Home built CNC plasma cutter

Home built CNC plasma cutter

Final product

4ft x 4ft cutting area with a waterbed. End cost, about $3,000
The frame is made from 2"x2" square tubing

Some might consider it overkill but with a large tank of water sitting on it I wanted all the strength I could have.
Cutting it all down to size

I takes awhile to cut everything before beginning to weld.
Aluminum 2" x 2" pieces

I made the gantry out of aluminum because you don't want bearings riding on a painted surface and with all that water unpainted steel would rust.
End caps

The place where I bought the steel also had end caps which is lucky because I originally planned to weld all the ends shut to keep out water. these easily shave 40 hours off the project.
The beginning of the frame

Much like any good CNC machine it is important everything is as square as possible.
X marks the spot

This is the center of the bed, everything is based around this piece.
Legs and side panel

It's starting to show it's true size here.
Gantry arms

The double sides are to support the weight on the legs and to hold the gantry arms.
The other angle

Gantry assembly

The pieces needed to make all the joining plates for each axis
Gantry pieces assembled

Welding up the pieces for the X and Y axis.
Checking fit

Making sure everything is going according to plan based on my brain blueprint. first I spot weld everything then go back and fill in the welds.
Another angle

Here you can see how the motor drops in next to the side of the aluminum arm.
Fire engine red

Red isn't my favorite color but I wanted a strong bold color since these pieces move the most and are the closest to the human which is made of tender and delicious flesh.
Gear rack

This is what the motor engage against.
VHB tape

I love this stuff. VHB "Very High Bond" This is what I used to attach the rack gear to the aluminum side so the gear on the motor could engage it.
Completed Gantry

Motor mounts, axis tied together, drag chain mounted, lacing bars, end stops, painted.
Rack gears mounted

Motor mounted

Cabling begins

Gear engaged against the rack

Now you can see how it is going to move along each axis.
Welding tabs

When in a metal shop I always grab some of each kind, they save you tons of time making your own.
X axis mount

I made a mount out of welding tabs since my welder won't handle aluminum.
Starting to take shape

Another angle

Dog is really confused about what is going on

Wires and gantry

Drag chain installed and it's really beginning to look like the final product.
eBay score

I needed a Z-axis and I found this used linear rail on eBay for $30. Major score!
It didn't fit exactly so I used the laser cutter to make an adapter plate.

Adapter plate mounted

Close up

Z-Axis mounted

Back angle on Z Axis

Wood decking

It's cheap, there will be a waterbed on top, save a buck where you can.
Dog demands attention

After this project was done she liked sleeping under it.
My 1st power on test

Roadrunner test

The default test pattern in Mach3 is a roadrunner. So I taped a sharpie to the side to see how the machine was responding.
Roadrunner and hole for drain

Welded a socket to the waterbed

This is galvanized steel. Seriously, never weld this stuff without a full oxygen mask, it's some serious poison.

Faucet attachment

Now when I want to change out the water in the bed I can hook up the hose and let gravity do the rest.
Water bed in place

Flat welding tabs

Slat holders

I needed a way to hold the slats up in the water bed so I took some welding tabs and made these rails to hold them
Another angle

Slates installed

2" flat bar stock

Bought some flat bar stock and just cut it down and drop it in, cheapest material bed I've ever made.
Holding water

Checking for leaks
Looking good

Electronics and paint

Oh look! My Plasma cutter has a CNC port!

This has a contact closure that I use to make the computer turn the plasma on and off with Gcode.
Back of plasma cutter

Drag chain

Cheapest plasma cutter I could find that would do what I needed.

Electronics bay

My controller

Low end controller but for a budget project it can handle everything for under $100
Plasma head

PS3 Controller

OK, now I'm just showing off. I figured out how to drive the CNC with a PS3 controller.
Don't leave out xBox

I got one working, why not the other?
First cut

I'm very happy with the final product.
Source : drandolph from Reddit