Arduino Controlled CNC / 3D Printer Hybrid

Picture of Arduino Controlled CNC / 3D Printer Hybrid

Mother Nature Makes ... We Build.

BuildersBot Fuses 3D Printing & CNC Milling Into One Builder’s Dream ""

The objective of this instructable is to guide your way throw the entire making process of building a BuildersBot machine. An open design Arduino Controlled CNC Router that can also perform 3D printing.

The instructions will cover all areas such as design, mechanics, electronics and software.

But before you go any further take a look at machine's concept design:

And also the machine build photos and the machine in action:

Finally check out the insane effects of the RGB led's on BuildersBot:

Warning Viewer Discretion Advised (Strong Language)

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Step 1: The BuildersBot OpenDesign (Sketchup)

Picture of The BuildersBot OpenDesign (Sketchup)

The BuilderBot is an Open Design machine, that uses Open Software and Open Hardware. It is a product of open projects such as the RepRap, Arduino and Repetier projects.

To view the the machine in 3D just Download the attached sketch file and access the BuildersBot OpenSource Design (in metric system and is in 1 by 1 scale).

Use this design as much as possible for guidance during this instructable.

NOTE: Use trimble/google sketchup to open the file.

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mkoloff3 days ago

Hi Aldirc

First of all, congratulations on this brilliant project. I have a few questions still.

- Do you have the plans for the plexiglass case? A file?

- Could you mill the casing simultaneously with the CNC itself?

- You know already more about the accuracy of the milling machine?

- How to secure the timing belt of the individual axes on the machine?

- Is there already a forum or website where you can exchange ideas in more detail to your project?We just clarify on whether we can rebuild your project. As a forum would be interesting not only for us. :-)

- Can you also mill metal with the router?

aldricnegrier (author)  mkoloffyesterday

Hello mkoloff,

Thank you for your message.

- I just uploaded the CAD file for the electronics enclosure (thanks for reminding).

- You can easily mill acrylic (electronic enclosure) using the Buildersbot

- I will upload a closeup photo of a 10mm acrylic Prusa i3 frame cut using the Buildersbot so you can see the precision. I haven't had time and instruments to measured it yet.

- I just now noticed that i do not mention how to secure the timming belt to the aluminum structures of the machine. I will take some photos and make one more step in the instructuble to explain how it is done.

- There is a topic on the buildersbot on RepRap forum search for "reprap forum buildersbot"

- I have milled aluminum (soft metal) with the machine with no problems.

When i update the instructable i will give you a "heads up" so you can read the answers you are looking for.

"See" you soon.

Silenzio7626 days ago


sorry but I don't undestand the length of the support can't be 800mm if the base is 750mm...

aldricnegrier (author)  Silenzio7626 days ago


The long supported rails measure 700mm not 800mm as i mentioned, and the short 600mm instead of 700mm i mentioned. It is all in the shechup file. I will make the corrections to step 5 and 6.

Thanks for the heads up.

TY for your kindness...But I cannot see the measurements on the sketchup
file(opened via 3 or 4 different softwares) ..maybe I'm too new to those
kind of things!.

aldricnegrier (author)  Silenzio7624 days ago

Download and install "Trimble Sketchup" free version using the following link:

Than download the BuildersbotV8.skp file.

The final step is to open sketchup and select open file, navigate to the skp file and you will see the 3D design.

Sketchup has a ruler on the menu, use it to measure all necessary distances.

I hope you can get it, if not tell me, i can upload a ".3ds" file type.

ty, problem solved for me!


hmockupman26 days ago

Hi,How can i choose the "save toolpaths" box on Art cam pro for export G code to Repetier host?

Screenshot 2014-07-06 18.04.06.png

Machine output file formatt.

aldricnegrier (author)  hmockupman26 days ago

Repetier uses G-Code, just open you G-Code in Repetier.

File -> open (select G-Code File)

Silenzio7626 days ago

The other holes maked(on the and of the bases) are for what?

aldricnegrier (author)  Silenzio7626 days ago

The 3 holes marked on the end of the tubes are for the idler pulley.

ntriaes1 month ago

Tutorial espectacular, estou a pensar em meter-me a fazer um projecto deste género, mas para aplicar a algo que não plano, há alguma possibilidade de se conseguir escavar digamos 3mm em madeira, numa superficie cilindrica? Pelo menos com este modelo?

aldricnegrier (author)  ntriaes1 month ago

Boas :) não sei se percebi bem a pergunta, a maquina BuildersBot não tem função de torno, e essa função tambem não é suportado pelo software. Seria necessario mais um grau de liberdade.

obrigado, era mesmo isso que pretendia saber, se era possivel rodar ao longo de um cilindro, obrigado.

Queria dar-lhe os parabéns, pois parece-me uma máquina excelente.

Não tendo eu conhecimentos especificos de electrónica e programação, acha que serei capaz de montar uma máquina deste género? pelo que vejo o tutorial que apresenta é super detalhado e tem montes de sitios onde recorrer para software e tudo, mas acha possivel alguém sem conhecimentos especificos desta área fazer um projecto a ponto de funcionar, como o seu? é que gostava muito de montar algo assim.

aldricnegrier (author)  ntriaes28 days ago

Sem bases de eletrónica e programação vai ser difícil.

O meu conselho é começar com uma impressora 3D por exemplo a Prusa i3, depois de montar uma Prusa i3 ai vai estar mais preparado para montar a BuildersBot.

I really like it. I like that it is so small and that it is arduino controlled. My only problem I have with it would be the video resolution and video song that is really annoying. I hope to build a 3d printer like it.

aldricnegrier (author)  nschreiber08131 month ago

Sorry about the video resolution, i did it on the fly. More resolution would have been better.

As for the music part, i agree with you, it is the best annoying music out there :) just joking, i respect your opinion.

Not all tastes in music are the same, it could have been worse, i could have put "Brutal German Underground Dark Death Metal" or something in that genera :)


znjofl1 month ago

Is it possible to use Nema 17 stepper's instead of Nema 23 ?

aldricnegrier (author)  znjofl1 month ago

I don't know if it would work with Nema 17, this machine is massive, it weighs in at 60Kg - 70Kg, only the 4 motors weight in at 6Kg :) Maybe if you scale it down a bit some powerful Nema 17 would work, i don't know, just speculating.

xarlock6671 month ago

Let me ask a stupid question. I have been watching 3-d printers for a bit now and no one seems able to make what I would consider to be a "Big" printer. Are dimensions of more than 1.5x1.5x1.5 meters not possible? Why are all the "Big" printers less than a meter in all axies?

I think it's only a question of printing time. Actual plastic printer take like 10 hours for a small piece of 15*15*15 centimeters.

aldricnegrier (author)  RoyJackson1 month ago

I agree, most commercial extruder's normal have 0.35 to 0.5 mm nozzle diameter, this automatically implies long printing times. In my opinion if you what to print big object you need a extruder with a wider nozzle, the quality will suffer but you get a big part printed out in less time.

I wonder if you could use a dual-extruder model, using a larger extruder for in-fill, and a smaller one for detail.
Any thoughts on that?

aldricnegrier (author)  jhall301 month ago

Great idea, even better than dual-extruders would be a motorized nozzle that could change the nozzle diameter mechanically, this is innovative, i will start working on the patent ... oops :)

ps98641 month ago

I'm looking to build my own CNC. I couldn't find the following information (sorry might have missed it). What was your build cost and what is the precision of the machine?

aldricnegrier (author)  ps98641 month ago


The total cost is around 1500€, take a closer look at step 2 to see the items and respective costs in detail.

Regarding precision, i will upload some photos some 3D printed items and CNC cut acrylic and aluminum.

Sorry my bad didn't see that - browser was messing up this morning :(

Do you have a value for it? I am looking for something that is accurate to at least a 10th of a mm.

aldricnegrier (author)  ps98641 month ago

All is good.

I am making Prusa i3 frames using 10mm Acrilic sheets, they look very nice, i will upload a photo with a digital calipers measuring one of the cuts, so we can see the error/resolution. I think its in the 0.1 mm range. I will give you a heads up as soon as i upload the photo.

is it possible to scale this to 6'by 6' by 8' ? / EPIC

aldricnegrier (author)  ElectricBlue1231 month ago

In my opinion, yes you can scale X and Y for as big as you want, just be careful with the Z axis. For CNC milling you need the Z axis close to the fixation points, for 3d printing you need to keep the mass "reasonably balanced". Did you mean 6' 6' by 8" ?

o sorry no not 6'6' by 8" its going to be 8' long by 6' wide and 6 foot tall sorry my bad

o sorry no not 6'6' by 8" its going to be 8' long by 6' wide and 6 foot tall sorry my bad

o sorry no not 6'6' by 8" its going to be 8' long by 6' wide and 6 foot tall sorry my bad

yes and thank you i`m going to basic it off of yours and

for the printer ( the best of both world ) but im still planning it

amekdala1 month ago


aldricnegrier (author)  amekdala1 month ago

Thank you ;)

Excellent build! However.... MIG? Looks like TIG to me unless you had some Pulse short circuit on a MIG rig. .. I didn't see many jigs in the weld-up, wondering how you controlled the deflection and warpage- to NOT translate to backlash.

I was also wondering how he controlled warpage from welding and still maintain everything square, plumb, and flat. I can see in the 5th photo in the frame section that the bottom left leg is out of square, but it appears later on that was corrected. I don't see any adjustable parts anywhere, not even feet. I realize that he pre-drilled the rail mount holes so he could use his drill press, but that probably would not work for me, because I am sure that the rails wouldn't be in perfect alignment after I finished welding it up. I would need the inherent adjustability available by drilling them after I did all the welding & tweaking of the frame. I've tried several times welding up frames and even with trying my best to control heat, tacking, stitch welding, using jigs, blah blah blah, I can never get it perfect.

So, my questions would be just how flat is the top? and just how parallel are the 2 rails? How do you level it? If you've got some tips for welding better frames please put them in the Instructible.

Also, for others wanting to do tube frames, if your application has much vibration you should know that tube frames ring like a bell and make vibration problems worse. This can be mitigated a lot by using heavier materials and by filling the tubes with sand, concrete, liquid rubber (latex paint), or a combination of all of the above. Google constrained layer damping. Basically anything that reduces noise is a good thing and usually reduces vibration and vice versa. Too much vibration causes a loss of precision and accuracy in your work and contributes to chattering and dulling of cutting tools.

aldricnegrier (author)  kidharris1 month ago

Hi kidHarris,

The bottom frame square was welded firs, using a 90 degree ruler, however after welding was finished the square was slightly bent out of shape (in the Z plane), to fix this problem a rubber hammer was used to hammer it in to a "better" position. The next step was to weld the 4 vertical pillars on the corners of the square bottom frame, this part was the most critical, many correction had to be made in order to get perfect alignment (90 degree angles in all 3 dimensional planes) here the use of the rubber hammer was also critical for millimeter alignments.

After this step the per-drilled top U shaped piece was welded separately and aligned. And in the and the 2 pieces where welded together.

In the end we measured all the distances and obtained errors less than 1mm.

I don't know if it was luck or not but i think experience was fundamental, in welding and any other activity, perfection is obtained due to experience, the welder finished this task in under 2 hour (including polishing the frame).

In the end the two mounted rails have and very small error, because the trick was to make 6.5mm holes in the frame and use 6mm screws, so you could adjust the angles. I put the X Axis on top o f the Y axis and pushed the structure to the Ymin position and moved it to Ymax position several times, and during this process i tightened the Y Axis rails screws. So the trick is to use the X Axis structure to align the Y Axis rail angles.

The leveling part has very little error also because the welding was so accurate. However here there is also a trick, i put 2 sheets of ultra-leather under the Y rails, so you can adjust the force of the screws and level the rails, hoever it is a very small adjustment window, but enough to get it near perfection. In the end if you need more leveling, you can always also align the CNC bed to be parallel to the Y rails plane.

I am still working on this instuctable, i will include a section about welding and aligning "tricks" to make it more complete. Thank you very much for your sugestion.

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