CNC Router

I’m about to embark on some house renovation and one of the end results of that will be a larger space dedicated to making things. One of the tools I’m keen to put there is a CNC router, but nothing too fancy or expensive to start with. My main concern is just something that will have at least some marginal practical value and most importantly, will be fun to build. Some popular open source options are the PrintNC, and the IndyMill. These options both look great but will certainly break the £1000 mark which I’m keen to stay under for this project, as I’m saving that £1000+ move for something vertically oriented (thinking something in the vein of the RigCNC).

With that budget in mind I recently stumbled across a really interesting looking project called the RS-CNC32 which seems to be French in origin, and has a bit of a following there. I’d never heard of it until recently but it has a lot of charm I think. What drew my eye first was the gantry system based on square extrusion which looks super fun to build:

The wii-mote nunchuck as controller for it makes me smile as well. I like the idea of all the 3d-printed components because I can print these myself, and I Iike the idea of bootstrapping my way up into the world of CNC. The designer claims the machine doesn’t rely on these parts for structural integrity but obviously they are a concern. I’ve found remixed versions of the parts which have been further reinforced/thickened so will probably opt for those for now. The fact is nothing at this price point is going to be completely without compromise.

The first issue is sourcing either the 100mm x 18mm or 100 x 20mm aluminium extrusion which the frame is largely composed of. One seems to be popular there and the other in the states, but I haven’t really found many options here. I could of course redesign all the parts for something a bit more common, like 80mm x 20mm v-slot, but that’s a bit more of a chore than I’m looking for. I’ve had no problem finding sources for 100mm x 20mm in mild steel flatbar, in roughly the same price. I’m giving this some consideration though I don’t really have experience working with steel and drilling through 2 cm of it seems like it would be a challenge. Also, I’m concerned the weight differential between aluminium extrusion and a solid slab of steel is going to be a problem with the x-axis assembly. I’d be interested what you guys think about this?

In any case I won’t be able to embark on the project further for a couple of weeks, as I’m going abroad for a bit, but for the laughs I’ve gone ahead and printed a corner bracket. Every journey has to start with a single step right?

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