Aluminum Heatsink for 3d Printer

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So it seems that replacing plastic heatsinks on the hot end with aluminum ones is all the rage.  I decided I would give it a try.  Since I had most of the parts from the QU-BD hot end, I thought I would whip one up on my lathe.  Below are a few pictures of the results.  I will make a more lengthy post regarding the process soon.  This is the first time I used dolphin cam and all I can say is *WOW*.  It made it so much easier.

One of the biggest challenges with getting involved in CNC is the CAM software that you need to make it work properly.  And while there are plenty of options for the mill, there are far fewer for the lathe.  Of those options, most are out of the range of the average hobby class user.  A bit ago I came across a piece of software called Dolphin Cam.  It was intriguing because there were both a mill and a lathe module.  This is important because I want a consistent workflow whether I am using either the lathe or the mill.  In addition, they offered hobby class pricing.  I called up Rodney@DolphinCam and he got me started.

Now realize that most of my CNC lathe operations up to this point were very simple.  I would use the wizards built into mach3 or write the basic Gcode myself.  With this addition, now I had a full blown workflow.  This is the process that I used for the heatsink.

First, you have to design the part.  I use solid works for my design.  Below you can see a rendering of the part.


There are a couple of options used for exporting, but the simplest one to use is DXF.  The second step is to fire up DolphinCad (part of the suite) and import that DXF.  This gives you the profile that you want to cut out of the material.  With this, you need to define a set of contours or profiles.  The other thing of note with the lathe software is that you only want to profile one side of the part, since you cut only one side.  You can see the outline in the below picture, with the profile defined.

Now that you have the profile defined, you need to tell the machine what you want to do with it.  In the below picture, you can see the operations I used to make the heatsink.

At first the list of operations might look daunting, but it shouldn’t.  Those operations took about 5 minutes to create.  The great part is that this only took the machine about 10 minutes to make whereas if I did this with wizards it would have taken over an hour.  Below you can see the final result.  Ignore the poor finish on the top.  That is my fault and not that of the software :)

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