Pocket NC V2

Announcing the Pocket NC V2-50 for Pre-Orders

We at Pocket NC are pleased to announce the release of the V2-50, a 5-axis desktop CNC milling machine with a 50,000 RPM spindle and a 2 micron TIR quick change spindle.  The V2-50 sports a precision ground Japanese spindle, hybrid ceramic bearings and Swiss electronics to achieve material removal rates unmatched by standard milling equipment. We have also partnered with DATRON, a German manufacturer of world class vertical and horizontal machining centers in an effort to provide tooling that compliments the incredible speed provided by the NSK spindle.

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At Pocket NC we are all about the world of small: small parts, small tooling and with the V2-50, runtimes can be small as well. Those of you in manufacturing already know material removal rate is critical. To make parts quickly, chip load is key. The faster stock material is removed, the more cost-effective a part becomes. The benefits of increasing the material removal rates do not change for small parts, but the amount of pressure we can apply to small tooling compared to large tooling does change. Spikes in tool pressure, even minor ones, often result in broken tooling and because of this small tools are run at lower feed rates and with less chip load which results in expensive, time-consuming parts.

High spindle RPM changes the game. Standard machining centers are usually equipped with spindles operating in the 6K-15K RPM range. While these machines may be much larger and more rigid than the V2, the tooling used to make a small part is no different.  A given endmill is only capable of removing so much material per cut. By increasing the spindle speed 5x over the V2-10 and most other milling machines, users can achieve runtimes up to 75% shorter and see a significant improvement in small tooling life.

To see all of the above action on the V2-50 check out what Ed Kramer has been up to on the V2-50 machine in his shop over the last couple of months. Anyone who knows Ed knows that he likes to cut hard materials and push his machines to their limits, exactly who we were looking for to find out what this machine could handle.

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Some of you may recognize this as the spindle we used on our original machines. This is true, however the original Pocket NC just wasn’t ready for the NRR-2651. The motor and electronics on the V1 only allowed the spindle to reach speeds of 10,000 RPM, the V2-50 spindle is accompanied by a motor and electronics that support the 50,000 RPM.  Another hurdle for V1 users with the NRR-2651 was that even though the lever offered a quick tool change, tool length measurement was anything but quick. With the addition of the tool probe on the V2, V2-50 users will be able to use the quick change lever to easily swap tools and the tool probe will help to keep the workflow moving.

The V2-50 is released for pre-orders which will start shipping in May and June 2019. We are only taking a limited number of pre-orders and will fully release this product in Summer 2019. We will have pre-orders available until we run out! For more information on the V2-50, please see specifications here. Information on upgrades and other FAQ can be found here.

We’ve run this spindle through the paces with tougher materials than ever before (G5 titanium!) and we can truly say, we are impressed and think you will be too!

Pocket NC V2 Summer 2018 Update

V2 Improvements

We’ve had a busy summer over here at Pocket NC and here is some of what we’ve been working on:

Bearing Change:

The Pocket NC V2 mill uses an in-house designed and produced bearing system on the rotary axes. The performance of the bearing system has met expectations, but the assembly has been more cumbersome than anticipated. Ultimately we made the decision that we would be unable to adequately scale the production of our machines without a change to the rotary axes bearing system. So we chose to switch to using a THK Cross-Roller Ring bearing. This bearing offers the ability to carry a load in all directions: axial, radial and moment loads are supported. The V2 now achieves a higher level of rigidity in the rotary axes of the machine without increasing the exterior dimensions of the Pocket NC.

The practical results of this change in the bearing are increased rigidity in the rotary axes, decreased runout of the A and B axes, increased strength of the rotary axes, as well as an improved production process that allows us to produce a more consistent product in a scalable fashion. The rigidity of the of the rotary axes was improved by a factor of 2 and the run out of the rotary axes was decreased by a factor of 4, the strength/force of the rotary axes movement is about double what is was before due to less friction in the bearing. All this adds up to a more rigid machine which results in improved machining performance in material removal rate and surface finish.

Rotary Axis Bearings

Rotary Axis Bearings

Calibration:

As a growing company we are constantly finding ways to improve our processes and products. One area in where we have been innovating recently is our calibration process.

Our machines have always undergone an extensive calibration and testing procedure before leaving our shop to ensure that they meet our stringent specifications. This process involves taking several hundred measurements and observations. In late Spring, we discovered that our calibration of the rotary axes on the machine was a weak link in our system. Our system relied on checking only two points, the home position and one other point in the rotation. This ensured that the machine was in the desired location at the home position as well as the second point, but it told us nothing about whether the machine was accurately indexing between the two points.

We developed some new fixtures that allowed us to check 8 points rather than 2. This revealed that there could be errors of up to 0.5° at points in between the two points that we previously checked. We immediately sought to discover the source of the error. We ultimately determined that it was due to some inconsistencies in the manufacturing of the gears that we build in-house. We made some changes to our manufacturing process and were able to correct about 50% of the error, down to a max error of about 0.25° but this wasn’t good enough.

Our software developer discovered that we could use a tool built into Linux CNC to compensate for inconsistencies in lead screws allowing us to correct for inconsistencies in our machine’s rotary axes.

We continued with our manual measurements at 8 points and added rotary axis compensation at 4 points in the travel of both A and B. This resulted in another decreased rotary position error of about 50% down to about 0.12°, but we still weren’t satisfied.

We needed a way to measure the angular position at more than 8 points in the rotation. We could have made another fixture and kept on using the dial indicator, but we recognized that it wasn’t going to be a realistic solution for the long term due to the time required to take hundreds of manual measurements. We needed a way to probe the machine.

This video shows one of the updates to our calibration process on the Pocket NC V2 using a Renishaw probe. This video captures the calibration of a couple points on the B rotary axis. Note, this is not yet an option we sell on the Pocket NC V2.

Enter the Renishaw probe. Our software and hardware team have been working closely together on developing a solution that delivers consistent, accurate results. There has been a lot of learning along the way, but we are excited to say that we now have the capability to probe the machine at any arbitrary number of points and create a custom compensation calibration table for each machine. We are now able to compensate the rotation of the A and B axes with enough precision to reach rotational accuracy of 0.05° at every angle.

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B Axis Compensation Table.png

And for you, the users, this innovation means that you are getting a better product. We are proud to say that the machines we are making right now are the best we have ever made. They are more rigid and more accurate than anything we have made before.*

Simulator

We recently started developing a simulator for Pocket NC machines. We have a number of goals for the simulator, but our main intent is to make it easier to use our machines. The Pocket NC is one of the most affordable and accessible 5-axis CNC machines out there, but there are a number of stumbling blocks for people who are just getting started with 5-axis machining. The simulator will be able to catch common mistakes such as the tool isn’t long enough at the current part orientation or the tool path origin isn’t correctly positioned at the machine origin. Getting to the bottom of those pesky limit errors will also be much easier.

Simulator showing tool path exported with an incorrect origin

Simulator showing tool path exported with an incorrect origin

One of the biggest benefits of the simulator, though, is peace of mind that the machine will cut how you intend it to. You’ll be able to see your GCode program run virtually, with each joint of the machine behaving like the real version. You’ll be able to learn how to use the machine without wasting material or breaking tools, a huge cost savings in the long run. We’re planning an official release this Fall, which will be available to use with all past, present, and future V2 machines. Look for an official announcement this Fall for more details.

Z range limit reached

Z range limit reached

Price

Which leads us to price, after careful consideration we’ve decided to implement a price increase starting September 1, 2018. In addition to the above, these machines will also include a 1-year warranty instead of a 3-month warranty. The terms and conditions will be the same as that of our current warranty, it will simply be extended from 3-months to 1-year.

As noted in this update there is certainly value that has been added into the machine; however, we have also experienced some vendor price increase. While we do source as many parts as we can from the US, we do get a few components and materials from overseas and have seen a price increase of these items due to tariffs up to 25%, which has increased our cost of goods.

The new price of the V2 will be $5500. We will keep the lead time active on the website online store for the Pocket NC V2, so you can also check there.

Should you have any questions regarding this change in price, please contact us at info@pocketnc.com, and we’d be more than happy to talk with you. Thank you for understanding that this price increase means we can continue to maintain the superior standard of our products and customer service that you’ve come to expect from us well into the future.


*Machines shipped after June 1 had the rotary axis compensation calibration process. If you purchased your V2 machine prior to this and have any difficulties with axis alignment, please see a tutorial here. Note, it is the worst-case scenario that is 0.5 degrees, and most were far less. Please email us at info@pocketnc.com if you have any further questions.

Announcing the V1 to V2 Upgrade Program

Without a doubt the V2 has been a huge success for both Pocket NC and its users.  The increased accuracy of the trunnion has allowed for the production of more complex and better quality parts.  With an average runout of 0.0005 inches and 6X resolution over the V1, it is much more capable of producing quality parts.

 Because of demand for the Pocket NC 5 axis mill, lead times have been abnormally high, to help with this, We  have purchased a 10 Ton 5 axis milling machine(a Haas UMC 750) which will produce V2s at 4 times the current rate of production.

Since the launch we have wanted to provide an upgrade option to all our V1 owners, getting them the latest and greatest of Pocket NC machinery!  Today we are excited to announce the V1 trade in program which will allow users to upgrade a V1 to a V2.   

How the upgrade works:

Pocket NC will provide return packaging and shipping labels for V1 machines. Once machines arrive back at Pocket NC, they will be placed in a que for teardown and reassembly.  Expensive components such as the spindle, linear guides and XYZ linear motors will be reused in the production of your V2.  These components represent a significant portion of the machine cost and allow us to give the best possible upgrade price.  The same components that were recovered from your V1 will be used on your V2.

 

The following video is a demonstration of the faster more accurate and more capable trunnion in action.  Go here to download the Fusion 360 file to check out the toolpaths!

Here are some answers to questions that are sure to come up:

Can I upgrade just my trunnion?

While the trunnion represents the majority of the changes between the V1 and V2 significant improvements have been made to the electronics , manufacturing and user interface.  Rather than retrofit every machine, we can replace all machined components and provide the best possible machine.  

Can I upgrade just my User Interface?

We do not currently have an option to upgrade just the user interface, but we are working to have it available in the near future.

I have an old spindle, will my upgrade be different?

As a thank you to our early adopters, V1s with the first generation of spindle will receive the new spindle, a tool holder and an ER11 collet with their upgrade at no extra cost.