This month, we’ll go a little farther and discuss another scheme of laser assisted center finding.
Spindle-Mounted Laser Center
During my web research of how lasers can be used in
center finding applications, I discovered a good looking
commercial laser centering device from SDA Manufacturing
located in Piedra, CA ( www.lasercenteredgefinder.com).
As depicted in Figure 1, this device has a small laser in-line
to a shaft that is held in place in the drill press
chuck/milling machine collet. Since the mill/drill spindle is
NOT TURNING while in use, the device can be battery or
AC powered through an umbilical cord.
With this method, the laser is turned on and a red dot
is projected precisely down the center line of the spindle,
landing on the work surface exactly where the center of a
cutting tool will be. The operator simply moves the X-Y
table until the laser dot hits the desired target point on the
work piece, registers the location in the machine software,
and voilà! You’re off and running!
Several models are offered by SDA, one of which is
small enough for use with smaller scale drill presses and
mini-mills. All units appear well built and are priced in the
$125-$150 range. A recent visit to their website revealed
that each unit comes with several lenses — one of which
appears to project a centering dot within a series of
concentric circles. I’m impressed with the SDA product and
suggest that it is a viable solution to anyone in need of a
quick, ready-to-run, off-the-shelf solution.
As with any laser approach, perpendicularity to the
stage is essential for good results. Furthermore, alignment
Last time, I presented a way to mount a couple of lasers to
a milling machine or drill press to project some laser lines
down onto the machine bed so that you can see exactly
where the drill or mill cutting tool will land. This is a
necessary step whether you are drilling a single hole or
trying to set a home starting point for a CNC machine.
36 SERVO 07/08.2018