CNC equipment, unlike 3D printing, is a cutting process. 3D printing is an additive process. CNC is subtractive.
There are two main “flavors” of CNC:
- Cutter-based CNC machines (multiple axis)
- Laser-based CNC machines (multiple Access
CNC Videos to Watch
Our first CNC router is a Sainsmart/Genmitsu 3018. Here’s a good build video from over on YouTube:
This is just going to get the machine set-up.
There is a lot more to it, so before you begin your build, take the 48 minutes to roll through this YouTube build, as well!
The next problem is How do we get it to do something highly useful?
What CNC is Good For:
There are three major uses of CNC in an Old Folk’s – like ours.
The first is woodcarving. It’s a hell of a lot easier to work on a design on a 65″ UHD monitor and fast computer 3-feet from your nose, than it is to spend hours on end of the shop trying to get things right with a set of way-too-expensive (but grand) Japan Woodworking chisels. I just have no patience. Besides, the closer you get to the ‘end of the line’ the less time screwing around is acceptable. We’re totally tooling for “Get ‘er Done!”
So woodcarving…it’s dah bomb!
Second Cool thing to do is signmaking. For this, you might want to pick up a 5 1/2-watt laser add-on. Since we are still healthy – not needing to roll the long-green for doctors yet (we hear it comes later in life, though, so watch out!) – we picked up a second CNC (on sale!) and the laser head. My thinking is to get one set-up at a time dialed in. Then don’t mess with it!
Here’s all about the Laser on the 3018 Pro. Here’s a 2-part 3018 Pro Laser build which should give you all kinds of ideas. (If it doesn’t check to see if you still have a pulse!)”
Third reason to have a CNC machine? Well, seeing and the missus and me are both ham radio ops, dreams of things like turning out our own printed circuits boards…yeah, that’d be dandy! This would be done on the first machine, not the one with the laser. Since burning metal fumes are not, you know. A life extension aid?
How to get from circuit to finished boards? Hmm…
Turns out, there’s a great video on YouTube from Steve on the GuruBrew which runs down the process. This will gobble up some time, but I’d recommend wading through the intro — not just 5-clicking to the let’s build it part — because he lays out a lot of the common pitfalls. Takes a bit of getting used to some of the workflow in Eagle software, as well.
Once you’ve done the Intro, time to move on to the next episode…
You can fine other GuruBrew videos and it’s a quick way to learn.
Which, seing as we don’t all have 60,000 hours to become full-on Takumi…we’ll take all the shortcuts we can find!