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  1. #1
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    Aluminium Extrusion CNC Router Build

    Hi everyone, decided I'd finally put my CNC build on here. I've wanted to get it 100% finished before I put the build on here but when is a CNC ever 100% finished? Never I think!

    Anyways the reason I wanted to put my build up on here is to hopefully educate some of the newer CNC guys out there who are thinking about getting into CNC. I was inspired by so many of the insanely amazing build threads on the zone and they gave me the desire to make my own machine.

    So just in saying that I would like to thank anyone who has written a build thread, chances are I have a photo of your CNC in my 800 or so picture collection from the zone. I look through that collection and it really gets the engineering side of my brain fired up and ready to design and create.

    So my build, well first things first I live in New Zealand so from the get go I knew I’d be ordering a lot of stuff from overseas which added quite a bit to the total cost of my machine. I got the idea for my CNC from Arbo’s build thread: http://www.cnczone.com/forums/open_s..._cut_area.html

    So some details about my machine:

    - Cutting footprint is - X: 490, Y: 840, Z: 130
    - Gecko G540 with 270 oz-in steppers on all axes
    - Kress 1050w Spindle
    - CNC Router Parts carriages
    - Trapezoidal (Metric Acme) 2 start, 12mm diameter, 3mm pitch leadscrews
    - HDPE bearing blocks
    - Dumpster CNC anti-backlash nuts

    All in all my CNC took about a year and a half to get it as you see in the pictures below. During that time I also built a shed to put it in. The total cost for the CNC was NZD $3227.83, $509 of that just shipping to NZ. I’m very happy with my machine, I’ve learnt more than I can say building it. It’s been one of the best accomplishments of my 21 years on this earth.


    I would like to also mention if your reading this and thinking about getting into CNC, I say jump in with both feet. If you think of yourself as a creative type and love to build and make things, you need a CNC!

    I think the most important part of a build is the lessons learnt. You can feel free to skip to the pictures if you haven’t already but I just wanted to say something which will hopefully help any beginners out there.


    First off expect to make mistakes, I made many. Wasted hundreds of dollars, time, mental sanity you name it I lost it.

    Second - plan, design and learn everything you can before building, if you fail to plan you plan to fail. Without my comprehensive CAD model I drew in Sketchup, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I was able to constantly evolve my machine in CAD and test ideas out to see if they would work. My machine is a million times better for it.

    Third - it isn’t going to be cheap or quick, especially if you’re a beginner like me. I would always think “That’ll only cost $50 and take me a few hours to do”, it would most always cost twice what I thought and take me three times as long.

    Fourth - Tools. Not having the right tools for me was undoubtedly the worst part of making my machine. I was lucky I had my old MDF CNC which really pulled through for me and I was able to make some nice parts for my new machine. If you can try get some new or second hand tools, if you’re working with steel get a cut-off saw, if aluminium then a mitre saw with aluminium cutting blade.

    Can’t begin to tell you the ways I pissed around when I should have just gone out and brought the right equipment. Luckily I brought a cheap $100 NZD drill press at the start which was essential for building this CNC and paid for itself over and over, I love that drill press.


    Finally I’d say do what you want to. If you want to start with an MDF build, go for it. I did, was one of the best learning experiences I’ve ever had. I could have sat at my computer and learnt this stuff but I’m a hands on person, I like to make mistakes, learn from them and become an even better engineer/problem solver.

    I started with a quite nasty MDF router, now I have moved on to my ten million times better metal router and I’m convinced the next CNC I’ll do will be just as exponentially better. Sometimes you just have to go the hard way, make the mistakes but ultimately you end up being rewarded.


    Perhaps just some final notes now about my CNC. There’s a bunch of stuff I wish I did different: Used supported round linear rails, 8020, put X axis motor on the left hand side. Money and the ability to ship things like 8020 and round rails to NZ prevented me from getting them.


    Quick summary of the companies I purchased stuff from and their service:

    - Ullrich Aluminium New Zealand – Good people, got most my aluminium off them. Had an issue with the straightness of the extrusions though but they replaced some of the worse off pieces.

    - Dotmar Plastics New Zealand – Great company, sell every kind of plastic you could imagine. Cut it all to length for me and didn’t cost much at all.

    - CNC Router Parts – Ahren was a great guy to deal with, you can tell he cares about his customers. Great products too.

    - Keling – Good prices, quick shipping.

    - Hubbard CNC – Brent really knows customer service, really helpful and gave me a discount for multiple purchases and combined shipping.

    - Merchant Dice – One of the worst experiences of this build. Told me he had shipped goods, month and a half later nothing. No help from him I spent my 21’st birthday calling shipping companies to see if they could find it – He gave me no shipping number. It seems to me he had to order some things in for me, instead of just telling me that he said he shipped it. Eventually I had to threaten going to Paypal and suddenly I had the goods a week and a bit later. Everything on the box suggested it had only been shipped at most 2 weeks prior. When it did finally arrive I got slapped with $100 customs fee, so really was the low point of my build. From his feedback on ebay it seems he’s great when you buy from the UK, just international shipments seem to be a problem. Great products though and I’m very happy with them.


    Thanks for reading, I've written to much. If you’ve got any questions feel free to ask. Now enjoy the photos.

    Edit: I recently created a New CNC Website.

    Cheers,
    Josh
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails old cnc 1.JPG   old cnc 2.JPG   very start of build.JPG   cold rolled steel test fit.JPG   leadscrews.JPG  

    new kress.JPG   box of goodies.JPG   drill press in my room.JPG   g540 test.JPG   parts.JPG  

    Z axis bearning block top 1.JPG   Z axis bearning block top 2.JPG   Z axis bearning block bottom.JPG   z top and motor plate.JPG   nut holder.JPG  

    starting assembly.JPG   starting assembly 2.JPG   starting assembly 3.JPG   lots of clamps.JPG   IMG_3774 (Medium).JPG  

    IMG_3783 (Medium).JPG   IMG_3798 (Medium).JPG   IMG_3796 (Medium).JPG   IMG_3801 (Medium).JPG   IMG_4914 (Medium).JPG  

    IMG_4933 (Medium).JPG   IMG_4937 (Medium).JPG   IMG_4943 (Medium).JPG   IMG_4954 (Medium).JPG   IMG_4958 (Medium).JPG  

    IMG_5011 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5030 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5031 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5032 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5041 (Medium).JPG  

    shaved heads on bolts for clearance on z axis.JPG   z nut holder.JPG   z top connector 1.JPG   z top connector 2.JPG   z top pulleys belt.JPG  

    z top stepper side.JPG   z top stepper.JPG   IMG_5809 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5811 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5805 (Medium).JPG  

    IMG_5801 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5803 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5814 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5817 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5813 (Medium).JPG  

    electronics cabinet.JPG   man cave.JPG   cad.jpg  

  2. #2
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    Very nice looking machine Josh!

    Is the lower end of the Z ACME unsupported? Does this cause any whipping? I can imagine that it makes construction much, MUCH easier.

    ANy chips?

  3. #3
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    Thanks mate!

    The end of the Z axis leadscrew will have a bearing support, just got to cut it out. But nah no whipping, such a short distance almost doesnt need a support.

    Havent cut anything on it yet unfortunately, trying to sort out a vacuum so I can surface the MDF spoil board first.

    Cheers,
    Josh

  4. #4
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    Hi Josh..

    Did you source your acme screws in NZ?

    Per the other thread I'm seriously looking at going down a similar path and the linear and drive components don't seem to be that common in NZ for reasonable prices.

    Cheers, Me. :-)

  5. #5
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    Hey Chris,

    Yea uhh the screws, most time consuming part of the build. I spent so much time trying to find a supplier in NZ or Aus but they only ever had single start screws. I ended up getting my trapezoidal 2 start screws from Merchant Dice in the UK, but if you read above I had a nightmare situation with them. The screws were quite cheap but after I got stung with a $100 customs fee kind of threw the cheap part out the window.

    But yea I think you will have to order stuff in from overseas. You'll just have to do a bunch of pricing up and see whos best. Keeping in mind about customs, if they see anything thats declared on the packaging to be over $400 its an instant $100 customs fee.

    Its unfortunate but as I've found out theres no such thing as a good cheap CNC build, especially with shipping everything to NZ! But in saying that, the end result is well worth it.

    Cheers,
    Josh

  6. #6
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    Heres a quick video of me jogging the CNC on the day I got it up and going:

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ywpde5Vmj1Y"]YouTube - ‪Aluminium Extrusion CNC Router‬‏[/nomedia]

  7. #7
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    I think you set the record for most pics in a single post. Nice job. :-)
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  8. #8
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    Haha thanks. I took almost 200 photos throughout the build, didn't know which ones to put in and which ones to leave out!

  9. #9
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    Lead Screws in NZ

    Hi Josh.

    Nice build!

    For future reference I've found that South Island Bearings in Christchurch can get a really good range of lead screws, both ACME and ball screws, as well as linear bearings and rails. They are stockists for linear automation services. Heres the link:

    Linear Motion Products, Solutions & Systems - IAS

    I hope this helps for the MKIII router!

  10. #10
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    P.S

    Also forgot to say that I think Bosch and a couple of other distributers in NZ stock similar systems to the 80/20 T-Slot stuff. It seems impossible to find online, but if you find a small engineering firm that has some experience in machine building you should be able to track it down

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesHussey View Post
    Hi Josh.

    Nice build!

    For future reference I've found that South Island Bearings in Christchurch can get a really good range of lead screws, both ACME and ball screws, as well as linear bearings and rails. They are stockists for linear automation services. Heres
    Hi James..

    Have you ever bought anything from them for a small / hobby project?

    I called them a couple of years ago inquiring about linear bearings and ground/chromed shafting and I got the impression they really were not interested in my business. Might have caught one of their staff on a bad day but I crossed them off the list after that..

    Bit of a pity for them as my one off difficult order was a prototype for a product that went into production.

    Cheers, Chris H.

  12. #12
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    Hi Josh,

    I have brought from them a couple of times now (non-professionally). I found that they are a proper pain in the arse to deal with over the phone unless you know exactly what you want, but rocking in there with cash gets pretty good results.

    I'm currently tracking down the cheapest T-slot extrude available in NZ through work, I'll let you know what I find.

  13. #13
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    Hey James, cheers for the compliments. I think the machine turned out quite well. Just doing some finishing work like creating a case for electronics, creating a dust shoe and work hold downs. I'll post some pictures soon.

    I did try that company you mentioned but they only carried single start screws and those would have been too slow for me. I've actually aready eyed up a place to get stuff for my next build, ebay store with the name: linearmotionbearings2008. These guys have got seemingly ok quality linear rails and ballscrews at insanely cheap prices, and with the good NZ dollar at the moment, I'm considering starting a new build! I'm addicted.

    And yea think I'll try get some 8020 for the next build, I gave up looking for a good source to get it safely and fairly cheaply to NZ.

    Kiwichris: I saw your thread about your machine purchase. Congrats on that, it looks like a choice machine. I'll be looking forward to seeing some pictures and vids of it up a running. Must be a pain to wait for it to arrive!

    Cheers,
    Josh

  14. #14
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    Urro Josh...

    Ay, it is a nice machine by all accounts.

    After reading the positive feedback on those machines from a number of people on here and some comments on other woodworking forums I got a quote and realised I was wasting my time trying to build a similar sized machine.

    The wait is a little annoying, but it's a bit big to fedex! Up side is it gives me time to clear out my garage. I'm a bit of a hoarder and I've got a lot of junk in there. Already did two runs to the tip with a full trailer and I've got more to go.

    I'll post pics and videos to the other thread when the crate arrives. Should be about 2nd week of September. I've just ordered some misc bits for it which will beat it here, so at least I can play with my new collets and 6mm end mills if I finish clearing out the garage before then! :-)

    Cheers, Me.

  15. #15
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    Chris, good you've got something to keep you occupied. Is your garage in quite good shape? My garage is old and rusty so I ended up building a little shed to fit my CNC, fits in there nice and cosy.

    So thought I'd throw some pictures up. First few photos are of my little electronics cabinet to hold my electronics. That door was the first thing I've CNC'd on this machine, it was quite exciting. It's made from 5mm PVC. Also if you can see in the photo I've put acrylic guards around the whole inside of the machine, they keep all the larger chips contained inside rather than spewing them all over my shed, so quite happy with how those turned out.

    Last six photos are of my dust collection system so far. Threw together a cyclonic lid type collector which works quite well, but as a result of scaling it so small a lot of the fine dust paricles end up going into my dust vac and begin clogging the filter. But it does work, catches all the big stuff and will do in the mean time until I get something more serious on there.

    Next up I'll be making a temporary HDPE mount for my Kress, eventually I'll make a nice one out of aluminium. I'll also be getting on to making a nice dust shoe with magnets to hold different dust boots on the dust shoe.

    Over the next few months I'll keep posting photos of my progress and hopefully by the end of the year I might have some photos up of my first guitar build.

    Cheers,
    Josh
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_5971 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5976 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5978 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5980 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5982 (Medium).JPG  

    IMG_5987 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5991 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5993 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5994 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5996 (Medium).JPG  

    IMG_5997 (Medium).JPG   IMG_5999 (Medium).JPG  

  16. #16
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    Nice work...

    Do the arrows on the dust collector help the dust know which way to go? :-)

    My garage is in pretty good nick, there's just one minor leak at one end I've never managed to track down after about 8 tubes of selly's all clear and the tilt doors are stuffed as a previous owner ran into it with a car by the looks of it. Nothing that can't be fixed though

    The biggest issue is space. It's a 6x9 double garage but I can only just fit one small car (MX5) and a motorbike in there due to the amount of crap I've got.

    There's also a really nice 2400x1200 workbench I want to keep along with a smaller workbench that holds the drill press, desktop lathe and my small CNC. A pushbike, lawnmower, built in workbench, timber off cut stack, sheet wood leaning up against the wall, old pool table, spare computer bits, model aircraft, garden tools, etc, etc, etc, all the normal garage stuff. :-)

    I made scale paper cutouts of all the big stuff I want to keep and worked out how it's going to fit in a few days ago. That lead to shelf design, which I hope to turn into shelf building this weekend. Maybe. ish.

    Cheers Me.

  17. #17
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    Haha yea the arrows were part boredom, part visualising how it would work.

    Sounds like you'll have a nice workshop when your get the garage empty-ish.
    I like the idea of cutting out to scale paper cut outs, wish I had done that when I layed out the setup for my shed. But theres a limited amount anyone can do with a 2.5x3m shed.

    Cheers,
    Josh

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by joshendy View Post
    Haha yea the arrows were part boredom, part visualising how it would work.

    Sounds like you'll have a nice workshop when your get the garage empty-ish.
    I like the idea of cutting out to scale paper cut outs, wish I had done that when I layed out the setup for my shed. But theres a limited amount anyone can do with a 2.5x3m shed.

    Cheers,
    Josh
    I started out doing it in a CAD app but the copy'n'paste was taking ages so I just printed the drawing twice and started shuffling bits of paper... Much more entertaining, not sure it was any quicker mind you. :-)

    2.5x3 ? That's an odd size, was that the max no-permit limit?

  19. #19
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    Hmmm maybe its 2.5x3.5, I cant remember. I'm a 22 year old student living at home with mummy and built the shed with my grandad, I was just happy to get my own workshop/shed. There wasn't much room to put the shed so its right up against a fence, way too close to the boundry line but my neighbour was all good with it.

    Just needed somewhere to put the CNC until I finish my studies and go get an extremely well paying job in embedded systems and I'll eventually get enough money to own several CNC machines (router, mill, lathe) and a house sized workshop to store them in. Thats the plan anyways.

  20. #20
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    That is a most excellent plan!

    My student days were 20 something years ago and I didn't really have a plan, more a meandering direction.

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