Thread: Hello from a lurker...
I'm not really a 'new member' as I joined this forum in 2009. Back then I was looking for a UK source of stepper motors for my first router, a CNC kit I bought from the US called a Phlatprinter. As this is my first post though I thought i'd post in this forum .
The Phlatprinter is a quirky little 3-axis machine made from MDF and was designed for cutting foam RC airplanes using a Dremel. The Dremel is mounted in a cabinet on an X/Z gantry and cuts upwards into foam that passes between feed rollers above (like a printer feeds paper). It uses basic components sourced from DIY stores and is driven using a cheap 3-axis board and Mach3 : Original Phlatprinter DIY Kit.
The machine was a great introduction to CNC for me and i've used it for the past 4 years. I've also done a few upgrades which have allowed me to cut thin plywood, G10 fiberglass and i've even used it to route copper traces on a PCB.
Unfortunately the router does have some pitfalls even for light work. Firstly you can't see the spindle or cutting bit while it's working, also tool changes aren't possible without removing the material being processed. The main annoyances for me however are that the material can sometimes skew slightly when cutting large files and accuracy, although surprisingly good for such a basic machine isn't as good as i'd like.
So... A few weeks ago I decided it was about time to spend some money and upgrade to a more capable, traditional style flatbed machine. I started searching this and other CNC forums to see if there were any individuals or companies selling kits which met my ideal criteria. That being a cutting area of 500mm x 1000mm x 50mm, capable of cutting thicker/harder material than my current machine, good accuracy (+/-0.2mm) and within a build budget of £2000.
Why a kit? Well, after a few searches it soon became apparent that for a pre-built machine I wasn't going to get anything matching my specs for less than 4K. I don't have access to any metalworking tools apart from a pillar drill, and I don't really have the knowledge, time or inclination to design something from scratch.
My search for kits didn't yield many successful results. The majority of kits (or plans for that matter) were based on imperial rather than metric hardware. Also the cutting beds were nowhere near the dimensions I really wanted. After spending hours searching the CNC forums I decided to change my approach and see if there were any ideas on the European RC forums. I figured people there would probably have similar requirements to myself.
I finally stumbled upon a German forum which had an active CNC sub-forum. With the help of Google translate I found a few interesting machines which seemed close to my specs. One was an aluminium based kit which is unfortunately out of production at the moment : CNC-Fräsmaschinen
The other is a plywood based kit shown here : CNC-Holzfraese, Modellbau CNC Fraese die sogar als Möbel durchgeht Page 6. I'm really interested in the plywood kit. Although i'd prefer an aluminium design, the design seems good and the hardware it's designed to use seems of a high spec. The plywood kit is about £400 and is designed to use 16mm ballscrews and 16mm supported rails : CNC Holzfraese V3 Bausatz (M) Siebd Kugelumlaufspindel-CNC Holzfraese V3 Bausatz (M) 12mm Sieb
I think this might be a good basic setup which I could upgrade in the future if I wanted to.
If you've read this far then thanks for reading it all! Any input or comments would really be appreciated.
Hi Si, a plywood kit - I think that you had better run for cover!!! G.
I'm going through the design/build process at the moment.
I originally started with an MDF machine built from the original plans on buildyourowncnc.com & then went on to modify it. It worked ok for cutting basic parts but had issues with the frame warping & workshop damp/humidity was also a pretty big issue.
I started out a while back thinking about building a new machine from aluminium extrusion - I originally planned to modify the FLA-100 & make it metric friendly (I did start doing this)...I then started asking more questions on here & was talked out of using aluminium extrusion for the frame - now i'm building a steel frame & designing the whole machine myself. This is the only way that i'll get exactly what I want from the machine...as you've found there is very little out there in the way of metric plans or kits in europe.
If you're concerned about working with steel - you shouldn't be, this is the first time i've worked with it & the first time i've done any welding...its quite a forgiving material to work with.
For £400 you could build something a lot better than that ply kit.
. . . . . . YOU WANT YOUR HEAD LOOKING AT IF YOU SPEND £400 ON PLY WOOD FRAME.. . . Lol
PS: I remember you asking about steppers but I was known has Hemsworthlad back then before getting Kicked out for being naughty boy. . lol
Last edited by JAZZCNC; 27-09-2013 at 12:34 PM.
I agree entirely... if you want a weak machine that might be OK for a few months if you're lucky, stick with plywood. If you want something that wont gradually bend and distort with varying moisture contect, resulting in a machine with varying accuracy, then make it with something sensible like aluminium and/or steel.
Last edited by Jonathan; 27-09-2013 at 01:02 PM.
Last edited by njhussey; 27-09-2013 at 01:50 PM.Neil...
Lol, thanks for all the replies lads. TBH I knew I was going to get slated for talking about building from wood, I've got broad shoulders though so I can take it.
I've been using a machine built from 6mm MDF, drainpipe, gas pipe and cheap all-thread studding for 4 years. I don't think you can get much more 'budget' than that. But to be fair it's done what i've asked of it. Some pics attached of the type of things i've been cutting.
My reason for the plywood build was to spend money on decent hardware, supported linear rails, ballscrews, bearing blocks etc and also good electronics; this is the driver board, relay board and psu i'm using at the moment : www.easy-cnc.com * Your best option in driver boards for CNC machines
I was hoping that I could then use the ply machine and work on a better design in the future using the hardware and electronics i'd invested in.
I agree that £400 is pricey for some bits of plywood, but thought it was reasonable considering the R&D work that had been put into the design.
Kingcreaky, i'll PM you shortly.
From the images you've posted it's clear that your machine has quite a lot of backlash, so you definitely want to eliminate this by using ballscrews on your next machine.
recently posted about a machine I made, and I will upload the drawings/plans to the post very soon. No I'm not charging for it as it's all information you can get for nothing if you're prepared to spend a little time reading the forums. Charging for it would be like charging people to read this website...
Last edited by Jonathan; 27-09-2013 at 02:48 PM.
By the looks of it, you are getting quite a lot of phenolic plywood for your money, which isn't exactly cheap, and is more stable than most other wood boards.
Yes, £400 could buy you all the metal you need to potentially create a better machine, but then you've got to learn how to work with metal and probably spend more on tools to be able to work with it or pay for somebody else to do it, whereas that £400 gets you a basic machine that needs a lot less input to get a working machine.
You already have experience of CNC, you have obviously done your research, and you have a reasonable expectations of what the machine should be capable of, so I personally don't think buying that kit would be a bad choice for you. However, I would be looking to try and find somebody who has already bought one, to make sure the kit they received lived up to expectations, and that they never got supplied with a bunch of poor fitting parts.