Open source CNC upgrade for 3D printers
Open source CNC upgrade for 3D printers
What is it?
Multi-CNC is a kit that consists of 3D printed parts, custom software and open source electronics. It allows a user to convert their 3D printer into a multi-function CNC device that allows 3D printing, milling and other operations to be carried out. With easily swappable tool-heads, once the kit is installed, changing the CNC process is a quick and easy task. The custom, open source software allows the user complete control over the operation of the 3D printers movements.
As a keen user of 3D printing technologies, myself, I often found myself looking into the possibility of buying a 3 axis CNC router and a laser cutter. Every time I would look into purchasing one I would be put off by how similar they were in layout to a 3D printer, I didn’t want to waste money on a machine that was pretty much identical to that I already owned.
What should you support the project?
This is a campaign to support the early development of the project, for this reason no manufactured parts will be sold. Your support of this project will allow Multi-CNC to become available within the open source community for all to use. As a backer you will get priority in suggesting what parts of the project are focused on first.
How it Started
I initially started Multi-CNC as part of my final year university project and developed the idea to where it is today. As can be seen in the video, the design allows for quick and easy tool-head changes, swapping between a 3D printing head and a milling head. I currently plan to add a laser cutting and vinyl cutting tool head.
It is designed to be 3D printable, so you can use the very 3D printer you wish to upgrade to create the upgrade parts.
The software (WIP) will run on a laptop/PC or a dedicated raspberry pi and control the 3D printer and the tool heads, this allows it to zero the printers Z axis for milling operations to positions that the usual end stops of the printer would not allow for. The software currently works with a very specific hardware set up in a particular way, this campaign will allow development in the software to allow it to run on multiple operating systems with an open source USB controller.
Zeroing: this operation will require a plate of known thickness (x), the printer will be manually driven above the plate where the zeroing button will be pressed in the software, the printers Z axis will then be lowered until the milling tool meets the plate, zero will then be set x below this position. This is the feature that sets the machine apart from others that currently exist, it allows for a much simpler operation, once the milling tool is at this new zero the milling GCODE can tell the printer that to cut at Z-1.0 for a 1mm depth cut.
All of the tool-heads will be designed to fit a specific carriage shape and will allow for quick tool-head changes without the need for complex re-wiring.
Why Open Source?
After building my own 3D printer based around Marlin firmware, I became more appreciative of the work put in by the developers. As this product is heavily built around the work done by Marlin, I feel it is best to develop my kit as open source, so it is open to everyone and not locked behind a paywall. The intent is to develop the cheapest CNC kit for 3D printers that has the most functionality, and the best way to do this is to make the designs and software open source so that the user only has to purchase 3D printing filament, simple hardware and some electronics.
Risks and challenges
This project will be worked on in my evenings and spare time so progress will be slow and steady, being open source I will share all of the files online and will try to set up a website to provide links to everything. I have no formal training in coding, however all the work completed so far has worked reliably and I will continue to learn and improve throughout the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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- (20 days)