Thursday, May 8, 2014

Makesmith CNC The Most Affordable Desktop CNC Router

    Today, like most days I started with recently launched on kickstarter and I came across this new project 'Makesmith CNC'. While I was watching the video and then reading the page, I noticed that they already started to get busy.

Within a one hour or so they are almost 50% through their funding goal( even though its only $10,000) it is still an achievement. As I have mentioned before I have studied mechanical engineering in college, and this project caught my eye right away. There is a similar project(and quite more advanced project out on kickstarter for a CNC table top machine( which I will be posting about soon)) one of the differences is the price and at just $175 for the early bird kit( which I pledged for and already got sold out!) its very affordable and hopefully it will be fully upgradeable with more development from the creators and the community of makers/hackers that they will create with this project. With no further delay here is their project:

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The most affordable Desktop CNC Router: Using off-the-shelf parts to put CNC technology into the hands of engineers and hobbyists.

Small wood piece engraved by the Makesmith CNC Router
Small wood piece engraved by the Makesmith CNC Router
A warm hello from Bar Smith & Tom Beckett:
We are two recent university graduates here to introduce the most affordable desktop CNC router. Our CNC machine precisely cuts and shapes a variety of materials.The CNC router cuts materials more precisely than what could be done by hand. Our router kit makes use of off-the-shelf parts and a laser cutter to keep costs to a minimum.
We are making this CNC router because we want to enable people who have never before had access to these types of rapid prototyping technologies to be able to obtain one.
Two years ago, Bar Smith began working in a graduate students' lab that granted him access to a laser cutter and a board router. No time passed before he wanted his own rapid prototyping tool - in his home. After searching online relentlessly for weeks, he came to the conclusion that the most economical CNC machine available could be purchased for about $600. For a student with limited finances, purchasing a CNC machine was simply impossible.
Baffled by this lack of accessibility to CNC hardware, Bar realized that there are groups of fellow engineers, hobbyists, tinkers, and potentially even artists that could benefit enormously from their own desktop CNC machine. With this newly acquired motivation, Bar was determined to make his very own desktop CNC router with the dream that he might be able to share it with others.
The earliest developments of the machine started in the Summer of 2012. Bar arrived home from lab on many occasions with newly developed forms of the CNC router made out of laser-cut pizza boxes. Within months the pizza box prototypes began to resemble our current product as Bar started to employ the actual frame material (MDF). Soon after, parts such as the servos (motors) and encoders began arriving in the mail. Within a few weeks, the faint sounds of small power tools could be heard from his room during every hour of the day.
A year and a half later, Bar is nearly finished with his CNC router and has joined forces with friend Tom Beckett to help place these machines into the hands of people who have never before been able to utilize these technologies.
Our Vision: Easy access to Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing.
Our Mission: Develop affordable desktop CNC routers.
New to Computer Numerical Control, Rapid Prototyping technologies, etc.? Visit the "About CNC" page on our website: Click Here
More about our Desktop CNC Router:
Our CNC router employs a two or three dimensional computer model of an object and very precisely mills, cuts, or shapes the object out of any soft material. This low-priced high-quality desktop CNC router cuts intricate and accurate pieces. The machine allows an individual to shape objects that would otherwise be too tedious, difficult, or impossible to complete by hand. Our router can cut wood, plastic, foam, and many other soft materials. It is not intended to cut metals, however we learned recently that it can easily carve basic red bricks. We regularly experiment with new materials to increase the potential applications of our machine. For an updated list of materials we have tested, check the Updates section as well as the "Tools and Materials" page on our website. The frame and mechanical components of our CNC router are custom designed from the ground up to minimize the cost of the machine without incurring any unacceptable loss of performance. We are trying to provide something that people have been able to purchase for a couple of years, but at a fraction of the price.

IMG_8841 IMG_8842 IMG_8843 IMG_8844
IMG_8845 IMG_8846 IMG_8847 IMG_8848
IMG_8849 IMG_8850 IMG_8851 IMG_8852
The Router's Specs:
  • Custom closed loop controller
  • 9.2in x 8.7in x 1.9in workspace (234mm x 221mm x 48mm) (cutting/working area)
  • 12in x 14in x 14in machine size (dimensions of the entire machine)
  • .00005in (.001mm) minimum step size (the minimum amount the machine can be instructed to move)
  • .1mm – .5mm repeatability depending on feed rate and material (the ability to return to the same spot after a process; accuracy)
  • 5in/min (127mm/min) maximum feed rate (the rate it can move in any one direction). For those unfamiliar with feed rates, compared to more expensive CNC setups, this is very slow.

Kit Information:
  • The kit contains EVERYTHING you need to put together your own desktop CNC router except the dremel. You will receive a complete set of laser-cut parts to construct the frame and moving parts of the router, all the necessary metal hardware, an Arduino compatible microcontroller, three continuous rotation servos and three magnetic encoder boards, and all of the requisite bolts and wires.
  • To assemble your kit you will need a soldering iron (previous soldering experience is not necessary) and some glue. You should be able to put your kit together in just a few hours.
  • Before you purchase a kit, it is important to understand that you are purchasing a CNC router which was designed to minimize cost. To keep costs low we use standard threaded rods instead of lead screws which results in backlash (slop between the nut and threaded rod). This can be largely compensated for in the software. The movements of the machine are slow because the forces on the frame have to be kept small to keep accuracy high.
  • Software runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

  • Power supply is included.
  • We will release an assembling video for contributors to follow.
  • A forum will be established for Makesmith CNC Router owners to collaborate and serve as a troubleshooting space.

Production Plan:

Production Plan
Production Plan
Software - We will have the last of the software completed by the end of June, which is just before we expect to have our laser cutter arrive.
Laser Cutter - As soon as we see our Minimum Funding Goal met, we will make our Laser Cutter purchase. After speaking with the company we plan to purchase from, we estimate that it will take four to five weeks to receive it from the time we make the purchase.
Kit Parts - All of the components for the kits will be purchased immediately after the Kickstarter campaign ends. When the campaign ends, we will know exactly how many kits we need to produce. We have already sourced our components' supplier's.
Assembling - We will be assembling kits from a family garage in Santa Rosa, CA. We plan to ship kits out at the pace that the laser cutter allows us to move. We estimate that the required laser cutting time for a single kit will be between three and four hours. We plan to ship to our recipients in the order they contributed. The last of our recipients should be receiving their kits in October. Our shipping estimate for United States contributors is $18. Please add that onto your pledge amount. For international contributors: Please contact us for a shipping quote to add to your contribution.
About Us:

Bar Smith is from Mill Valley, CA and is currently an undergraduate student at the University of California at Santa Cruz. He will be graduating in June of 2014 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He is one of a small  group of undergraduate students fortunate enough to work in the Baskin School of Engineering  graduate students' lab. Bar is a tinkerer and hobbyist who is always coming up with something new and unique. His projects range from auto-dimming Christmas lights, to a treadmill walk-workstation, to quadrocopter drone applications development.
Bar decided to develop a CNC machine because he had access to a laser cutter and a board mill through his participation in lab. Having access to Computer Aided Machining was an incredible experience for him and he wanted to share his discoveries with more people.
Tom Beckett is from Santa Clarita, CA and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz in June 2013 with a degree in History and a minor in Technology and Information Management. He has a devoted interest in all things start-up, business, and entrepreneurial. Launching a small business was a project he wished to undertake immediately after finishing his studies. He has participated in several group business projects through in-class and extracurricular programs.
Bar and Tom met in Fall 2009 and became close friends starting in Spring 2011 while working together at an on-campus burger joint. In Winter 2013 they decided they wanted to attempt to share the CNC router with the world. Since then, the two have spent their time fine-tuning the CNC machine, researching the CNC industry, and starting their small business, Makesmith CNC.
In 2012 Bar and Tom worked alongside two other students on an aerial drone imaging applications project called Skyography which won multiple awards.
The name Makesmith CNC is a play on several words and ideas. “Make” comes from the Maker Movement. Makesmith is a tangent on the idea that in the old days blacksmiths were “makers” of that time. Finally, Bar’s last name is Smith which conveniently made the name Makesmith the obvious selection.
Bar and Tom’s personal goals for the project include creating a product from start to finish for others to enjoy and to actually see something useful come to fruition. Additionally, they intend to further build their resumes with the entrepreneurial spirit, explore the growing realm of crowdfunding, and have fun.
Rewards Info:

Available Rewards Image - Artwork by Nicole Rusk
Available Rewards Image - Artwork by Nicole Rusk
We have four pledge levels available:
Pledge $2 - You receive a Makesmith CNC 2x2in Sticker that will include our logo! Thank you very much for your support.
Pledge $25 - You receive (2) Personalized "Thank You" Coasters - cut by a Makesmith CNC Router! Share a drink with your best pal and tell them about your philanthropic deeds.
Pledge $175 - EARLY BIRD SPECIAL! You receive the full Makesmith CNC Router Kit. (If you are in the United States, please add $18 to your contribution for shipping. For international contributors: Contact us for a shipping quote to add to your contribution.) Thank you for helping us get started with our campaign.
Pledge $195 - You receive the full Makesmith CNC Router Kit. (If you are in the United States, please add $18 to your contribution for shipping. For international contributors: Contact us for a shipping quote to add to your contribution.)
The $175 kits and $195 kits only differ in price; the kits themselves are the same.
Plans for the future:
We have set a limit on the number of kits we plan to offer during this campaign. We chose to do this because we want to make sure we can put the necessary time and care into each kit. Too often hardware projects overestimate what and by when they can deliver. Our firm limit on kits is an amount we are certain we can produce ourselves and in the timely manner we have stated. We fully plan to offer more kits soon after the campaign.
Thank You!
Thank you for your interest in our Desktop CNC Router. Our objective is to get CNC technology into the hands of more people and we hope that you can help us do so. We can’t wait to see all the wonderful things that you will make. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask us. Either email us directly at or contact us through the Kickstarter page.
- Bar & Tom
Video Production by Thomas Palmer - Bubba Photography at
Project Artwork by Nicole Rusk -
Music "Feelin Good" by Kevin MacLeod -
Special Thank-Yous To:
Suzannah Barbour for the countless draft reviews, endless grammar fixes, relevant feedback, and unyielding encouragement.
Thomas Palmer for the many middle-of-the-night video edits. It looks great!
The many friends, family, and family friends who took the time to take a look at our project early-on and gave us the feedback that allowed our project to develop into something we are very proud of.
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