Figured I better stop lurking in the shadows on the forum and finally share my own MPCNC build…
I was first introduced to the MPCNC platform a little over two years ago when I began my ME master’s program at the University of Washington. The combustion research lab I worked for (and would be continuing to work for through the completion of my thesis) ran out of funding, leaving me with the need to find a funding source to pay for grad school. I applied to be a teaching assistant in the ME department and was lucky enough to be awarded a position. I found out I would be helping teach an additive manufacturing course which focuses on introducing engineering students to all different types of 3D printing technology, molding/casting techniques, gcode, and various CAD computational techniques. I had taken the course myself as an undergrad and considered myself fairly well-versed and in-the-know when it comes to CNC and 3D printing, but when I walked into the additive manufacturing lab the first day I noticed a box full of these bright colored printed parts and adjacent to the box was this intriguing looking machine that I didn’t recognize. I asked the professor (my new boss) what the heck the thing was and he gave me this dumbfounded look; he couldn’t believe I had never heard about the MPCNC. Turns out that box of parts was full of most of the parts needed to build thirteen mini-MPCNC’s, all of which would be built by students in the coming year. Due to how inexpensive and versatile these little machines were, they ended up being a perfect platform for allowing students to get hands on with designing/building/troubleshooting/operating a CNC platform.
Well almost two years later and many hours spent troubleshooting/maintaining a bakers dozen worth of mini-MPCNC’s, I decided I had to have one of my own…
My main goal in building an MPCNC was to have a CNC router that would fit my limited budget and fit in my small garage wood-shop. I ended up deciding on a 2 ft x 3 ft work-area with about 5 inches of z-travel, which I thought was a good compromise between work-area and machine-rigidity.
I have had some 1" 4130 chromoly tubing laying around my shop for a couple years leftover from a bike frame project, so I decided I would make use of it by using it for the main x and y axis rails. This left room in my budget to spend the money on stainless tubing for the remaining rails needed for the gantry and the z-axis. Luckily, my neighbor has a big horizontal band saw and a lathe, so cutting down the tubing to length and squaring the ends was piece of cake.
I have a CR-10 printer that I used to print the 25.4mm version of the MPCNC. All the parts printed without issue, which was a surprise since this was the first big project I used the printer for.
I ended up ordering the Rambo kit, with anticipation of using dual-endstops in the future. I had developed a love-hate relationship with RAMPS through my work with the mini-MPCNC’s, when I ordered the kit I was leaning more towards hate… lol
Jumping to where the build is at now:
The machine is built and moves. I have a router mounted to the gantry, but I have only used the machine for pen plotting so far, mostly for troubleshooting hardware issues. I have the machine mounted to a mobile base that I plan on adding drawers to for storing miscellaneous tools and supplies as well as a sealed cabinet space that I can put my CR-10 in. The goal is to have a compact mobile maker-space.
My current to-do list is:
- Wire management, probably drag-chain style.
- Connect and mount my "Oh Sh!t" button.
- Finish the mobile base cabinet.
- Dust collection for the router.
- Build some stuff!
More details/pics to come…