Little plastic CNC for everyone

this is a little research about developing a small CNC router which is designed for cutting plastics only. The idea is to build the frame and eventually even the lead-screws (no kidding!) all from recycled plastic. that way we could eventually motivate and get more people on board since they don’t need the whole setup. All they need is stock plastic (flat bars,…) and the CNC router and they are ready to go to build small products, in mass even.

i’m playing with 2 variants: build with ebay products (stepper, drives) and one extreme cheap til zero (apart from the plastic) as seen here: Homemade CNC machine with materials from a DIY, built with simple tools - YouTube (basically creating his own steppers 😉

now before running into nowhere, here some questions:
– does this make sense at all ? for now i don’t see much trouble, Dave showed pretty darn hard plastic, it’s sufficient for a CNC cutting plastic only

– when looking at the offers in the bazar, I’m really worried: 10Kg plastic chips for average 80 euro, such small table CNC will require at least 10 or more kg….

the idea is to build for less than 100 euro, but here the ebay reality

– a setup of steppers is around 50 Euro,
– power supply = 20 euro,
– 3 lead-screws  and 6 bearing blocks = around 30 euro
– a reprap board =around 50 euro…

I am sure the half of it can be eliminated but needs definitely time and better prices for plastic.

thoughts ?

I finished my CNC earlier this year and with what i learned doing that, i would not recommend to make the lead screw (and nut) out of plastics. Even if you would be able to produce the pieces quite tight, they will wear out by friction and you will have more and more clearance. You can cut down the price using normal threads and diy anti-backlash-nuts. I am sure that you can make the frame and bridge out of plastic but it would still need to be supported by threads or rods. Don’t underestimate movement torque and tension.
You can get along with: (on ebay)
3 Nema17 30€
threads nuts 10€
You still need a spindle motor.
About plastic-price: You can get virgin hdpe for the same price on ebay. Clean pellets, easy to work with. But because we are here, we will prefer recycled ones.

@sonik, If i’d be after profit, do you think I’d volunteer in a green project like PP (it’s my 4th now)? If enter projects, I usually give 200% ! If i see nonsense, I change it! if i can’t change it then i leave it… simple as that! This requires also 200% awareness what you’re actually doing, to you, to the others and to the environment. Buying a set of machines for 5000$, sacrificing insane amounts of oil and other precious recourse to run them at average 3-4kw to make a bloody basket or lamp and calling it ‘green’ is entirely insane and indeed deserves a good kick on the nose, not just a slap! So guys, stop doing that! Let’s focus more on sustainable machines and products.

kind regards,

Wow, i am quite shocked about what I read. I think @mc007 did not really understand the spirit of PP. This is not a competition of high-end machines! Go get you hired by the machine-building industry. You built a dozen of cnc’s, so you should be armed in every circumstance.
PP is about people getting started around a project in their country, with their own problems and conditions. The only words you have are full of disregard. “Fancy lamps that nobody wants”, do you understand how you can hurt people by saying that?
I could continue but…….

That’s just my two cents worth.

@davehakkens, ok, no problem but a link and promoting and developing an alternative entry point are 2 complete different worlds, isn’t ? i mean, this project is obviously bigger than doing some fancy lamps no body actually wants or needs for high prices and at huge costs, insane footprints with a very limited technology, it screams for improvements and changes at a fast rate. an actively developed plastic CNC (DESIGNED FOR CUTTING PLASTIC, from the PP network) could change quite something in this directions, more people being able to help… i know at least a couple dozen of products which could leave the PP network next week! Geez, to some degree, i’m getting more and more disappointed but i hope i’m wrong, it seems i waste my time for some ego driven fancy fake project which doesn’t want more than it is now 🙂 sorry for being a dick but yeah i’m tired of projects which don’t get over this irresponsible ‘fanciness’. I think expressed myself clear enough in other topics: the machines are a fail, warnings/limitations of the machines are suppressed/hidden (please be at least honest!), i see quite some good people leaving the community, no legal backups or intentions at least to provide the needed facilities to get founding/sponsorships, c’mon, this sucks just! this project really needs fresh ideas, better products, more people able to join,…I’m speechless, and then you fly around the world and speak about ‘footprint’, trying to setup a eco village with obviously ZERO experience, here in Catalonia we would give you a nice slap on the blackhead for even remotely acting like this, at least me and my fellows would 🙂 that being said, please take step back and enable us to design PP together 🙂

Huh you deleted your original reply @mc007? 🖕

Anyway those where some direct words… I’d say Precious Plastic is very much open to your own interpretation. We dont ask or need anything from our members. We just provide some basics knowledge and you can do with it whatever you like. So if you feel like your wasting your time you might focus on the wrong things? Its up to you to make a plan and execute it. Run it as a hobby. NGO or business. We see our community growing, not declining. To be fair I do see people come and go on this online community platform because its not super well made (limited resources available to make it proper)

Overall we are a small but very focussed team, we pick our directions carefully and don’t do a 1000 small things at once. Personally for me open-source projects are often to messy and chaotic, I like to keep it structured and clean. Thats why we take this project step by step and want to execute our plan properly. Version by Version. Might be slower but we think its pays of in the long run. And many of your criticism is on our V4 list, we are very aware of the things we lack and could improve. But we are also aware of our thus far limited resources. And. Again if you feel you can do it better and faster go ahead. would love to see that. Or wait for end summer to join us on executing the big V4 plan.

Also I have zero experience in everything that I start. Thats how you learn and grow. Strange reason to slap people on the blackhead for that…

@davehakkens, ok, no problem

probably not as a core feature @mc007, mainly because those tools can already be found online and will probably be better then the ones we would develop. We like to keep focus on recycling machines. That said CNC is a crucial part for mouldmaking. So it could become an ‘additional machine’ or perhaps a collaboration with an open source CNC platform… But will give it a proper think when mapping out V4!

Sorry for the bad quality, and the last one:

@dbougas Oh, sure:

@davehakkens, @katharinaelleke :
do you think this could make it into the ‘precious plastic’ machine catalog ?

here again the goals:
– cheap small CNC, made with plastic (rails, bed,… with steal beam enforcments)
– easy to reproduce via proper instruction build manuals
– the machine has to cut plastic only, I will see during the testing phase it could cut aluminium, even it’s slow

why: the table CNC is meant for people who can’t effort the other 4 machines but would like to get active or join the project, making products with PP stock plastic or with some luck: molds. so this machine lowers the entry barrier to PP and completes well the PP network.

pricing (material only): around 200 euro – 500 euro, depending on the size variations

timing: it takes about 2-3 months on my end to fully develop, document, test, optimize the CNC. we can provide manuals in 5 languages.

sense: no idea yet, but the deeper i dig into it, the more i see viable products, being cut on this little CNC, 24/7

license/branding: whatever suits you.

kind regards,

Hi your finished Cnc
‘I just finished’ it means that you have something… To show.

Thanks in advance

@dbougas pictures of what?

Interesting but do you have some pictures… @sonik

yup, i have that for my dremel too. that makes the gantry ultra light, and less vibration, thanks mate!

wow, something went wrong with the photo, anyway you get the idea

I have a cheap 20€ wallmart spindle and i recently bought a flexshaft . I didn’t install it yet but if this could work with a cnc all the axes could be lighter to built.

thanks for the input, i really appreciate it. you’re probably right! About the lead-screw my idea about this is to build a complete ‘linear actuator’ unit, fully closed and properly oiled (with escape channels as on lathes). also the ‘rails’ in particular don’t use traditional ‘trucks’ with balls, just plastic blocks, leaded through the actuators housing, similar to old lathe rails. . i’ve build a dozen of CNCs and I think it could work, not sure for how long but lets see 🙂

about the spindle, i think any 50 euro dremel – set could do, but i don’t know how long it can run….