Home-made CNC milling machine

For the uninitiated, a CNC milling machine is basically the opposite of a 3D printer. With a 3D printer, you’re adding medium from a nozzle to a blank space to create an object. A CNC milling machine starts with a chunk of medium and removes parts of it to create an object, drilling out parts of the medium with great precision while moving its spindle on more than one axis.

CNC milling machines (the CNC means Computer Numeric Control) are really expensive.

Screengrab from eBay today

Screengrab from eBay today

So Colin May did what any thinking engineer would do to bring the price down. He built his own, using a Raspberry Pi for its brains.

CNC machine

Colin says:

My friend and I thought about building a CNC Machine for a while. But we didn’t want it to be just an ordinary CNC Machine. We wanted to make a very unique machine that could have very unique attributes. We set out to make a CNC Machine that could do different types of Machining. For example, routing, laser engraving, 3D printing, drag knife, etc. We took about a few months to design the basics of the machine. For example, what kind of linear motion we would have for each axis, what kind of material we would use for it, what kind of style to make it, etc. We chose our build area to be 24″ X 24″ X 7″. After those few months of finalizing everything, we took our first step into physically making the machine. Note: This is made for the average consumer, for home use, and for someone who doesn’t have the money to invest in a $1000 CNC router or 3D printer.

Colin’s machine is still a work in progress, but it’s showing great promise, and we’re very interested to see where he takes it next. Here’s some prototype output:

chillipepper logo

First test of the machine

test output

Second test

And here’s some video. (Turn the sound down if you’ve got a dentist phobia.)

Raspberry Pi CNC Machine Test Pt: 2

Uploaded by Colin may on 2016-04-24.

Colin is intending to add extra functionality: 3D print capability, and some other machine tools – to the setup. You can follow his build and replicate it over at Instructables. Thanks Colin – we’re looking forward to seeing more!