I had an entire week off from work and decide to start on my 80/20 extrusion gantry build. All the major parts were purchased from ebay. It consists of:

80/20 extrusion
The long X axis are 10 series 2040 38″ length.
The Y-axis uprights are 15 series 1545 18″ length.
The horizontal Y-axis is 15 series 1545 36″ length.
The router top surface is made up of 10 series 1030 29″ length.

Thk linear rails
The X-axis are 32″ SR15.
The Y-axis is a 30″ SHS30.

The Z-axis is a heavy duty NSK linear slide, 9″ of travel, with servo motor and NSK ground ballscrew.

Three Gecko 202 stepper drivers to move the 276oz-in stepper motors.
Gecko 320 servo driver for the Z-axis.

The dual X-axis and Y-axis ground ballscrews are NSK brand. There is very little, if any backlash that I can detect with my dial indicator.

The actual cutting area is 25″x28″. I would of like to have made a bigger gantry router but finding longer extrusion, linear rails and ballscrews would of increase the cost tremendously. The cost of the build was $1400, not including spindle. This includes the electronics, nuts, bolts and aluminum plates that hold everything together. To purchase a similar sized commercial gantry router is atleast twice that and I believe this gantry is much stiffer and more precise due to the use of high end linear components.

The gantry is able to move over 400IPM but I have that dialed down to 250IPM for now. The table that the gantry rests on starts to shake when the gantry moves at high speed. The table is on a base with 4 rolling wheels. Once I finish building the gantry, I will put the table on blocks and maybe bolt it down to the cement floor.

My CNC Gantry got posted to!!!!

Now on to the build pictures, it took me 2 weeks to build this…….

The NSK ground ballscrews from ebay. Nice find for $180. One looked like it was never used. They all looked good once I cleaned off the grease. No detectable backlash with dial indicator.

I machined two mounting plates for the X-axis THK SR15 linear rails. Alot of holes drilled and tapped.

Test fit the X-axis mounting plates and linear rails. I then machined two L brackets to hold the extrusion uprights.

Test fit of the NSK ballscrews.

1545 extrusion uprights

Machined another plate for the Y-axis SHS30 linear rail

Lets see what the Z axis looks like on the linear rail

Test fit and see how big the gantry will be.

I cleared my work table and moved the gantry from my movie room table to the shop.

Milled out two ballscrew bearing end mounting plates.

Test fit X-axis stepper motor standoffs

Machined a plate to mount the Z-axis linear stage.

Machined a chunk of aluminum for the Y-axis ballscrew mount

Y-axis stepper mounting plate.

Installing the NSK linear stage. It’s made from cast iron/steel and probably weights close to 35lbs.

Just an image of the gecko drivers before I mounted them to the heatsink.

Gantry Y-axis stepper movement test at 300IPM

3-axis movement test

Test cut using a temporary spindle mount made out of plywood

Vcarve sign

Vcarve signCutting logo

Gantry accuracy test

Gantry accuracy test #2

Big piece of 24″x7″x1″ thick cast aluminum plate I found at the metal recycle placed for around $25. This will be used to make the Z-axis spindle mounting plate.

Finally installed the 2.2KW water cooled spindle.

Test cut 6061 aluminum
30ipm feed rate
12,000 rpm spindle speed
3/16″ hss endmill
.05″ DOC

The original direct drive Z-axis servo motor died, the motor over heated and burned out. The Gecko320x servo driver survived the ordeal with no issues, they make good stuff. It was replaced by a 250oz-in minertia servo motor with 1:5 gearing. 2mm gt2 belt and pulleys. Plenty of torque now. A side benefit with the pulley reduction, there is enough belt tension/friction that the Z axis doesn’t drop down when power is shutoff.

Was doing a wood carving and the gantry x-axis lost position/steps. Took me a few minutes to figure out the stepper coupler had snapped. I bought these helical couplers on eBay for about $7 each. That’s what you get for buying low quality. I had a spare in stock so a few minutes to remove the stepper motor and install replacement coupler. Time to find better motor couplers before it happens again.

Installed larger spoil board and T-track hold downs bought from Rockler. I cut the grooves using a table saw and dado blade set.

My shop vac finally died so went to Lowes to pick up a new one. Woodcraft was having a sale so I bought 25feet of 2.5″ hose and another Dust Deputy. The Dust Deputy works better than the Thein collector that I used before. The 2.5″ diameter hose has much more air flow than the original 1″ hose. I made some speaker baffle cut outs out of MDF today and it sucked all the dust away.

I purchased a 12volt Flojet water pump from Electronic Goldmine. This is a high quality 1.35 gallon per minute pump but instead of running it at 12volts, I used a 6 volt phone charger. There is plenty of water flow at 6 volts and the pump does run much quieter. The tubing I used was purchased from Lowes. I had to heat up one end of the tubing so it can get soft enough to fit in the supplied water connectors that came with the spindle. The coolant in a 5 gallon bucket is a 50/50 mix of Prestone antifreeze and water.

The VFD is controlled by a Mach3 plugin using a USB RS485 serial adapter that I puchased off eBay for $3.50. The plugin works great, you can turn on/off and vary the spindle RPM with Mach3.

I have a Radio Shack Car temperature gauge monitoring the spindle temperature. The sensor is just taped to the spindle. After running for over an hour, the spindle temperature is about 75 degreeF.

I highly recommend anyone still using a woodworking router as a spindle to upgrade to a water cooled version. Less runout, more power and best thing is that you don’t have to yell when talking to someone when the spindle is running.

The Z-axis servo motor was running a little warm so I placed a 12volt computer fan next to it. Servo motors don’t like to be run hot unlike stepper motors.

Things still todo:

Make ballscrew end bearing plates. Update: made and installed the end bearing plate for Y-axis
Order more 1030 extrusion for the gantry top surface. Update: I purchase the extrusion but haven’t cut and installed them yet.
Wire up home and limit switches

If anyone needs a carved wooden sign or aluminum cut, please contact me. I am located in southeast Michigan. fong.jim@gmail dot com

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