Printable Modular Machine Components

by pandelume, published

Printable Modular Machine Components by pandelume Apr 24, 2010

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This is an experimental set of printable machine parts, the idea being that you can configure these into whatever 3-or-fewer-axis machine you want. The basic parts are:

1) Linear rail and ball carriage.
2) Rack and pinion
3) Structural blocks with 2 (angle), 3, 4, and 5 mating faces.

Hole patterns for all parts are NEMA 17 - 31mm square, and holes are sized for M4 fasteners.

With the right tool holders it should be possible to make a small milling machine, drilling machine, maybe a pick-and-place machine, who knows? I invite people to please post suggestions or modifications.


1) I haven't printed any of these yet, but I have skeinforged them, so I think they'll print ok.
2) I haven't arranged multiple parts into one file so they can be printed together, but it would be smart to do this. I'll post assembled files when I get a chance.
3) I don't know how accurate the resulting machine will be, so please keep in mind that this is still something of a work in progress. I hope to add and anti-backlash split gear as a start, but I'd love to hear other suggestions.


1) Determine the machine configuration you want
2) Print the various parts required
3) Drill and tap the pinion setscrew location and the end cap fastening holes in the rail car body - I was thinking M3 fasteners.
4) Assemble the rail cars with 5mm ball bearings - be sure to lubricate them
5) Assemble the remaining parts, making sure to key the rack and rails together.

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Printable Modular Machine Components by pandelume is licensed under the GNU - GPL license.

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I am currently printing a set in 25% scale to mess around with design then once I have a concept possible I will print a whole. Then again I may also just figure out how to assemble in software and print sections as a whole... less hardware needed.

this looks very promesing!

i'm trying to make a CNC machine with a big span (
lt;100 cm), but i think i have to reinforce the cubicles

i'm thinking about a diagonal cross inside or a sort of pyramide on top(bottom) , and or combine parts before printing

can you post the SCAD files?

and do you know if coolant reacts with ABS/PLA ?


Remember me the OpenStructure project : http://www.openstructures.nethttp://www.openstructures.net ;)
Nice Work

I hadn't heard of it before, but openstructures seems like a neat project. I had initially sketched this up with much larger parts, but reduced it to use the NEMA 17 hole mounting pattern to reduce size and print time, and to remove a bunch of specialized motor mounting blocks. Maybe I can do a version that conforms to the openstructures guidelines - I'll take a look.

I took that site as inspiration for my version http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2260http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... but I like this version more.

Modular CNC system

I am thinking of designing a modular drill-stand using such parts.

Wow, nice work! Can't wait to see one printed. How hard would it be to change it to use a much smaller pinion gear? With the usual steppers and drivers, we'd need a much smaller pinion to get close to the usual RepRap resolution and torque. A microstepping driver would get you close enough on the resolution side though.

Without changing anything else, the simplest way to swap a smaller pinion would be to just have a taller rack. On the other hand, I think too tall a rack would be somewhat self-defeating considering how much more material would be needed. I'll take a look at it and see how small a pinion would work.

Alternatively, I could generate a motor block with off-center hole patterns to move the motor and rack closer together, or set up a gear train of some kind - although we would really need backlash control in that case.

nice desing, but for reprap will be nice change license to be comatible

I have updated the license to GNU GPL, which I think is the reprap license.

This eliminates rods from the reprap concept. This is a large push towards reducing the cost of CNC to ONLY steppers and driver circuitry. A big step indeed!

Sweet! I think the helical/herringbone gears, racks and pinions I've seen around might take care of backlash.

Hopefully it works out, then an almost entirely printed printer could be made.

I like the printable nature of it, compared to my non-printable idea.

Thanks for the suggestions - I'll take a look at helical gears. To tell you the truth I have some doubts about exactly how scalable this will be, so I like your lasercut idea for machines that are on the larger side.

I wonder if it would just be a matter of adding a thin plywood skin for support? Or sheet metal?