If you’ve ever been in LMN’s office then you know we like to build big models so we can really get our heads in there. These larger models (1/2″ = 1′-0″ or bigger) allow us to explore the finer details of a design while still using the tools that we have available in our office. As we learned with our 3D printer, sometimes the acquisition of new tools opens up possibilities that we wouldn’t have considered otherwise or at least makes the exploration process more feasible. The laser cutter is a great example of that. It is used in just about every model that we make and has added a level of intricacy to our models that otherwise we couldn’t realistically explore. I’ve heard this described as sometimes the tool shapes you while other times you shape the tool.
With this in mind we set out back in March to build a CNC router because:
- It would let us build bigger models and even full scale prototypes
- It would help us develop a better idea of how to engage the potential of a tool which so many fabricators have access to.
- It is fun to build robots.
Our CNC router was built from a kit we bought from a fellow Washington company, CNC Router Parts. The router has a work area a little bigger than 4′x8′x6″ which has so far proven to be plenty. We went with the NEMA 23 stepper motors and have a 2.25 HP Bosch Router hooked up to it.
The kit arrived in about 5 large boxes and each box contained a lot of smaller boxes and baggies of hardware. The only directions we had were a few videos on the CNC Router Parts website, otherwise we just put things together by looking at the Solidworks model that was supplied to us. Luckily, the kit is very well designed and organized so the assembly process was fairly straight forward. If we had been working on this full time then we probably could’ve put it together in a week, but it took around a month to assemble on weekends and late nights. The CNC Router Parts website has been updated recently with tips and tricks, and drawings which should make assembly even easier.
For now the machine is located offsite, but that hasn’t stopped us from having plenty of fun cutting out random objects, making furniture from plywood and radiators, and making prototypes for projects. Keep an eye out for future posts about how the tool is reshaping our design approach, and maybe even how we’ve reshaped the tool.