CupCake CNC build, part 6: Building the enclosure

3D Printing & Imaging Robotics
CupCake CNC build, part 6: Building the enclosure

It’s finally time to build the enclosure! The wax finish is fully cured, buffed out, and all the parts are ready for assembly. So, lets get on with the build.


The first step is adding the bearing brackets to the middle panel. These screw on the bottom of the middle layer with the included M3 nuts and bolts.


One in each corner, and… Done! Easy.


Now it’s time to join the front and back panel to the middle. Again, using the M3 nuts and bolts. Be sure to make the back panel face inwards. The laser etching should be visible when looking into the CupCake CNC machine. Once completed, add the left, right, top, and bottom in the same manner.


Now we need to assemble the Z-stage rods. It’s easy, but there’s some important prep work to do first. The threaded rod has some metal “bits” in the threads that need to be removed.


The easiest method is to put some tape on one end of the threaded rod and insert it into an electric drill. Next, add a little oil, and while slowing turning the rod, use a paper towel to clean out all the debris. Done!


Now it’s time to assemble the Z-stage threaded rods. First you add (1) 8mm nut onto the threaded rod, followed by (1) 608 bearing, and another 8mm nut. Use (2) wrenches to tighten the bearing onto the threaded rod.


Next, add another 8mm nut on the other end. This one is used to hold the Z-stage in place. It should be screwed down a few inches to stay out of the way. Then you can add another bearing sandwich like you did on the other end. Note: Do not tighten them up yet!


Next, place the Z-stage threaded rod into the four holes in the top of the enclosure and into the holes in the “middle” layer.


You need to adjust the top-bearing sandwich so that the bearing sits just at, or slightly below, the top layer of the CupCake CNC. It is very important that the bearing sits flush! Double and triple check it!


Once all the bearings sit flush, you can add the Z -stage brackets. Use (1) screw on each cover until you know there is no play, or any friction, on all the threaded rods.


When it’s perfect, go ahead and add the rest of the screws.


Next up is adding the power supply. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit the laser-cut opening. I had to make the opening slightly larger to accommodate the power switch and plug. Start by cutting a section of wood out from around the switch area. You can eyeball the exact amount fairly easily.


Also, you will need to cut a small notch out of the side to allow more room for the plug. Place the power supply behind and mark the area with a pencil. Then, using a craft knife, carve a small semi circle.


Once those modifications are made, attach the power supply to the laser-cut plywood. Next, attach the entire assembly to the enclosure using the same bolt and screw method used on all the other panels.


Now, feed the cables through the opening on the right hand side of the enclosure.


Done! The enclosure is complete and ready for some electronics. Speaking of which, let’s go ahead and add some stepper motors while we’re at it!


First, we will install the X-axis stepper motor. Start by attaching one of the small silver pulleys to the stepper motors shaft. The shaft of the motor should be flush with the top of the pulley. Tighten down the setscrew and you are ready to install it into the enclosure.


Now you can mount the X-axis stepper motor to the middle section of the enclosure with the (4) shorter M3 bolts. The bolts thread right into the stepper motor. Easy!


Next up, it’s time to install the Z-stage stepper motor. This stepper used the black pulley from the kit. Note: Do not tighten this pulley yet. You may need to adjust the height a bit in the next step.


Now we can go ahead and add all the pulleys to the Z-axis threaded rods. These pulleys are put on upside-down compared to the one installed on the stepper motor.


Also, you can add the tensioning pulleys that were made in part 5 of this build series. They are installed on each side of the stepper and keep the correct tension on the belt. Finally, add the belt and adjust the tension. It should be tight, but not too tight. I know that seems a bit vague, but you’ll know when it’s right.


The final step is to make sure the height of all the pulleys is correct. As you can see in the image above, the belt sits perfectly inline with the pulleys, especially the one mounted to the stepper motor. Adjust all the pulleys into alignment, and then tighten all the set screws.

And, DONE! We’re finished building the enclosure. Next up in the series: Building the Y-stage.

Ask questions! Do you want to see a better picture of a particular part, a different camera angle, a video perhaps? Maybe you have a suggestion for a cool mod or hack? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to answer them as best as I can. Thanks!

Want to know when my next build entry is done? Follow me on Twitter @devinck!

Build history:


    Having just arrived home from a quick trip to the hardware store, I was pleasantly surprised to see a large, unmarked, cardboard box sitting on my front steps. This isn’t an uncommon event, since I am constantly checking out cool products and projects for the Maker Shed, however this box was a bit larger than normal.

    Oh wow, it’s the CupCake CNC kit from MakerBot Industries! I’d ordered it weeks earlier and had completely forgotten about it. (The truth is out: I have an atrocious memory, sad but true.)


    And so the adventure begins! I’m going to document my “out of box experience” with a MakerBot. How many posts will the series be? I’m not sure since I’ve never built one. How often will I post about the build? Again, not sure, but I’ll try to do at least one a week, maybe more, it all depends on how much free time I have between all my other maker-ly projects.

    A little background: My CNC experiences


    I’ve been tinkering with CNC for about 10 years, and consider myself an enthusiast, not an expert. I do own a few CNC mills, routers, and lathes. I have retrofitted old mills, and even build one from scratch. Pictured above is my mobile CNC machine, dubbed the “MobileC.” I stuffed all the components into a mobile tool cart so I could bring it to hackerspaces, workshops, and events, all in the hopes of helping out fellow makers.


    The mill is a Sherline 5400 that I retrofitted for CNC. Also, I added a few extra parts to make it even more useful. It has a longer reach, thanks to the headstock spacer block on the column, and a larger table that I simply mounted to the stock table. It’s a sweet machine. I love my little Sherline!


    All the electronics are housed in the cart too! There is a 19″ LCD monitor, wireless keyboard and mouse, desktop computer, and CNC controller. It’s a tight fit, but it works perfectly. There is even an extra full-size drawer for tooling and accessories.


    I’m thinking of replacing the computer, keyboard, and mouse with an HP TouchSmart, but I have to save a few more pennies for that upgrade.

    Does anyone want to know more about my MobileC? Let me know in the comments. After I build my CupCake CNC, maybe I should do a series of articles on CNC machining?


    I purchased the CupCake CNC kit with my own hard-earned cash. I waited several weeks for it to arrive, just like everyone else that placed an order. No favors, no freebies! Why did I buy one? Well, for two reasons.

    • Reason #1 – I like what MakerBot Industries is doing for the open source community and open manufacturing, so I wanted to support them!
    • Reason #2 – I am going to document the build for Make: Online, and if I like it, I’ll let you know, and if I don’t… well, I’ll let you know that too! No biased reviews here.
    • Reason #3 – I am a CNC junkie, and I had to have it, even if my wife was questioning whether I really needed another machine in my studio! “Ha!” I said, “You can never have too many machines!” Oops, only two reasons, right?! :)

    Questions & suggestions:

    Ask questions! Do you want to see a better picture of a particular part, a different camera angle, a video perhaps? Maybe you have a suggestion for a cool mod or a hack? Let me know in the comments. I’ll try to answer all of them as best as I can. Thanks!

    Build history:

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