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on April 20, 2007 at 2:06:41 pm

Getting started with the micromill


This workflow is set up to get you started becoming familiar with the micromill. Be aware that this tool process is in an evolutionary state. After some experience with this tool, you should be able to create physical models of your designs.



Initially, you should use very abundant and forgiving materials like foam and wood. As you get familiar with the accurate and safe use of the tool, you can move to more scarce and durable materials such as wax for molding, plexiglass, plastics and printed circuit boards. Although metal is posible, it would require cooling the cutter and presents other issues regarding safety and mess.


Open the software:

Use Mach 2 There is an icon for it on the desktop

when you open the software, you will see a rather colorful and kind of complex screen



Jog the axis controls

Use the arrow keys to move the stepper motors.

The Up and Down arrows will make the tool bed move the Y axis (In/Out)

The Right and Left arrows will move the X axis (Right/Left)

The Page Up and Page Down keys will move the Z axis (Up/Down)



There is a collection of demonstration files in the Micromill files on the desktop. These came with the mill, and are to help you see what the tool is capable of doing. It is very useful to run these files to see how they come out. If you want to increase or decrease the size of the file, you can select the scale buttons to the right of the axis indicators. When you are changing the scale, there should be a blinking yellow light next to the axis.



The Wizard menu is between the View and Operator menus. When you select a wizard, you will see a screen that has a whole bunch of options. Select the size of the thing you want, the tool and post the code. When you come back to mach2, your code will be loaded in the window.

The wizards are good to use to get to know the software and the process of running a file. You may be able to get just what you need by using a wizard.


To make your own files, you can follow the process written by Mike M class of 05, grade 12. It was written when he was in the Computer Aided Design class - http://dhscad.pbwiki.com/MillWizardTutorial At that time, we were using Pro Desktop primarily. The process is dependent on creating a Stereo Lithography file which has a file extension of .stl

when you are making your own files, you should pay attention to the model dimensions. If your file is too wide, long or tall, the mill will run too far, which can cause problems with the equipment. To start with, you should not make any models larger than about 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 inches. Smaller models will be quicker to make.


Eagle PCB

You can also make files with Eagle PCB, a software package for making circuit boards. Eagle is kind of a challenging program to learn, but you can design some cool circuit boards. Here are a few links to tutorials on Eagle:






Hold Down your workpiece

For starters, we can use the 4 inch screw vise. This is a moderately useful way of holding the work. It is easy to put the material in, tighten the vise, do the work. The shortcomings of this technique come about with accuracy. The vise pinches the piece, causing a slight bulge in the center. It also does not support the bottom of the piece, so it is possible to have the cutting head push the workpiece down.


Ultimately, we will want to attach the workpiece directly to the table. We will do this with step clamps, securing the work with the t-slots in the tool bed. This will allow us to work on material pieces that are larger than the tool bed.

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