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 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 .

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)

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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Sofiadelfi2 days ago
La cama caliente para la impresora 3d se puede tener una medida de 800x800milimetros

How many amps for the 36V power supplies each?

aldricnegrier (author)  dj_freakout7 days ago

Power supply-----350W--36V, 9.7A

Hi aldricnegrier,

can I know as to where you connected the LCD display?

Does the Ramps 1.4 Breakout Board support the SD card system out of the box?

aldricnegrier (author)  dj_freakout6 days ago

Yes it does, it supports LCD and SD card.


Hello Aldric, i was wondering what you mean with "drill pecking".... i am looking to build a CNC to route and drill PCB's and enclosures for my hobby projects. You think that this is possibke with the builderbot?

Hello Koen,

You can mill PCB's with the buildersbot with no problem.

There is a GCode (G83) for Drill pecking in normal CNC's, what it means is that your CNC for example will drill a 10mm hole by pecking the hole several times,

-2mm first, than retract to 0mm,

-4mm than retract to 0mm,

-6mm than retract to 0mm

-8mm than retract to 0mm

-10mm than retract to 0mm

This allows for chip removal and drill bit cooling.

Because repetier firmware in not 100% CNC compatible, the GCode for pecking holes will not be recognized. So you need to do drill pecking using G1 gcode instead of G83 by editing your gcode. It is not a problem, it more an inconvinience, because normal CAM softwares offer drill pecking, you can chose drill pecking, and than you need to change the gcode manually from G83 to G1.

It is mostly used in metals and long holes in wood and plastics.

Have a look here:

JacoBez7 days ago

Hi Aldricnegrier,

I've noted that you are using 2 motors on the Y axis and a single on the X axis. That would mean that the force on the Y is twice that of the X. Can you please share with me the behaviour of the machine that you are experiencing when you are cutting for instance a circle or any other shape where the X & Y is travelling simultaneously?

aldricnegrier (author)  JacoBez7 days ago

Hi JacoBez,

2 motors on the Y axis is a widely used technique in the cnc industry, it avoids unbalanced tensions on the corners of the working area.

have a look at these machines:

You can control the power/amps to the motors by adjusting the microsteping drivers. So you can balence the torque this way, or not. it does not matter. As long as your motors don't jump steps.

mellontiko9 days ago

Repetier-Firmware-Buildersbot VERSION 0.92.2 (TESTED and fully working with current project)

Enabled Retraction and Filament Change (for filament change send M600 gcode)

Requirement: LCD Screen

aldricnegrier (author)  mellontiko8 days ago


How many amps for the 12V power supply?

aldricnegrier (author)  lucian.rajac14 days ago

Hi Lucian,

The 12V power supply is 16A, it is for powering the extruder motor and an eventual heat bed.

Do you think I should build the Mega Prusa i3? I would of course like to have the milling function as well.. but at this point I am living in an apartment. I am not sure how to get the plastic parts though... Not many enthusiasts out in the open here in Romania. There are some 3D printing shops.. maybe I can try there...
aldricnegrier (author)  lucian.rajac11 days ago

Hi Lucian,

You should start with Prusa i3 rework for example, it a great overall 3D printer from the reprap project. If you need very big parts than you can go ahead with the Mega Prusa i3. If you can not find some material, contact our store, reprapalgarve, i can send you a Prusa i3 kit to Romania.

Thanks for the reply and for this great project. I haven't built
anything since college and I wanted to make a 3d printer. Thought to do
some research and saw that for most printers out there you need plastic
parts. I wanted the first to be made from scratch and saw your project
here. Have to tell you that it's awesome and that I will build one
myself. Already had the RAMPS + Arduino and display shipped and now
saving money to buy the motors, which are the more expensive part. Also I
am a little bit confused regarding the custom aluminum parts and the
plastic one... don't know how i'll manage to make those but I am hoping
to find a chop-shop with the proper tools. After I finish I will have it
installed in my living room. Thanks again one more time and I will ask
again if I have other questions.

aldricnegrier (author)  lucian.rajac14 days ago

Hi lucian,

I would think twice before building a CNC and having it "installed" in your living room :)

CNC are noisy, create dusts and particles, you can reduce this using a vacuum cleaner (that adds even more noise).

I don't want to des-encourage you, i just want to let you know about these "dirty" details.

A 3D printer on the other hand is a great machine to start , apartment friendly, non toxic (melting PLA), no dust, almost no noise.

Just my thoughts.

Well I know about the CNC part and considered it as well.. But I will mostly do 3d printing with it. The milling will be done only during normal hours and I am considering moving (maybe get a house with garage)

aldricnegrier (author)  lucian.rajac14 days ago

The BuildersBot is a CNC that can 3D print, 3D printing with the Buildersbot is slower than a conventional 3D printer, because of the mass. Do as you wish, if you need help let me know.

mellontiko12 days ago

Hi Aldric!

Couldnt find the problem, so im using 3 stepperdrives one for both Y motors(normal and inverted), X, Z!

Now i build the heater bed so next week i will send you final pics!

PS: did you try the new repertier firmware 0.92.2? (Repetier-Firmware 0.92.2 support volumetric extrusion and filament change).

jpmasse314 days ago


Great project! I am interested in building it myself, would you be able to provide the electronics p/n's you used for it?


aldricnegrier (author)  jpmasse314 days ago

Hi jpmasse3,

Thank you for your comment. I wish i could help but i did not know meaning of "p/n's" :)

Haha. Sorry. Do you know the part numbers and manufacturers for the electronics?



aldricnegrier (author)  jpmasse314 days ago

As soon as i have the time i will make a chart with the parts references and respective manufactures. Most of the stuff is easy to find.

aldricnegrier (author)  jpmasse314 days ago

As soon as i have the time i will make a chart with the parts references and respective manufactures. Most of the stuff is easy to find.

dj_freakout15 days ago

Hi Aldric,

In this method with the Ramps 1.4 breakout board, can you use the milling features without the use of a computer?
Can you mill directly from a usb storage?

aldricnegrier (author)  dj_freakout15 days ago

Hello Dj_Freakout,

Yes you can, by storing your gcode on an SD card and inserting it on the Smart display. It is a ready to run machine, no need for a PC.


That is great, I am replicating your machine, except for the frame is steel.
It is a really good design :)

aldricnegrier (author)  dj_freakout15 days ago

Thanks, if you need any help or have any questions, post here, i will try by best to hep you out as soon as i can.

Good building :) hope to see some photos.

Oh I will post some pics by the end of this week. :) and I was thinking about using GRBL to control the G codes now because I don't have an arduino mega at the moment. Later on I will make the same machine using Repetier.
I would like to hear your opinions about GRBL?
Thanks :) :) :)

mellontiko21 days ago

Hi Aldric!

Have some problem with arduino 1.6

The compiler found many errors but only in thes version 1.6

I have successfully compile and upload it via 1.06 version but once.... Now i want to make some changes in language and settings and cannot reupload it.

Got this messages, "com allready in use" or "java ....issue...."!

Can you help me out please?

aldricnegrier (author)  mellontiko21 days ago

Hi Mellonkito,

You need to disconect repetier host in order to upload a new firmware.

Arduino only "speeks" with one entety at a time. With the arduino IDE or with Repetier Host.

Uploading repetier firmware is straight forward:

- Install Arduino IDE

- Install Drivers (do you have FTDI chip on the Arduino? or other chip (chinese) )

- Configure port and board

- Open and Upload firmware

I have not tested Arduino IDE 1.6 yet, it works perfectly with 1.5.

If you still have problems, you should google your error messages, or ask me again for help, but i think you are trying to upload the firmware with repetier host connected to the buildersbot, "com allready in use".


Have fix the issue, was on my computer and the software version of arduino!

Have almost finish the mashine, be on settings now and performance! Another problem i have to solve is the Y1 motor runs well forward and backward, connected A+ black, A- green, B+ red, B- blue!

The Y2 motor is inverted connected A+blue, A- red, B+ green, B- black.... but run only in one direction forward and not backward.

Do u now any solution?

Thanks in advance

aldricnegrier (author)  mellontiko19 days ago

Hi Mellonkito,

Cant wait to see some photos :)

Change the drivers, connect motor Y1 to driver2 and motor Y2 to driver1 to check if the problems is with the driver. I think it has to be the driver, if the motor turns in one direction, the motor is OK.

Tell me the result of this test so i can further assiste you.


Have make some tests....

Y2 driver works perfect with both motors!

Y1 driver work in both motors only to one direction, i have checked the wiring, the led goes on but i cant understand why only one direction if it is defect?

I will send you pics as soon is possible, actually where?

aldricnegrier (author)  mellontiko19 days ago

What changes motor direction is only one pin/wire, if the
circuit is interrupt it will not change the direction, double check the
driver direction green connector, maby it is defect, only the connector
not the driver.

Maybe you need to open the defect driver and check if the direction pin is not soldered, some times it is just a small problem like this. The signal is interrupted because it is not soldered inside the driver.

The problem may be the direction connector in the driver.

I found the error!

Actually it was something very stupid...... a broken green led of the driver has make the circuit (NC) running in one direction........

So try to fix the led tommorow else i order a new driver!

Thanks again


Hi Aldric

The problem with the motors has been not solved!

I have try all drivers separatly and everything works ok

But the problem begin when i connect Y1 and Y2!

Then the motors run both in one direction.

when i disconect the motor cable again one direction,,,,, but when i disconnect the (HARDWARE DRIVER CABLE) P+P-D+D-E+ cable from one of my motor drivers then motor rotates in both directions.

Looks like wrong pulses??? Cant understand it...

Both motors Y1,Y2 settings are:

- 128000 pulse/rev

- 1.36A RMS

- SW4 ON -> full current

- (V+ V-) connected

- (P+ D+ E+) all together wired from all motors to 5V

- (D-) of both Y motors goes to ramps1.4 ->Y-->dir

- (P-) of both Y motors goes to ramps1.4 ->Y-->steps

Hope you can help me more..... :)

Thanks again

aldricnegrier (author)  mellontiko17 days ago

Dont do your tests with full current, use full current for CNC milling.

Here are some debug tests you can do to try to figure out if your driver is ok.

Set false on all hardware endstops from firmware.

Remove all endstops from Ramps.

1 - Try connecting both motors in the same direction:

MotorY1 - BLACK GREEN RED BLUE -» to driverY1

MotorY2 - BLACK GREEN RED BLUE -» to driverY2

Both motores on same Ramps Dirrection- Pulse-

2 - Try to connect both motors in oposit direction:

MotorY1 - BLUE RED GREEN BLACK -» to driverY1

MotorY2 - BLUE RED GREEN BLACK -» to driverY2

Both motores on same Ramps Dirrection- Pulse-

3 - Try to connect both motors with diferent driver DriverZ and DriverX

4 - Try to connect both motors in oposit direction:

MotorY1 - BLUE RED GREEN BLACK -» to driverY1

MotorY2 - BLACK GREEN RED BLUE -» to driverY2

Both motores on same Ramps Dirrection- Pulse-

aldricnegrier (author)  mellontiko18 days ago

Nice :) It is looking good., thank's for sharing the photos.

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