Cutter Installation, Removal and Zeroing

Installing Cutters

 

Top Load Spindle

To install a cutter in a standard Top Load Spindle simply insert the cutter into the top of the spindle and screw it in. Please note that the threads of both the cutter knobs and the spindle are opposite to that of a standard nut and bolt. Rotate the cutter in a counterclockwise direction to install, and clockwise to remove. Do NOT use plyers to tighten the cutter, it is not necessary.

 

 

Collet Spindle (Optional)

Collet Spindles are typically used in applications where heavy duty engraving is performed into materials such as brass, aluminum, stainless steel, etc.. A Collet Spindle has two additional parts over a standard Top Load spindle; a Draw Bar and a Collet. The bottom of the Draw Bar is threaded as well as the top of the Collet (Standard clockwise to tighten threads). The bottom of the Collet is tapered as is the bottom of the spindle where the Collet fits. Tightening the Draw Bar on the Collet pulls or 'draws' the Collet further up into the spindle, causing the Collet to compress and 'clamp' onto the bottom of the installed cutter.

 

 

To install a cutter into a Collet Spindle

  1. Slightly loosen the Draw Bar (turn it counterclockwise to 'open' the Collet, generally a quarter to a half of a turn is sufficient.). Note: You will have to hold onto the top pulley of the spindle to prevent it from turning while loosening the Draw Bar.

  2. Insert a cutter into the top of the Draw Bar.

  3. Holding the Draw Bar with one hand, tighten the cutter into the Draw Bar with the other hand (remember, counterclockwise to tighten, clockwise to loosen). The base of the brass cutter knob should be flush with the top of the Draw Bar when properly installed.

  4. Tighten the Draw Bar. Holding the top pulley on the spindle, rotate the Draw Bar clockwise until tight. This last step actually 'clamps' the collet onto the bottom of the cutter, providing a rigid cutter installation both at the top and bottom of the cutter.

To remove a cutter from a Collet Spindle:

  1. Loosen the Draw Bar. Holding the top pulley on the spindle, rotate the Draw Bar counterclockwise to open or 'unclamp' the Collet. Generally a quarter to a half of a turn is sufficient.

  2. Holding the Draw Bar with one hand, loosen and remove the cutter from the Draw Bar with the other hand (remember,  clockwise to loosen, counterclockwise to tighten).

 

"Zeroing" Cutters

 

A cutter is considered 'zeroed' when the tip of the cutter is flush with the bottom of the nose cone when the micrometer is in the 'zero' position. Zeroed cutters provide a reference for which a desired depth may be 'dialed in' at the micrometer. It is common practice to zero all of your cutters at one time.  Click here to see an example.

Important Note:  If you are going to be using a Vacuum Chip Removal System, please install the vacuum foot nose cone in place of the standard steel nose cone prior to performing the following procedure. Keep in mind that a vacuum foot is also referred to as a 'nose cone'.

 

Tools Needed:

To Zero a Cutter:

  1. Rotate the micrometer to the right until you no longer hear the 'clicks' created by the micrometer and the micrometer stop.

  2. Rotate the micrometer back to the left until the zero (0) lines up with the micrometer stop.

  3. Rotate the micrometer to the left three complete turns (passing zero (0) twice and then stopping on zero (0) on the last rotation).

  4. Install a cutter in the spindle.

  5. Place the flat piece of engraving stock under the nose cone and hold it flush to the bottom of the nose cone. (If the cutter is protruding beyond the bottom of the nose cone, you will have raise it by loosening the set screw in the brass cutter knob with the cutter wrench, and pushing or pulling the cutter up into the spindle)

It may be easier to move the Spindle out over the engraving area, and bring the nose cone down to the material surface rather then using a flat piece of material. This requires fewer 'hands' and will speed up this process for zeroing many cutters. Depending on your experience level in the Xenetech software, you can use the power of the machine to place the Spindle over the engraving surface and pause it, or simply place the 'STEPPER MOTOR' switch on the Pendant to 'OFF' and manually move the X, Y, and Z axes by rotating their respective knobs (see pages 2 and 3 in chapter 1). REMEMBER to place this switch back to the 'AUTO' or 'LOCK' position.

  1. Loosen the set screw in the brass cutter knob with the cutter wrench, and lower the cutter so that it rests flush with the bottom of the nose cone (the tip of the cutter will be sitting on the flat piece of engraving stock). Note: If using a collet spindle, you may have to loosen the Draw Bar to release the clamping of the cutter by the Collet in order to complete this step.

  2. Retighten set screw in the brass cutter knob.  Repeat steps 4 through 8 for the rest of your cutters.

 

Setting Engraving Depth

 

With your cutters now 'zeroed', it is a simple matter of 'dialing in' the correct depth using the micrometer. Please note that this procedure for setting an engraving depth is valid only when using zeroed cutters and using the nose cone to control your engraving depth (standard steel nose cone or vacuum foot).

  1. Install the desired cutter.

  2. Determine the desired depth you wish to engrave based on the material and application (in thousandths of an inch, i.e. 0.020 = 20 thousandths of an inch).

  3. Rotate the micrometer to the right from the zero location 20 'clicks'. One 'click' on the micrometer represents 1/1000th of an inch (0.001 inches). The micrometer should display twenty (20) at the position of the micrometer stop.

It is good practice to return the micrometer back to the zero location after use of the engraver. In the above example, rotate the micrometer back to the left twenty 'clicks'.

 

The above procedure describes depth settings based on the use of a nose cone. There may be occasions where a nose cone may not be desirable (for burnishing on engravers brass or aluminum, or milling into brass or aluminum). To set the depth in these occasions, see Using Manual Cutter Set.