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Low Cost, Fast, Robust and Accurate Desktop CNC Machine

Introduction

Most people know that Hewlett-Packard and Apple both started off in a Garage.

People generally do not realise that there are many more such companies such as Amazon, Disney, Harley Davidson and Google that also started off from a garage.

Well, I am proud to say that CNC Design Limited also started off in a small garage that has been turned into a workshop and is STILL in that garage !!

If we need to acquire a new machine for our workshop, and commercial ones are too big, we simply make a smaller version to fit into our cramped garage!

So what have we done in our garage? and what project are we going to try and kickstart?

My company designs and manufactures CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines.

We design the mechanics, we design the electronics and we write the software to control it all.

Research and development, small quantity manufacturing, the design of unique new machines to accomplish tasks needing automation is what CNC Design Limited is all about.

Our marketing targets are the small business and home/hobby markets. Our foundational goal is producing machines of high quality at an affordable price.

We love what we do.

Our website is over at http://www.cncdudez.co.uk where you can see other prototype and production machines we have built, all the way from a high speed 3D Printer that can ice and decorate cakes, to a heavy duty CNC Milling machine we use to produce parts we can use in the production of smaller machines.

For this Kickstarter project we are focusing on:

Desktop Mini-Muscle CNC Machine

The Desktop CNC Market is flooded at the moment with cheap flimsy frames from China that are okay for light engraving or very light milling, but they do not always actually achieve the speeds or handle the range of materials they claim to.

After evaluating our feedback over the last year, we have concluded that there is a gap in the Desktop CNC market pointing to a need for a more Robust/Rigid machines that will cut a full range of materials just like a commercial machine but at an affordable price for the hobbyist or small business sector.

The pictures below show what we have created. We can assure you that not only does this machine perform rapid moves but will cut through a range of materials with ease, with no chatter or wobble to be found.

We will be offering a few pledge options which will be just the frame, or frame with controller and motors, as shown in the pictures. We also may offer this in kit form to knock the price down even more.

Here is a quick run down of the specs.

  • Ball Screws on each Axis (Not cheap trapezoidal threads)
  • 12mm Quad Rails on Z-Axis
  • 12mm Quad Supported Rails on X-Axis
  • 12mm Dual Supported Rails on Y-Axis
  • Frame built of 60x20 anodised aluminium profile
  • Mixture of tough 6mm-10mm aluminium plates -- custom made
  • Total dimension of the aluminium frame (approx)
    Width 461mm
    Depth 461mm 
    Height 410mm
  • Cutting area (approx)
    X-Axis 310mm
    Y-Axis 310mm
    Z-Axis 90mm
  • Clamping area: 370mm x 160mm
    Width of the t-slots: 3 by 5mm and 4 by 8mm
  • Built in Kress spindle holder, can be changed out for smaller/bigger holder to suit your spindle
  • 3.1Nm Motors on each axis
  • 4.3 amps motor drivers mounted in custom box to match machine.
  • Motors fully wired and protected in flexi conduit
  • Will work with all the popular software out there, such as MACH3, Kcam and more

As you can see below, the Quad rail setup on the X and Y Axis means zero wobble or movement when the machine is running and especially when it is cutting.

With the traditional way of mounting a spindle, you always get the expected over-hang, and this can cause unwanted noise, as well as vibration, not to mention undesirable chatter when cutting certain material.

The Quad rail setup does away with the issues above by securing your spindle at the precise center of the machine and keeping it as rigid as we can get it.

The Z Carriage has been designed to take a Kress spindle, but you can also drop a range of other spindles/routers into the carriage as well.

We supply the machine with a 43mm spindle holder, but we can custom make you one to suit your spindle. Simply tell us the dimensions of your spindle and we will make a custom holder to suit.

With the 3.1Nm motors this machine moves incredibly fast when performing rapid travel movements, as well as when cutting.

For obvious reasons keeping the wiring safe and out the way is a must when making up a machine.

We fit the motors with custom end caps that allow the conduit to be fixed securely in place keeping the whole thing looking neat and tidy.

We have mounted our Stepper drivers in a nice custom made box to suit the look of the machine. One simply connects DC power in the back along with the control cables.

All the conduit from the motors terminate inside the box, again, keeping it safe and tidy.

One must keep certain things in mind when comparing this machine to other low cost Desktop CNC solutions out there.

We are supplying the machine with Ball Screws on each axis, along with custom aluminium collars and bearings.  These are not the cheap Acme/Trapezoidal threads that struggle to hit rapid movements and can cause backlash over time.

The frame uses rigid, strong, good-looking! lightweight aluminium profiles -- not cheap thin tin bent and shaped to appear solid and sturdy.

There are no plastic parts used for the mechanics of the machine apart from the retainers that stop the ball bearings from falling out of the ball screw nuts. These are industrial standard components.

Not only do we have Quad Rails on the Z and X axis, but we also have upgraded to supported rails, making the machine fully capable of precision cutting at higher speeds and using bigger cutting tools.

These extras do increase the price, unfortunately, but you will certainly not be disappointed in the performance or how rigid this makes the whole design.

Rather than being hand drilled, each plate and profile are milled on our own bigger CNC Machines for precision.

Stainless steel nuts and bolts are used all around for strength and rust prevention should your workshop like to get damp during winter months!

You get 100% support on email and from the support forums on our website. You do not have to learn another language or, indeed, worry about us not being there next week!

We demonstrate via video and photo examples what our machine can do so you can decide if it will do the job you want before you buy it. We have always done this and find it strange how many companies just do not bother to do this with their machines.

We have tried to keep the price down as much as we can. One way is by introducing the Option1 as a self-build kit.

Option 1: Complete DIY Frame Kit.

This includes all the aluminium plates/profiles drilled, countersunk and tapped.

Also included are stepper mount plates, spacers, couplers, ball screws and linear rails with bearings.

All the stainless nuts and bolts will also be included.

The standard Spindle Holder we supply is designed for the popular Kress Router with a 43mm hole. We can make this to any size to suit the spindle you wish. Just let us know, and we will cut a custom Z-Axis bottom plate along with a spindle holder to suit your needs.

You will need to supply your own motors, stepper drivers, breakout board, controller box and power supply.

Also, we do not supply a Spindle because so many people are selling them at good prices, so no need to try and compete.

Option 2: Fully Assembled and Aligned Frame

This includes all of the parts listed in Option1, but we will deliver a fully assembled unit aligned and tested.

The standard Spindle Holder we supply is designed for the popular Kress Router with a 43mm hole. We can make this to any size to suit the spindle you wish. Just let us know, and we will cut a custom Z-Axis bottom plate along with a spindle holder to suit your needs.

You will need to supply your own motors, stepper drivers, breakout board, controller box and power supply.

Also, we do not supply a Spindle because so many people are selling them at good prices, so no need to try and compete.

Option 3:  Fully Assembled and Aligned Frame with Motors+.

This includes all of the parts listed in Option1, as with Option2 we will deliver a fully assembled unit aligned and tested but this time complete with 3.1Nm Stepper Motors fully wired into custom made controller box with conduit/end caps, breakout board + leads and 4.2amp Stepper Drivers.

Fully tested before it goes out the door.

The standard Spindle Holder we supply is designed for the popular Kress Router with a 43mm hole. We can make this to any size to suit the spindle you wish. Just let us know, and we will cut a custom Z-Axis bottom plate along with a spindle holder to suit your needs.

Also, we do not supply a Spindle because so many people are selling them at good prices, so no need to try and compete.

If pledging for Option3 with motors and drivers then we will be supplying 3.1Nm motors, long with 4.5amp Stepper Drivers.

Again with the power supply, the drivers will run from 20-50 volt.

We were using a 36 Volt Power supply in our video, but depending on whether you want better performance then you may want to go up to 46 volts or even down to 25 volts.

Software

Our machine will work with the popular software already out there on the market such as Mach3 and Kcam. In fact any Gcode interpreter will work if it supports I/O via the printer port.

Simply plug in the controller box to your computer's printer port and configure the software with the settings we will supply.

You can use any Cad/Cam software to produce your artwork and then produce Gcode to load into Mach3 or Kcam etc, to create your parts.

Popular programs such as Artcam allow you to draw up your design and create your Gcode. We use this ourselves and can offer support from our online forums if any help is needed.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

While our initial product lines are in final stages of development, most of the startup work has been accomplished and we have managed diligently to keep our machine at a low price when compared to other commercial machines out there.

We are more than confident that we can produce the machines and get them out-the-door in good time without the many challenges and risks that have already been overcome in the last few months.

We now have the following in place:

1) The design is finished and has been tested with various materials.

2) Suppliers are sourced and secured for specialist components giving us access to all needed parts.

3) A significant number of parts and components we manufacture ourselves to keep the price down. Currently, all the machinery we require is in place.

4) This is our own design from the ground up. We designed and produced the mechanics.

5) Any necessary support is available via our website, complete with forums and member areas.

Challenges we see in ramping up the production to meet anticipated demand:

1) Moving out of the garage into a bigger workshop.

Although it will be a challenge in manpower to do this, we do not anticipate that finding a property in the current economic climate will be a problem.

Sadly for some, there are a lot of empty properties at the moment due to these tough times.

2) Hiring a work force to help us produce and assemble the units.

We are a small family run business and can pull in resources quickly when needed. We will be happy and proud to create local jobs and invest back into the community.

3) Source and supply of parts.

For precision parts that we do not make ourselves, we have companies that are already supplying us. In addition, we have alternative companies that can supply virtually identical products.

Risks:

1) Investment of money for Design, Fabrication and Completion of Proof Of Concept on the product.

These investments have already been made. We have invested our own time and money doing all of the above, not just for this machine but for other machines in our product line.

This means to us there is Low Risk as we researched the market before we even started prototyping the product.

The funding of this project will be directed toward further development of our product line enabling us to expand out of the garage. We intend to keep the garage for R&D purposes and develop the many other ideas we have.

2) It is difficult to see extended risks.

We are confident, given our extensive experience to date with this project, that we can perform to expectations and offer ongoing support and help as needed.

FAQ

  • The ball screws are C7 and the bearings we use C3 grade. So in theory there should be near zero backlash.

    Here is a good link that shows the backlash on C7 ball screws http://uk.misumi-ec.com/contents/mech/product/bs/choice/choice02.html

    We state 0.1mm accuracy to play safe like other low cost desktop machines out there, but you can expect higher.

    But as usual you have to take into consideration the feed rates, cutters and materials you are cutting.

    If you are going to hammer a cutting bit into tough material and wiz it around at silly speeds then you cannot expect any machine to give you the accuracy.

    Last updated:
  • This all depends on motors, drivers and power supply you want to attach to the machine.

    We reccomend at least 3.1Nm motors and with 4.2 amp Stepper Drivers and with a 48 Volt supply you can expect over 5000mm/min (200 inches a minute). Of course you will never want to cut at these speeds !

    We have pushed it to double this speed while experimenting, but you have to remember you have 300mm of travel, by the time you hit these sort of rapid movements you run out of space hehe

    Please feel free to compare the Max travel/cutting speeds of other Desktop CNC machines out there. I think you will be surprised at their limitations.

    Last updated:
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  • Pledge £850 or more
    You selected

    2 backers

    Complete DIY Frame Kit. This includes all the aluminium plates/profiles drilled, countersunk and tapped. Stepper mount plates, spacers and couplers. Ball screws and linear rails with bearings. All the Stainless nuts and bolts will also be included. Please check description for full details of this Option1 reward.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add £85 to ship outside the UK
  • Pledge £1,150 or more
    You selected

    1 backer

    Fully Assembled and aligned Frame. This includes the same parts as Option1 but we will assemble and align the machine for you. The machine will then be despatch in a box fully assembled. Please check description for full details of this Option2 reward.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add £85 to ship outside the UK
  • Pledge £1,500 or more
    You selected

    6 backers

    Fully Assembled and aligned Frame. Complete with 3.1nm Stepper Motors fully wired into custom made controller box with conduit/end caps, breakout board+leads and 4.2amp Stepper Drivers. Fully tested before it goes out the door. Please check description for full details of this Option3 reward.

    Estimated delivery:
    Add £85 to ship outside the UK
Funding period

- (35 days)