Workpiece Holding Solutions

CNC operations demand proper material mounting. In this guide, you’ll learn a few easy workpiece holding solutions.

This is a second guide on CNC milling with ZMorph VX by our expert Roman Broda. Here’s the first one, a guide on how to avoid breaking cutters.

Although additive (3D printing) and subtractive (milling, engraving, cutting) are two opposite manufacturing processes, they have this one thing in common. You have to make sure your material will be held down during the whole process. 3D printing uses all types of tricks, like using paper tape, special surfaces or adhesives. You can learn more about those here.

Holding down material for milling and cutting is more difficult and in most cases requires additional equipment. Luckily: ZMorph is both a 3D printer and a CNC unit, so you can always print your workholding solutions!

This article is a mix of different solutions, found on the internet or designed specifically for ZMorph VX. Each model was tested and will fit your printer nicely.

1. Double-sided foam tape

Workpiece holding solutions
Double-sided foam tape
  • Applies for: sheet, block material
  • Fasteners: none

The easiest solution for material holding. Simply stick a double sided tape to the bottom of the material and attach it to your worktable. Good quality of the tape will ensure proper holding of your detail during milling and engraving operations.
It will also lift your workpiece around 0.5 mm over the table which should be sufficient to not destroy its surface while milling through material.

ProsCons
∙ Easy to use

∙ Vibration Damping

∙ Doesn’t collide with your tool
∙ Clean-up needed

∙ Single-use solution

NOTE: Make sure that the surfaces you want to hold together are clean and dust-free. Otherwise holding force will be much lower.

2. Step clamps

Workpiece Holding Solutions
Step clamps mounted on ZMorph VX
  • Applies for: sheet, block material
  • Source: Thingiverse
  • Author: keithoist
  • Fasteners: M4x16 – 75 (depending on your material height) , square M4 nut, M4 washer (large type suggested)

Another mounting possibility is using step clamps. Step clamps are suited for a variety of material thicknesses, minimizing the number of tools needed.

Using step clamps is very easy. Take the clamp, put it on top of material, add a step underneath it to provide an even surface and tighten down.

ProsCons
∙ Allows mounting of high materials

∙ Doesn’t take much working space
∙ Possible collisions with your cutting tool

NOTE: Always make sure that during milling no toolpath collides with clamps. It will break your cutter!

3. Sheet clamps

Workpiece holding solutions
Sheet clamps
  • Applies for: sheet, PCB
  • Source: internal memory of your ZMorph VX
  • Author: ZMorph design team
  • Fasteners: M4x15, M4 washer, square M4 Nut

One of the accessories added to your machine is a set of sheet clamps. They were designed to hold down flat materials up to 6 mm thick. The idea is simple: mount one corner to the CNC table, slide the material into it and block it with second clamp.

This solution needs a bit of trial and error to find perfect arrangement of your material, but when you do – there’s no other obstacle.

ProsCons
∙ Two part solution blocking material in all axes

∙ Quick to print

∙ Available in different types and sizes
∙ A bit of practice is needed for efficient workholding

NOTE: Default added clamps hold up to 6 mm thick materials. If you have thinner material, there is an available version for up to 2.5 mm thick materials. Print it if needed.

4. Printable vise

Workpiece holding solutions
Printable vise mounted on ZMorph VX
  • Applies for: sheet, block material, PCB
  • Source: Original design, ZMorph base design
  • Author: TheGoofy (original design), keithoist (ZMorph base design)
  • Fasteners: M4x20 with hexagonal socket (4 pcs), M4 square nut (4 pcs)

Two parallel jaws, one movable and one fixed. Sliding mechanism based on screw and lever. Holds down your element to perform operations on it. That’s what a vise is. Its versatility allows mounting almost any part you can think of.

And now you can mount it also on your ZMorph CNC worktable! TheGoofy designed a very neat printable vise that will help you with both cutting and engraving operations. The original design has no possibility to mount it down. Therefore we have uploaded files for mounting it right in the middle of your aluminum CNC table.

ProsCons
∙ Versatility

∙ CAD model available for custom jaws designing

∙ Stable position
∙ Limited maximum material dimensions (68mm wide on original jaws)

∙ Longtime print

NOTE: To properly mount the vise, you will need 3 mm hexagonal screwdriver with ball end.

5. ZMorph Edge Vise

Workpiece holding solutions
ZMorph Edge Vise
  • Applies for: sheet
  • Source: Thingiverse
  • Author: keithoist
  • Fasteners: M4x20 with hexagonal socket (2 pcs per vise), M4 washer (2 pcs per vise), M4 self-locking nut (1 pc per vise – transverse nut), M4 x 20 (1 pc per vise – transverse screw)

To fully utilize your ZMorph VX capabilities, you need a mounting solution that won’t reduce your work area. Using this edge vises, you can do just that!

The vise can be mounted to M4 threaded holes on the sides of your aluminum CNC worktable. Then, using transverse M4 screw and nut, hold down your material. Just remember that there is not much space for adjustments so you will need a material wide enough to use it.

ProsCons
∙ Utilizes full ZMorph capabilities

∙ Small dimensions of vise
∙ Only for full area sheets

∙ CNC table needs to be outside of the machine to mount material

Workpiece holding solutions

Now you shall never have problems with material holding again. Choose the best way for your project and start milling. What other solutions do you use?

Roman Broda

Senior Design Engineer at ZMorph

2 thoughts on “Workpiece Holding Solutions”

  1. Thanks Roman, a nice informative piece, I like the Zmorph edge vice, gives me an idea to combine the sheet clamps and an edge vice type of arrangement.

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