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Roland’s New CNC Hobby Mill

Roland DG is a subsidiary of the famous Japanese firm that makes sythesizers, drum machines, and other electronic musical instruments. Since 1983, the DG (“Digital Group”) brand has manufactured business-class plotters, engravers, mills, and other CNC tools. The iModela iM-01 is their first hobby-class product.

Superficially, it looks kind of like a Prusa Mendel with a rotary cutting tool in place of the extruder. The top of the “A frame” actually folds over so the substrate (itself taped to a spoil board) can be taped to the work platform. The product is not yet available in the US, but launched in Japan in early October, with an (English-friendly) official online community here. [Thanks, Billy Baque!]

26 thoughts on “Roland’s New CNC Hobby Mill

  1. Any ideas on a price? I found this yesterday (after stumbling upon Roland’s more advanced offerings like the MDX-20) and thought it’s perfect for fun,small projects. Any word if it could also do small PCBs?

  2. cost is c.$977 (US) apparently.

    Also, I’m SO pleased you haven’t fallen into the trap of so many other blogs reporting this device as a ‘3D Printer’ which this clearly isn’t, being a subtractive manufacturing machine.

    Bravo and may you good works continue, may you be showered with gold, win the lottery, win a boat etc :)

    And it’s uses standard 2.35mm bits, so yes it should do fine with PCBs (I’m guessing here)

  3. I’m surprised there’s not an small open source cnc, like the dozens of 3d printers.  Looking at the replacement parts on their web page doesn’t show anything ground breaking.  As a matter of fact, their spindle motors, are the same el-cheapo hobby motors I use to get at RadioShack, back in the day.  Is anyone working on a diy version of something like this.  All the plans for cnc machines I see online are for large units.  I haven’t found a small desktop sized one. 

    1. To get any serious EBM out of this, use it to drill and mill circuit board artwork for a drum machine.  thump thump ping thump thump thump ping (repeat)

  4. Count me not excited.
    The cutting area is less than 4 x 3 inches (1.5 in vertical) and the list of matierials tha can be cut is given as:
    A: The materials that can be cut are plastic resins and other molding resins.
    Example- Modeling wax- Sanmodur- Acrylic – Chemical wood – Balsa – Magnolia- Foametc.While modeling wax and Acrylic are interesting the rest are not going to be useful for producing useable items for daily life.  As for circuit boards, the spec sheet specifically disallows metals, but I imagine the tiny amount of soft copper involved would probably serve to age your cutter a bit fast, but not to really break anything.
    Compare to here:
    amoung others.

  5. If you want a bigger cutting area then you’d be better off looking for an older Roland mill. I’ve got a PNC2300/A out in my workshop, and its cutting area is slightly bigger than an A4 sheet. Spare parts are still available and best of all Roland give the design software away for free. It will mill PCBs if you want it to. CopperCAMM will take Gerber files and engrave them on any Roland mill. It is very slow though :(

  6. As a jeweller this looks amazing — I’d love to use it to create quick wax rings for casting purposes. This is literally 1/10th the price of competing professional units if not less. It’s pretty exciting — but I agree that with it being that small and soft-material only, it is quite limited. But for those of us who can use it, it looks like a very cool product.

    EDIT: Actually, reading a little more on it, it cuts CRAZY slowly. Printing a small toy for example takes about THREE DAYS. So maybe not quite as useful as I’d thought at first.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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