Combo CNC/3D Printer Build

Rebuild of 3D printer to be bigger and better than before

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I purchased a 3D printer for my high school senior project, to design and 3D print a wind turbine, and it worked well for that project but began to have serious problems. Wanting to improve the printer if I was going to take it apart, I decided to design and construct the printer with a larger and more robust frame that could do double duty as a light scale CNC machine. The goal is a quick interchanging system to allow fast swapping of a hot end and milling spindle to do both additive and subtractive manufacturing at home.

Like many here on this site, things are rarely finished as they are perpetual states of improvement. This mill/printer doesn't have an exact goal. I will be happy when I can milling thin aluminum and can print high quality objects, but will always want to improve it. If anybody who vies this project as suggestions or bits of wisdom that they think would be helpful, it would be much appreciated as this project, like many, is a learning experience.

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Fourth revision

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  • It Lives!!!

    Alex Anderson07/29/2016 at 00:15 0 comments

    It is working! The eagle spotted viewer would realize that circle is more of an oval, so I have some belts to tighten and fine tuning to do, but otherwise major forward progress, and next....Printing!

  • Wiring and Other Tid-Bits

    Alex Anderson07/25/2016 at 21:45 0 comments

    Progress on the assembly front! The frame is back together and the wiring is almost complete. I have had to rewire a large portion to allow for the Gshield and Printrboard to used the same motor inputs. They are both tied into the same terminal block now and all I have to do is turn on either one so they will have motor access! The machine is back together and moving, I will most some of the first cut videos soon.

  • Update Coming!

    Alex Anderson06/16/2016 at 17:53 0 comments

    A more detailed update with pictures is coming, but new parts came in for a more robust frame, wiring is being done well so repair and upgrades are far more feasible, and limit switches are going in so printing can begin! Stay tuned!

  • Reworking the Frame

    Alex Anderson04/10/2016 at 20:54 0 comments

    The time is ripe for another frame change! After making some test cuts, I made some observations, notably:

    - I was a serious amount of walkout due to the dremel I am using. This will be solved my using a legit metal mount and a more powerful tool (the Makita I mentioned in the previous build log).

    - The bed would flex due to only three points, very close together. His caused cuts to be at an angle which is now resolved with the fixed bed design.

    - Also, even with 3D printing in mind, The z was higher than I needed. Shortening it would allow me to change to a moving gantry and fixed bed system.

    - Here are a few notes in my notebook:

    The solution is to change the design from a more 3D printer inspired design to a more conventional milling setup. This keeps the bed in place and lets the gantry move in both the x and y direction. This new setup allows for a more ridged frame to allow for less walkout/better milling as well as supporting a heavier, more powerful spindle.

  • Upgrade for spindle

    Alex Anderson03/28/2016 at 21:25 0 comments

    I am looking at upgrading my spindle from my punny dremel tool I am currently using. This would allow me to really cut some materials and not have to baby the mill making sure the spindle doesn't choke. I am looking at a Makita rt0701c palm router as I have heard that the Makita is far less noisy than the comparable Dewalt, and a few bucks cheaper. It will also give me more power than a Chinese DC spindle, and cost less.

    This upgrade will force me to rethink my gantry slightly to bear a larger load and to design a better mount for the spindle which will be the next update.

  • Doing Some Tidying up

    Alex Anderson03/22/2016 at 05:44 0 comments

    I have added an enclosure to the electronics (printrboard, gshield, and PSU) cut out of MDF with a frame of aluminum extrusions. The front panel will be added soon to include quick connectors for the motors and limit switches as well as a power/kill switch.

    Also, a dust collection tube has been added. This is not an ideal design, since it is hot glued and zip-tied, but when I upgrade the spindle I will design in a full dust collection system. This just makes clean up much faster.

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Joshua Ziegler wrote 07/29/2016 at 15:54 point

Have you thought about adding a small suction system to chase the mill to make clean up suck less. ;-)

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Alex Anderson wrote 07/29/2016 at 15:59 point

That is definitely the plan in the future! I want to get the milling dialed in, the printing working and the wiring cleaned up but then I am definitely making a dust shoe. I also plan on getting a quieter and better spindle so I only want to have to design one :)

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[this comment has been deleted]

Alex Anderson wrote 06/17/2016 at 15:36 point


I am currently using nema 17 motors, but I plan to upgrade the x and y motors to 23's when I can save up the money.

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