1. #1
    Hi all,

    Been lurking a while and spent a lot of time on other forums & YouTube learning bits about cnc. Since I have bought a house with a garage I can finally build my own!

    First question is what software is used to design the machines I see in the build logs? Sketchup? They seem to have aluminium extrusion etc already modelled, is that correct?

    Thanks,

    Nick

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by ContentTooShortError View Post
    Hi all,

    Been lurking a while and spent a lot of time on other forums & YouTube learning bits about cnc. Since I have bought a house with a garage I can finally build my own!

    First question is what software is used to design the machines I see in the build logs? Sketchup? They seem to have aluminium extrusion etc already modelled, is that correct?

    Thanks,

    Nick
    The "software" I used was a 0.7mm HB pencil and paper. Personally I think that spending too much on the design software kind of kills the joy of creating a machine, unless you intend to sell that commercially, I see no points in spending time and money on software you only use once. So, a good old traditional paper, pencil, ruler and calculator is all I needed. Of course, I have no fancy design pictures to show, but on the other hand, I did not spend endless nights and weeks in front of a screen, made some sketches with my ideas, calculated the material needs, ordered and started drilling, sawing and so on. Of course, it meant that I made some mistakes, drilled a few holes where they would not be needed and ended up with some additional order of materials, but I had fun all the way. A very non-scientific approach, but it is just a hobby for me and it actually turned out to be quite nice. I went though one upgrade since my version one, which was a mechanical upgrade and currently busy with the second update, the electrical update. This weekend I'll probably be ready with that work as well... but it is DIY, so upgrades are constant activities, which is part of the fun. I felt that using a design software to design would have locked me inside a box and would have not offered the flexibility a pencil and a paper is offering. I do a lot of design work in my head and mixing paper and "head" designs are easier than computer and head designs. Of course, I used CAD for critical parts, like drawing the table and the Z axis plates, but for the frame I used just paper and pencil.

    Anyway, regardless how you will do, you need to set some reasonable targets.


    • Materials you want to mill.
    • Budget.
    • Maximum foot print.
    • Maximum mill-able area in X, Y and also maximum Z clearance from table.
    • Table top version or standing on it's own feet.
    • Rigidity. Yes, the more the better, but it makes work more complicated and more expensive also.
    • Weight. Again, the more the better, but it makes work more complicated and more expensive also.
    • Fixed gantry, moving table or moving gantry. All have advantages and disadvantages.
    • Spindle type and power . DC or 3 phase brushless.
    • If you go for 3-phase you will need to decide on a VFD.
    • Water or air cooling? Both have advantages and disadvantages.
    • ...and so on...


    None of the above needs any design software, all that must be made through thinking and the use of paper or some other ways of taking notes, but all of the above must be done before you start the actual design. Some of the parameters are controlled by the available space you have to keep your machine, others are controlled by the material you want to mill and the money you have to spend on this activity. By starting with a design software you may end up using a lot of time designing and in the end have to restart again because the design will not work for some reason, too expensive, too large, too complicated or whatever. So my advice is to make up your mind about those detail first, before you start with designing the looks of the machine, since the looks are partially also dictated by the above.

    Sorry I can't help you with any tips about design software, I only use simple 2D CAD software and that's enough for me, at least for now.

    Good luck. Building a CNC is fun, especially when you see some progress.

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  4. #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    - The plan is mostly wood but with the possibility of occasional aluminium in the future - happy for it to go super slow with alu as it would be so infrequent.
    - Budget wise I'm realistic in that it would likely be around 1500 though less would be nice.
    - Unsure maximum footprint however I'd like to keep the working surface around 1500mm x 750mm.
    - Self standing is the plan.
    - Was originally planning on aluminium extrusion all round but the steel frames look pretty good and solid.
    - Moving gantry.
    - No idea on spindle or electronics at this point.

    I quite like Joe's build here - http://www.mycncuk.com/threads/4513-3-Axis-CNC-router

    Steel frame, high sides, aluminium gantry etc

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