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Monday, February 28, 2011

Attention Europeans: SIEG Scandinavia

I was looking for information and dealers for the SIEG CNC series and came across a very low price dealer in Europe called SIEG Scandinavia. They offer on their website the whole SIEG production machines and at a very low price compared to for example Finnish dealers.

On some machines there is free shipping in European Union, but generally the DHL cost is 120 EUR per machine, which is very reasonable.

I haven't yet bought anything from them, as I'm collecting money for the SIEG KX3-CNC machine with a Mach3 software.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Changing mains plug

The SIEG C4 lathe that I bought from Axminster Tool Centre works on 230 VAC 50 Hz mains voltage, the same we have here in Finland. The only problem was that the power plug in the end of the cord was some British type and not the kind of we use. So I went to the local hardware store and bought a plug that is made of rubber, rated for 16A and has an insulation class IP44. The cost of the plug was 1.79 EUR, so it is cheap.

I don't know of other countries laws on electrical work, but here everybody has the right to change a power cord to a device. Technically I'm not changing the cord but in reality I'm doing the very same end result with the same connections so it doesn't count.

First thing to do was to cut the original British plug and toss it. At the same time I stripped the insulation down about 40 mm and clipped the neutral and live wire about 5-10 mm shorter than the grounding wire. This is made so that if you yank the cord and the wires get ripped off, the ground connection is the last one to rip off and in some cases it can save your life. In this plug it doesn't matter that much, but I have a habit of doing this always so I don't forget it.

I stripped the insulation off of the ends of the leads for about 5 mm and twisted the stranded wire together. Using a screwdriver I opened the new plug and screwed off the strain relief.

First I opened the screw for the grounding wire (green-yellow) and put it under the screw and tightened. After that I bent the live (brown) and neutral (blue) to their attachment points and screwed them tightly. This plug type is non-polarised, so it doesn't matter which way you attach the live and neutral. Last I screwed the strain relief tightly so it clamps on the black insulation of the cord.

Pulled the cover on and screwed it snug and this modification is done.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What I do for living

Some have asked what I do for living or what is my profession. At the very moment I'm still in college, but I'm getting my degree in tool & die making in 3 months. Tool & die maker is basically like a machinist, but it is more to do with jigs, fixtures, molds, dies and tools. And generally speaking tool & die work is not a job where you make a hundred of this and a million of that, but rather one of this and two of that.

I already concluded all my obligatory training and exams, so I'm basically waiting for the graduation event and using this time to be at a moldshop to earn some living money. In this same place (Työkalutyöt Mattila Oy) where I work I did my thesis work, which was a very basic permanent casting mold for aluminum. The photo on the right shows the mold installed in the casting machine. This PDF (17 MB) descripes the work with lots of pictures, but unfortunately it is only in Finnish at the moment. I'm planning on writing it in English once I learn what the different mold parts are called in English as I don't know them all.

I have had extensive training in school about plastic injection molds, but at the company I work we mainly do die casting molds. They work essentially the same but have much more work and things to consider as the mold fills up with liquid aluminum rather than liquid plastic.

I'm more specialised in assembling the mold, which means finishing all the pieces, fitting them together, assembling everything and making the small pieces that are missing with (usually) a manual lathe and a surface grinder. I also do mold polishing and fitting the whole mold after assembling it.

And when the need arises, I use the CNC mills with MasterCAM or straight from the Heidenhain controller panel to make parts. I mainly use 3-axis mills, but I have had some limited training on 3+2 axis work on a 5-axis machine.

We don't have a wire EDM, but I do know how to operate one as I have used Fanuc 0iA and 1iC machines. Sinker EDM experience is a little bit less than my wire EDM experience, I have only used an AGIE-Charmilles and repaired an old AGIE (older than me!). The one pictured on the right is the machine we had in school.

We also do not have a CNC lathe, but I have used one small machine at school (picture on the right) extensively, as I was the only one who knew how to operate it. Nobody had a clue of how to run it, so I did as I always do: RTFM. In the course of learning to use the machine I wrote a manual for the lathe in Finnish with lots of pictures. The lathe controller was Fanuc 0-TD, meaning very old and very basic.