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VIDEO TUTORIAL

USED IN THIS PROJECT

Although not necessarily an exhaustive list, the following tools and materials, supplied by Easy Composites, were used in this project.

The quantity shown below is the approximate amount used in the project rounded up to the nearest available kit size or quantity.

MATERIALS & CONSUMABLES
Double-Sided High Strength Carbon Fibre Sheet T=1mm, 285 x 285mm Thumbnail
CFS-PP-1-0081Double-Sided High Strength Carbon Fibre Sheet T=1mm, 285 x 285mm£38.20 /sheet

Total £0.00
TOOLS & EQUIPMENT
Perma-Grit Set of 5 Needle Files Including Handle Thumbnail
NF-1HPerma-Grit Set of 5 Needle Files Including Handle£24.79 /each

Total £0.00

VIDEO TUTORIAL

How to Precision Cut Carbon Fibre Sheet Using a Desktop CNC Router

If you want to produce complex, precision carbon fibre components, such as quad-copter frame parts or other engineering or R/C components then a desktop router is the perfect way to cut these components directly from a CAD model.

In this in-depth video tutorial, we take a CAD model, created in Autodesk Fusion 360 and use the CAM settings in this software to create the toolpath for the CNC router. Once configured, we generate the G-code for this toolpath and then use UCCNC to interpret this G-code and control the router.

The router we use in the tutorial is a Stepcraft 2/ 840 benchtop CNC router from Stepcraft Systems which has a 600mm x 840mm travel, making it ideal for larger cutting operations.

In the tutorial, we precisely cut a complex carbon fibre component for a quad-copter frame. We use carbon fibre sheet manufactured by Easy Composites Ltd and available from us, perfect for your own projects.


DISCUSSION (13)

Please share any questions or comments you may have about this video tutorial.


icy burger
Where can I buy the carbon fibre sheet?
Easy CompositesMatt
We manufacture our own range of carbon fibre sheet in house in a range of different sizes and thickness, just search for 'carbon fibre sheet' in our web shop.

Paul Cumber
Can you cut carbon fibre with a laser cutter?
Easy CompositesMatt
No, laser cutting is not really suitable for cutting carbon fibre sheet because carbon fibre sheet is actually made up of two different materials; the carbon fibre and the resin matrix. Because each of this materials has its own optimum temperature and speed setting for cutting, it's difficult to get a setting which works for both; the result is usually burning of the carbon fibre sheet. Generally, waterjet and CNC routing are the recommended methods.

Md Kafilur Rahman
Can I import a Solid Works file to programming?
Easy CompositesMatt
Yes, you could import a Solidworks file. You'd probably choose to export an IGIS file though and then open the igis file in Fusion and then use the fusion CAM features. Of course, this assumes you don't want to use/don't have Solidworks CAM functionality.

eamon gavin
What spindle did you choose for your stepcraft router?
Easy CompositesMatt
We chose Stepcraft's own "HF Spindle 500"

Koito Rob
Do you actually need any code if you can control the cutting head using hand gestures? :)
Easy CompositesMatt
If you have direct control you can in effect cut what you want "freehand", however you would normally still need to generate code if you wish to program the machine to cut a set design out.

Bates Design and Build
Hi do you recommend the Stepcraft 840? Any information would help me make an informed decision to buy or not. Thanks
Easy CompositesMatt
The only Stepcraft we've tested is the one we use in this video. We still regularly use the machine, particularly for cutting carbon fibre sheet where we're using it to cut accurate 'tokens' for our tensile test machine and so far it's been reliable and a pleasure to use. In terms of how it compares to other machines, it's difficult to say because we've only used this machine and a small ball-screw desktop CNC which we use for heavier machining operations like 3D machining tooling board. The reason we use the other CNC for the tooling board is because the D-Series Stepcrafts don't use ball screws and when the load is higher, ball screws are preferable (such as those featured on the Stepcraft Q-Series machines).

A. Whitt
Have you guys looked in to submerged cutting? Build a water table and put the part in it. No carbon dust to deal with.
Easy CompositesMatt
Hi Adam, yes, absolutely. There would be no problem at all doing this same process under water and we have done this; it works well. However with the extractor fitted to the router there really is pretty much no dust that escapes. This tutorial was more about the CAD/CAM details and the basics of setting up your cutter.

Jakob Lindgren
Would a CNC router still be useful on sandwich structures? Or would the cores allow for too much movement if the top laminate?
Easy CompositesMatt
Hi Jakob; generally, CNC routing would be fine for sandwich panels. The actual sideways pressure of the cutting bit on the top skin of a sandwich structure needed to cause any detectable 'shear' would need to be huge. Setting the router up correctly (in terms of bit speed and traverse speed) should be all that's necessary to avoid any such problems.

Notarobot
I would recommend misting the surface with water before cutting. This can help trap the dust. Carbon fiber dust is very hazardous.
Easy CompositesMatt
Yes, that's a good idea. You can actually run the whole cut process under water, it's messy but very effective at eliminating airborne dust altogether.

Osvaldo Ah
I don't have the money at the time for a machine like this but wanted to ask if its possible to make complicated cuts like shown in the vid with a Dremel, files and other hand tools?
Easy CompositesMatt
Yes, certainly. Given skill and patience any amount of detail and precision can be achieved with hand and power tools. Take a look at our guide to cutting and shaping carbon fibre for more information.

Angry Rasin
How thick a sheet and how complex a shape could you make with carbon fibre using this method? Would 25mm in a dome with curved recesses be possible or would a sheet bigger than 3mm be impractical?
Easy CompositesMatt
The limit on the thickness of sheet is the limit of the machines axis in that direction which in this case is 40mm as a realistic limit for overall thickness.

LittlestWorkshop
I can highly recommend trying the PCD coated PCB router bits from Sorotec. For extraction I have a DIY system based on the Datron CleanCut system which leaves only a 10mm wide area of light dust around the cut.
Easy CompositesMatt
Good hints and tips and thanks for sharing.

CoyoteBoyUK
Definitely worth providing info about the risks of cutting/filing/sanding carbon, given the varying and confusing H&S info about it - some authorities class it as a carcinogen as per asbestos (due to similar particle size and risks) and others class it as an irritant.
Easy CompositesMatt
Thanks, we answered this in quite a lot of detail in our 'How to Cut Carbon Fibre - Technique and Safety' video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWzN6GZeEzs - Of course, we can't control how different companies or organisations might classify the risks of cutting carbon but we presented the broad consensus as best we could. We do so many videos, generally all featuring carbon fibre, that I don't think it would be practical to repeat it every time. However, I will add a link to that video from within this one - good idea.

LEAVE A COMMENT OR QUESTION

Note: Your name will be abbreviated and your email address will only be used to email you the answer directly

USED IN THIS PROJECT

Although not necessarily an exhaustive list, the following tools and materials, supplied by Easy Composites, were used in this project.

The quantity shown below is the approximate amount used in the project rounded up to the nearest available kit size or quantity.

MATERIALS & CONSUMABLES
Double-Sided High Strength Carbon Fibre Sheet T=1mm, 285 x 285mm Thumbnail
CFS-PP-1-0081Double-Sided High Strength Carbon Fibre Sheet T=1mm, 285 x 285mm£38.20 /sheet

Total £0.00
TOOLS & EQUIPMENT
Perma-Grit Set of 5 Needle Files Including Handle Thumbnail
NF-1HPerma-Grit Set of 5 Needle Files Including Handle£24.79 /each

Total £0.00

DISCUSSION (13)

Please share any questions or comments you may have about this video tutorial.


icy burger
Where can I buy the carbon fibre sheet?
Easy CompositesMatt
We manufacture our own range of carbon fibre sheet in house in a range of different sizes and thickness, just search for 'carbon fibre sheet' in our web shop.

Paul Cumber
Can you cut carbon fibre with a laser cutter?
Easy CompositesMatt
No, laser cutting is not really suitable for cutting carbon fibre sheet because carbon fibre sheet is actually made up of two different materials; the carbon fibre and the resin matrix. Because each of this materials has its own optimum temperature and speed setting for cutting, it's difficult to get a setting which works for both; the result is usually burning of the carbon fibre sheet. Generally, waterjet and CNC routing are the recommended methods.

Md Kafilur Rahman
Can I import a Solid Works file to programming?
Easy CompositesMatt
Yes, you could import a Solidworks file. You'd probably choose to export an IGIS file though and then open the igis file in Fusion and then use the fusion CAM features. Of course, this assumes you don't want to use/don't have Solidworks CAM functionality.

eamon gavin
What spindle did you choose for your stepcraft router?
Easy CompositesMatt
We chose Stepcraft's own "HF Spindle 500"

Koito Rob
Do you actually need any code if you can control the cutting head using hand gestures? :)
Easy CompositesMatt
If you have direct control you can in effect cut what you want "freehand", however you would normally still need to generate code if you wish to program the machine to cut a set design out.

Bates Design and Build
Hi do you recommend the Stepcraft 840? Any information would help me make an informed decision to buy or not. Thanks
Easy CompositesMatt
The only Stepcraft we've tested is the one we use in this video. We still regularly use the machine, particularly for cutting carbon fibre sheet where we're using it to cut accurate 'tokens' for our tensile test machine and so far it's been reliable and a pleasure to use. In terms of how it compares to other machines, it's difficult to say because we've only used this machine and a small ball-screw desktop CNC which we use for heavier machining operations like 3D machining tooling board. The reason we use the other CNC for the tooling board is because the D-Series Stepcrafts don't use ball screws and when the load is higher, ball screws are preferable (such as those featured on the Stepcraft Q-Series machines).

A. Whitt
Have you guys looked in to submerged cutting? Build a water table and put the part in it. No carbon dust to deal with.
Easy CompositesMatt
Hi Adam, yes, absolutely. There would be no problem at all doing this same process under water and we have done this; it works well. However with the extractor fitted to the router there really is pretty much no dust that escapes. This tutorial was more about the CAD/CAM details and the basics of setting up your cutter.

Jakob Lindgren
Would a CNC router still be useful on sandwich structures? Or would the cores allow for too much movement if the top laminate?
Easy CompositesMatt
Hi Jakob; generally, CNC routing would be fine for sandwich panels. The actual sideways pressure of the cutting bit on the top skin of a sandwich structure needed to cause any detectable 'shear' would need to be huge. Setting the router up correctly (in terms of bit speed and traverse speed) should be all that's necessary to avoid any such problems.

Notarobot
I would recommend misting the surface with water before cutting. This can help trap the dust. Carbon fiber dust is very hazardous.
Easy CompositesMatt
Yes, that's a good idea. You can actually run the whole cut process under water, it's messy but very effective at eliminating airborne dust altogether.

Osvaldo Ah
I don't have the money at the time for a machine like this but wanted to ask if its possible to make complicated cuts like shown in the vid with a Dremel, files and other hand tools?
Easy CompositesMatt
Yes, certainly. Given skill and patience any amount of detail and precision can be achieved with hand and power tools. Take a look at our guide to cutting and shaping carbon fibre for more information.

Angry Rasin
How thick a sheet and how complex a shape could you make with carbon fibre using this method? Would 25mm in a dome with curved recesses be possible or would a sheet bigger than 3mm be impractical?
Easy CompositesMatt
The limit on the thickness of sheet is the limit of the machines axis in that direction which in this case is 40mm as a realistic limit for overall thickness.

LittlestWorkshop
I can highly recommend trying the PCD coated PCB router bits from Sorotec. For extraction I have a DIY system based on the Datron CleanCut system which leaves only a 10mm wide area of light dust around the cut.
Easy CompositesMatt
Good hints and tips and thanks for sharing.

CoyoteBoyUK
Definitely worth providing info about the risks of cutting/filing/sanding carbon, given the varying and confusing H&S info about it - some authorities class it as a carcinogen as per asbestos (due to similar particle size and risks) and others class it as an irritant.
Easy CompositesMatt
Thanks, we answered this in quite a lot of detail in our 'How to Cut Carbon Fibre - Technique and Safety' video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWzN6GZeEzs - Of course, we can't control how different companies or organisations might classify the risks of cutting carbon but we presented the broad consensus as best we could. We do so many videos, generally all featuring carbon fibre, that I don't think it would be practical to repeat it every time. However, I will add a link to that video from within this one - good idea.

LEAVE A COMMENT OR QUESTION

Note: Your name will be abbreviated and your email address will only be used to email you the answer directly

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