Build a CNC Machine With Arduino

How to Build a CNC Machine With Arduino?

by Jane Melcher
Updated on

This is a step-by-step guide on how to build a cnc machine with arduino. I'll be covering everything from the parts you'll need, to the software and wiring.

Introduction: Why Arduino?

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for anyone making interactive projects.

The Arduino CNC Machine is a great way to automate common woodworking tasks, such as drilling, routing, and cutting. With a few simple components and some basic coding, you can create a powerful machine that can make precise cuts and engravings.

There are many different CNC machines on the market, but they can be expensive. The Arduino CNC Machine is a great alternative because it is much cheaper and easier to build. Plus, with Arduino, you have the flexibility to customize the machine to fit your specific needs.

The Components You Will Need

In order to make your own CNC machine with Arduino, you will need a few components. The first is an Arduino microcontroller board. You can use any type of Arduino board for this project, but we recommend the Uno because it is the most popular and easy to find.

You will also need a stepper motor driver. This is a special type of electronic device that controls the current going to the stepper motor. It is important to use a driver that is compatible with your Arduino board. We recommend using the A4988 stepper motor driver because it is affordable and easy to use.

You will need a power supply for your machine. We recommend using a 12 volt power supply because it is easy to find and provides enough power for most applications. If you are using a different type of Arduino board, you may need a different voltage power supply.

Finally, you will need some way to connect your power supply and stepper motor driver to your Arduino board. We recommend using jumper wires for this because they are easy to use and available in most electronics stores

Assembling the Frame

After you have all the parts, you need to start assembling the frame. In this case, we will be using an aluminum extrusion with T-slots. This will make it easier to add and remove parts without having to disassemble the entire CNC machine.

  1. Start by attaching the two side plates to the aluminum extrusion. Make sure that the plates are flush with the top and bottom of the extrusion.
  2.  Next, attach the front and back plates to the aluminum extrusion. Again, make sure that these plates are flush with the top and bottom of the extrusion.
  3. Now, you will need to attach the linear rails to the side plates. In this case, we will be using 16mm Y-axis linear rails.
  4. Once the linear rails are attached, you can now attach the gantry plate tothe linear rails. Make sure that the gantry plate is parallel to the side plates.
  5. Now, you will need to attach the lead screw mounts tothe front and back plates. In this case, we will be using 8mm lead screws withdrilled and tapped holes for M8x1 threading

Wiring the Components

In order to wire the components together, you will need to solder some header pins onto the Arduino and the CNC controller board. You can either use pre-cut header pins or cut your own to the appropriate size. Once you have the header pins in place, you can begin wiring the components together.

Start by wiring the Arduino to the CNC controller board. Connect one end of a jumper wire to digital pin 2 on the Arduino and the other end to the X+ input on the controller board. Then, connect another jumper wire from digital pin 3 on the Arduino to the Y+ input on the controller board.

Next, connect a jumper wire from digital pin 4 on the Arduino to the Z+ input on the controller board. Finally, connect a jumper wire from digital pin 5 on the Arduino to the A+ input on the controller board.

After you have wired together all of the components, you can go ahead and test them out by sending commands from your computer to move the motors.

Programming the Arduino

Once you have your Arduino and all of your components, you'll need to program the Arduino to control the stepper motor. This can be done with just a few lines of code.

First, you'll need to include the Stepper library. This can be done by going to Sketch > Include Library > Stepper.

Next, you'll need to create a Stepper object. This is done by typing "Stepper" and then the name of your stepper motor. For this example, we'll just call it "stepper".

After that, you'll need to set the step mode. This can be done with the "stepper.setStepMode()" function. The different step modes are: full step, half step, and wave drive. For this example, we'll use full step mode.

Lastly, you'll need to tell the Arduino how many steps to take. This is done with the "stepper.step()" function. The first parameter is the number of steps to take, and the second parameter is the direction (1 for clockwise, -1 for counter-clockwise).

You can see all of this code in action in the video below.

Testing the Machine

Now that you've got your Arduino CNC Machine built, it's time to test it out. In this section, we'll go over how to test the machine and make sure everything is working properly.

First, connect the Arduino to the computer via USB. Then, open up the Arduino IDE and upload the given sketch. This sketch will move the X, Y, and Z axis back and forth so you can see if they're working properly.

Once the sketch is uploaded, open up the Serial Monitor in the Arduino IDE. You should see something like this:

Image source:

If you see this, it means that your machine is working properly! If not, check your wiring and make sure everything is connected correctly.

Adding Endstops

In order to know when the gantry of your machine has reached the end of its range in either the X or Y directions, you will need to add limit switches, or endstops. These are simply switches that are triggered when something makes physical contact with them, and they can be wired in such a way that they will tell the Arduino to stop moving the gantry once it is activated. This is an important safety feature, as it will prevent your machine from damaging itself by over-traveling.

There are two main types of endstops: mechanical and optical. Mechanical endstops use a simple switch that is activated by pressure, while optical endstops use a light-sensitive sensor to detect when something has broken the beam of an infrared LED. Neither type is inherently better than the other, but each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Mechanical endstops are generally cheaper and easier to install, but they can be more prone to false positives (triggered by vibration or other movement instead of actual contact) and can be less precise than optical endstops. Optical endstops are more expensive and require more careful alignment, but they are much more precise and reliable.

For this project, we will be using mechanical endstops.

Calibrating the Machine

Now that everything is physically put together, it's time to start writing the GRBL control software to run on the Arduino Uno microcontroller board. If you haven't done so already, download and install the Arduino IDE. We'll be using version 1.0 in this how-to. Start by opening the Arduino IDE and navigating to File > Examples > GRBL. This will open a new window with the GRBL example code in it.

Using Your CNC Machine

Now that you have your very own CNC machine, it’s time to learn how to use it. In general, there are three steps you need to follow in order to use your machine:

  1. First, you need to design or find a design for the item you want to create. This can be done using computer-aided design (CAD) software or by finding a design online. Once you have your design, you need to convert it into a format that your CNC machine can understand.
  2.  Next, you need to generate the toolpaths that will tell your machine how to move in order to create the item you designed. This step is sometimes called “programming” or “camming” and can be done using CAM software or online tools.
  3. Finally, you’re ready to start machining! Load your material into the machine, start the program, and watch as your CNC machine brings your designs to life.

Further Improvements

If you want to further improve your machine, here are some ideas:

  • Make the gantry and carriage more rigid. This will reduce vibrations and increase accuracy.
  • Add a dust cover to keep your work area clean.
  • Use linear bearings instead of V-wheels for the axes. This will provide smoother operation and higher precision.
  • Install limit switches to prevent the motors from driving the axes beyond their range of motion.

About the author

Jane Melcher

Jane is a stay-at-home small business mom. She makes more than her husband selling her creations on Etsy.


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