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Anet A6 to CNC full conversion

Posted by Regicide 
Anet A6 to CNC full conversion
January 03, 2021 09:40AM
Okay, this might be a bit of a long post chain.

I've been 3d printing for 3 years, and have two machines. However, my older machine, an Anet A6, is kaput. I've managed to salvage some parts, listed below.

5 Nema 17 steppers and wires
2 320 mm leadscrews and nuts
2 340 mm linear rods
2 380 mm linear rods
2 420 mm linear rods
8 linear bearings
3 endstop switches

I also have a rotary tool similar to a Dremel, although I'm open to buying a different spindle motor if that's the way to go.

My plan for the machine is to buy some sort of baseboard, possibly plywood, that's at least half an inch thick and 400 mmx400mm. I'll then anchor two of the rods to the baseboard and use two leadscrews on either side as the x-axis. I'll have a horizontal x-axis with the z stage on it. The overall design will be h-shaped.

Now I come to the reason I'm posting: what do I need to know/do to take these raw parts, with a few others I can buy (budget about 300 dollars), and make a capable CNC mill? I want to be able to mill parts up to soft aluminum, but I'm aware that this may be out of reach for my budget and parts. I can elaborate on my design some more, and I'll do that in a comment, but I want to keep my question length down.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2021 10:04AM by Regicide.
Re: My First Strides into CNC
January 03, 2021 10:01AM
Okay, Design elaboration time.

I'll 3d print 4 mounts and put them on the baseboard. I'll add the two threaded rods I own and the 340 mm linear rods, in a threaded rod directly beside linear rod configuration. On each of these pairs of rods, I'll add a 3d printed carriage, and these carriages will support a 420 mm threaded rod that I'll buy and the two 420 mm linear rods I already have. This will support my Z stage which I'll either try to mostly 3d print or possibly buy online, as I'm aware that you can get prebuilt x stages. For the brains of the machine, I was planning on just using an Arduino mega with a ramps shield, as that's what I'm familiar with. However, there may be a better solution for CNCs I'm not aware of. For the spindle, I've already mentioned that I'm planning on using a rotary tool I already own. I might need to upgrade though, I have no idea. If I missed any important parts, please tell me!
Re: Anet A6 to CNC full conversion
January 03, 2021 02:02PM
My own take on it is that a 3D printer can't be used to make anything that could be compared with any real milling machine, or even an engraving machine. Moving the workpiece and/or the milling tool with belt drives is very poor if there is any cutting resistance or vibration from the cutting.

Having said the above, there is still a use for a converted printer as a very light engraving machine as belt drives are quite acceptable if the workpiece and/or the milling head, depending on the geometry of the printer, are light enough. Good examples of the sort of thing they can be coaxed to do acceptably well are engraved PCBs, surface features such as the vacuum grooves on this video [www.youtube.com] - 1mm tool 1mm deep, old-style name labels, engraving with limited Z depth such as wall plaques, etc.

I certainly found my use of the XYZ frame from a 3D printer useful and even enjoyable to use, but if you expect to do even what you can do on a Proxxon MF70 (a very tiny milling machine) you will be disappointed.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2021 02:03PM by leadinglights.
Re: Anet A6 to CNC full conversion
January 03, 2021 03:21PM
I've actually entirely disassembled the 3d printer: my plan isn't to use the chassis as a 3dprinter/CNC, but to recycle some of the parts, like the linear rods and leadscrews. I am interested as to whether the raw motors and leadscrews will be up to snuff, or will I have to upgrade those as well: at that point, it's not really worth using the salvaged parts for a CNC.
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