Mini CNC Machine - Isel CPM 2018

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  • This machine should not be operated without induction.
  • This machine should not be left unattended during operation.

Isel CPM 2018 - Desktop CNC Milling Machine

The CPM2018 is a computer controlled milling machine with three linear axes.


Movement areas X/Y/Z [mm]

Clamping table [mm]

The machine is suitable for milling, boring, cutting, engraving, proportioning, metering, positioning, and many similar applications.

Allowed Materials:

Suitable tooling materials are:

  • Wood
  • PVC
  • Glass
  • Plastics
  • Printed circuit materials

**Aluminium is technically possible (but we need to add cooling to the machine first before this will be allowed)

For safety reasons, graphite is not permissible (danger of explosion) as material.
Also not admissible are materials that produce health-endangering gases during processing.

Condition Notes

Donated to the space September 2018 not working, control system replaced with LinuxCNC / Mesa setup - Q1 2020.

Induction and Training

CAD / CAM experience necessary as a pre-requisite, we are working on a separate introduction session to this as well

Induction will cover:

  • Risk assessment and safety
  • A brief introduction to milling
  • Coordinate systems, work holding devices, tools and types of cutting
  • Using Fusion 360 CAD/CAM machine profile / tool library
  • A brief introduction to LinuxCNC
  • Overview of our Isel CPM2018
  • Loading your GCode onto the PC
  • Homing the machine
  • Securing the stock to the CNC bed
  • Fitting the collet and cutting tool to the spindle
  • Touch off the axes on the stock
  • Running your GCode
  • Cleaning up



Risk Assessment

Description of task

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining is a subtractive manufacturing technology. This means that parts are created by removing material from a solid block (called the stock, blank or the workpiece) using a variety of cutting tools.


A CNC machine removes material from a solid block using a variety of cutting tools to produce a part based on a CAD model.

Identification of hazards and risks

  1. Sharp moving cutting tools – Low
  2. Splinters, small cuts from rough materials – Low
  3. Fire – Low
  4. Entrapment in moving machinery – Low
  5. Exposure to harmful materials - Low
  6. Damage to the machine / tooling - High

Control Measures

  1. The cover of the machine is configured to stop all movement/cutting if opened, starting movement while cover is open is disabled.

  2. After a job has run there is a small risk of spliters or cuts from jagged edges left by the cutting process, care should be taken when removing finished parts / stock.

  3. Heating of cutting tools or materials in rare cases could cause smoke or fire, machine should never be left unattended and fire extinguisher should be at hand at all times.

  4. The stepper motors in CNC machine are fairly powerful and if body parts were in the way with the cover open you could be injured. As in 1. all movement is disabled when the cover is open so this is a very low possibility. If for some reason this safety control stops working, stop machine immediately with the Emergency-Off and place and out of order sign on the machine and notify @cnctechs.

  5. Milling/processing of harmful materials is prohibited, but if you were to cut/mill these, there is a risk of exposure to fine dust and particulates especially when the machine cover is opened to remove finished materials and clean the interior.

  6. Damaging to the machine is the biggest risk for using this tool. Sending incorrect instructions or improperly mounting stock to the base could cause the machine and/or tooling to crash into the stock or milling bed - damaging the tooling / machine or both! Care needs to be taken to properly test GCode before milling and careful attention while the milling process is running to be able to Emergency stop all movement if anything unplanned happens.

    • Feeds & speeds: you can damage an endmill by going too fast (risk of breaking the bit) or too slow (heating the bit and the work up unnecessarily). So look up your feeds and speeds to start with and then run a test before you head into the work. Adjust the LinuxCNC speed % as necessary. A list of suggested feed rates will be compiled as we get more experience with this machine.
    • The machine has no idea where your workpiece or the workpiece holding is in relation to the mill or any of the other machine parts, and it has no idea of how hard it is pushing if it tries to move somewhere and hits something that you’ve put in it’s way. If you’re not 10000% confident in your measurements, your programming, etc then have a test run through air (i.e. without your workpiece in the machine) to see what movements the machine is going to make and whether they line up with where you expect your workpiece to be.
    • Skipping steps: From experience the most common way for a stepper-based CNC machine to fail, is skipping steps and losing its position. This can happen if the machine hits something it can’t cut, or if the cutting tool is pushed to cut where it has no flutes. This mostly happens 5.5 hours into a 6-hour milling job and sends the mill into the exact place that will most likely either ruin your work or damage the machine - so vigilance is paramount - no matter how well your job is going, no matter how confident you are that it’s just going to work out, always, ALWAYS watch the machine whilst its operating.

Again… ALWAYS watch the machine whilst its operating!!

Before Use

  • Power on Isel CNC machine from power socket switch
  • Power on PC using front power button on the PC case
  • Login to Linux with username: cnc password: cnc
  • Start LinuxCNC from desktop shortcut ‘CPM2018’
  • Touch your keyfob in to the tool control box on the right rear corner of the machine to begin your CNC session
  • Release the Emergency-Off switch on the front panel of the machine by turning clockwise
  • Power on the machine with the green POWER button next to the Emergency-Off switch
  • Copy your GCode onto the PC from a USB stick
  • Home all the axes
  • Insert cutting tool and appropriate collet for the desired operation and snug down

During Use

  • For emergency situations, you find an Emergency-Off switch on the front-panel of the machine.
    It interrupts the power supply to the power module and tooling machine.
    However, the software - machine communication remains possible for fault tracing
  • Opening the COVER while machine is in motion will abort the program and stop all movement. Even pressing the COVER button will cause movement to cease.
  • Run your program with no stock well above the bed to make sure movements look correct
  • Firmly mount your stock to the mill bed using appropriate work holding devices
  • Touch off the tool in the top back left corner on all 3 axes on your stock
  • Run your GCode program while paying close attention to machine movements, speed and chip buildup

After Use

  • Press in the Emergency-Off switch to disable the machine
  • Touch out of tool control to end your session
  • Close LinuxCNC application
  • Safely shutdown the PC
  • Remove cutting tool and collet and place back in their appropriate locations
  • Clean the machine carefully and remove chips and dust deposits with a vacuum and brush, the axes can be moved by hand when the machine is powered off to get underneath the axes
  • Power off the Isel CNC from the power socket switch
  • Ensure the cover to the machine is left closed

Reminder: Carefully clean all the chips out carefully with a vacuum and brush after use!


Open the hood before switching off the machine using the mains switch. After this, this is no more possible.

Switch off the mains switch before any cleaning and any maintenance. Also, pull the power plug in order to prevent an inadvertent starting.

Clean the machine regularly with a broom or vacuum cleaner of all chips (no compressed air). That protects the mechanics against early wear.

  • With frequent machining operations and very fine chips (dusts), you should regularly remove the cover plate of the Y-axis below the T-slot plate and remove possibly penetrated chips and/or dusts.

  • The sealing lips include a Teflon component and require no special maintenance.

  • Clean the perspex windows with a non-abrasive fluid cleaner.

  • The shaft guides and drive shafts are provided with a long-term lubrication ex works. Depending on the load, you should grease the shaft guides and drive shafts approx. all 500- 1000 operating hours. Use usual rolling bearing grease for that purpose.

See Isel manual below for detailed instructions.


Isel CPM 2018 Original Manual (3.0 MB)
MS 135 HT-2 Stepper Motors (122.2 KB)
UFM 500 Milling Motor / Collets (171.1 KB)
Mesa 7i76e Stepper controller / Daughtercard (441.3 KB)
DM542T Stepper Drivers (687.0 KB)