What’s a Vacuum Table ?
Fabricating CNC Router Vacuum Table is our topic today. Just what is a vacuum table anyways? What purpose does it serve and how will it make my life easier ? A vacuum table is a device that sits atop of cnc machines and holds down materials thru suction. This gets the equipment to cut, mill or engrave materials without the moving or slipping of the material itself. Time’s not wasted securing material down, the vacuum table has done it for you.
Fabricating CNC Router Vacuum Table
Fabricating CNC Router Vacuum Table starts with its dimensions. For this example I’m going to do a small vacuum tabletop powered by a Shop Vac. It’s for a special niche project that I do here in my own shop. A client has me fabricate stencils for them.
These have proven difficult to secure down to my spoiler board. Taping, stapling and strapping have had different results. The stencil material is a rigid translucent plastic but pliable to wrap around an object. My client needs the stencils to wrap around post & trees for marking, this serves their purpose.
Size & Dimensions
Are you looking to cover your whole machine or have a smaller table top vacuum that’s removable ? Measurements are the first thing taken. The length of the X & Y axis spoiler board and the total distance under the gantry’s Z axis. Measure under the gantry where the spoiler board is new. Keep in mind any connectors or lines close to your machines edge. Nothing can inhibit the movement and function of the gantry.
Our Shop’s vacuum box is removable from the machine. The design’s based on niche project. It doesn’t need large expensive pumps to power it. The design will allow for our little table to work with the use of a Shop Vacuum. The hose connection’s fabricated on the end vacuum box. This prevents obstruction with the gantry. If top mounting for your air pump or vac pay attention to how it will work with the gantry.
The materials for a vacuum table range from metal, wood, plastic and composites. This project requires no coolant so MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is utilized. MDF is inexpensive and works great for this project. This small vacuum table is built from scrap or nested on a single sheet. I’ll provide you with a link to this project here.
Purchase or Build
Do I purchase or do I build ? The best time in my opinion is to have a vacuum table installed at time of purchase. This is done in the factory or place of manufacture. Vacuum systems are sized to equipment and budgets. Mechanical errors are covered with warranties. Many aftermarket products exist out there so do your research to protect yourself.
Fabricating your own cnc vacuum table is another idea. Our shop’s needs were small just like the project. A vacuum table was the next thing to try. All prior hold down attempts proved troublesome. Nothing worked for making the stencils come out correctly. This small vacuum table was my answer. This project’s stored away when not needed.
Weather you build or buy, a vacuum table has a place in every cnc shop. Perhaps you don’t need your entire table covered. There are however those few jobs from time to time where the best hold down for material is required. Thinking of purchasing a machine ? Talk to a sales representative about the products you want to fabricate. See if a Vacuum table is right for your situation. Want to save money and build your own? We are fabricators after all, it’s just another day in the shop for us.
Thank You for taking the time to read
~An Engraver In The Woods