3D Machine

I have designed my own version of a 3D Printer and CNC Mill that I am callingThe 3D Machine.

The first prototype of the 3D Machine.

It does the work of many different desktop machines simply by switching the work head.


I have bought and built several different low cost 3D printers over the years. The problem was that they were flimsy and unreliable and only worked as a 3D printer.

Then I bought a Shapeoko which was actually a desktop CNC mill. It is strong, sturdy, precise, and high quality. The picture is below.

The Shapoko CNC machine

As I began to work with it, I was impressed by its quality and accuracy.

But I wanted more than just a CNC mill. So I converted it to a 3D printer. But when I wanted to use it as a mill again it took a while to convert it back. Here is the 3D printer.

Shapeoko as 3D Printer

After thinking about it, I came up with the concept of building swappable heads to make the machine more flexible. Just by swapping the head unit I could have a 3D Printer, a CNC Router and many other types of machines. I also designed the electronics and software to automatically detect the type of head attached.

I like to call this concept3D Manufacturing.

The idea is simple. I have created a 3D platform that allows you to do many things. You can use it as a 3D printer and print objects in plastic. You can also use it as a CNC Mill to carve objects out of wood, plastic or metal. You can use it as a CNC router to make objects out of cardboard, plywood or Lexan sheets and even make PCBs. In fact nearly anything that is available onThingiverse.comcan be made with this device.

How do I do all of these things with just one machine?

I started with a rugged and reliable base, the Shapeoko, that can move a head in 3D space.

Shapeoko with Head Base Plate

Then just by swapping heads you can have a 3D FDM Printer.

Or a CNC Router, Mill or Engraver.

Or a Laser Cutter.

The electronics and software are custom designed to support all of these functions. You can get the details on the next page.

The controller software is written to move the head in 3 dimensions using G-codes received from a CAD program, and to handle the functionality of each head. In the future additional heads with functions such as Paste Extrusion, 3D Scanning, pick and place circuit board assembly and many more will be added.

This is the ultimate design and R&D tool for small business, educators, experimenters and hobbyists. It is also a light production machine for home based manufacturing. People are making Signs, License Plate Frames, Dolls, 3D Portraits, Automobile parts and toys. It is the perfect home business.

Products no longer available. This page for reference only.

Michael Fowler 2016