Instructables

Tiny Milling Machine

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I was talking to a fellow member of my school's robotics team, and we got to thinking that we should build ourselves a CNC mill to machine custom parts with.  While doing some research, I came across and Instructable called "How to make a mini milling machine- manual or CNC!."  The design of this particular machine is very good for a small scale milling machine, and I got to thinking I could scale it down even farther- much farther.  This project is the result.

Now that the Epilog contest has entered the voting phase, please remember to vote for me if you liked this project!
 
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Step 1: Materials

It really does not take much in the way of materials to build this.  Here are the tools and materials I used.

Square dowels- lots of them, a few different sizes helps
1/8" plywood.  Mine is marine mahogany, because I have some scraps of it.
Furniture nails- use anything thicker and the wood will split almost every time
Wood glue
Drill with lots of small bits
Brass tubing
Stainless steel axles- these can be taken from RC cars
3 long bolts and twice as many nuts
Dremel tool with flexible shaft attachment. (Other rotary tools will work just as well, such as THIS ONE fro Craftsman
Saw
Box cutter- for cutting the brass tubing
Wood carving knife
"U" screws with bolts
Pliers

Step 2: Building the Base

Picture of Building the Base
In this mill design, the base of the mill contains the Y axis.  To approximately match the length of the axles, I made the base 3.25" square.  To make the rails for the platform to slide on, I drilled 4 holes through opposite sides so that the axles fit parallel to each other at the same height.  All the joints are both nailed and glued in place.
RickBeers1 year ago
I really like that you were able to use basic materials you could find laying around the house to build an simple vertical mill. Anything can be purchased, but for the DIY project, your evolving efforts could lead to a very professional system while also learning a great many skills during development.

I could see this as a 3/16" plywood kit that could be sold for educational purposes.

My personal favorite for a DiY CNC Vertical Mill: made from computer parts
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Hlzs03bJD3E

The low-cost alternative for small-travel parts (~$60):
http://www.harborfreight.com/5-inch-drill-press-milling-vise-94276.html

Low-cost complete CNC xyz systems:
http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/mini-cnc-router-2518.html
and many other sources to include those built in the USA
RickBeers1 year ago
From this you can build parts for a plastic-based milling machine.

From the plastic based machine the parts for a metal-based machine can be built.

From the metal-based machine the scaling up to a larger machine, and optional CNC machine can be constructed.

Nice work, well done.
everywhere3 years ago
add stepper motors to that lead screws and have a cnc choclate engraver. then sell custom engraved choclate bars
Ideal for drilling holes in PCB for IC's
BuildIt60002 years ago
Nice project. The discussion of a CNC mill at the beginning is a tad misleading. Just thought you might want to know that.
tilmen2 years ago
Good project
rickharris3 years ago
nice build - will the next stage be to add stepper motors and connect to your PC??
ben_k (author)  rickharris3 years ago
I don't think so. As cool as that would be, I doubt I'd be able to do so with out doing some major modifications to parts of the design. Also, I don't know of any stepper controllers small enough for this project.
HOWITZER ben_k2 years ago
use servo motors, they are small and strong, also easy to control them.
Why does the controller have to be small? Use the guts from an old 3-in-one printer/scanner/fax for the steppers AND circuitry. There is a good "ible" for just this idea.
ben_k (author)  fly_boy_bc3 years ago
I just think it would be a little silly to have to lug around a stepper controller that is twice the size of the actual milling machine. Not that this is the most practical device anyways...
There is an "ible" on making a desktop mill from plumbing. It also details a controller ripped out of a printer. The controller is about the size of a large cellphone.
ben_k (author)  fly_boy_bc3 years ago
This one?
http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-to-Build-Desk-Top-3-Axis-CNC-Milling-Machine/

If that's the one you are talking about, the controller is not from a printer:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy-to-build-CNC-Mill-Stepper-Motor-and-Driver-ci/

it uses the parallel port from a printer, but that's it.
Poorly phrased it uses the COMPUTERS port and the controller chips from a printer. Anyway free parts and very small controller.
ben_k (author)  fly_boy_bc3 years ago
The instructables I linked to never mentions the use of controller chips from a printer... and it is obviously not "ripped out of a printer" like you said, because he has pictures of the circuit board he etched himself.
The CHIPS were ripped out of a printer.
you could always buy a HobbyCNC Easy driver board, (only $60 and the board is like 3" x 3")

source: www.hobbycnc.com
Zinventor ben_k3 years ago
I made a similar device to this for use with my MakerBot Cupcake CNC 3D printer, the software suports both deposition and machining, as it's normal use is as a ABS Plastic Deposition 3D printer, however, using designs such as http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1897 or http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2071 it's pretty easy to add a dremel, letting you do subtractive machining as opposed to the additive process used by the extruder...

-Z
ben_k (author)  Zinventor3 years ago
Nicely done! I like how you printed the fitting for it with the MakerBot.
Mr Williams2 years ago
You (or your school) don't happen to be a part of FIRST, do you?
ben_k (author)  Mr Williams2 years ago
No, I'm not. We don't really have the budget for FIRST, so we've done VEX for the last two years.
iurius3 years ago
Hi!

I looked at the picture and an old joke came to my mind:

The first Soviet electronic wrist watch is being showed at an international exhibition. A visitor: "Nice watch! But, what's the idea with this truck behind?"
The exhibitor: "Well, you see, it's carrying the batteries..." :)

This could definitely be "World's Smallest Milling Machines", but, unfortunately, the tail is bigger than the dog.

I suggest installing a small high speed motor with a drill head on the machine.

Goog Luck!
dergon3 years ago
Wow apple computers suck
ben_k (author)  dergon3 years ago
Not when you get them for free, which I did.
dergon ben_k3 years ago
You got what you paid for.
ac1D ben_k3 years ago
You got that for free? Woah. Lucky, you are!
If you can get any more, and want to sell, contact me. I am actually looking for one. Tell me the spec, and the price you want for it. Ill also pay shipping, ofc.
NO!!! There just not that good for gaming.
profpat3 years ago
nice work!

now, how to attach your device to a stepper motor?
it's a lil bit rough but the main idea it's really cool :) i will ask my grandpa to build this for my dremel :) using steel :D good luck :)
ben_k (author) 3 years ago
I milled "YUM" into a chocolate bar for fun. The underline messed up the bottoms of the letters a bit, but it turned out okay:
DSCN3326.JPGDSCN3330.JPGDSCN3332.JPG
reyad223 years ago
nice jop my frind thax
venancio3 years ago
it's incredible and seems simple!!, liked it!
blazinEagle3 years ago
nice.
fedIRE3 years ago
YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
Crank that milling machine
sdudley3 years ago
I really like this idea. I might attempt it and in keeping with the simplicity, add DC motors that are controlled via a joystick.
fly_boy_bc3 years ago
"WORLDS SMALLEST MILLING MACHINE"

Not even CLOSE!

You can buy a castings set for an ALL METAL horizontal milling machine from several sources which is LESS THAN 1/4 the size of this one! (they also have a lathe,shaper,drillpress,bench grinder etc.

Real functioning machines for metalworking.

I have also seen perfect fully functional scale models of Bridgeport machines WITH built-in cooling pumps and gooseneck lamps about HALF the size of your device.
ben_k (author)  fly_boy_bc3 years ago
I've seen the bridgeport ones, and they are not smaller:

http://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/Jordan.htm

Could you post the link to the first one you mentioned? I'm curious to see how it was designed.

But anyways, the main purpose of the title is to catch peoples' attention. "world's smallest milling machine" is much more interesting a title than anything else I could think of.
You mean the one you saw at the Craftsmanship Museum was not smaller. The one made by my machining mentor and about 200 other people IS.

THE LINK TO CASTNGS FOR MICRO MACHINE TOOL CASTINGS:

http://cgi.ebay.com.sg/Live-Steam-Model-Milling-Machine-Casting-Set-MM1-/130392122809?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1e5bf9e5b9#ht_1495wt_1162
ben_k (author)  fly_boy_bc3 years ago
One of the ones at the craftsmanship link said it was 'thought to be the world's smallest bridgeport machine' or something along those lines, so that's why I figured that. Thanks for the link, that machine's pretty cool. I'm not sure I understand how it works though, as it seems the milling bit would be parallel to the milling table, not perpendicular to it. Maybe it is a type I have never seen before. Lastly, do you happen to have any pictures of the mill your mentor made, or any similar ones? I'm interested in seeing the design.
If you do not count the TABLE that the mill is SITTIN ON then the BP you have been referring to is MUCH MUCH smaller than yours. Your X,Y translation stage is about FOUR TIMES the size of the mentioned machine.

The castings are for a horizontal milling machine. Yours is vertical.
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