CNC machine tools are highly useful for when you want to take a CAD design and make real parts as quickly and as easily as possible. Typically, they’re employed in large-scale industrial settings, but CNC machines come in all shapes and sizes. It’s possible to build a useful machine that’s just right to sit on your desk, as [More Than User] demonstrates.
The build consists of an aluminium-framed CNC engraver, designed primarily for the production of PCBs. However, it can also handle plastic jobs, and aluminium if run slowly enough. Like most garage CNC projects, it runs with a combination of stepper motors and an Arduino. The cutting area is 16 cm x 16cm – more than enough for most hobby PCBs.
There are plenty of interesting details, such as the T-slot bed made from U-section steel bolted together, and the simple probe made from a microswitch. Perhaps most impressive though is the tight precision of the cuts. This is particularly important for PCB work, where otherwise minor issues could cause short or open circuits and make the resulting parts useless.
It’s a project that we’re sure will come in handy for [More Than User]’s future projects, and there’s nothing quite like making your own tools. If you’re new to CNC as a whole, consider picking up some design tips before you get started.