Drag Knife Calibration: Downforce and Speed

The drag knife faceplant suggested I must pay a bit more attention to fundamentals, so, with a 60° drag knife blade sticking out a reasonable amount, the next step is to see what effect the cutting “depth” (a.k.a. downforce) and speed have on the outcome.

A smidge of GCMC code later:

Drag Knife Cal - depth - overview - Camotics sim
Drag Knife Cal – depth – overview – Camotics sim

It’s not obvious, but each pattern steps downward by 0.5 mm from left to right. With the spring force equal to 375 g + 57 g/mm, the downforce ranges from 400 to 520 g over the five patterns.

Laminated scrap, meet drag knife:

Drag Knife Cal - Depth - as cut
Drag Knife Cal – Depth – as cut

Pulling up on the surrounding scrap left the patterns on the sticky mat:

Drag Knife Cal - Depth - extracted
Drag Knife Cal – Depth – extracted

Which suggested any cutting force would work just fine.

Flushed with success, I cut some speed variations at the minimum depth of Z=-0.5 mm = 400 g:

Drag Knife Cal - Speed - 0.5 mm - as cut
Drag Knife Cal – Speed – 0.5 mm – as cut

The blade cut through the top laminating film, the paper, and some sections of the bottom film, but mostly just scored the latter.

Repeating at Z=-1.5 mm = 460 g didn’t look much different:

Drag Knife Cal - Speed - 1.5 mm - as cut
Drag Knife Cal – Speed – 1.5 mm – as cut

However, the knife completely cut all the patterns:

Drag Knife Cal - Speed - 1.5 mm - extracted
Drag Knife Cal – Speed – 1.5 mm – extracted

As far as I can tell, the cutting speed doesn’t make much difference, although the test pattern is (deliberately) smooth & flowy like the Tek CC deck outlines. I’d been using 1000 mm/min and 2000 mm/min seems scary-fast, so 1500 mm/min may be a good compromise.

The GCMC source code as a GitHub Gist:

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