Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Techy Tuesday - CNC Mill or 3D Printer?

I've been meaning to start a tradition of devoting at least one day a week to a tech post featuring something I've come across that I think folks will be interested in.  The Techy Tuesday seems like a good name, and gives me a little direction in doing it, so let's try this for a while.

To start with, let's revisit the idea of home fabrication.  A few months ago, I did a summary of 3D printing vs. conventional milling machines controlled by computers.  If you want to build cool or interesting things at home, which do you want?  What gives you the best bang for the buck?  There are reasons to have both type of machine, and both are worth considering.  To start off the Techy Tuesday series, I ran across an interesting project on Indiegogo, the FABtotum, a box that does additive and subtractive building and throws in a 3D scanner too! 
FABtotum is a multipurpose tool, the first Low Cost Desktop Personal Fabrication device that can operate a wide range of Computer controlled (CNC) manufacturing processes.

Print, Cut, Mill, Scan, Manipulate. Rinse and repeat!

A seamless interaction between the physical and the digital world.

While Current 3D printers are defined as Personal fabricators, there is so much more to personal fabrication than 3d printing alone! FABtotum allows anyone to explore the endless possibilities of a multipurpose fabrication device.

Pretty cool concept. The Indiegogo page says:

"Along with 3/4 Axis Subtractive Machining, Fabtotum is capable of 3-axis hybrid Additive / Subtractive manufacturing, meaning you can work in dual mode without loosing the position or having to move the workpiece.

  • 3D milling on light materials (Balsa, Foam, light wood)
  • PCB milling : make your own circuit boards!
  • Engraving
  • 2.5 D Profiling (cutting) on light materials (balsa,Foam,Light wood)
  • CNC Pre-Drilling
  • 4 Axis machining on light materials.
  • 4 Axis Engraving   "
  • OK, the downside is that it only works light materials, but in the videos they have, you can see it machining what looks like a chunk of aluminum.  If it can machine aluminum, it can machine at least brass and mild steels.  I've got to keep my eye on this project as it goes forward.


    1. I'd love if you ever have the time to explore the concept of buying a hobby-level machine capable of turning out a functional 1911 or AR - even if it taxes the CNC and takes a week to mill the frame. When Miller started III Arms he entered with a Tormach - an "Entry level" machine in the world of real CNC - but I'd love to know if you think there is an answer out there for the Patriot who wants the ability to load some pre-constructed code, add steel blocks, and end up with a defensive tool.


    2. Being "Old School", I'd rather have a CNC mill!

    3. This is an interesting post regarding CNC Mill. The video is awesome describing all the important facts clearly.