Build your own full-size CNC machine on the cheap and produce precision designs without relying on overseas manufacturing.
[UPDATE: some design info is posted in Update #4]
Hi, I’m Jeffrey Matthias, founder of FurnLab, and I want to help you see your awesome designs get produced on your own CNC machine. I also want to reduce dependence on doodads that are made in one land only to be shipped way over to another land.
So here’s the pitch.
FurnLab will fully develop and release building plans for an open source, production-ready, precise and fast CNC machine that anyone with a toolbox and a dream can assemble for less than:
$2500 for a 2’x4’ machine
> $4000 for a 4’x4’ machine
> $7500 for a 4’x8’ machine
The FurnLab open source machine will be capable of producing professional-grade products, so get your design hats on and start thinking up all the possibilities.
Because that’s what we did.
Which is why we needed a dependable full-size CNC machine setup—so that FurnLab could successfully design, produce and sell super awesome furniture. But the cost of a CNC machine with a tool changer and vacuum hold-down system rang in at more than $48,000!
We were disheartened to find that not only could we not justify the cost of even an entry-level system, but neither could we find any DIY plans that would provide us with the professional, full-size, low-cost machine we so desperately needed.
Then a light bulb came on—you
know, we had an idea.
Why couldn’t we come up with our own plan for building a CNC machine that met our high standards and then share the awesomeness with the rest of our fellow makers? So we got to work at building a machine (with all the bells and whistles*) that would cost less than $15,000.
Now we need your help.
To finish our machine’s detail work, document our build process, publish complete plans and instructions and provide thank you gifts to our supporters, we need to raise at least $20,000. Of course, the more money we can raise, the more time we can put toward developing this project.
Ideally, we’d love to do more, like …
- Develop a kit to go along with the machine plans, so that if someone wants to save time we can sell and ship that person a kit, complete with building plans and all the parts needed to put the machine together.
- Continue development for production heads. We can't wait to provide endless options for what your machine can do. “You mean options like a laser cutter, large resolution plastic extruder and plasma cutter?” Yes, yes, yes!
- Build community support. We are working to build a community platform for users to connect by sharing experiences specific to owning and operating a FurnLab CNC machine. (And while they’re at it, they can share design files, too!)
Even if we meet only minimum funding, our open source plans will be awesome because FurnLab machines will offer something others** don’t: a full-size cutting area and metal construction.
But our machine plans will offer more than a full-size
In addition to having a cutting area large enough for a full-size sheet of plywood, our plans will allow for the following.
- Upgradeability: Designed for almost everyone to be able to afford a basic machine, you will be able to upgrade to a larger size and to better components without having to start over from scratch.
- Professional Construction: The plans call for all metal parts and quality components—no short cuts!
- Detail Options: Limit switches, z-axis positioning system and an emergency stop button are the kind of extras that are normally left out in free designs, but not ours.
- 3rd-Party Systems Compatibility: Your machine will be upgradeable with affordable 3rd-party options for an automatic tool changer and a vacuum hold-down system.
* “All the bells and whistles” denotes a FurnLab CNC machine with 3rd-party automatic tool changer and vacuum hold-down systems.
** By “others,” we mean other CNC projects on Kickstarter as of when the FurnLab CNC project went live on the site.
Limited Edition Flat Pack Robot - $65
Materials - MDF, aluminum
12" Flat Pack Lamp - $100
materials - FSC certified bamboo plywood and canvas
[material corrected image coming soon]
Flat Pack Coffee Table - $500
FSC certified walnut plywood and aluminum
Flat Pack Shelves - $1000
FSC maple ply and powder coated aluminum [lasercut pattern $100 extra]
[color options coming soon]
Flat Pack Shelves - $1000
FSC certified walnut and powder coated aluminum [lasercut pattern $100 extra]
[color options coming soon]
In order to have the lowest additional shipping charges possible, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your address. We will then let you know how much additional to add on top of your pledge. Sorry about the complicated process, but it seems the best way to give you an accurate price.
While we will certainly try to add the remaining options, we felt that the reward structure was getting too complicated. If you are interested in one of the other items, contact us at email@example.com and let us know. We can probably work something out.
Those estimated costs are our goal for someone who is sourcing all of their own parts and who is not helping to fund the final design. In order to get the machine and assembly finished and well documented, we need to raise funds beyond the cost of the parts.
We will be distributing the design of the machine for free. It will use Creative Commons licensing that will allow anyone to legally build their own, make changes, and distribute the design as long as they continue to credit the FurnLab team as the original designers.
CNC stands for Computer Numerically Controlled. Got it? Great, you can forget that part now. What it means, though, is a computer controlled production system that takes digital files and creates real objects from them. The type of production head we use in our shop is a spindle (heavy duty router) which cuts wood to a high level of precision.
Wood, dense foam, and acrylic not matter which cutting head you choose to put on it. If you go with a decent router (included at $3,000 and up) or a spindle, you will be able to cut soft metals—like aluminum—as well, though how long your bit lasts will depend on how well you can keep it cool.
Sorry we kept it so basic here, but we are trying to keep the non-technical interested as well. Check out the 4th update above or go to:
Also, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have and we will get back to you pretty quickly.
Right now we are consistently hitting within .005" which is good enough for furniture work, but it could be better. We have a redesign of the gantry/drive that we think will let us hit higher accuracy, but until we can further fund the development of those peices, we aren't comfortable promising anything tighter than five thousandths.
There ARE dozens of kits, but there wasn't one that was producing to the level that we needed. Here is what we are trying to bring to the table: •open source design (yes, we know, there are some other out there already) •cutting area up to 4'x8' (surprisingly few kits for this) •aluminum and steel construction–a lot of 80/20 extrusions with custom gantry sides and NO wood parts (even more rare for our size and budget) •TRUE modularity allowing the x axis to be upgraded to larger sizes without having to alter the y and z axes (haven't seen this one yet) •designed compatibility with existing automatic tool changer and vacuum hold-down systems to move the machine to the next level (goal for 4'x8' machine with these options is under $15,000, which, we believe, is completely unprecedented)
6" is the base set up, but that easy to alter. If you need something different, talk to us.
Also, we mentioned a plastic extruder in the video. Obviously, 6" isn't useful if you are printing large-scale stuff. The area under the removable work surface is totally clear so that someone in the community can design and add a dropping z-axis work surface. That is a perfect example of why we are trying to make this design open source; we have worked to make it easy to evolve to users' needs.
pledged of $20,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on September 22, 2011.
Aug 8, 2011 - Sep 22, 2011 (45 days)
Pledge $1 or more
[Wall-E] • recognition on FurnLab.com (Thank you so much! Every dollar helps.)Estimated delivery: Sep 2011
Pledge $25 or more
[H.E.L.P.E.R.] • recognition on FurnLab.com • an advanced copy of the CNC machine plans • 1 vote on machine name • restricted-access progress updates through Kickstarter
Pledge $65 or more
[Bumblebee] • all Donor rewards • limited-edition flat pack robot (international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)Estimated delivery: Oct 2011
Pledge $100 or more
[H.E.R.B.I.E.] • all Donor rewards • 2 limited-edition flat pack robots OR a flat pack 12” lamp (international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)Estimated delivery: Oct 2011
Pledge $250 or more
[K-9] • all Donor rewards • 2 limited-edition flat pack robots AND 2 flat pack 12” lamps (international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)Estimated delivery: Oct 2011
Pledge $500 or more
[Marvin] • all Donor rewards • flat pack coffee table (international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)Estimated delivery: Nov 2011
Pledge $1,000 or more
[Data] • all Donor rewards • flat pack shelving unit (international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)Estimated delivery: Nov 2011
Pledge $1,500 or more
[Cylon] • all Donor rewards • basic building kit (every custom part of the CNC machine plans and a nema 23 motor/driver set / international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)
Pledge $3,000 or more
[GLaDOS] • all Donor rewards • email-based tech support • 2’x4’ machine kit (all major components, including Nema 23 motors and aluminum extrusions / international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)
Pledge $5,500 or more
[R2D2/Honorary Lab Partner] • all Donor rewards • advanced tech support • 4’x4’ machine kit (all major components, including Nema 34 motors and aluminum extrusions / international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)
Pledge $7,500 or more
[Optimus Prime/Honorary Lab Partner] • all Donor rewards • advanced tech support • 4’x8’ machine kit (all major components, including Nema 34 motors and aluminum extrusions / international backers please see FAQ for shipping info)