MAKE subscriber Nick Santillan of Vancouver, BC, an ID student at the Emily Carr University of Art & Design, created this CNC for his thesis project.

I decided to tackle on making CNC machine by allowing people to be more experimental with them to progress CNC technology from the bottom-up. The end result is a prototype that is completely modular; users can rearrange the CNC in a few minutes to specifically suit the tasks. So a desktop CNC that can engrave below the surface can be transformed into a wall-plotter in a few minutes using only 1 wrench. Also it can transform into a wheeled-cart for ease of transportation. This allows DIY hobbyists to concentrate on new tool-head development without them having to learn how CNC mechanics works.

I created a blog that goes through my entire year-long process, and will continue updating it when I experiment with it. I currently have a Makerbot plastruder, though have not have the time to install it yet. The prototype is a fully functional 3 axis CNC (with a 4th axis lathe not yet shown), with a little fine-tuning I should have a video of it in action hopefully by the end of the month.

John Baichtal

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

  • netserv666

    Does it work ? It appears that all the pictures of this unit with output shown are renderings. It is a beautiful design and a great concept.

  • robothacker

    I hope it works because I’ve been developing something similar:

    Although I also like pandelume’s design:

  • BobsYourUncle

    Why not modify the design of existing quasi-configurable systems already in the market like Taig or Sherline. That gives you a whole host of tools and adapters right out of the gate. I love the enthusiasm for CNC that is building in the Make community, but hobby CNC has been alive and well for decades, though rarely referenced in these posts. The trick with designs like these are calibrating/ aligning new configurations and maintaining stiffness/ repeatability in the machine.