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CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer

Posted by Nate_Bro 
CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 25, 2013 12:55PM
This is my first time here so I'm not sure if this is the right location for the topic. smiling bouncing smiley

I have always wanted to build a CNC router/milling machine, and also a 3D printer, and now I have decided to get started.

I have been doing a lot of reading and I think RepRap is my choice, and should fit my needs. I already have a table frame built, its 6'x3', so I will have good sized area to work with.

I had three computers hard drives crash on me the last storm we had so I'm working on getting those fixed so I'll be able to render some 3D models of what I'm thinking about.

what I'm wanting to have once I'm done is a working 3D printer, CNC router/Miller, and also a laser cutter.

I'm working on learning more about cutting lasers, but I'm just needing a low power laser to cut paper templates, plastic air brush stencils, and such, looks like I'll be going with a laser diode, and not a CO2 type laser.

I would also like to add a gas cutting torch, but thats later on and I'm not going to deal with that right now.

Is there already a well documented project that has a machine thats both a CNC router, and a 3D printer? I have done a few searches, but I have not come up with something that I can use as a starting point.

Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 25, 2013 01:00PM
Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 25, 2013 01:57PM
thanks, I forgot about that project!

is anyone using reprap as a printer and router?

also I noticed a lot of people are using mostly the Arduino Mega, for a motor controller with the shield, is this the only option, or can it is possible to build my own arduino uno with all the parts on a single PCB, without having to rewrite the whole library?
Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 25, 2013 02:03PM
you can get the mega for aout 20 bucks now, and I dont think the uno is supported by most of the firmwares. however take a look at the minitronics, it has everything built in for an affordable price.
Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 25, 2013 02:13PM
I might do that, its just I was planning another project and I got enough parts to build 10 Arduino Unos and only used 2 sets, so I have extras.

I could save those for another project if I need too...

how much is involved on the software side of things to go from CNC router to 3D printing?

I figure I'll design a removable tool system, so I can switch between printing, milling, and laser cutting heads..

Is there a printing size limit for the RepRap, or should just under 3'x6' be fine?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/25/2013 02:15PM by Nate_Bro.
Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 25, 2013 06:35PM
OK, I really don't want to discourage you - partly because I also would like to have an all-in-one machine and have thought about the whole set-up for like half a year or so - but there will be a few problems you might encounter.

Working Envelope (or Build Volume): 3 by 6 feet is nothing extraordinary for a CNC mill, but extremely large for a 3D printer. Most of the machines stay well under 40x40cm (3.3 by 3.3 feet). One of the reasons is that warp due to cooling of the plastic parts is a serious issue that most new to 3D printing tend to overlook. If you plan to print multiple smaller parts on the whole area, warp will probably not be that much of an issue, but the bigger the part, the higher the chance of warp.

Warp in moderately small part
Of course, there are methods to counteract this, but it's getting pretty complex the bigger you go.

If you plan to fill the area with smaller parts, you might want to make sure that the whole machine is super reliable, else one single failed part (e.g. knocked off the print bed) may lead to complete mayhem on the build area, affecting the other parts as well.
Worst case scenario?

These problems are more specific to (especially large build volume, plastic) 3D printing, though.

Drivetrain: Now this is a problem of compromises. For the CNC, you need a very stiff and precise mechanism while 3D printers require faster movements with less precision. So on the one hand, we have leadscrews and on the other timing belts. One compromise could be high lead ballscrews, combining speed and precision if you have the money for that.

In the end, I decided to build a dedicated 3D printer because I had to make too many compromises, leading to too many expenses, if I pursued the all-in-one route further.
There are some who are working on multi-purpose machines: QU-BD and WASP come to mind, but I am not really convinced by their solutions.
It would be nice to see someone pull this off more elegantly.
Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 26, 2013 10:34AM
Thanks that helps a lot really!

for right now I'm only planning a 3'x2' 3D print base, because I can't think of anything larger I would need to print at the moment, half an engine case would fit in a 2'x3' area anyways. I'm planning a 1/4" thick aluminum printing plate, with ether a hot water heating system, or peltiers mounted on the bottom, and controlled by a dedicated arduino for temperature regulation.

I have seen a couple chain drives that turned out good, so I think I'll be doing a chain drive for the X & Y (the 6' jog will have a double up of steppers) and then a double ACME screw each with its own stepper for the Z axis.

I have not decided yet on the bottom X axis track system, but the top Y axis I already have, the Y track is a flat 1/4" bar with a V track bearing system I stole from a heavy duty radial arm saw.

I'm working on trying to get a working computer here so I can do a quick 3D render so you all can have an idea of what its going to look like.

Oh and as for the 3D printing side of things, what inexpensive but not junk extruder heads, feed systems and materials do you all prefer?

thanks again!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/26/2013 10:38AM by Nate_Bro.
Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 26, 2013 03:02PM
I did come across this thread, I just wish there were a lot more then a single page, seems a lot like I want to do...

Re: CNC Miller/Router and 3D Printer
May 29, 2013 06:54PM
I have a small CNC machine. So naturally I added an extruder and hot end and made it a 3D printer thinking I will use it only to save real estates and cost. But then I just printed parts to make a dedicated reprap instead. The reprap machine can print a lot quicker and much quieter. The noise from my small CNC machine can be heard even at the top floor of a 3 story home when it has to run fast, and it's still no where as fast as a reprap machine. I printed a printRbot part at 15mm/s (to be sure of not loosing steps in the middle of print), and it took 8 hours. I can print that same part on a reprap machine for about 1.5 hours. Some time prints fail in the middle for various reasons and a slow machine can cost a lot of time to reprint the part. Not to mention wasting electricity in the heated bed and hot end.
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