Using CNC instead of 3d printing

Possibility vs reliability vs cost. What do you guys think?

We have though of that extensively for some parts. I think it makes sense for some parts, especially if we are going down the aluminum (or other metal) way for parts of the tracking assembly. The core team is now (quite recently) equipped with a Shapeoko2 CNC and we will be doing some experimentations.

We are thinking we should start with the sides for the tracking assemblies. Much more harder will be the gears and the worms… Actually impossible without a CNC Lathe. Any suggestions, ideas?

To your point:

  • Possibility: Totally possible. CNCs are becoming available in many maker/hackerspaces
  • Reliability: Probably more precise and durable than 3D printing in most cases.
  • Cost: Slightly higher, but still within our DIY-friendly target for most parts.

CNC’s are more available than 3d printers here in Jordan, so it will probably cost the same, I just don’t want to end up paying for disfigured gears. One approach for cutting down the costs could be by 3d printing the sides and using CNC for gears only (Yes, looking at you, little worm) or at least using metal for gears only, acrylic could also be used.

I have sent the stl files to some people for cost estimation. let’s see what happens.

I think a laser cut wooden box could also work reasonably well. Waterproofing it might require a bit more work, but lasercutters are quite a bit more common (and far easier to operate)

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Can you guys order from overseas? In the USA we have a great place called McMaster-Carr… Any ways, here is page of their catalog with pressure angle worm gears and their matched worms. Shipping might cost something but maybe a group/bulk buy can be arranged? Dunno…

At the very least the worm can be bought as that seems to be the hard part to print correctly. Also, with it having less mating surface area is the part that will wear the fastest. As the worm gear needs to go around the PVC tube and has to be adhered to it, printing that is probably the best method.