DIY CNC Machine takes shape…

Making the new DIY CNC with the old CNC...

Making the new DIY CNC with the old CNC…

Hours of CAD design, weeks of planning and research, purchasing parts, and eventually the new DIY CNC machine begins to take shape…

Finding parts for the DIY CNC…

The planning stage for the DIY CNC took about a year.  Included in that time was research, development of the CAD design and most importantly, purchasing parts.  This machine was designed to use some used parts, so it took a while to scour eBay for the right items at the right price.  Most notably: the linear rails and trucks.  Wanting to buy top notch, but not break the bank, required waiting for the deals to show up on eBay.

The DIY CNC gets THK rails and trucks

The DIY CNC gets THK rails and trucks

We were looking for THK brand – which are considered top-of-the-line.  The THK units can be had for cheap, as long as you know what to look for.  You can see them mocked up on the frame in the photo above.  Waiting for them to become available in the sizes that worked for our needs took about 6 months.  The savings can be calculated in the thousands of dollars, so you can see where patience comes into play here.  We finally found all the rails we needed, and all the auctions included the trucks we needed as well.  This saved the hassle of trying to match trucks to the rails we purchased.

Aluminum tooling plate…

A look at the tooling plate used for the Y-Axis...

A look at the tooling plate used for the Y-Axis…

Once the rails and trucks were in-hand, we finalized the design to match.  The next step was to purchase the aluminum tooling plate and extruded rail that would make up the majority of the frame.  The tooling plate was purchased from a New Hampshire company as drop-offs.  This saved a ton of cash – and allowed up to have the highest quality material, again without killing the budget.  Extruded rail is somewhat controversial for CNC frame design, considered by many to lack rigidity.  But based on calculations, and our specific needs, this seemed to be the simplest way to go.  You can see the tooling plate used for the Y-Axis in the photo above, as well as the first photo in the post.  The larger pieces needed to be sent to a water-jet for cutting.  The smaller pieces were done right here on the older CNC.

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Once the parts were cut, slowly we incorporated them into the actual machine.  Mocking up the CNC as we went along, allowed us to be checking for any inconsistencies or errors in design…

 

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