Proxxon MF70 CNC Conversion

Build logs of a conversion from a stock manual Proxxon MF70 to be CNC controlled, with storage for milling bits and other fixtures.

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Electronics, software and hardware conversion for the milling machine. Each challenge will be detailed and the solutions will be discussed. The total cost of the conversion is roughly £100

This project will start with a standard MF70 mill and finish with a 3 Axis CNC mill with an improved Y axis travel. The costs of this project should be kept below £150 including all the endmills and other disposables.

The cost of end mills is already quite high but they should last for some time. I use a company called Sorotec for my tooling. Its all 1/8th in. shank tooling which is fine but can be a little strange as a metric person.

  • 1 × MF70 - £280 Miniature Milling machine. Ebay
  • 3 × NEMA17 200 step Hi Torque Stepper motors
  • 3 × TB6560 Breakouts Stepper Motor drivers
  • 1 × 24v 300w PSU
  • 1 × 4x Relay Breakout

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  • Building the Box - Electronics and Storage

    Greg Duckworth01/25/2015 at 17:32 0 comments

    I intend to create a wiring diagram later in the project so that I can refine and finalise the electronics before I post to help avoid confusion. I have got a working set of electronics to run all 3 axis. This includes a relay to turn the main spindle on and off. In the final version, the spindle will not have digital speed control but its not really necessary without an automatic tool changer.

    The box and the reason behind it:

    I had been experimenting with the 2 axis version for some time. I am reasonably well organised with the tools but there are loads to keep track of and several projects which use similar sets of fixings and tools. This meant that I spent some time thinking about a case for the electronics and the fixings; like the vice and the toe clamps etc.

    The impetus to actually build the enclosure came when I was testing the machinability of some scrap brass when there was an almighty bang and the lights flickered and the blue smoke escaped from my workhorse atx power supply. The supply has served me well for a several years and so I am not annoyed at the life expectancy. This meant that I could not continue to use the mill until the new PSU showed up. So while I was waiting for the PSU, I used my time to make the new box.

    The box was constructed from spare plywood from around the workshop and the dimensions are not really specific other than looking good and leaving enough space to mount all the cable ports and emergency stop button. there is a combination of 18mm ply, 6mm ply and 6mm hardboard. The drawer runs on the plywood base which had to be sanded very smooth to make the drawer run freely. There is a little rail used to support the shelf which the electronics are mounted upon. This shelf is removable in case I ever need to get easier access to the PSU or the control electronics.

    The new 24V 15A PSU mounted on the left with the mains hard wired. As mentioned previously; the current wiring set up is not the one that will be in the final design but it works for the moment. The relay shield and the arduino nano can be seen with some basic wiring. Also I have used a 3 pin aviation connector to allow for relay control for the spindle. The connector is the same type as the 4pin ones used for the stepper motor. I could have used the 4 pin variety but this would allow the steppers to be powered with 240V AC. Not a great option. There are going to be brass plates used to mount the aviations connectors. These were the first things milled when the mill was mounted on the box.

  • Using the Mill to Upgrade the Mill - Z Axis

    Greg Duckworth12/26/2014 at 19:41 0 comments

    By utilising the 2 Axis mill and purchasing some 5mm * 100mm * 1m 6068 Aluminium, I was able to start milling motor mounts, bearing holders and mounting plates for the Z axis. These were taken from one of the previously mentioned websites (All construction documents will be added when the conversion is complete).

    The milled parts required for the Z Axis conversion. There are a few cosmetic issues but nothing serious. Every hole was machined with a separate milling operation which took a long time. This was to avoid any rapid moves while the Z axis is manually controlled. Many of the holes are to be tapped M4 or M6.

    The parts were assembled (the bolts in this picture were replaced with shorter cap head bolts after the bearing retainer was seated. The previous coupling was made of ABS plastic but I wanted to remove the handwheels from the build. I made a brass coupling on grandads lathe. This was the only part that required a lathe in this build but there may be other ways of doing this.

    The shoulder was turned to accurately fit in the bearing so as to reduce runout. On larger machines it is inadvisable to directly couple two shafts end to end. In this case the misalignment will be taken up by the flexibility in the threaded rod. The small hole is for the spring pin which holds the leadscrew.

    Shows the motor mount with the shortened bolts. The washers helped reduce the marking of the aluminium and are very recommended.

    This is the finished Z Axis, only two unfilled holes which are for mounting the Z to the top of the milling machine.

  • Working 2 Axis Machine

    Greg Duckworth12/26/2014 at 17:58 0 comments

    Since I will not be needing any simultaneous 3 axis machining to build the Z axis conversion, I can make do with a 2 axes conversion. The X axis is held in place by a simple aluminium bar fixed to the T-Slot. An action shot which shows the 2 axes working together can be seen next.

    The workpiece has been raised so that the entire profile can be machined without damaging the machine bed. In this picture you can see the way that both the X and the Y axes are mounted. The Z axis is done manually for the first few parts. This does reduce the abilities of the mill but it is only temporary. Great care must be taken to avoid fast travels between separate milling operations.

  • 3D Printing the Mechanical Coupling

    Greg Duckworth12/26/2014 at 17:12 0 comments

    The plan for the mill is to temporarily convert the X and the Y axis to CNC control using 3D printed parts. Then I should be able to use the 2 axis cnc to machine the final axes conversions. I have got temporary access to a Makerbot 2X which does a great job of printing sturdy parts. I am sure that most 3D printers would be perfectly capable of printing these components.

    I designed a coupling in blender and then 3D printed it. It should be noted that the printed parts are not dimensionally precise and therefore needing some filing after printing.

    In the next image you can see the handwheel fitted snugly into the coupling. These can be fitted without disassembling the XY table, which was a big thing at the time...

    In the shank of the coupling is a captured nut, this means that I can use a set screw to hold the coupling to the motor shaft. Since the handwheel has an M3 hole for the handle, we can use that to secure the coupling to the handwheel. The last part to be 3D printed was the Y axis morot mount. The X axis mount was fairly easy to make as the motor can be fixed to the T-slot table but the Y axis motor is fixed in place, with nothing to fix it to. This was solved by filling the gap between the motor and the table then clamping it in place. This was simple and effective but not pretty.

    The fixings are M3 and longer bolts were used for ease as I did not know the final dimensions that the bolts needed to be and I didn't fancy making two sets.

  • Initial Plans

    Greg Duckworth10/30/2014 at 09:10 0 comments

    The first step to any conversion or upgrade project is to research if it has been done before. The MF70 is an accurate device and therefore very suitable for precision machining. The majority of the device is made of aluminium and therefore can be fairly easily worked with hand tools. I have previously built a 3D printer and so I am familiar with stepper motor control and I have access to a lathe and a small metal workshop. Since I will be upgrading the mill in several stages, I decided that a lower precision middle stage was the best way to get going on this project. By printing the interface parts I would be able to easily test and change the design without the difficulty of reworking a harder material like aluminium or brass. The bubblegum CNC project ( has some great parts that gave me alot of the initial dimensions for the build.

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