We wanted to create a hardware device that allowed students and creators to have an easy pathway to prototyping, through 3D printing and woodworking. The FabBox combines both of these aspects into one, as it can be both a 3D printer and a CNC. This would allow for it to be a versatile machine, capable of meeting multiple needs.
What it does
The FabBox is both a 3D printer and a CNC, achieving this by using an interchangeable head, either be a direct drive extruder, or a router capable of milling wood, aluminum, steel and other materials. The FabBox has a build volume of 10in by 10in and a z axis height of 6 in. We use two lead screws on each axis to provide stability and ensure the most precise x, y, and z steps for accurate 3D printing and milling. Additionally, the FabBox has heated bed for 3D printing that helps provide adhesion when printing. The FabBox is enclosed allowing it to be setup in living areas like a bedroom and be able to mill or print with a minimal noise and mess.
How we built it
We first designed the whole machine in Fusion 360, assembling the entire device in the software to validate the design and ensure it would operate as intended. We planned out every dimension of The FabBox, and once the CAD was finished we began to 3D print and CNC the initial parts. The rails were cut down to size and the carriers along each axes were mounted, while the firmware was written. After the assembly was completed, we uploaded the firmware and tested the FabBox.
Challenges we ran into
We had to 3D print some large brackets, some of which took several hours to complete. During one of the prints, the power to our building went out, setting us behind schedule somewhat. We also ran into issues compiling the firmware, which we had to then troubleshoot and figure out.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
The rough CAD model was completed fairly quickly, so we had a good idea of what the final product would look like and what design issues we had to work around. We also pushed our 3D printers to their limits, printing out ridiculously (but reliably) fast. The FabBox is also very structurally sound, with minimal bending about any of the axes.
What we learned
One thing that was reinforced was the importance of planning before manufacturing. By creating the full model in CAD first, we were able to iron out most of the flaws that we found in the design and function.
What's next for The FabBox
The main feature we plan on adding to the FabBox is an auto levelling bed. This would make starting work on the machine much quicker and easier for the user, and removing another area of error out of their hands.