Sunday, February 26, 2012

Building a CNC Machine - Linear Bearings & X-Axis

I've been back and forth between buying the parts to build a RepRap off eBay or designing something myself. I've also been concerned that the Prusa frame wouldn't be strong enough to handle pcb routing. So I decided to build a somewhat heavier duty cnc machine to do pcb routing, but make it able to run an extruder. I may just use it with the extruder or use it as a RepStrap to print the parts for a Prusa at a later date. I intend to use the Sanguinololu board I built to control it.

Linear Bearings

The linear bearing were a hangup for me, all the best ideas were either expensive (v-groove bearings, 1/2"+ linear bearings), or looked flimsy for my application (8mm linear bearings).

I've seen this design on the internet before, and couldn't come up with a better solution that didn't cost a small fortune.

I bought 100 608zz bearings, some angle iron and a big bag of 5/16" nuts, 5/16" x 1" bolts and 1/4" washers. I made a jig to ensure the holes were in the right place, clamped it to the drill press and here's what I came up with.

I will weld 1 1/2" angle to the backs to make mounting brackets. 

  • 1" angle iron cut to 4"
  • Holes drilled at 1/2" and 1 1/8" in from each end (roughly)
  • Clamped to a jig to ensure holes are perfectly aligned in relation to the center
  • Each bearing has a 1/4" washer on each end of the 608zz bearing, a 5/16"x1" bolt and 2 nuts (one on each side of the angle iron)

X Axis
With the bearing design done I started the X-axis
I wanted a bigger work area that the RepRap's 8"x8"x5.5" My X-axis has 11 3/4" max travel. I was going for 12", but the frame interferes. I'll probably limit it to 11-11 1/2". the Y-axis should be about the same, haven't decided on the Z axis yet, I have 8" in mind, but probably between 6-10"

  • Slides are 16" long, allowing 12" travel (without the cross pieces). the slides are structural frame parts. they have 1 1/2 angle iron welded to the back of each end to attach them to the cross pieces
  • Cross pieces are 18" wide, allowing slides to be bolted at 15 3/4" wide. It will work out to 16" when I do the Y axis mounts (1/8 added per side)
It seems very sturdy, I stood on it, and it was still easy to move. I'm out of 1" angle iron again, so that's it for now. I still need to attach a table, mount a stepper motor, and it hook up a lead screw of some sort.

Closeup View
 Weight Test


  1. good tutorial, check similar one

  2. Nice information! Sealed bearings offer low maintenance and long life for many applications from machinery to bicycles and appliances. Thanks for posting this informative article.

    hydrodynamic bearings

  3. very good idea i am going to give it a go trying a few designs yours looks best