Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 15, 2011.


Our project is to build an affordable desktop CNC machine that can be used to mill, cut, route and engrave common materials.

What is CNC?

A CNC is essentially a machine that is controlled by a computer and can perform highly intricate maneuvers over and over again (similar to a printer). In this case instead of dispensing ink onto the paper, it uses a cutting tool to cut very detailed shapes into common materials like wood, plastic, & aluminum. It is a critical machine in any manufacturing factory, or research and development lab. We think it’s a tool that will be found in every workshop and home garage in the future.

We want to make that future a reality!

The Pitch

In August 2010 we pitched an idea to University of Minnesota staff to create a challenge for five graduating seniors in the field of Mechanical Engineering. We wanted the students to come up with an affordable, accurate and fast CNC machine that could make automated manufacture available to everyone. We wanted a design that was modular, one that could be taken apart changed upgraded and modified with very little mechanical knowledge. Most importantly we wanted a machine that once built, could manufacture additional machines. Thus creating a scalable array of machines building other machines to make production simple. We worked closely with the students for months as we all worked together to come up with a design that we feel is so good, so perfect, that we all want to step forward and offer it to everyone here on Kickstarter.

Our Project

Our CNC Machine is 26” by 20” with a useable cutting area of 18” x 12”. It is designed using only the best linear motion components and is made to be as robust as possible. The frame was designed to be very rigid while using techniques make assembly a breeze. You could very easily disassemble and reassemble the machine in a matter of minutes using simple hand tools. The Z-Axis (the one that moves up and down) has a modular bolt pattern that can accept a wide variety of cutting tools ranging from a Dremel to routers, even lasers and plastic extruders. This is no cheap machine either. It uses hundreds of dollars worth of shafts, bushings, bearings and professional leadscrews to get it moving! In fact, 80% of the machines’ cost is in these expensive linear motion components. To put it simply, this machine is awesome!

The Prototype

One of the benefits of being designed by engineers means that we have already scrutinized every aspect in the prototype of our design. It was run through a battery of tests while reports were being written. We found any areas where we could improve and made changes. Our next steps really are only to figure out exactly how to use our CNC prototype to manufacture potentially hundreds more of our CNC design! For a video of our prototype in action, please check out the video at the top of the page.

The Rewards

It is important to know that in order to make this project succeed. We need to have our goal met. If you think we have a cool project, please pledge any amount. We appreciate whatever you are able to provide us with. We also have some wonderful rewards the best of them being completed CNC kits!

$10 Level.

At this level we would love your support. We have some stickers and brochures that show our machine and explain the design process. They may not be much, but at this level pledging means the most monetary support!

$25 Level

The first cuts our machine made were to cut out a 10" x 10" gear into the table surface of our machine. It is a very complex piece to cut, and would be very complicated to do without a CNC machine. At this level we would love to send you a copy of this gear, cut from MDF wood. It would make a great piece to paint and hang on a wall!

$100 Level

At this level we want to show off our machine's ability to engrave. We want to create some lithophanes on acrylic plastic. For examples of what a lithophane looks like, see here. We will take any photo that you provide us (portraits, landscapes, or logos) and use our CNC machine to engrave the photo into a lithophane. It is a very complex task that would be near impossible without a CNC!

$550 Level

At this level you get a CNC kit at a discount! This level gets you a full kit that you will need to assemble. Each kit is put together and parts tested before shipping. The kit includes all the support pieces, all the fasteners, and all the linear motion components. That includes steel polished rails with Oilite bushings, ACME leadscrews with acetal nuts, and precision bearings. Includes a Dremel 300 tool holder that will allow you to install your Dremel (not included). Shipping in the United States is included in the price. International backers please contact us for a shipping quote.

$1050 Level

At this level you will receive our base machine as described at the $550 level. In addition you will receive an electronics box and NEMA 23 motors to run the machine. The motors and controller are all pre-wired and requires only a simple plug in and go. Also included are a Bosch Colt router, and a Bosch router mount. Includes a full version of commercial CAM software. Shipping in the United States is included in the price. International backers please contact us for a quote. NOTE: That international pledges will need to open the electronics and switch from 110v to 220v.

$1600 Level

At this level you will receive everything at the $1050 level (a machine, electronics, motors, and Bosch router), and a Dell Desktop computer preloaded with a paid version of Mach3 to control the CNC, and a full version of commercial CAM software. This is very much the closest to Ready to Run that you can get. The machine will require assembly, but everything else will just plug together and within a few clicks you will be ready to go. Shipping in the United States is included in the price. International backers please contact us for a quote. This is a limited reward to 5.

What Makes it Better?

The number one question we have gotten while talking about the CNC design is: What makes it better than the other machines out there?

Our machine was designed by five engineering students under the supervision of a Mechanical Engineer. It was designed using brand new and highly precise linear components from industrial suppliers. It features polished steel linear rails, and slides on bronze metal "Oilite" bushings for smooth operation. The mechanical screws are high precision multi-start leadscrews, designed to convert rotary motion into linear motion. We don't use cheap off the shelf threaded rod like other machines out there. Because of the multi-start leadscrews, our machine is able to move at great speed. We were able to get our prototype to move rapidly (and repeatedly) at over 200 inches per minute, which is lightning fast! Our modular design allows for all kinds of parts and add-ons ranging from different cutting tools, to different work surfaces and more. This is all from a machine that takes up a very small footprint. It is able to sit on a desk, and yet it has a very large cutting area for its size.

And let’s not forget cost! Other CNC machines of this size and power are thousands of dollars. This machine finally brings affordable CNC automated machining to the hobbyist.

Thank you!

On behalf of the whole team. Thank you for taking the time to check out our project, and we all hope you enjoy our CNC machine and will help make our dreams into a reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions. They can be found on our website:

Please visit our website for more information:


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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pledged of $10,000 goal
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  • Pledge $10 or more
    You selected

    11 backers

    We have a bunch of our CNC stickers and pamphlets left over from our design show that we would love to give away! They chronicle our machine's design and would be great to entice you down the line should you be interested to acquire a machine in the future!

  • Pledge $25 or more
    You selected

    5 backers

    The first thing we ever cut on our prototype CNC was a large gear. It was a complex test of our CNC and it cut it perfectly. At this level we will send you a copy of that gear, roughly 10" x 10" and cut from 3/4" wood.

  • Pledge $100 or more
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    3 backers

    At this level we would like to show off our machines ability to engrave lithophanes. Please send us any photo and we will etch it into a piece of acrylic. Works best for portraits and scenic shots! Logos work well too! An excellent gift for someone you love!

  • Pledge $550 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    Base CNC Kit. You will receive a complete CNC base kit with a working area of 18" x 12" x 4". The kit is made from woods, plastics and metals and will form the base of any CNC project. Includes linear rails, ACME leadscrews and nuts and a solid Z-axis with a Dremel tool holder. (Additional shipping charges will apply if outside of continental United States, please send us a message).

  • Pledge $1,050 or more
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    36 backers

    Ready to run kit. You will receive a full CNC base kit along with motors, controller and power supply. The electronics are capable of moving the machine at 200 inches per minute and provide an accuracy down to 0.001". In addition we will include a Bosch router and router mount, and links to free software to get you up and running. (Additional shipping charges will apply if outside of continental United States, please send us a message).

  • Pledge $1,600 or more
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    5 backers All gone!

    At this level you will receive a machine with motors, electronics and a Bosch router. Additionally you will receive a Dell Desktop computer loaded with a paid version of Mach3 to control the router, and trials to free software. (Additional shipping charges will apply if outside of continental United States, please send us a message).

Funding period

- (45 days)