July 28, 2015 | By Alec

At some point in every maker’s career, they will look over at some online RepRap 3D printer and begin to toy with the idea of replacing their own 3D printer with a home-made, superior version. While many of us don’t go through with it, did you know that you can apply the same principles of RepRap making to other tooling machines? Just look at Ryan Zellars’ amazing mostly 3D printed RepRap-style CNC machine called Mostly Printed CNC, which you can also recreate at home.

Ryan Zellars, who is perhaps better known for his screen name Allted, is a maker from San Diego, California and he is quickly becoming something of a sensation in the 3D printing community with this very interesting build. Since posting his designs on Thingiverse in March, he has already garnered over 100,000 views (if related builds are included), while he is racing towards the first prize of $5000 in the Innovation contest over at Boca Bearings. It has also already inspired numerous people to replicate this fantastic machine.

The machine in action.

Those results alone are worthy of some attention, but the Mostly Printed CNC itself is already eye-catching on its own. As the Californian builder tells 3ders.org, he has essentially adopted RepRap principles and 3D printing with an eye on CNC milling. ‘It uses 3D printed parts for all the main components, off the shelf hardware, and electrical conduit. I have made 2 versions so I can be built all around the world, and has,’ he tells us.

Work on this very cool machine started in January 2015, and though it has been online for a few months now Ryan is constantly making more refinements and adjustments since then. The initial goal, as he explained as part of the entry, is that he wanted to make CNC milling more affordable and accessible. ‘I have always wanted a CNC but they are ridiculously expensive. I wanted to build an inexpensive machine that could handle a little aluminum work if needed. Desktop milling for the financially challenged. Really this is a multifunction machine that lets some 3D print and mill, and lots of other things for less than any 3D printer out there,’ he explains.

And throughout the building and refinement phases, it has really grown into a machine worthy of the making community. ‘I feel it is different because it has been designed with all uses in mind. I started as a mill because it requires the most engineering to get it to work on anything hard, the first videos I put up were milling 6061 aluminum. I then dropped on a hotend and started printing, then went for dual color. I have made add ons to accommodate many different types of tools, and some of the users have submitted their own as well,’ he explains. ‘I have adapted it to use things like drag knives, 3D print head, Dual 3D print heads, and even a plotter. Another person has strapped on a low cost laser and has done several runs. Inexpensive, versatile, and reconfigurable.’

With a laser add-on.

This Mostly Printed CNC is also particularly useful in a variety of situations. ‘Most woods and plastics should be no problem. I test milled Aluminum with a footprint of 23.5in x 32in x 4in. Aluminum works well, I have a lot to learn but did a test cut of 6061 with a 1/8" 2 flute endmill at 15k RPM, .005" step down, 15in/min feed rate. These feeds and speeds seemed conservative,’ Ryan says. The machine is also quite hackable, as it can be theoretically expanded to just about any length, width and depth you’re looking for. All that sounds great already, but perhaps the price tag is more impressive: all the parts, including costs for 3D printing and milling, together costs less than $400 – with each add-on only being a few bucks away. That makes it a very impressive machine that is well worth recreating.

Some milling results.

If you’re interested in building one of these cool machines, you can find all the 3D printable parts necessary on Thingiverse here. All were 3D printed on a Robo3D at 0.2 mm layer height, with three perimeters, 75% infill for parts with bearings and 50% infill for the rest. All was done in PLA. Ryan also sells remaining necessary parts on his website, including everything you need for enhancing your building capabilities.

So if you’re thinking about enhancing your making abilities, definitely check out the Nearly Printed CNC. After all, RepRap 3D printers are fantastic, but adding a CNC machine to your workshop or garage adds a whole new dimension to your projects. If you like it, also head over to the Boca Bearings competition here, as Ryan is looking to invest winnings into an enhanced version we can all benefit from.

Further test runs.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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R Carter wrote at 7/11/2016 5:56:26 PM:

I working on getting all the plastic's printed out right now. My plan is to set it up like a 3-d printer and then use different quick change heads when I need to change function. I looking at 12" (w) by 12"(h) by 24(l) so the base will be ~14"(w) by 14"(h) by 26"(l). what would be the best material for a bed?? it needs to be heated. I am looking at using a printbot controller for the printer. If anyone has any concerns you can email me @ wcarterjr68@gmail.com

Ingi Valur wrote at 3/25/2016 12:43:01 AM:

Hi Alec, I am planning on building one of these for myself but as the DeWalt DW660 is not available here in Iceland I was wondering if I could use my already owned Dremel 4000 (possibly through the much lighter extension "hose", for a lack of the right name for it)? That would also allow for adjustable cutting speeds (5,000 to 35,000 rpm) right?

Ingi Valur wrote at 3/25/2016 12:43:00 AM:

Hi Alec, I am planning on building one of these for myself but as the DeWalt DW660 is not available here in Iceland I was wondering if I could use my already owned Dremel 4000 (possibly through the much lighter extension "hose", for a lack of the right name for it)? That would also allow for adjustable cutting speeds (5,000 to 35,000 rpm) right?

DD wrote at 1/16/2016 7:54:05 AM:

Hi Alec, I love this CNC Machine and I would love to get some info on it if I can. I am very new to all this CNC and even all the electronics too. I am trying to teach myself about electronics because I am very interested in the diy part and wanting to make some things myself. I would like to know how much a kit of your machine with laser cost to buy if you even have a kit. If you do have a kit do you think I could learn how to code it myself? I have never done anything like that but I am interested in trying to teach myself how if I can. I hope to hear from you soon and I thank you for any help you can give me.

Allted wrote at 8/1/2015 2:17:34 AM:

The contest is a nail biter! less than 4 hours to go, I'm in second place by 27 votes. Fingers crossed

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