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The T - Track Wasteboard

1.) What was the intent?

The "Wasteboard" on a CNC Router is where the stock material lays on when it gets milled into a part. The Wasteboard is generally also what the stock material is clamped or adhered to, so when the router bit comes in at 10k+ revolutions per minute, the piece stays in place while it is cut and doesn't go flying. The standard Wasteboard that comes with our purchased kit had no methods of clamping down materials, which only allowed for pieces to be adhered to the board, which is dangerous as you don't want a part in contact with a fast spinning bit to be merely taped down. I was advised by Mr. Ball to come up with a clamping system to resolve this safety issue, as to maintain the safety of all users.

Full manufacture of the new Wasteboard

2.) How would the intent manifest?

I researched clamping methods that people use for CNC Routers. Online, I had stumbled upon a rail system that ran longwise on the wasteboard that clamps could slide into the rail to the desired position, then clamp down on the piece. I found a system of clamp and rail that used T - Track on Amazon, and I had the school purchase it. Then, online, I found the dimensions of the stock wasteboard, and I modeled the stock wasteboard in CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. In this stock wasteboard, I added channels that were the dimensions of the T - Track that I had found on Amazon, so when cut to the right length, they would fit perfectly into the grooves, with the top of the T - Track flush with the rest of the overall board. I essentially had virtually devised a clamping system integrated into a new wasteboard with CAD software that I planned to build to replace the old stock wasteboard. With the help of another engineering teacher at my school, Mr. VanHorne, I programmed the large CNC Machine reserved only for the schools woodshop class to perfectly cut from a large sheet of stock what I had designed on the computer, a brand new wasteboard with channels for the T - Tracks to be secured down in, for clamping wherever was necessary.

The first CAD drawing of the wasteboard

3.) What issues were resolved?

When you cut something out with a CNC Router, it turns out exactly as programmed, which if programmed correctly, leads to a near perfect end product. There were only two issues, both of which weren't caused by the CNC Router; the bit that I planned to use with the large CNC Router was too large for some of the holes on the wasteboard, so some of the holes had to be tediously hand-drilled with a smaller bit, and the only screws we had that were the right diameter were too long, and had to be dremeled down to the right size later. Otherwise, this was a very smooth project as under the supervision of Mr. VanHorne the automated cutting of the board ran right on the first try.

4.) What was gained? 

The Carbide Shapeoko 3 CNC router at Guilderland High School gained a safe and functional method to systematically clamp down projects to be machined. I gained in depth knowledge of how to use a software (V-Carve) to program CNC Routers with the advice of Mr. VanHorne, that I would use daily in my independent study going forwards. Additionally, for the first time in my life, I had utilized automated subtractive manufacturing (removing material) in the engineering process, an experience that would soon grow common for me.

The T-Track System with clamps holding down a piece during an engraving with a "V-Bit"
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