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Engineering Roundtable - Bandsaw Coolant System

Mechanical Engineer Paul shows us his system for keeping SparkFun's mech shop tools running smoothly!

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In this installment of Roundtable, Mech Engineer Paul takes us through the design and build process for a custom coolant system for machining. A lot of these same principles can be used in any custom fabrication project.



Vimeo me!

Comments? Questions? Hairstyle suggestions? Examples of your own machining modifications? Leave 'em below, and happy Wednesday!

Comments 27 comments

  • The bandsaw I have has a large catch area that is lined with fine mesh screen to receive the debris and filter it from the return coolant. Periodically clean the screens and you shouldn't have any problems.

  • Does the catch system catch all of the coolant? I want to do this, but it looks like it would splash all over the floor.

    • It does catch all of the coolant. The problem is moving the machine. It splashes around and spills if you aren't really careful. I left something like a 1/2" rim around the top, it should be closer to 2 or 3 inches.

  • Dude, this is freakin' nice. Way to go, Paul

  • cool, and good job

    but what if you're cutting aluminum? magnets won't catch it,..maybe need some filters

    • I had anticipated the non ferrous metals to sink in the trough. I was surprised to see some very fine aluminum shavings floating on the surface of the coolant. As I said above, I'd like to ditch the trough and try to use a large PVC pipe with some mesh screen in it to catch particles.

      • I have a vacuum system on my mill, it sucks up all the shavings and the coolant fluid into a wet/dry vac. Then after you get a few gallons in the vac, you can just skim the floaters off the top while everything else sinks to the bottom, and pour the fluid back into the reservoir.

  • Harbor freight bandsaw?

  • Love me some mech eng. How extensive is SFE's metal shop?

    • It could be better, it could be worse. We have a fairly old mill, 1970's I think, that is pretty decent. The X/Y gears have a bit of play in them which makes it a little hard to get sub 0.010ish accuracy, but not impossible by any means. You just have to know the machine. There is a vertical band saw, horizontal band saw, table saw, wood/metal miter saw, jig saw, MIG welder, oxy/acetylene torch, some sanders, a 2'x4' 3 axis K2 CNC, a 75W Epilog laser (okay that belongs to EDU) and a benchtop lathe. All in all it's a really good setup for the amount of mechanical things an electrical company needs to do. Although a nice Bridgeport would fit in great at the new building.....Nate?

      • You can adjust the ACME nuts in the yoke on a BP to take the backlash out and tighten it up. Along with cleaning the slideways and properly adjusting the gibs, you can make an old BP work very well. Most BPs just don't get maintained; buy a manual, they are still available from reprinters and probably Hardinge directly.

      • Have you had anyone look at your mill? It could be that after 40 some years the gibs need to be adjusted. Of course its also possible that it got beat on for 40 years, but dont go by the dirt to decide. Love the video.

      • I think a HAAS will fit even better :D What are the main mechanical things an electrical company needs?

  • I work in a pipe fabrication shop, so the metal aspects of this project are quite familiar to me. One thing that surprised me is that you used a band saw and a mill to clean up your pieces after you cut them. I would just throw them in a vise and use a grinder to clean them up and straighten the cuts. MUCH faster and much less hassle.

    • You could also have ditch the oxy/acetylene altogether and just used the angle grinder with a cut off blade. Gives a nice cut that is all ready for welding. Thats how I make %90 of my cuts with plate steel and sheet metal. Although; it does take a bit longer, and it doesn't have the added bonus of playing with fire. :)

      • it doesn't have the added bonus of playing with fire

        Exactly! Plus production threatens me if I make too much noise for too long. They're pretty dainty like that.

        • Yea, grinder can be very noisy. Although, with my plasma cutter, if I use a piece of angle iron as a straight edge, it gives me a pretty straight cut; it is at least good enough for welding. Maybe the same technique would work with the oxy/acetylene torch.

    • Maybe, but I hadn't torched metal for 5+ years. My cuts were pretty bad and I wanted clean edges (perfect) to work with.

  • Great stuff! Thank you very much! It would be helpful to know a couple identities/sources: What kind of pump did you use? Is is a kind that can handle metal chips in the fluid stream? You didn't mention using a filter, and there appears to be some chips and some good size chunks of metal in the "runoff gutter" of your collecting tank.

    What kind of cooling fluid, and a suggestion for source of hobby-quantity purchases?

    I found both US and Asian sources of the articulated segmented "hose" and nozzle pieces on eBay.

    • DC177E is correct, the pump is ours. I'm not entirely sure of it's lifespan with chips going through it, but there should be very little if any. It has a pretty strong impeller too. For the filter, I wanted the chips to fall to the bottom of the gutter and get trapped. I found out though that some of the very fine shavings actually float on the coolant. Eventually, I'd like to have a 4" PVC pipe with a mesh filter inside. The gutter just doesn't quite work how I wanted it to.

      This Oil, it's both cheap and works well!

      For the articulated segmented “hose” and nozzle, we'll be carrying them soon!

    • Pretty sure the pump used is SFE's 350 GPM water pump.

  • That is sweet, Paul!

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