Love making stuff? Need a special part? Want it NOW? These are just a few of the reasons why Fab@Home is the gathering place for DIY-ers the world over. What began as a project for a couple of Cornellians back in 2006 has turned into a global hangout for those who likes to get their hands dirty.
The heart of the Fab@Home movement is the computer numerical control (CNC) machine. A CNC device is a computer controller that reads instructions and drives a machine tool which can “make” things with precision and repeatability. CNC machines used to be available only at large manufacturing facilities (auto, aerospace, etc…). Today, CNC machines are affordable for small businesses and shops, but are still out of reach for the weekend makers and DIY-ers. Fab@Home changed all of that by showing the Maker community how to build their own CNC machines at a fraction of the cost of commerical units. Once that door was opened, the DIY world has never been the same.
When we started looking at FirstUse projects for the Rockwell BladeRunner, a few readers suggested we use it to build a CNC machine. We kind of like the idea…a machine to build another machine for making stuff. After a bit of research, the interns came across Ilan Moyer’s MIT project of building one out of foam core and we knew we may have found our FirstUse project. We will build the first one out of foam core, but we will use the BladeRunner to build another one out of something a bit more durable (plexiglas, plywood).
There are a few other potential projects for the FirstUse test of the BladeRunner, but whatever we end up deciding for that, it is pretty certain that we’ll give this foam core CNC machine project a go. For those who don’t want to wait for our write-up of the build, there is an excellent one already posted on Instructables. Go check it out.