technical level). You justify terms being met via testing, which is also an area that the engineer manages. It's a valid question you have but also one that is well towards the end of the overall effort. Before you get to the specification document and subsequent contract, TONS of work goes into defining the requirements. Might seem trivial for a small machine, but remember, the discipline came about to help create large scale products (think of military systems).

 

Also, thank you for the mention @John Morris. There is a lot of truth in what you said. Just a point of clarity though, while my project is a theoretical exercise, in reality this process is anything but!

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I wouldn't bother with 2D dwg recognition:  3D skiils are commonly found in the labor force these days, and any commercial business will have an "intake dept" where customer requirements are rendered in a specific machine language model (stuff way beyond Sketchup).  [For those of us enamored with sawdust, learning a CAD system is ugly; when it's your bread and butter, you learn CAD real well.  If you don't suicide first.]  Anyway, 3D modeling is the easy part:  lots of high school students available to do it.

 

Tool bit swap:  I've seen CNC where it's loaded with several bits and swaps them as part of the machining process.

 

Grain direction:  I think that should be pre-machining step:  base material/workpiece is loaded into the machine bed with a defined (but variable) grain direction.  Sort of like document creation where the author chooses Portrait vs Landscape.  However, grain orientation can be a 3D definition.  

 

An interesting factor:  concrete structures are designed with "camber":  anticipation of deflection under both load and time.  In wood, dimensions can creep with time and moisture changes.  Allow three deflection axes, and anticipated deflection movement.   

 

Perhaps another "fed" (as in "feed the info") factor is cup orientation and curvature:  CUP:  up / down / left / right;  CUP RADIUS:  xxx mm.  I can't think of exactly why you'd need it*, but it would impress your Master's review committee, who probably have no idea what you're talking about, but will be impressed that you included it.

 

*note that cup direction is a factor in panel layouts where you alternate cup up/down across a slab.  

 

 

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