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Five Things to Consider Before Building your MPCNC

If you want to build a desktop CNC router/engraver, and if 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.

Size

The MPCNC offers flexibility because it can be scaled to custom sizes. But as you make it larger, its limitations become more apparent. With a build size greater than 24″ on the X or Y axis, or about 4″ on the Z, the MPCNC will lack some rigidity. A lack of rigidity will equate to problems involving precision and consistency. You will need to decide how important this is to you. If you are engraving signs, then precision is not as critical because you probably will not be able to see the minor imperfections. If you create parts that require tight tolerances, a lack of precision will be more problematic.

Materials

You should also consider what kind of materials you will want to carve. The MPCNC works great on soft materials like wood and most plastics. You can even use it to carve aluminum if you are careful. But if you want to care steel, you will probably be happier with a more robust CNC machine.

Customization

The flexibility that the MPCNC provides in allowing you to customize and use a variety of configurations will mean more planning to design. This can also complicate the build itself. The v1engineering website has some good build instructions, 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 assembled my MPCNC quickly, and I was able to get it moving without too much effort. Still, I encountered a few issues along the way that required some troubleshooting on my part. I don’t mind at all, as I like the challenge.

Software

Finally, you will 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. This is a benefit if you already have that skill. If you don’t already know how to create the gcode, then be prepared for a bit of a learning curve.

I will be adding more content the MPCNC soon. Check back to read more about specific steps that you can use for planning your MPCNC build.

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