How to make your own 2D CNC machine that converts into a 3D Printer and back to a CNC machine in less than an hour. Costing less than a CNC machine or 3D printer! (~$1,000.00) In addition, the design will go further than the traditional 3D printer printing ABS/PLA, and move forward to printing with new materials such as 3D Printing Nylon derivatives like tauman 618 as well as Acrylic and PET.
Latest Updates to this Instructable as of 2/28/2016:
1. Major Update…. We can not thank all of you enough as to your many comments, support and help/advice youve given to others here as to the 2BEIGH3!. We released this three years ago and in that time the technology has grown so much we want to take a sec and provide a short update.
With the release of the 2BEIGH3, we were able to start off with a machine unlike any at that time. One that would allow us unfettered control of the 3D Printer portion of the design. In doing so, we were, and still do, operate a similar 3DP configuration in our development of new polymers for 3D Printing. This has allowed us to bring more unique materials to 3D Printing, especially in the area of utility. If you visit our site today, youll see an array of materials from Nylons to Co-Polyesters that are developed specifically for 3DP. All of these materials have gone through testing on a system exactly like the 2BEIGH3 or similar to it. We were never limited by special boards/controllers, thermal requirements, speed requirements, force requirements or anything that was, at that time, part of the few units available for 3DP. We also want to thank those that went before us in the design of CNC units that utilize pipe in their structure. After months of evaluation, these were the design types that inspired us on the CNC portion. While this unit was built using 2 pipe, weve heard from others that have built larger units with 4 pipe. Again proving the pipe design is still valid for low cost CNC. One of the main goals three years ago was to minimize price/cost. With the advent of low cost hot ends and extruders, now available, one would probably be better off going with one of the low cost CNC units now available and simply adding an extruder and hot end. Reduced complexity and ability to handle 1.75mm for 3DP would be initial benefits. Today you can purchase linear rails of several types at lower prices for CNC or 3DP units. We still suggest the 1/4 20 threaded rod for CNC as its very powerful. We still use MACH3 as it works well for both CNC and 3DP. We have upgraded our thermal controller to our own design and may release it next year.
We wish all DIY Instructable users and others the best and again thank everyone for their support and great comments. Given the changes in the last three years, we believe the future is going to be impressive!
Our motto…Give em the knowledge, Give em the tools, Give em the materials and get out of their way
2. There is a full 2BEIGH3 updatehere, along with a source forNylon 3D Printing material here.
3. If you have a new 3D Printing material, there is aSafety Test Procedure for any new and previously untested material here.
As a sample of the unique new properties of just one of these new materials, Here is a 3D Print of a Childs NYLON Prosthetic Insole on the 2BEIGH3 3D Printer.
With the 3D Printer configuration of the 2BEIGH3, you will be able to print parts that meet much higher standards for strength, flexibility and pliability. You will be able to design parts that can take 100s of severe strikes from a sledge hammer and still have a soft velvet like texture.
You will be able to print parts that are almost equal to Factory Die Extrusions. And in some cases, parts that can not be Die extruded due to complexity. The term delamination will cease to be a concern.
Nylon and its derivative polymers have some great features that can be modified with fill density and layer height. Imagine being able to print a permanent coffee filter, bearings that need no lubrication, pliable IPhone cases, extremely tough bands that are so flexible you can tie them in a knot and theyll still support 200lbs!
My hope is that people use this guide to bring their designs and projects to tangible parts and objects as paper and CAD designs are great, but unproven, till built.
My goal for this guide is to take the mystery out of both CNC and 3D printing in such a way as to eliminate that.its all to overwhelming feeling or thought.
Because there are several other specific machine designs out there, both CNC and 3D Printer, please refer to this machine as the 2BEIGH3 or 2 by 3 as I will within this guide.
As I read through the 2D and 3D blogs and sites, its obvious that people with 2D want a 3D and people with a 3D want to try and convert it to a 2D. They are both limited because their machines were meant for a specific action. While CNC machines work with large X-Y lateral forces (cutting bits) they are very powerful but move very slow and 3D printers have almost no lateral force requirement (other than the platform) and move very fast. Because neither machine needs a fast Z axis, the 2BEIGH3 is designed to allow you to swap out the X-Y sections, recalibrate and back to cutting or printing in less than an hour. Actually, my 2BEIGH3 takes 15 min including calibration.
The process is going to be that we build a machine, to make a better machine to then build a slightly different machine. And while that seems complicated, its mostly nuts and bolts. I will try to specifically show you how to create or build the parts you need and where appropriate, provide detailed drawings and CAD files.
Youll see that I have borrowed some ideas from others here on the Instructables web site, and if I forget to mention an already published detail, please let me know and Ill update.
So before we get started, what exactly does a 2BEIGH3 look like?
As you can see the 2BEIGH3 starts out as a scaled up version of Tom McWires Easy to Build Desk Top 3 Axis CNC Milling Machine. When I saw this design, I knew it was what I was looking for because I could scale it up. I think Tom did a great job in showing us a easy frame for CNCs.
So before we get started, just what will we end up with..?
Spec CNC 3D Printer
Build volume 14 x 14 x 6 14 x 14 x 12
355mm x 355mm x 160mm 355mm x 355mm x 355mm
Material Aluminium 3mm or 0.125 ABS and PLA Plastic Rod or Line
Plastics 2-3mm(or 0.125) Nylon, Nylon Polymers, Nylon 6 and 6/6 – 6 Rod
Foam 3mm or 0.125 PET (Plastic from water bottles)
(Steel with the addition of cooling)
X-Y Resolution +/- 0.005 ~ +/- 0.012
Z Resolution +/- 0.005 +/- 0.005
(Not bad, but you probably shouldnt mill pistons for your HEMI or print contact lenses)
Cut/Print Speed 350mm/min 24mm/s
Cutting Foam ABS
Tools/Tips 0.125 0.250 .32mm – .62mm
Software Any CAD that Any 3D CAD that
Makes .dxf Exports .stl
LazyCam slic3r rev 6
PC Win XP Win XP
I/O Computer must have a 25 pin +5 volt
Power usage with stepper motors is difficult to predict as stepper motors use most of their power the opposite of say, fan motors. They are rated in Holding Torque and this means at a stand still they will not slip. So, they actually draw less power moving the tables, then when they are not moving. To hold the 3 used for the CNC, Hi or Lo res, the power is about 140 watts for the motors, drivers and control board. That would drop some as the X and Y tables move. We wouldnt expect the Z axis to move much at all.
With the 3D Printer configuration, we will need to add 55 watts for the Hot-End as it is powered during the entire print. We will also need to add some power for the extruder, but as I mentioned, it draws less because it is always working. A lot less, in the range of 15-25 watts. So for a 3D Printer configuration, we could get over 220 watts.
Before I detail the BOM, I should explain my approach. Like you, I wanted the most for my money. And while it would have been easier to throw cash at parts (if I had cash) like bearings, special threaded rods, hot-ends and extruders, these parts would have also locked us into a machine that would be difficult to scale up or get replacements parts later on. It would also be difficult to hack the 2BEIGH3 for your purposes if there were proprietary components. I have already hacked my own design as I want others to take what they want/need from the design.
In theory you should be able to scale a 2BEIGH3 up to cut 48 x 48 x 24 foam CNC or print a 24 x 24 x 24 block of plastic just by changing the pipe, threaded rod and timing belt lengths. I therefore took the approach that everything should be a commodity or a modified part. Well consider Stepper motors, controllers and drivers to be a commodity for this build. Linear bearings are a commodity, but way to expensive. 3D printer hot-ends and extruders are not yet a commodity, and therefore well be building those. I also wanted to keep the total shipping costs down, so everything (other than standard hardware you can get at any HW store) is available from just 4 vendors. I will mention but not detail small screws. I kept all screws and bolts to ¼ 20 (6mm) and all small screws to 6/32 (4mm).
The BOM describes a machine with a 28 width, 26 depth, 20 height with a ~16 Z axis neck. Again, if you want a different size machine, just scale up or down.
Lets get those things on order that we need so theyll be on-hand when its time to install them
4 each NEMA 23 stepper motors 5-8 kg-cm with 6mm (0.250) shaft
Shop around.there are several places to buy these.
1 each 4 axis stepper controller connects to computer LPT port. (NOT USB).
4 each stepper driver boards that will connect to the controller card and motors.
Note: I suggest a vendor that sells a 4 axis kit thats known to work together.
Ratings should be 3 amps, 12-24+ volts 1-2-8-16 step similar to the one I bought.
Note2: The 3D printer will reuse the X and Y stepper motor but it also requires a 4th stepper for the extruder, thus a 4 axis controller/driver is required.
Power Supply for Steppers The controllers plus driver usually takes two voltages.
For the 7-9 volts, any 1 amps regulated PS will do.an old regulated wall wart should be fine.
For the 12-24+, I suggest a regulated 12 volt @ 10-12 amps as youll not need more voltage with most NEMA 23 and anything higher will make the motors run hotter than required. As 10-12 amp power supplies are not everywhere, I had several 12 volt 4 – 6 amp wall warts about, and my driver boards are individual boards, so I put a wart on each board and connect all the grounds (-) together. Note: do not parallel these PS as they are switchers and will become erratic. Just connect the grounds together.(-)not the (+)
Mach3 CNC Software by Artsoft Inc Please Purchase
LazyCAM CNC Software by Artsoft Inc – Free
Mach3 SW runs on the computer connected to the Stepper Board. It converts GCode from the CAM and Slicer programs and drives the signals to the Stepper Motors.
Now for the first trip to the Hardware store!
Pipe – all are Standard 1 iron pipe. You can buy pieces or like me, I handed the Hardware store guy a list and had him cut and thread. Saved about $20 this way. Again, if you want to scale up, now is the time to go to 1 1/2 or longer pipes.
1 each Flange note..these are made outta gold..!
Refer to the 2BEIGH3 frame drawing to determine what piece goes where.
The goal here is tight..tight…tight. This is why Ive used unions. As an elbow or Tee will never ever line up where you need it, the unions are here so you can tighten the pieces as tight as possible and then use the unions to align for the right angles. This is why they make tape and other sealing compounds, because they know that youll always have to compromise tight for alignment. I do not use Teflon tape, just two large wrenches and muscle. When complete, you should be able to flick the flange with a finger nail and feel it with your finger at either end cap.
As for alignment, at this point, you only need to make sure the Z axis neck is at a right angle to the rest of the frame. There are several ways to do this. I had an accurate digital level. I set the two legs on 2×4 so as not to set on the end caps and used a shim to level the legs for a reference. Then I measured how level the 12 piece connected to the flange was and adjusted the two outer unions to correct. Remember, the Z Axis only needs to be level with the legs not the earth. The Z-axis union is just for rotational needs and you only need to get reasonably close.
Now, look at your frameall your future efforts and work will take place between the two 24 pieces and about 8 up form that center. Now is a good time to build, buy or invent a solid table to support a 2BEIGH3. Im tall, so my table is 48 off the floor. Also, iron is not light. A complete unit can weight 50 lbs +. This is a good time to mention noise. The CNC version will use a high speed mini router that is very loud as it cuts. You must wear ear protection. Period. The 3D printer makes almost no noise, but hot plastics stink and emit fumes, so youll want to vent all other odors and fumes.
NOTE: 3D Printing with these plastics is just like cooking on an open stove.
NOTE II: Polycarbonate can become unstable at very high temperatures.
There will be a separate instructable for 3 D Printing polycarbonate and it will describe a PWM controlled heater for the Hot-End. The PWM controller will have a top limit for temperature. Please do not try to print Polycarbonate with the released design. Polycarbonate can change state from a plastic to a crystal foam that easily catches on fire if the hot-end temperature exceeds 400C. Well above printing temperatures.
Because these fumes emanate from the hot-ends thermoplast area (About the size of a pencil eraser) the actual amount of fumes is quite small. Something along the line of a standard cooking stove vent is sufficient as long as its in a position above the hot-end to capture odors and fumes.
Now is a good time to plan your installation. My wife and kids voted the garage! One last item on the frame. While it may be in the garage, you may want to show your friends. Now is the time to paint the frame. As its iron and will rust, use paint with a rust inhibitor. Youll notice mine is not painted!
Taps as we are going to tap a few holes
The ¼ 28 will be used later for the 3D P but might as well get it now.
A tap Handle as we will hand tap three holes
We will use a hand drill to tap remaining holes.
Small Bench Drill press nothing special, just a small bench drill press. You may even be able to rent/borrow one as we wont need it very often. We will need this to drill the holes for the 3D Printer hot-end and will be drilling a ¼ hole 1 deep in aluminum.
Hand Drill reversible and variable speed
Hardened Drill bits ¼, 1/8, 7/32 and 9/64 – For all 1/4-20 threaded holes, drill at 7/32 and tap to 1/4-20
There will be one hole on the hot-end that is drilled at 7/32, but tapped at 1/4-28.
Ear Protection ear covers or plugs
TIP: I quit cutting small metal pieces years ago and just use a bolt cutter.
Sandpaper carbide for smoothing metal edges
Volt Meter/DVM Harbor Freight has these for ~$5, however, for the 3D Printer, well need one that measures temperature from a thermocouple. Harbor Freight has those including the thermocouple for about $20.00
The 2BEIGH3 uses dangerous extremes to do its job.
I am in no way responsible for any injuries from assembly or usage of the 2BEIGH3.
1. Use caution with all power tools and wear appropriate eye, ear and hairnet gear.
2. While you will be printing at 265c, the hot end circuit can drive to 320C..It will not just burn you, but mark you for life.
3. If not connected correctly, the hot-end can reach 1400F!
4. The Stepper motors connected to the 1/4 20 threaded rod allows the CNC X-Y table to push steel past your cutting bit.
It can crush your finger if you are not careful.
5. As noted earlier, you must vent fumes and odors.
A word of note:I designed and built this unit in 8 weeks from concept to cutting/printing parts. Now that I have them, I can tell you it was not the overwhelming task I thought it would be at all. Just have a bit of faith in yourself and like they say Just do it. Yes, I made mistakes along the way and I threw em in a Dont do that again bucket. And yes my CNC bit tried to drill its way to China, however, Plastic is cheap and disposable. Knowledge is not!
During my design I studied lots of posts here and on other sites. They were so helpful that I have decided to pay back the 2D/3D community by documenting my design. My thanks to everyone that took the time and effort to share their designs.
The 2BEIGH3 is Open Source Hardware. I encourage people to take ideas and hack it. Please refer to it as a 2BEIGH3 or 2by3 so others dont confuse it with already available kits or complete units.
In addition, the 2BEIGH3 3D Printer has a hot-end designed for NYLON. You will be amazed at how you can now print objects that are extremely slippery, bendable, fold-able, tough, durable, semi-transparent and chemically resistant to solvents. Yes, you can print hose, but you can also print soft durable keypad covers, flexible overlays and a zillion other parts that are difficult in ABS.
NOTE Of Caution to existing 3D Printer Owners about NYLON:
NYLON heats differently than ABS. Please see the attached NYLON properties PDF. Simply inserting NYLON into a REPRAP, TOM, UP or other 3D Unit, will probably damage the unit in some way. I have a friend that had to order a complete new hot-end as he didnt heed my warnings.
And yes weed-wacker / trimmer line is made of NYLON…..its also made of fiberglass and other bits and pieces of nasty things. Put it into the 2BEIGH3, REPRAP, TOM, UP or other 3D Unit, and youll hear the sound of french fries being cooked….thats the tip being coated in goo. Burnt fiberglass has to be drilled out (as my friend found out).
In addition, NYLON is extremely slippery and unless you have a Spiky extruder, as extruder will more than likely slip. All Nylon polymers require high pressure extrusion.
0.125 – 1/8 NYLON rods for the 2BEIGH3 are available from McMaster Carr (8538K12)they come in 4 sections, are low cost ~$1.68 are round and will print a lot of small parts. In a few months or sooner, Nylon material specifically for 3D Printing will be availablehere. and anyone can signuphere.
I get the white rod and take a rag and coat the rod with just a bit of old printer refill ink for the color I want. Nylon absorbs water/liquids at a greater level than ABS, so the color looks a bit translucent depending on thickness of the part.
3mm ABS is available from several vendors on the web, just do a search on 3mm ABS spool.
Again, 3D Printing is no different than cooking on an open Stove…..So..
Vent the Odors and fumes..I have uploaded the Dupont Nylon OSHA Handling and Ventilation Guide.pdf for those interested or desire guidance.
We will need to make some parts for our precision CNC table, and to do that, we will make a simplified lower precision table to make those parts. This will be made out of some drawer slides, aluminium U channel and some 12 square boards.
I chose this route rather than to just sayHere is the dwg, just go get them laser cut for two reasons. First, the lower precision table will be good enough to make the parts needed for the 3D Printer X and Y table, and 2nd, some people may not need/want 0.005 precision
Again, this is a lower precision X-Y axis table, so we are looking for close not exact. As you build this table and you see you need to add a spacer (couple of washers), move a hole slightly or add a temporary C Clamp….just do it. The most important part, is actually the NUT for the threaded rod and were going to make a one that will be easy and solid….no slop. I will provide CAD drawings for the precision table in another step. The drawer slides have too much lateral tolerance for a precision table, but are fine for making a lot of parts that dont require +/-0.005 We can make both the precision table parts for the CNC table as well as the 3D Printer table parts with a quick and simple table.
2 each 16 20 Ball Bearing drawer slides These come in a pair =
1 each 16 20 Centre Drawer slide. Single part
2 each ¾ X 36 Aluminium U Channel
2 each Boards/wood 12 x 12 x ~1
These need to be straight. I went to 2 HW stores
To test if its straight, just roll it on the store floor
1 each 1 x 1/8 x 36flat stock galvanized steel
1 each Aluminium L channel ½ x ¼ x 36
These are for the Z Axis try to get clean straight boards.
1 each 1 x 1 x 12 Delrin Plastic
50% for the CNC and 50% for the 3D Printer
3 each ¼ couplers McMaster Carr 6412K11
1 each Electric Cutout Tool Harbor Freight has these for ~$20
This is the business end of your CNC
If you already have a similar tool with a 1/8 collet, that will work as well
1 each Three Flute Coated Carbide End Mill 1/8
McMaster Carr PN 8927A531 $19.00 but worth every cent!
No matter what you cut, from cardboard to steel.
Add TipAsk QuestionStep 9: Getting Those Stepper Motors Running
So, those stepper motors and controllers should have arrived by now!
No reason to go further till we can move motors!
This SW talks to the printer port with pulses that tell the stepper electronics what direction and how far to rotate the motors. It has an excellent and proven track record in the CNC world. It also has a lot of variable/settings that can take a while to learn. Rather than post a tutorial on MACH3, please go to the Artsoft Web site as there as several great videos on setup for Mach3 and LazyCAM
To move you along, I will include my control file as it already has settings for the machine were building.
1. Install MACH3 you should have rebooted after install as required.
2. Leave the stepper controller and motors off and disconnected for now
3. Open/run MACH3 and then simply close it
5. Make a backup of your existing Mach3Mill.xml file
6. Copy the downloaded file over your existing Mach3Mill.xml located in the C:\ Mach3 Directory
9. If the reset button blinks, clk it
10. Go to Config/Ports-Pins/motor output and see the setting noted.
11. The DIR Low active and Step low active are the 2 items that may be different on your controller from mine. When we get to the motors, and they dont turn, these are the settings to click/change.
12. My XML file is set for the ¼ 20 rods with a step division of 8
13. I have attached a simple part in gcode for the 3D Printer.
14. Download it and within MACH3 load it. You may need to change the extension, but M3 will read it.
15. You should see the part in the small graphic window.
16. Clk the ZERO X, ZERO Y, ZERO Z, ZERO 4 buttons
17. Clk the green Cycle start and the SW starts the process.
18. Youll see the progress in the small upper right window, but it is slow as the machine must cut slow.
19. For visual effect, just keep clicking the FEED RATE + arrow to speed it up.
1. Hook up the motors to the driver boards first using the supplied board and motor documentation.
NOTE: Do not power the driver boards without a motor connected or theyll be damaged.
2. Use a few buss bars to keep track of grounds and power.
3. Use an outlet strip with a switch to turn on the power supplies.
4. NOTE: Dont assume anything on power supply polarities. Use the meter to measure and mark polarities.
5. Hook up the 7-9 volts to all boards as needed.
The 7-9 volts is just the low level circuitry power supply and draws less than an amp. Careful, a +5 volt power supply wont work.
6. Hook up the 12 volt PS Again, if you dont have a single supply, then connect the grounds together of four supplies, but the + terminal only goes to a single driver board when there are individual boards. If you have a single board with all 4 axis, then you must use a single 12 volt 10+ amp power supply
some people use a old power supply from a computer. Do a search on this site for examples.
7. Connect a fully populated 25 pin printer cable from the computer to the control board.
8. Connect the interface cable from the control board to the four driver boards if you have individual boards.
9. With MACH3 running, turn on power.
11. You shouldNOTbe able to turn the shaft with your fingers.
12. Place a sticky note paper on each shaft. (so youll see them turn)
13. Use the left, right, up, down arrow keys on the comp keyboard to rotate the X and Y motors
14. Use the page up and page down to rotate the Z motor
15. Use the numeric keypad + and to rotate the 4th motor
16. If the 4th motor does not respond, go to config/system hotkeys and A/U++ to make the + key + and A/Uto make the key reverse.
17. Again, if the motors do not move, you may need to click and change the signal polarity (direction) as noted above.
With motors running, youve won the biggest CNC/3D Printer battle.
This is the part that stops most people from building a CNC machine or Printer. Take your time and check your work before turning power ON. Believe me, it all gets easier from here! Even the 3D Printer is easier than this initial step.
In the photo, youll see a roundish grey unit with a knob on top. This is an Auto-transformer that I use to vary speed of the cutting tool. You will need to reduce the speed of the cutter to cut plastic, but well use a light dimmer as we only need ~55volts at the cutter for plastic.
Take a look at the CAD Drawing image and the photos to get an idea of our Precision CNC Table. It looks like a lot of parts, but there are 10 Y braces that are all identical.
For the X Axis, the table will use 3/8 steel rod and travels along the rod with a captured bearing.
This keeps our cost down as linear bearings are extremely expensive and well need several. This bearing is at any HW store as its used for patio door rollers. ~ $5.00 a pair.
The Y Axis uses the same bearings, but on 3/4 square aluminum tubing as the Y table will move almost completely to either side of the X Axis. We will brace the X Axis as its hard to believe how much a 3/8 rod will bend in just 28.!
The material is 0.220 Plexiglass or extruded acrylic that you can get at the big HW stores. Its tough stuff as used in the horizontal plane on this project.
NOTE: To cut the largest part for this on the lower precision table, you must make sure your low res table can cut a 12 x 12 part.
You DO NOT cut the outline…..Just have the HW store guy cut you a 12 x 12 piece. Lowes sells 18 x 24 x .22 I have them cut 2 pcs 12 x 12 and give me the rest for me to cut smaller parts from.
The drawing shows a cut plastic part for the threaded rod nut, this has been changed to a small block of delrin drilled and tapped to 1/4 20 for a much better fit and easier assembly.
The 12 x 12 x 2 block of wood on top of the table is so we can mount our material easily and in different locations to cut without scaring our nice clear plexiglass.
If you look you can see where my bit went a bit lower than I planned on a part or two!
Parts are connected via a TEE and SLOT that well cut in the plastics. This makes for a very strong right angle mechanical connection of the parts. All assembly screws are 1/4 20 1 Philips The screws used for the roller bearings are the same for the X Axis, but 2 for the Y axis. Youll need twice as many nuts and washers as some screws get more than one of each. I dont count these out as you may not want all the bearings. My 2BEIGH3 only uses 8 for X and 8 for Y, but my design denotes 22 for maximum precision.
The fist image shows the exploded view for your reference. Again, as we have already cut our plasti.