How to Make a Three Axis CNC Machine (Cheaply and Easily)



Three Axis CNC Machine

The idea behind this Instructable was to fulfill my desire for a desktop sized CNC machine. While it would have been nice to purchase an off the shelf unit the issue of price as well as size proved prohibitive. With this in mind I endeavored to design and build a three axis CNC machine with the following factors in mind:

-Use Simple tools (needs only a drill press, band saw, and hand tools)
-Low Cost (this kind of got away from me however with everything bought off the shelf the cost for all parts is under $600 (significant savings could be made by skillfully sourcing some pieces))
-Small footprint (30″ x 25″ footprint)
-Usable working envelope (10″ X-axis, 14″ Y-Axis, 4″ Z-Axis)
-Relativly fast cut rate (60″ per minute)
-Small part count (fewer than 30 unique parts)
-Easy to source parts (all parts available from 4 sources (Home Depot + 3 online sources)
-Ability to cut ply-wood (Succesful)

Lets get started…

UPDATE: – Coming soon the ability to order pre-cut MDF pieces from oomlout

Step 1: Others Who Have Finished

A salute to those who have laboured through to this point (and to demonstrate that it is reproducable) Here are some pictures of other peoples machines.

Photo 1 – Chris and his friend put together this unit; laser cutting the parts out of half inch acrylic. Not only does it look super it must weigh a ton. But kudos, anyone who’s worked with acrylic knows laser cutting it is great but it is a very very unfriendly material to drill and there is a lot of side drilling in this design. Good job guys, check out more details (and photos including some testing with circuit boards) on Chris’s blog rainbowlazer.com. I particularly like his work with making 3-d objects out of 2d cuts (here) .

RainbowLazer.com
Photo 2 – Sam McCaskill has finished his desktop CNC machine and it’s looking really really nice. Super impressively he also resisted the urge to cheat and cut all his pieces by hand. I’m really impressed.

hand cut Machine
Photo 3 – Angry Monk’s – With MDF pieces cut on a laser cutter and drive converted from toothed belts to threaded rod

Finished Machine
Photo 4 – Bret Golab’s – Bret has completed his and gone through the extra step of getting it setup to work with Linux CNC (a task I attempted and was foiled by complexity). If you’re interested in his settings you can send him a message (Instructable ID: bretlyssii ) ). Great job Bret!

Bret Golab's
(If you have built one and would like it featured here, please send me a PM and we can arrange for the sending of photos)

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