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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keagz2 days ago
(removed by author or community request)
aldricnegrier (author)  keagz2 days ago

Hi keagz,

The Spindle is a Kress FMI-1 1050 Watt (220V), it is controlled manually (on-off-rpm).

Hello, great project!

Can you tell me something about microsteps? How many Microsteps did you set on RAMPS, how many microsteps you set direct on your Motordriver?

Which time did you set in your configuration for Stepper_high_delay?

Thank you so much for your anwser.

best regards Jochen

(Sorry for my bad english)

aldricnegrier (author)  jochen.geist.94 days ago

Hi Jochen.geist,

Very good question, there is a subtitle "trick" here, the Arduino sends pulse and direction to the External Micro-Stepping Driver, so the pulse determines the steps the motor has to make, according to the micro-stepping settings you have on the microstepping driver. So you don't need to touch the firmware, in this setup, the stepping is determined by the driver, the Arduino only sends a pulse.

I set 12800 pulse per revolution on the drivers, this setup results in 128 steps per mm on X and Y axis and 2560 on Z axis.

I could set 25600 (Max value) pulse per revolution on the drivers to get more accuracy if i wanted to, but i think there is a compromise between microstepping and torque, so i left it at 12800 pulse per revolution just in case.


Hello aldricnegrier,

I read a lot because my DQ542MA didn´t move the Motors fine. And i read something over Stepper_high_delay. With 6us my System works fine, but extremly slow....

aldricnegrier (author)  jochen.geist.94 days ago

Hi again,

I have 4 DM542A Drivers and they work flawlessly.

I don't have experience with DQ542MA.

Oh ok, sorry i thougt you used the same drivers....

aldricnegrier (author)  jochen.geist.93 days ago

No problem, all is good.

DarianZ21 days ago

Hello, first off, great project! secondly, can your CNC router work with metal blocks as well? and if not, do you think it would be possible to get it too?

thanks in advance

aldricnegrier (author)  DarianZ21 days ago

Hello DarianZ,

During its short lifetime, the buildesbot has already successfully cut 2mm aluminum plates with ease. I used 0.1mm passes thought, and an appropriate aluminum end mill, i also used some oil lubrication to avoid aluminum dust in the air ( known health hazard).

I have never used it for aluminum blocks, so i cant give you the answer you where looking for.


thanks for the reply aldric, that gave me exactly what i needed to know. one more question though. i am debating whether to go with 2 of the nema 23 425oz, or 2 smaller torque motors, or one motor close to the 425. my build is not going to be as wide as yours, so i am wondering the exact reason that you needed the power of the 2 x 425oz?

thanks in advance.


aldricnegrier (author)  DarianZ9 days ago

Hi DarianZ,

I don't use the NEMA 23 425oz on full power, i use about 70% while CNC milling and 30% while 3d printing. You can control the current to the motor through the micro stepping driver.

The NEMA 23 425 oz are probably more powerful than what you will need but i prefer to have more powerful motors than less.

Hi Aldric,

Thanks again for the very fast response. I am hoping to go with slightly smaller motors, so that is a relief. One last question if you don't mind. After reading through some forums and your instructable, i would just like to clarify what exactly allows a controller board and drivers to command both a 3d printer and a cnc. is it mainly based on the firmware, the gcode (since they use different slicers) or the board? i am debating something like the smoothieboard, but your set up is also interesting.

thank you in advance.

aldricnegrier (author)  DarianZ4 days ago

Hi DarianZ,

The main advantages of using an Arduino+Ramps+LCD Hardware are as follow:

- Farly Cheap solution

- On board 3D printing capabilities

- CNC capabilities

- no need of a computer (SD card support)

Some disadvantages are:

- The CNC functionalities from on-board repetier gcode interpreter do not implement all G codes (such as drill pecking), i personally don't use drill pecking, but if i needed it i would very easily implement a function that could alter the G-Code.

In step 14 i mention the CNC limitations due to firmware limitations.

alvinchua12 days ago


How much is the cost of this project.?

aldricnegrier (author)  alvinchua9 days ago

Hi alvinchua, take a look at step 2, you will find the total cost.


keagz18 days ago

Hi great instructable. Very thoroughly explained. Will you be able to upload the final firmware used on the ramps board?


aldricnegrier (author)  keagz9 days ago

Hi Keagz,

I just uploaded the buildersbot firmware.


hunts.oone25 days ago

hi, what kind of stepper driver do u use? im not too knowledgeable in electronics, if im using DQ542MA from wantai motor, will it work?

thanks in advance.

im thinking of building this, and will be following this build to the teeth

aldricnegrier (author)  hunts.oone25 days ago

Hi Hunts.oone,

I used 4 DM542A MicroStepping Drivers. Here is the link for the 4 axis CNC kit i bought:

I have never used the motors on full power or maximum microstepping.

So using DQ542MA is perfect, it is just an older version of DM542A i think.


WWC26 days ago

Awesome. I was just researching how to run a router off of ramps in combination with a 3d printer. Good work. I like the bigger belts, they can handle more load. Those kind of linear rails are exactally what i want to use also. Cant say enough good about or your project. Great work.

aldricnegrier (author)  WWC25 days ago

Thanks :)

ruisantos1028 days ago

Boa noite Aldric!

Já tinha admirado o teu projecto antes, e foi realmente uma grande inspiração para mim, ainda que a curto prazo não tenha possibilidade de fazer algo idêntico - Mas ando a treinar, a construir uma RepStrap (em breve há-de aparecer por aqui!).

Mas foi mesmo uma agradável surpresa ver essa grande máquina na Mini Maker Faire! Só tive possibilidade de a ver a imprimir um pouco, e de trocar dois dedos de conversa contigo no sábado ao fechar da feira, mas de facto fiquei babado a vê-la ao vivo!

Um abraço, e mais uma vez, parabéns pelo excelente trabalho!

aldricnegrier (author)  ruisantos1028 days ago
Bom dia Rui,

Muito obrigado pelos elogios ao meu trabalho, filo com gosto, e coloquei-o online para todos poderem apreciar e replicar.

Até à bocado não conhecia o RepStrap, bom trabalho e boa sorte.

aldricnegrier (author) 29 days ago

I Just uploaded 2 New videos on steps 8 and 13.

The goal is to show the transmission system and cable carrier in action.

As soon as i can i will upload more videos.


MrTealwoi29 days ago

Hi in the step number 9 you say that the total lenght of the "Ballscrew with Fitted Anti Backlash Ballnut RM1605-C7 is 350mm". Now if the distance between the 2 plates that forming the Z axis and trasmission system is equal to the lenght of the ballscrew, how can I put it in?
P.S. There are a lot of other errors in the sketch up file and a lot of discrepancy between the scketch up file and this instructables. However I think that your CNC project is very interesting but this errors are making me losing a lot of time.

aldricnegrier (author)  MrTealwoi29 days ago

I just noticed In Step 9, there is a photo of the ballscrew coming out of the aluminum top plate, so to answer your question, the ballscrew does not fit inside the aluminum plates it pops out on the top.

You have to fit it in (ballscrew) before you fixate the top and bottom aluminum plates.

aldricnegrier (author)  MrTealwoi29 days ago

Hi MrTealwoi,

I made the design before building the machine, and during the build
process i may have had to altered some minor dimensions i cant remember.

I did my best to document the construction of the machine, but as you may have noticed it is not complete. I prefer building stuff instead of writing about it :)

The main idea is more of less documented.

However I will try to update the instructable to make it more complete as soon as i have some spare time, and i am very sorry for the small discrepancies (it is due to the build period being different from sketch period).



Abosho3la1 month ago

it is really awesome project .. but i want to convert the file of building from skp format to stl or any format that can work on solidworks ... can u help me please ???

aldricnegrier (author)  Abosho3la1 month ago

Hi Abosh3la, i just uploaded .3ds files.

Hope it helps.

ZaKKoS1 month ago

Hi! Can you expand on the electronics part? specifically what kind of drivers you used, where you got them, prices, brand and the like :) It's a wonderful project and i'd like to make my own but i'm not sure about that particular!

were can I find the repetier.ino file?

aldricnegrier (author)  nicholas.vella.31 month ago

Hi Nicholas,

You can download the repetier firmware by clicking on the following link:

The last version is 0.91, just change the lines i mentioned in step 16 and you are good to go.

I can upload the entire firmware if you need it?

JM19991 month ago


aldricnegrier (author)  JM19991 month ago

Thank you :)

Malthe2 months ago

I see, you have used 2 36v power supplies. I am going to build one with a 24v 15A power supply (3x3A motors - 3x 5A drivers). Will it be enough, with 24v and 15A?

aldricnegrier (author)  Malthe2 months ago

Hi Malthe,

I used two 36V power supplies because i run 4 powerful Steppers Motors and Drivers.

You can use the 24V 15A power supply if it is enough to power your motors and drivers.

Keep in mind that the RAMPS 1.4 Board runs on 12V, you can not connect 24V, or you will fry the capacitors. You will also need an 12V 15A power supply.


My concerns were, if i should take a 36V instead of 24V, to 3x 3A steppers?

I know i need a 12v power supply, but i can just take them from an old computer :)

aldricnegrier (author)  Malthe2 months ago

If your stepper driver supports 24VDC, 15A should be enough, to drive 3x3A stepper motors.

Keep in mind the BuildersBot uses 4 stepper motors instead of 3, so you are probaly going to need one more motor/driver/powersupply?

Is it necessary to have 2 motors on X-axis? Mine are also 425 oz.

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