RepRap Milling Machine

three axis cnc robot with vacuum attachment

[Chris] liked Cartesian RepRap idea so much that he decided to design his master’s diploma project around it. Though it uses most of the same parts as the RepRap (even the PCBs), [Chris] has adapted it so it does milling rather than 3D printing.  Most of the parts (such as the stepper motors) were harvested from old inkjet printers and typewriters. The thee-axis CNC machine can already etch and carve styrofoam at an impressively high resolution. To deal with all of the debris that comes with milling, a vacuum attachment (shown attached) was created. [Chris] is considering adapting it so it can work with wood and aluminum as well. Best of all, it uses standard G-code files, just like the RepRap. A publication by [Chris] on the project is also available through his website. No plans to release a kit have been announced yet, but we’ll wait and see. If any commenter knows of an open source CNC milling machine available as a kit, feel free to post a link to it below.

18 thoughts on “RepRap Milling Machine

  1. I think the reprap parts of the project include the control system and electronics. Since milling involves lots of mechanical resistance, where 3D printing has minimal resistance placed on the motors, this would logically need a heaver duty frame for the milling unit to travel on. I could be wrong.

  2. There are a LOT of CNC designs that are open source or very close to it, some available as kits, varying in size from desktop to eating whole 4’x8′ sheets of plywood. They can machine hardwood and metal, and are often assembled simply from particle board and iron gas pipe.

    Please, do some basic research. Its not tough. There are a bazillion out there. Though the religious nuts would LIKE you to believe it, the Reprap isn’t the only thing out there.
    The rest of the RP and CNC community tend to actually look on it in pity as a functionally stunted and rather retarded third cousin to the rest of the systems out there.

    Milling machine or 3D printer, you can make seriously more robust machines, at home, for very little if any more outlay money. You do have to spend more time and attention to detail, but that gets you quality.


    Try that link for about the simplest DIY thing out there. Good enough for custom plastic model kit parts and simple circuit boards, at least thats what my friend uses it for.

    His cost about $25 bucks to build plus some scrounged electronics and his Dremel. Runs on opensource CNC software.
    If you bought everything new from the net it would still be under $100-150, electronics and motors included.

    It isn’t much of a machine, but there are opensource designs up into 12′ gantry routers the size of a car, too.

    Try Google or Youtube for god’s sake! There are a lot of people doing this.

  4. @stunmonkey

    I understand that other DIY milling machines have been built; I just thought most readers would appreciate the fact that [Chris] adapted the platform for one tool (which happened to be the RepRap) to another. The one you linked to seems very cost effective (and perhaps a better tool if it performs as well as it seems).

  5. Nice article Jacob Woj.

    Did anyone notice in the video that there is some serious misalignment on one axis where the all thread is coupled to the motor? You would probably get some horrible cutting / movement results down at that end because the all thread is at such a bad angle in relation to the axis rails. When angles aren’t perfectly aligned parallel and perpendicular on a CNC machine, very bad things happen.

  6. Its a bit expensive, but the reprap from (called the rapman) has the possibility to use a dremel for drilling holes. They are still “on paper” though, but the firmware has the possibility to do it.

  7. Both the type of structure and the underlying control method of the Reprap make it unfeasable for milling or drilling holes in anything other than foam.
    The structure type can be fine for RP but not set up for a milling process where force and especially vibration are induced at the head.

    More importantly, the simple sequential motion control system can be fine for RP but not capable of running milling processes effectively.

    The machines are built on completely different paradigms. While you could convert a milling machine to do RP to some degree, the reverse is simply not true.

  8. Interesting idea, but I don’t see it being practical. Just how heavy duty can this go? I wouldn’t expect it to work on anything heavier than foam or polystyrene. Then again, if you’re looking to create small models of something this might just be what you’re after.

    Think I’ll stick to the larger more robust options out there.

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