Roland MDX-40 CNC Mill
The Roland MDX-40 is a small desktop CNC mill, capable of cutting and engraving soft materials like plastics and foams. It has a 30x30cm build area, and a selection of bits for milling, drilling and engraving.
Examples of jobs the MDX-40 is capable of:
- Machining aesthetically accurate 3d prototypes from solid plastics
- Engraving signs with text and graphics from a 2d design package
- Engraving and drilling single-sided PCBs from copper-coated board (double-sided capability pending)
The Hackspace's MDX-40 has upgraded firmware from the newer [MDX-40A], and is mechanically very similar to it.
Examples of materials suitable for the MDX-40:
- Hard plastics such as acrylic and ABS
- Modelling foams for rapid machining of 3D shapes
- Bi-colour laminated plastics for engraving
It is very important that members do not use the mill without completing the training, which can be given by OxHack staff.
Cutting tools are sharp. Take care around them, especially when cleaning the inside of the machine.
The machine's emergency stop can be used in emergencies, but pressing the view button is usually a better way to stop the machine if something's wrong, or you want to take a look at its work so far. It causes the machine to pause cutting, raise the tool, and move the part to the front of the machine. Wait for it to come to a complete stop before opening the machine's lid.
The MDX-40 is connected to a PC running Windows 10, which has all the software and drivers necessary to control the mill. To use the mill with another machine, refer to the page: Setting up the MDX-40 with a new computer
- X axis: Left to right.
- Y axis: Front to back.
- Z axis: Up & down. (Up positive)
- 4th axis: Rotation (only relevant when rotation bed is installed)
Powering up & connecting
Turning the mill on with the power button causes the head to rise to its highest position, and the bed to move to its datum location in the XY plane. Most packages that control the mill require the mill to be connected and turned on, with the cover closed. If the mill is failing to connect, this is the most common reason.
The machine uses two coordinate systems, with their origins (X=0, Y=0, Z=0) at different locations:
- Machine coordinate system (MCS)
- The MCS has its XY origin at the front-left corner of the bed, and its Z origin at the top of the machine's Z axis travel.
- User coordinate system (UCS)
- The UCS uses the same axis directions as the MCS, but with a user-definable origin. The Z origin is usually set up to be the top surface of the workpiece, and in the XY plane, either the bottom-left corner, or centre of the workpiece, depending on the application. The UCS origin setting is persistent; it's not reset by turning the machine off.
The MDX-40 has very few buttons to control the head location, but extra functionality is provided by the VPanel software, which allows precise control all axes.
Tools can be changed by opening its cover and unscrewing the grub screw at the bottom of the spindle. The bit then lifts out through the top of the spindle, complete with its collet, and can be replaced by a different bit. Take care not to drop the bits, or place them on a surface where they can roll away, as they break easily.
Feeds and speeds
Selecting the right feed rate (linear speed of the tool through the material) and tool speed (rotational speed of the tool) are critical to getting a good finish. Research, and often trial and error is needed to select the optimal speed, but notes on the topic can be found under CNC Feeds and Speeds.