Moving the project over here from Bar Sport… and it’s good to be tinkering again!
Put as simply as possible, I am attempting to build a 3D router which will be used to cut images into wood. Given that wood is the intended material, tolerances are important, but the material itself lends itself to tolerances in the tenths of inches and not thousandths, as in fine metal milling. Since the required tolerances are rather easy, I am cautiously optimistic that this can be pulled off in a crude manner, with the help of your friend and mine, Arduino.
My design is very simple- a horizontal xy table on ball bearing rails, driven by a screw drive and a stepper motor per axis. The vertical dimension and router will be a Dremel type tool, with a screw/stepper to control the plunge depth on the otherwise stationary (in x and y) cutting head. A key portion of the project is the rails the platform rides on, which are typically quite expensive… until I was absent-mindedly watching a well-made kitchen drawer close. My design relies upon two sets of ball bearing drawer glides being used as these rails. So far, it’s working stunningly.
My goal is to make it for under a hundred dollars, excluding the Dremel. Fifteen hours from the first concept sketch, I have a working prototype of the xy routing table… With a cost still around fifty bucks, including the BoArduino (just a breadboard-friendly Arduino, a favorite variant of mine), the steppers and the controller circuitry… it seems that the hundred dollar goal is very possible.
Please note that if you are reading this and want to make one, this is something there’s no kit for. You need to be able to work things out yourself and come up with solutions for the problems you run into. My goal is to inspire others to come up with their own designs, like I did- I wanted a machine I can’t afford… so I am foolish enough to believe that I can just build one myself. Even if this device succeeds, don’t kid yourself- this is FAR from a well-engineered device, it will break, and there’s likely to be many issues. That being said… I’m having a ball with this, and to be honest it’s pretty cheap and not THAT hard. Epoxy and duct tape are required !