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MPCNC: Drag Knife Holder

My attempt to use a HP 7475A plotter as a vinyl cutter failed due to its 19 g pen load limit:

HP 7475A knife stabilizer - big nut weight

HP 7475A knife stabilizer – big nut weight

The MPCNC, however, can apply plenty of downforce, so I tinkered up a quick-and-dirty adapter to put the drag knife “pen” body into the MPCNC’s standard DW660 router holder:

MPCNC - DW660 adapter drag knife holder - fixed position

MPCNC – DW660 adapter drag knife holder – fixed position

That’s using the DW660 adapter upside-down to get the business end of the knife closer to the platform. The solid model descends from the linear-bearing Sakura pen holder by ruthless pruning.

It didn’t work well at all, because you really need a spring for some vertical compliance and control over the downforce pressure.

Back to the Comfy Chair:

Drag Knife Holder - DW660 Mount - solid model

Drag Knife Holder – DW660 Mount – solid model

A trio of the lightest springs from a 200 piece assortment (in the front left compartment) pushes the upper plate downward against the drag knife’s flange:

MPCNC - DW660 adapter drag knife holder - spring loaded

MPCNC – DW660 adapter drag knife holder – spring loaded

There’s a bit more going on than may be obvious at first glance.

The screws slide in brass tubing press-fit into the upper plate, because otherwise their threads hang up on the usual 3D printed layers inside the (drilled-out) holes. Smaller free-floating brass tubing snippets inside the springs keep them away from the screw threads; the gap between the top of the tubing and the screw head limits the vertical compliance to 3 mm. The screws thread into brass inserts epoxied into the bottom disk, with a dab of low-strength Loctite for stay-put adjustment.

I bored the orange PETG disk to a nice slip fit around the knife body:

DW660 drag knife holder - boring body

DW660 drag knife holder – boring body

The upper plate also required fitting:

DW660 drag knife holder - boring plate

DW660 drag knife holder – boring plate

A few iterations produced reasonably smooth motion over a few millimeters, but it’s definitely not a low-friction / low-stiction drag knife holder. It ought to be good for some proof-of-concept vinyl cutting, though.

The OpenSCAD source code as a GitHub Gist:

 

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  1. MPCNC: Drag Knife Holder Spring Constant vs. Stiction | The Smell of Molten Projects in the Morning
  2. MPCNC Vinyl Cutting: First Cuts | The Smell of Molten Projects in the Morning

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