Taking the roland adapter one step further - the new CNC Plotter adapter V2.0

Yoda the cat posing with the paper house cut with the new adapter

The first Roland cutter adapter worked great - but it was only that...for the knives. I thought I could take it one step further and create an add-on where it was possible to switch tools just like you do with your spindle. So back to the design table! I decided to use my new 3d printer for the purpose - some weeks ago I bought a supercheap printer from Flashforge, the Finder. I must say I am amazed of the quality of the printer and the prints it delivers. 

The design and the files ready for download is available here 

You can also download them directly from thingiverse here

Here you can see the add-on and some of the "tools" I have made adapters for, simply some whiteboard pens, some 0.3mm pens and for the Roland cutter itself. By doing simple adjustments to the original adapter you can make it fit your own "tools". I only had some 0.3mm soft tip pens lying around,  good for testing purposes but the soft tip is not good for this type of use.  I have therfore ordered a set of ball pens from Ali -  1.83USD for 36 colors,  free shipping :). So with some quick design work there will be an adapter for these guys as well!  

Onshape -  Sheet metal design 
To play around I decided to make a simple house of cardboard - to design it I tested the new Onshape feature "sheet metal design". It was a great starting point for my little cardboard house, I recommend you to check it out....really cool stuff 😉

Finishing design in CAM
I use Estlcam for CAM,  so I brought the model in and added some svg of windows and doors that I found on the web.  I Estlcam I created several tools corresponding to the ones I have made.  I measured the pen to 0.3mm and the marker to 2.4mm. Speed I set at 600mm/minute.  For the cutter I used as small width as possible - 0.1mm. I use Estlcam also as controller and it supports drag knives - but i have not configured this for the Roland cutter (no need since the knives are so small).

Drawing and cutting
Here you can see me changing the tool from a pen to the cutter - it is super fast to do the swap. I have also designed a small space for a clamp to ensure that the tool does not pop out during use.

Below is a video where I have inserted the Roland knife and started to cut the windows. If you follow closely you will see that when the tool meets the paper it goes just that extra mm down -  this ensures that the tool is always pressed firmly to the workpiece and will cater for any differences in Z on the piece.  You can also see that the drawing of the windows is a bit "blurry"  - this is due to the soft tip of the pens I had.  This will be 100% with ball pens - I am sure of it :)

Making the tool
If you are interested in making the tool you need to buy a rod and some bearings & springs - check out my post a couple of days ago.  Important: when fitting the bearings into the tool holder,  first place the rod inside the bearing.  It is a tight fit so you need to hammer it into place - if doing this without the rod inside all those small metal balls inside the bearing will fly all over.

Here's how to install it:

  1. Press the rods through the top of tool main body.  It is a tight fit so you may need to work a bit to get it through 
  2. Insert the spring tensioner with the pressure slot facing upwards.  I have not designed any pressure slots yet but it is there for future changes 
  3. Insert the springs
  4. Insert the tool holder 
  5. Gently push the rods down and into the holes on the bottom of the tool main body.  When in place knock them down with a hammer. 
  6. Install on your favorite cnc machine and have fun!  

And here are some more photos and vids of the project and the CNC Plotter in action. 


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