If you’re looking for a desktop CNC router/engraver, and you like making things yourself, the MPCNC is a good option to consider. It works well for typical tasks that a desktop CNC would be called on to do, and it excels in performance for the price.
At the same time, you should know that it was designed with a certain set of constraints. So long as these match your goals, you should be quite happy with building a MPCNC. However, if you’re not realistic about what you want it to do, then you might be disappointed.
For one thing, the MPCNC can be scaled to custom sizes, but as you make it larger, its limitations become more apparent. In particular, as it gets above about 24″ on the X or Y, or about 4″ on the Z, it will lack some rigidity. This will equate to problems involving precision and consistency.
Another thing to consider is what kind of materials you will want to carve. It works great on soft materials like wood and most plastics. It can even carve aluminum. But if you want to care steel, you will probably be happier with a more robust CNC machine.
The flexibility that it provides in allowing you to customize and use a variety of configurations means that you may have to put some work into getting it built and working. There are good instructions on the v1engineering website, and there is a great forum where people are willing to help, but you also have to be willing to do some legwork, depending on how far from the base design you go. I had mine assembled pretty quickly, and I was able to get it moving without too much effort, but there have been a few issues along the way that required some troubleshooting on my part. I don’t mind at all, as I like the challenge.
Finally, keep in mind that you’ll need software to create designs and tool paths. If you don’t already have this set of skills, it’s something that you’ll need to develop. The basic design includes with the ability to run gcode, but there’s no default CAM or CAD program to get you started.
If you’re still interested, and you want to build your own desktop CNC, then check back soon for page2, where I talk about planning your build.