Castor for CNC


I’ve been making a castor for my cardboard cutter (to keep the material against the mill table). The cutting always tries to lift the material.

Check out this marble castor!

Body for a small CNC

I’ve been looking at the Zen which is made of HD Polyethylene. I’m not sure how rigid that thing is but the idea seems inexpensive. Plus the parts can easily be made on one of my other mills.

Another concept is the wooden box idea such as the makerbot or mantis. It could be bulky but it might also add a lot of structure and rigidity and still be affordable.

It might be difficult to work inside a box with a CNC as well.

One way of the other, I came across this version of the mantis.

It uses a box for it’s entire structure.

This could be very favorable for portability.

Also, if it were fitted with a door in the front, this could be a cool solution for dust and noise control.

To make it even more interesting you can mount the electrical to the box easily.

I think if this were fitted with some sort of vacuum, it would be a great small machine.

The box could be MDF and the door acrylic.

Even if most of the box was removable for when you want the machine to be more open.

Portable, quiet, clean and affordable.

Makergear Extruder Batch 5

Yesterday I finally started assembling my extruder that will be mounted on one of my mills.

It’s uses a stepper with a gear box to control flow rather than a dc motor that uses pressure like a Makerbot.

-Plastruder ~ $180.00
-Stepper controller
-A few pounds of material to work with. I got some black and some orange.

It’s actually pretty satisfying bolting these plastic chunks together with springs, ball bearings and bolts. I can’t wait to be making this sort of stuff.

Plastruder arrived!


Wohoo! My makergear plastruder arrived. It came to about 260.00 (that includes a bit of filament to get started).

I also had to pay about 35 bucks at the border.

I got the 3mm stepper with stepper controller.

Can’t wait to get it running!

I hope it’s not too hard to get it going. I understand lots of people have these running on their mill with EMC2 and Mach III.

I’ve got a lot on my plate but hopefully I can be running it soon!

Marauder Extruder/Mill


I realize that it’s pretty involved to make even a simple CNC mill for cutting plastics and wood. There are nice open source projects such as the Mantis. But for some reason, there is still a high enough complexity that projects are not getting done in my community (despite the low cost of the project). Perhaps the functionality of these projects isn’t compelling enough for people to make the commitment.

So I am setting out to make an open source design that is both a CNC cutter AND a plastic extruder (like a reprap or a makerbot-cupcake (thing-o-matic)). It will have both an endmill and a spindle.

Here’s the plan as it stands (feedback, ideas and collaborators welcome!):

  • Marauder will have a work area of about 11 x 8.5 x 3″.
  • It will be possible to tote it around.
  • It will be based on inexpensive parts.
  • Construction methods will use common tools.

I expect to build many prototypes during the design phase. I’m supposing I’ll sell a few of them during the process.

I have no set timeline. I’ve been working on this for about a month.

Marauder is the current project working name. Naming the project isn’t a priority but I’m sure something will drop out of the process.

Makerbot (Thing-o-matic)


I want a Makerbot Cupcake or a RepRap. Now that I have a CNC mill, I think it would be easier to just add a plastic extruder to it.

Andrew Plumb suggested (a couple of months ago) that I get one of these.

I also need to work out the software chain for this stuff. Any feedback there? My mill is on Mach III at the moment. I intend to convert it to EMC2. Are there any projects that use this stuff?

Jan 21, 2011 update: I have purchased the extruder that Andrew suggested. I also got some 3mm filament to to with it.

Controller: I guess I need to get some sort of controller for this stepper so that I can connect it to a parallel pin on the controller computer.

Heater: What to get for the heater in the extruder? Does that get controlled by a controller or is there a manual setting on a typical cupcake machine? Do I need to know the temperature? Do I need something to display that?

Software: I’ve been using Sketchup and a few other tools to run the CNC mill. How to control the extruder? Is this the A axis? What does this mean when generating the g-code? What is the required chain of programs to get this done?