CNC Mill / router

Standard in the MIT inventory are the Roland MODELA MDX-20 Mini-mill and the SHOPBOT flatbed CNC router. The Roland Modela MDX-20 costs around € 4000 with a build volume 200 x 150 x 60 mm (1800 cm3).

The big Shopbot is beyond the scope of the mini FabLab. Its 2440 x 1220 mm bed serves a totally different purpose than a 'desktop' CNC gantry router - like the ZOLTAR 2011-CL with a bed of 750 x 550 for around € 2000 - would do.


At MIT a low cost MANTIS Router was developed by David Carr. 
It originated from a dream to make a $ 100 mill, but costs of good components add up quickly. Its build-volume of 130 x 190 x 40 mm  (988 cm3) is a tad smaller then the Modela.



At Protospace we made a series of them with the driver board of the Ultimaker with 3 Pololu steppers. As spindle a cheap imitation Dremel was used, which was modified to work on PWM.

This setup proved too imprecise for serious milling. Possibly the imitation Dremels bearings became less alligned when I adapted it for PWM.
I threw it out and upgraded the Mantis with a € 100 Proxxon IB/E. It now mills fairly well. I use Cambam as for software.

Please note that ANY mill will produce a lot of fine dust. Add at least a vacuum cleaner or better a closed dust collector like this € 300 one from HBM.
With 185 x 185 mm the miniCNC developed by Timelab in Gent (Belgium) is a bit larger. It is also open source and uses the Makerbot electronics. www.repairablemachines.com. € 680
At the low cost DIY end there is also the ShapeOKO, originally aiming for a € 300 CNC-router with a bed of 200 x 200 mms. Open hardware, open source. Arduino driven. But alas, at shapeoko.com the kit seemed perennially sold-out. But now Inventables is starting its production. Price of a kit $ 599 if you source your own material, $ 999 for the full kit.

A bit sturdier is the Fireball V90, with cutting area of 450 x 300 x 75 for $ 1300. Can also be built in a couple of hours, but not open source. We have no hands-on experience with the Fireball. But the not yet open Fab Spot in Utrecht just got one. A tad better seems the Microcarve MV3.

Much up in design and quality USOVO FlatCut 531 300 x 500, starting at € 1849, and the Colinbus CBR.
Real value for money is the mentioned stainless steel ZOLTAR 2011-CL 750 x 550  for around € 2000, with a bigger brother of 1200 x 550. They are ball-screw equiped and use the CNC-USB controller. Fablab Ulft just installed one.

Please keep an eye on ZOLTAR's announcement of an A3 sized 2012-NC 430 x 317  for under € 1000.
Shopbot recently introduced the Shopbot Desktop, a gantry router with a bed 610 x 460 mm for $ 5000.