No tool just springs up out of nowhere; they are all fabricated using other tools. And those tools were, of course, also made by other tools. Go back far enough, and we’re in the Stone Age just banging rocks together in the hope that one of them will end up sharp enough to be useful. Fortunately, you don’t have to resort to stone tools if you want to improve your shop equipment. You can follow the lead of Ivan Miranda, who used his 3D-printed CNC router to machine stronger parts that he used to upgrade that very same CNC router.
Miranda first showed off his 3D-printed CNC router in 2019, and we covered the project soon after. It was made from a combination of aluminum extrusion and 3D-printed parts. This worked surprisingly well and could cut through wood with ease. It was even able to cut through aluminum if the cut depth was shallow enough. But anyone with CNC machining experience can immediately spot the problem here. Those 3D-printed parts just aren’t strong enough to keep the machine as rigid as it should be. The result is too much deflection, which produces chattering. That leads to a best case scenario of machined parts having a poor surface finish, and a worst case scenario of broken end mills and ruined work pieces.
The obvious solution was to replace as many of the 3D-printed parts as possible with metal parts. Fortunately, Miranda’s CNC router was still capable of milling aluminum if his depth of cut was minimal. So, he went about methodically milling replacement parts out of aluminum. Almost all of the parts that would be under stress have been replaced. These parts are still aluminum, so the machine isn’t as sturdy as a real CNC mill or VMC. But, as with our ancestors starting with their stone tools, Miranda can use this machine to fabricate the parts to improve it even more. For the time being, it seems perfectly capable of handling the kind of work that Miranda intends to use it for.