Minamil 3dp: another minimal CNC mill

A very compact, very inexpensive, very DIYable, very precise little CNC mill. This one uses 3d printed parts.

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"MInamil" -- this time it's "Minamil 3dp" because 3d printed -- is a minimal CNC mill that actually works pretty well. It's small and it's not strong, but it's uncommonly precise for an amateur-accessible machine. Small is a feature, and light cuts with small cutters gets stuff done with available strength and stiffness. Work volume 75 mm x 75 mm x 50 mm.

Finalist! Yay!

Finalist in the 2023 Hackaday Prize "Gearing Up" challenge, that is. And again: yay!

Thank you Hackaday Prize judges!

Now onward to get some more done and a lot more writeup in here...

<23 Sep update:

Progress toward reproducibility! First draft of assembly instructions for X+Y stage done!

See logs:

Ok that's a lot of !s. I'm happy to finish a first whack at XY build doc. It was much less struggle than for the laser-cut version but still a fairly hefty undertaking relative to my capabilities.

So if you want to build one of these things...


Minamil 3dp is another little CNC mill. This one uses 3d printed parts, which give (at least) two advantages:

  • probably more people can 3d print parts today than can laser cut parts
  • much easier assembly vs. building 3d structure from 2d parts

While not at all necessary to make the CNC parts work, a little more work put into the frame/enclosure can make a more practically usable result. The example shown below also shows:

  • a completely new configuration of the integrated enclosure concept relative to earlier work
  • more complete actual accomplished integration of accessory stuff that could be integrated but previously wasn't

And a little side show that makes this work, that I haven't seen elsewhere, and that might help anyone trying to do fine work with a cheap rotary tool: reducing runout.

Cut small stuff from useful materials:

Little airplane in a 4 mm disk cut from brass shim stock with a 0.1 mm V bit.

(yes, I will mix units horribly in this project. it will be ok, we're not trying to land on another planet.)

Sharp, accurate features in Aluminum with tiny cutters down to 0.010" (0.25 mm). This pic is a backlash test pattern for the "big" cutter that I repeated with the smaller cutters because new toys.

This short video is kinda neat but doesn't really add much so I'll link instead of embed so hopefully it won't slow down your first scroll through this stuff:

Mill circuit boards for fine-pitch components:

Breakout board for 0.5mm pitch QFN-16. 

A more specific 0.5 mm pitch QFN-16 breakout for TLV7044 with supply bypass closer to the chip and pinning like the DIP & SO packaged parts. For a different project. Hopefully I'll be able to replace this pic with a populated board "soon"...

Isolated traces down to 0.2 mm center-center pitch with a 0.1 mm V bit.

But that's all flat stuff :-/

Yeah. I've been working on the tool instead of making stuff. But check this out:

First I'll show this little bevel gear,...

... because the "3dp" 3d printed mill that is the object of this project actually for real cut that gear at MRRF. So I hope you'll accept some parts cut by the earlier laser-cut version of this CNC as an illustration of capability:

Spider gears and structure parts for a little differential with a US "quarter" coin for scale.

The spider gear assembly in the complete differential is smaller than my fingernail. There's a <4 min. video about that over in the "2dc" project but it's old work and too much about the earlier laser-cut design to include in this project.

Packaging for UX

The CNC mechanics consist of an XY table and a separate Z axis. The two parts need some sort of frame to hold their positions relative to each other. The frame can be very basic. But I want to use my machine in a smallish urban condo with no "shop"-like space.  So I've put a little more effort into the frame and packaging..

The "telescoping" slide design allows very compact non-operating footprint.

More about packaging -- which is already obsolete because I haven't yet written up several improvements like cleaner DC supply and integrated logic-switched AC for the dremeloid.

Spun off from #Minamil: a minimal CNC mill and companion to #"Desk Accessory" CNC Milling...

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Zip Archive - 1.06 MB - 09/25/2023 at 20:41


X+Y stage parts. For slicing info see

Zip Archive - 6.71 MB - 09/24/2023 at 07:33


  • Thicker Brass

    Paul McClay10/10/2023 at 00:26 0 comments

    Brass. More than 5 mil thick. More to say but it will be another couple of weeks before I get back to this...


  • doors again: current and (maybe) future

    Paul McClay10/08/2023 at 05:20 0 comments

    In the previous log page I walked through the history of the enclosure part of "frame+enclosure". This entry describes the latest iteration. It's all kinda deep weeds and I don't know if anyone will ever actually read it. I wrote a lot about this because it's been one of the more convoluted parts of working out something that might work well enough to call "done" for this project.

    Many words and little proofreading follow, so I have no idea how this all differs from what I think I wrote...

    In all previous flavors of storage/working enclosure, the doors fold 180° to collapse for storage, then close rather conventionally like doors. Another possibility was to have each door fold 90 deg then each door closes around the two open sides, one over the other.  That would avoid having two edges meet at a corner -- which seemed like trouble before discovering that it worked quite well. Reasons I didn't do that in the first place included the hassle of making the hinges different between the two sides, and more significantly, with single-thickness door panels, that leaves no opportunity to attach anything to the inside of the outside door, I already wanted to avoid attaching anything to the outside.  So that was going to complicate closure.

    Then I looked for hinge options to get away from tape and decided to try these:

    seller's pic

    They multiply the panel thickness. Folding them double also adds the width of the web between the two panels, so the fold would be that much more than twice as thick. Quite counter to my earlier obsession with minimizing footprint @@@link.

    That was a reason to reconsider wrapping the doors around the corner instead of folding double. Joining thin panels with thick hinges also relieved the problem being unable to attach anything to the inside of the outer door or outside of inner door (i.e. only to inside of inner door). So, giving that a try...

    Those hinges fit between panels. Their thickness sets a "free" thickness for hinges at the frame. After looking at a lot of unsuitable hinges, I figured out that was enough to space for bespoke hinges.

    The dark material in that pic is just tacked on to show where the solid side would end if it were cut for the thicker panels. The outside door edge should bear directly against the solid side panel.

    "bespoke hinge" really means three different hinges -- just for that side.

    On this side the hinges carry the inner door while the edge of the outer door should bear directly against the inside face of the solid side panel. For the inner door, the hinges also back up against the solid side panel, and clearance between the fixed half and the edge of the door goes to zero with the door closed. When pushed in from the corner, the inner door should bear directly against the fixed parts of the hinges which bear against the solid side panels. A few small plastic parts will be more squishable than the whole door edge meeting the side panel, but the hinge in the inner door will buckle and/or compress before sending much load into that door panel anyhow.

    Then there are more different hinges on the other side to keep the hinges behind the plane of the outer panel.

    Again for the hinged panel the clearance between the moving panel and fixed half of the hinge goes to zero with the door closed, to bear whatever load they get which will be moderated by the hinge between door panels on that side.

    In that corner, the inner door panel bears against the thicker fixed parts of the hinges, which again bear against the frame side panel.

    (This pic also shows how the enclosure panels extend below the hard box to the level of the bumper feet to sweep the work surface. That helps to contain the mess. And I think flat-ish smooth-ish surface is a reasonable requirement for what to have under this thing.)

    That all adds a lot of bulk, especially where the folding hinges double up at the...

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  • feature creep vol. {n+=1}: doors

    Paul McClay10/07/2023 at 05:34 0 comments

    Another log mostly about already-dead stuff that I took pictures of before breaking it down to make it different again.

    I tried to make this vulnerable corner at least not super fragile. It turned out to be super not fragile.

    It will take a much harder hit without damage. But the under-developed closure is just a short peg that sort of gets close enough to a small magnet to be weakly encouraged to not wander away, and hitting it much harder was bouncing the doors open, and that would confound the point of this visual demonstration. So just a tap for show.

    I think I'm going to miss that clean, durable arrangement. The problem is that it was hinged with packing tape and that's not a long-term solution. I've been noodling ideas for making hinges that should age better with least loss of compactness or acute durability.

    I've had another go at it, and maybe found a thing to try next. But first, a little about how we got here.

    Starting with some history from the preceding laser-cut designs up to what I liked about the last iteration before breaking it.

    Before beginning

    Way back in pre-history, a piece of paper on each side of the frame did the job.

    CDROM discards are a perilous gateway drug.

    One thing lead to another and I got started into the laser-cut precursor to this project, retronamed "Minamil 2dc".

    Zeroth: zero

    A couple of 2-axis testcuts with just the first XY table encouraged me to:

    1. keep going with the idea
    2. rig up some sort of debris containment ...

    First: pepakura

    ... so before cutting anything, the first 3-axis frame had a 3+-sided paper shroud.

    The "wings" projecting forward from the sides kept debris pretty well corralled to the tabletop. That actually got a little bit elaborate where it folded around and projected beyond the frame, and passed moving wires through without opening a big hole. (cable management has been a thing from the get go)

    Aside: in this project I emphasize the distinction between the CNC mechanics and the fancy enclosure that you don't need to make the CNC part work. Here illustrated. You don't even need a road atlas if you don't mind a little mess.

    Made from garbage-grade wood scraps, used uncut as found.

    Second: win

    This actually works really well.

    Four-sided enclosure. That really helped to make table-top work more simply practical. Taking advantage of how the horizontal axes collapse to a footprint smaller than needed in operation, the walls of the debris corral fold in to make a smaller box that doesn't have to occupy a bunch of space that it's not using.

    Having the front panels cut before I had any idea what to use for hinges, I just taped the panels together to visualize the basic idea while I figured out what to do for hinges. That worked well enough to become the answer for hinges.

    Aside: the side panels were cut tall enough to be taller than the raised Z axis (sans tool) and protect it for mindless storage. Then the Z axis got longer and broke that feature. The counterweight and its mast and beam fit inside[a] the closed box for storage -- until the counterweight got killed off.

    [a] Sub-aside: that vid emphasized need to have a vacuum handy. That was self-inflicted by opening the doors outward then getting clingy debris up to my elbows after reaching in there. Later I got the clue that pushing the doors in, like the one on the left in the right half of the pic above, allows reaching in and doing stuff with much less hassle.

    Made from less crappy wood, HDF, and acrylic scraps, cut on a table saw.

    A relevant feature of this version is that the attached doors fold back flat against the side panels.

    That proved really helpful when flipping the box around to do stuff with the doors open, and when handling a removed side panel without either removing then re-taping the door panels, or dealing with an awkward big thing that's either awkwardly floppy or awkwardly levering...

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  • about runout

    Paul McClay10/02/2023 at 08:18 0 comments

    tl;dr: if you can see it you can tweak it

    Some examples of work from this little CNC and its precursor demonstrate pretty small runout from a generic faux-Dremel rotary tool. Repeating that will be part of replicating this project for anyone so inclined. It also seems like it could be useful to anyone trying to do fine work with a not-so-fine tool.

    The point, when I get to it, will be anticlimactic. It's pretty simple. But I haven't seen it elsewhere in my limited scope of reading. So: sharing. Akshully I've written this before but that was buried in another topic and without illustration. So: sharing with pictures this time.

    To reduce runout when using a cheap generic rotary tool and maybe some other small-cutter tools:

    • See the current runout using stable magnification that you're not trying to hold still in your hand
    • Tweak the bit toward center
    • Repeat until runout sufficiently reduced

    That's all <yawn/>.

    More verbosely, and with pictures...


    The gif above shows a view through a microscope on a stand that can look sideways. But that's cheating. Here's a method more in line with the "low cost" theme here:

    That's my daily driver phone in a little pocket tripod (which I've cropped :/ but you've seen a tripod before).

    • that phone is not new but not too old to have a camera that can focus close enough to do this
    • manual focus in "pro" mode helps; otherwise you'll probably need to put something right behind the bit to appease the autofocus
    • the viewfinder grid provides a fixed reference to help perceive small deviations at the tool tip; otherwise put something with a vertical edge close behind the tool (which might also appease the autofocus if you're stuck with that)

     That looks like this:

    While less crisp than the gif above, you can see that you can visually resolve a small fraction of the bit diameter (0.5 mm in this case), which is the practical scale for runout.


    Established Brand general purpose rotary tool collets aren't fantasticly precise. Generic clone rotary tool collets are really poor (typically, in 2023Q4). They are basically poorly made ball joints. The good part of that is you can point the bit any direction you want.

    I'm using very small cutters here, which don't generate very large radial forces. So firmly finger tight on the collet is tight enough. A very tight collet makes it hard to make small tweaks. If the collet is not tight enough, the bit will "walk" out and drive down into the workpiece. So there's an element of "just right", but for small cutters that seems to be a pretty wide range and easy to hit.

    Very small cutters break easily at the tip, so take care to apply tweaking to the shank and not the thin end.

    I think you should probably not do this: I started out tweaking by hand -- with a finger around the bit and thumb against the collet for good leverage. That sometimes meant pulling pretty far down the narrowing neck of a short bit and perilously close to the skinny end. Nothing bad happened, but that just seemed way too close to blood to expect that it would never go badly. So I printed a tool:

    I've been using that, but It's just a first whack at the idea and not a great example. So I hope you'll make a better one.

    Applying tweak without slashing a finger. In the photo my finger is behind the bit for contrast, which makes this a poor example of applying tweak without slashing a finger, but you can see the idea.


    While you probably won't get as close as you want on the first try, this method seems to converge much faster than "open loop" fiddling for that once-in-many low-runout chuck-up that teases you with knowledge that it's possible but only happens when you're not trying to make it happen rant rant.

    And if you're still reading...

    Rolling a stiff cylinder around the collet nut to make a slip-on anti-pointy guard has saved some bits and probably some blood. Especially useful...

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  • to shrink, or not to shrink, that is the aggravation

    Paul McClay09/26/2023 at 02:07 0 comments

    This is just a rant so I can stop thinking about it.

    So I made another frame last year. The one on the left:

    I made it a little big considering uncertainty about how big it needed to be.

    Earlier this year, it looked like some of the packaging ideas were working and I got fired up about redoing pretty much everything less haphazardly and taking it to MRRF. Including shrinking the footprint to match shrinking uncertainty about how big it needs to be.

    To start with, I cut the mounting tabs from the bottom of the X+Y stack and switched to screws up from below into the interior of the tabless bottom part. That reduced the lower bound on footprint. And also slightly confounded my first draft build doc.

    But such a laundry list of things to (aspire to) do before the show, and finite time, and other life. And other aspirations on said laundry list -- mostly accomplishing or improving integrations of function into the frame and redoing the extra-janky first whack at the folding enclosure -- were bigger step changes than "see! it's a little smaller than that other one you won't ever see".

    So, reluctantly, I abandoned the idea of making a new frame. That was hard to swallow because most of everything else I wanted to do would be made to fit the frame and everything made to fit the oversize frame was a nagging reminder that instead of shrinking the frame I was sinking more sunk cost into the oversize frame that I still hoped to shrink "later".

    Later is now.

    Cutting the simple excess while allowing for thicker hinges shaves the square from 191 mm sides to 182 mm. Not very exciting. So I've spent yet another chunk of time pouring over sketches and CAD looking at things that make the footprint bigger than the basic square dimension of the X+Y axes and what I can shuffle to debigger them. Getting down to 175 mm wouldn't be too hard. 170 mm if I do something different with the rather thick X motor connector that I've just spent time neatly securing at the back of the X+Y stack. 

    So I could shrink the footprint by 21 mm each side. Less than an inch but a little over 10% or a little over 20% area. That serves the objective of minimizing the footprint i.e. maximizing the brag. And I don't think any hard constraints prevent shrinking other stuff in the box to match. But then that's time spent to build a new frame, plus time to more significantly re-arrange (vs. incrementally improve) all the sunk cost other stuff in the frame.

    To do, or to not do? To decide before sinking yet more time in the other integrated stuff. Aaaargh.

    Ok. I'm going to not. But keep plugging with the frame in hand, with all it's surplus bigness.

    BuT iT cOuLd Be SmAlLeR!

    But it's not. Again. Sigh.

  • Z axis parts & assembly notes

    Paul McClay09/25/2023 at 22:21 0 comments

    I've just uploaded STLs for the Z axis to the files section.

    This Z axis works. It's also pretty crude. Unlike the X+Y stage which I've worked through several revisions, I've sliced and printed exactly one set of Z parts[a} and they've worked well enough to let me do other stuff -- like spin revisions of the X+Y parts.

    [a] except pulleys; I've printed more pulleys.

    If you've built the X+Y axes, then I don't think there's much in the Z axis that won't be self-evident.

    The major design deficiency relative to intent is that the tool clamp is not as quick and easy to use as I'd like -- to support the idea that you can use your everyday rotary tool instead of committing a unit to semi-permanent installation.

    Oh yeah - it's modeled for 6" zip ties. Almost missed that. 4" ties will probably work.

    About pulleys: I'm currently using one motor and running it too hot for PLA. Consequently, I've printed a pulley in PETG. It's working fine. I don't know if it's possible to run the motor cool enough to use PLA. Because I haven't tried. If not, then more likely it's possible to use two motors and run them cool enough for PLA.

    The design provides for using two motors. Mainly because the earlier laser-cut version of this basic configuration was uncomfortably vulnerable to dropping the spindle without warning so the redundant motor/pulley/cord was cheap insurance. I think that's less of an issue here because the hoist cord(s) don't pass close by sharp stuff and do run in plain sight. So you have a better chance of seeing trouble before it happens and less chance of provoking trouble. Also, by choice not necessity, I'm using Spectra® cord (UHMWPE) which seems to be practically indestructible.

    Non-printable parts:

    • see also here
    • 2 x rods: 6 mm x ≥165 mm (length not constrained)
    • 4 x bearings (3 x would work and might work fine)
    • 1 or 2 x 28BYJ-48 motors with
      • 5V windings
      • convert to bi-polar
    • 6 x m3 screws
      • 4 x 20 mm (15 ≤ l ≤ 25)
      • 2 x 16 mm (14 ≤ l ≤ 18)
      • so could be 6 x 15 ≤ l ≤ 18 mm
    • 6 x m3 washers feel like a good idea but probably don't make any real difference
    • (2 or 4) x m3 x 10-15 mm screws
    • string -- notes in "Hoist" part of "Step 4" in this 'ible.

    The "nose ring" part is threaded for common Dremel-like clones and might not fit real Dremel tools. It's not essential and I don't know how much difference it really makes.

    Tie motor end of hoist cord(s) and install with pulley like steps 14 & 15 here.

    Limit switch goes here:

    (the turns of hoist cord around the pulley should all be adjacent starting from the flange -- this photo was taken with the axis detached and handled randomly)

    Point of interest: the clamp parts & saddles are not circular but slightly "trilobular".

  • XY stage assembly

    Paul McClay09/19/2023 at 03:11 0 comments

    <update today=Sep25>Now basically a done first draft. yay.</update>

    This is a draft in progress, but if you want an early start here's something to start with. There is a lot of me describing what I do rather than saying what you should do because this is just the beginning of letting daylight into the path-dependent evolution of how I've been doing this, and of the "this" that I thought I was doing. Some stuff may be mid-edit nonsense. Or pre-proofread nonsense. Public chat is open for the project -- big orange button on the project page.

    Build yer X-Y table/stage/thing


    plastic parts

    part checks & cleanup

    Check all the V-block surfaces -- the 45º flats within zip tie circuits. See bright blue highlights in the image below. Low spots are probably ok but high spots are trouble.

    Check some of the vertical flat surfaces, and probably trim some edges. See the yellow highlights in the image below. They include the inboard ends of the bearing V-blocks and both ends of bearing clearances. The outboard ends of the bearing V-blocks need to be clean enough to allow the bearings to sit level in the blocks but are not dimensionally relevant.  Also the perimeter end of the motor bay and the business end of the limit switch clearance. These surfaces should be flat and perpendicular to the top or bottom of the part. but likely have some distortion due to elephant's foot, top solid layer expansion or some such, and likely need a little trimming where the vertical meets the top/bottom face of the part.

    note: the bottom part you printed from the STLs uploaded here will have three attachment tabs around the edge that are not shown in the photos here (and fewer holes on the bottom)

    "bottom" & bottom of "middle" parts shown -- check same features for "top" and top of "middle" parts

    Here's what the bottom part uploaded here looks more like:

    I've uploaded the tabbed version because I expect that will be more practically easy to use in pretty much all cases other than obsessing about footprint. But I wasn't really thinking about that when I started taking pictures for this draft.
    good V; bad V

    The low locating feature at the other end of the motor bay needs to be clean too, but it always has been in my experience.

    Generally clean up stuff that doesn't look right.

    You can validate bearing clearance cleanup by dropping in a bearing and measuring the remaining clearance. That will be the hard limit to range of motion.

    With geometrically perfect parts, that would be 77.2 mm. If I continue assembly with that part as shown, and if that's the shortest clearance of the three in that axis, I'll end up with 0.6 mm less range of motion than the CAD model. That's still comfortably more than 75 mm, which I think is ok -- 3d printed PLA after all -- and is the reason why I say ">75 mm" instead of "77.2 mm". 

    Check that a zip tie fits through all the tie passages. It may not always be obvious which way a tie is supposed to go, so the next couple of photos try to show orientations for all the ties in the "middle" part.

    zip tie orientations
    porcupine-mode for illustration only -- a single tie will suffice for checking all the passages

    I think that part includes examples of all the ways ties are used in the "top" and "bottom" parts, so you can check those parts too.

    "Elephant's foot" or expanded top solid layers might constrict some of the tie head openings, so check that a tie head fits freely in any that look tight, or trim edges for a free fit if needed. It's unlikely that a head won't fit at all -- that would be really bad layer spread -- but any friction holding the head will make removal a little tedious.

    Where tie heads should not stick up, like on the top surface of the top part, make sure the bottom of the head clearance recess printed cleanly so that the head sits all the way down. Especially where the recess is printed upside down; sometimes...

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  • Parts to get started

    Paul McClay09/17/2023 at 02:45 0 comments

    Thinking about making one of these things for yourself?

    To get started with starting to get the getting started started to push out sufficient information to inform doing that...'s a rough rundown of parts to collect for the CNC mechanics. At this point I've iterated the XY stage design more than the Z axis so I can be a little more specific about that.

     ̶ ̶I̶'̶m̶ ̶w̶r̶i̶t̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶  I wrote about slicing and printing the printed parts separately. And the assembly process (forward-looking statement ahead...) as a richly illustrated and procedurally detailed Instructable -- which I expect will be not nearly as intricate as for the laser-cut version.

    At this point, the scope of this info here includes the CNC mechanics (X+Y & Z axes), which will work in a very simple frame. Writing up stuff to stuff into the more fancy integrated desktop enclosure to follow.


    • PLA
      • 250g for XY table
      • haven't weighed Z axis or (optional) fancy enclosure accessories
    • bearings
      • 10 x LM6UU
      • 6 for X+Y; 4 for Z axis
      • generic "brands" appear to be all the same inconsistent quality; buy more and select
      • MSM bearings appear to be a clear step up from generics for not so much more coin
        • (2 x 8 pcs cost <$1 more than 3 x 4 pcs at 16 Sep 2023 pricing)
      • "real" parts cost real money, like USD20 each
    • rods
    • XY Motor+leadscrew
      • two; one each for X & Y axes
      • nameless generic product, often including "80mm stroke" in description
      • searching "stepper 80mm stroke -nema" seems effective: google, duckduckgo
      • with white plastic slider not bra$$ $lider and linear bearings
      • there are two plastic slider types; don't care
      • there appear to be two wire types
        • 300 mm wires with 2.54 mm pitch connector
        • 200 mm wires with 2.0 mm pitch connector
      • the v0.9.0 STLs have details that favor the 300 mm/2.54 mm wires/connector
      • some sellers like this one show drawings of two types A & B
        • but I've received a "type A" unit with type B wires/connector, so might have to ask if care
      • printed backlash adjuster ("bladj" STL) to be installed like this (different details; same procedure)
    • M3 tap
      • for printed backlash adjusters ("bladj" STL) for X & Y motors
    • paperclips
      • aka backlash adjuster locking springs
      • two
      • or other springy bendable wire ~0.8 mm diameter
    • Z motor(s)
      • ye olde 28BYJ-48
      • 5V
      • one motor
        • works
        • but I'm running mine too hot for a PLA pulley (using PETG)
        • possibly could reduce drive current enough for PLA but I haven't tried
      • two motors
        • cheap insurance against some free-fall failure modes
        • more likely able to run cool enough to use PLA for pulleys
    • zip ties
      • 4in, 18lbs
        • how does the rest of the world specify cable tie sizes?
        • tie straps ~2.5mm wide, ~1mm thick, at least 100mm long
        • stronger 4in ties exist but I think the straps will be too wide/thick
      • square heads (no gussets between head and strap)
      • many
        • current count: 36
        • get more for trial fits, waste, dis/reassembly, etc.
    • printed zip tie tools
      • tool STLs to print
        • "tietoolshort" -- short tool for short tie strap tails
        • "tietooldeep" -- long tool for deeply recessed tie heads
      • many of the tie heads are recessed below surrounding surface
      • need a way to hold down tie heads while pulling tie straps tight
      • my current practice is ... not refined
        • better ideas welcome!
      • cable tie tensioning tools exist but
        • I don't have one
        • all that I've seen pictures of assume free clearance around the tie head
    • limit switches
      • three (XYZ)
      • search "KFC-V-307" or "Camera A15"
      • example
      • 6 x small screws
        • I have some scavenged 1.6 mm x 4.8 mm x 0.5 mm pitch
          • pitch is more coarse than coarse M1.6 and I haven't found a source for any similar
          • 1.6 mm is just a hair big for a mild interference fit,...
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  • STLs 4 XY & slicing

    Paul McClay09/12/2023 at 14:35 4 comments

    At this time, this log page describes printable parts for the XY stage. Z axis and other accessory stuff to follow Real Soon Now. STLs today; I intend to share the CAD later after a think about how much clean-up it will get.

    NACA duct FTW

    My 3d printing experience is narrow. PrusaSlicer 2.5.2 defaults for Ender 3 Pro w/0.4 mm nozzle define my normal for whatever I don't mention below.

    <update>added PrusaSlicer version 2.5.2 because I just tried 2.6.1. While it looks smarter about bridging over infill under top layers and wall thickening, 2.6 apparently just generally fails at bridges over voids - has since alpha. Bummer.</update>  



    • if PrusaSlicer, then 2.5.2 not 2.6.n -- at least not until bridging gets fixed
    • download from Files section
    • filenames: "minamil3dp-{part}-v0.9.[01].stl"
    • Classic perimeter generator
    • 0.2 mm layer height
    • 0.45 mm shell thickness
      • default changed from 0.45 to 0.44 mm at some point; I deferred thinking and changed it back to 0.45
    • one perimeter
    • fill gaps off
    • detect thin walls off
    • 10% gyroid infill
    • check slicer output for sane bridging angles where crossing over voids
      • PrusaSlicer sometimes fails sanity
      • bridge from solid to solid -- no turns in free space
      • bridge across long narrow voids -- not lengthwise
      • fix fails e.g. by setting "bridging angle" in a heightrange modifier
      • assuming I've successfully modeled bridgeable details...
    • other hardware
    • These STLs reflect conservative changes, presumably improvements, since the last versions that I've actually in fact printed for myself as of writing this.

    Big parts

    • XYbottom - "General" parameters
    • XYmiddle - "General parameters
    • XYtop - "General parameters, and:
      • slice/print upside down
      • optional to make stiffer:
        • break into parts (not objects)
        • inner part set perimeters=11 (whatever gets the slicer's attention) to generate internal structure
        • I haven't assessed the practical benefit beyond making the part qualitatively less bendy

    Small parts

    • XYwireguide
      • two perimeters
    • XYtietoolshort, XYtietooldeep
      • two tools; print one of each
      • slice/print big end down
      • fill gaps on
      • 100% rectilinear infill
    • XYbladj
      • print two parts
      • slice/print flat side flat
      • Arachne perimeter generator
      • 9 perimeters (big number = all perimeters)
      • tap for M3 thread

    Less Briefly:

    Single perimeter

    10% fill

    thin walls

    Instead of printing lots of plastic to make parts strong, I started out printing as light as possible to expose weakness in hope of making parts stronger by design first before resorting to pouring in more plastic. So far, I'm still printing light. I think that's a feature. Mainly because printing less prints faster.

    single 0.45 mm perimeter + 10% gyroid infill

    I'm using a 0.4 mm nozzle, 0.45 mm extrusion width, 0.2 mm layer thickness, 4 solid top & bottom layers, gyroid infill, and PrusaSlicer. I haven't messed with any of that so I don't know that they are "best" choices, only that they're working well enough to let other stuff draw more attention.

    I'm using 10% infill because 5% was too sparse to support bridge areas under internal features -- and/or the slicer wasn't extending internal bridging areas far enough to span large gaps in 5% infill. I wish the slicer was smarter about bridging to something in the layer below instead of just spanning an arbitrary offset around the feature to be supported above.  Or building an infill edge around the area it wants to bridge. PS is open source, but that's a rabbit hole I'd rather fall into. There are other slicers[a] and I haven't tried any adaptive infill.

    PS adds material to thicken non-vertical shells. I get that, but in the interest of printing lighter to see where parts are weak (he says but really means printing faster) I would like to but have not discovered how to dial that back some. Not alone (ooh... "turn it off using Modifiers" in 2nd link).

    In the image below:

    • red marks a ~vertical cavity with a simple perimeter
    • green marks a moderately...
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  • a note about cable management

    Paul McClay09/06/2023 at 21:59 0 comments

    update: added next rev pix & notes at end

    Just a "quick" note about cable management because I'm thinking about it while iterating the 3d printed parts design to print a set that doesn't require artisanal handcrufting to finish.

    Wires around moving parts need help to stay out of trouble:

    eating wire
    first 3dp printed proof-of-concept -- not even trying to deal with the wires yet

    Easy answer: Big stiff loops that can't fit into small places help. And that works fine in a big or open frame with lots of room for (relatively) big stiff loops to move around. If you're just here for the CNC mechanics and don't care about compacting the whole works, then you get the easy button.

    But I want more smallness; Crowding the moving wires into less space, without binging complexity, is less easy. Between this project and its laser-cut precursor, I've spun several variations of this basic mechanical configuration and still don't really have cable management solved. Here's the latest XY stage -- the thing I should be iterating into obsolescence instead of rambling here...

    keep your friends close and your cables closer
    progress toward compact cable management that isn't too tedious to dis/assemble

    The folded bundle of wires between the fixed base and lower stage cycles back and forth in a vertical plane pretty close alongside the side without getting into trouble. Breaking the 2d motion of the upper stage into two 1d motions keeps the upper part similarly simple while the lower part is just a few more wires in the bundle that's already there.

    The visible wires feed the motors. The limit switches and their cables are internal, which was an aspiration that came along with the freedom of 3d printing to make parts busy on the inside.

    In that (currently current latest) iteration I wanted to include connectors to disconnect above the deck without pulling any wire up from the lower compartment, and include some provision for managing excess wire within the footprint of the XY stage. Because wires won't be exactly the correct length, and can't be too short, so they will be too long. Especially while "correct length" keeps changing. That makes it much easier to remove/replace the XY stage for whatever reason. I like the functional benefit but that version isn't the answer. Next rev is printing while I'm typing here.

    I had convinced myself to stop thinking about wiring the motors internally because that wasn't going to happen without ditching the (relatively) bulky connector on (some of) these motors. My current thinking is that adapting the design to the motor wires & connectors will net-simplify construction vs requiring to mess with the received motor wiring.

    (aside: That may change. Especially because there are two flavors of the motor I'm using and differences include the length & termination of wires -- and I just received a 'type A' motor with 'type B' wire length and connector so "be sure to order type A" might fail to make the received wiring predictable. returning to the previous digression...)

    The Point

    ...of this log entry was to note that, while (distracted from) iterating the 3d printed parts to print a set that doesn't require artisanal artishandcrufting to finish, I think I accidentally figured out how route the motor wires internally. That could be très slick, enable a little more compactness of frame footprint, and get more working parts out of the milling debris field. But I really have to not go down that rabbit hole right now. But I don't not consider it anymore.

    the update:

    The next rev

    I really liked how that (above) worked out functionally -- and also noted a bunch of flaws, and reconsidered some deferred questions.

    No artisanal handcrufting required:

    connectors and Slack Chamber hidden; guide/cover for deck-level outboard cable run.

    A couple bits of tape make life easier when the unit isn't bolted down to a surface.

    where stuff went

    Using "serpentine" strain reliefs for...

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