laser cut CNC linear axis

by peter_ Jul 15, 2010
Download All Files

Please Login to Comment

Inspired by this (as well as other things like CoreXY and Tantillus Spectra wires), I prototyped a XY stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5F9-HIbBYwc

I've been waiting for someone to do this for 5 years! Thank you! :) It looks great!

Made it with 4mm plexiglass, cut with my laser

Found a few bugs:

Gear hole is too tight for a 6-32 bolt: had to make it bigger....

Spacing between the 2track was a bit too much. Moving section would "twist" and "squeeze". Made it 1mm narrower...works fine !

Other than that, this is a pretty good design !

Thanks! The MDF is a little more forgiving than acrylic, so I'm glad to hear that it worked out! If you have a second, it would be post a picture -- I'd love to see it in acrylic!

I'd love too, but I don't know how to post picture !

If you have an account with a website to somewhere like flickr.com, you should be able to upload your pictures there; when you have done that they usually have a link beneath or to the side which you can copy and paste into a comments box and it will either appear as an image or people should be able to click on the link and view the image in its original location.

Hope this helps,


p.s. I'd love to see more pictures as I'm new to 3D printing and would love to build something to help with my classic car project!!

I'm in Europe, so I can only get metric bolts. 6-32 in metric is M3.5.. which obviously isn't sold anywhere. So I got M4, which fits surprisingly well =)

glad to hear it! i think the bigger sizes tend to thread the hardboard a little better, which is kind of nice. how's it working?

It's working fine, I cut it out of acrylic though. I had some problems at first because I had 3mm shaft motors, I now have NEMA17 5mm shaft ones. I still have to cut a new motor mount, things are duct-taped at the moment. Very happy with how it works although the acrylic might not be rigid enough. A printer made with all transparent acrylic would look /totally awesome/ though.

that sounds really great! want to post some pictures to share your work? :)

This is great! There is some info on gear calculations that might be useful at this link: http://www.reprap.org/wiki/Gears:Simultaneous_Meshing_with_Rackhttp://www.reprap.org/wiki/Gea...

this is fantastic, thanks for your work! :) (i like your solution -- i was trying to simultaneously solve for all unknowns given tooth pitch ;). what does alpha represent?)

the machine you designed looks really neat, what is it for?

i propose that if no one has before used the 6-gear (+2 linear gear) configuration, that it be named the jansen-moses configuration ;)

Alpha is the angle of the small gear after the final rotation. I added a new explanation about this to the wiki article.

The motor assembly is for the next-generation of this project http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:978http://www.thingiverse.com/thi...

i like the name :) but i would be surprised if we were the first to come up with this design...

Modular Snap Blocks

Do you have the cad files for this? Sketchup ? Etc?

The SVG is available at the bottom of this page -- you should be able to load it up in a vector graphics program like Inkscape.

Wow cool gear generator!
Perhaps it might be worth mentioning how Vitaly (of http://contraptor.orgcontraptor.org) does Linear slides. He uses PTFE. Check it out:
Also, you might want to get some lexan for the Gears. (even plexi would be better). However, I assume you are just prototyping still. As I do the same thing. Use the cheap MDF / Masonite then go to the more expensive stuff.


thanks :). yup, i just use hardboard for prototyping because it's silly inexpensive -- about $6 for 16 sq feet at home depot for the 3mm material. Something rigid and slippery like PTFE or block HDPE would probably be ideal for cutting the gears and things, but I'd first have to source them then give them a try in the laser cutter. Acrylic (plexiglass) is what I normally use, once the design works. ABS would also be a neat thing to try, too.

Bloody awesome design here Peter.

What's so nifty is that it's completely extensible. There's no limit to how long you could make that track, provided you can get a large enough extension cable.

I'm imagining all the things you could do with this. From automatic focal length measurement to all sorts of laborotory automation. How about a stop motion rig? :D

This is exactly what I was hoping people would see and say! "Imagine all the things you could do with this!". While I'm trying to design an extremely low cost 3D printer to make it 3D printing more accessible, a set of CNC axis are so very generally useful.

You're definitely pegged a pretty fantastic design element -- you can make the axis pretty long, and only have to worry about sagging or a little support if you're using thin material. Conceivably you could cut (or print) the track out in sections, then just tack on as many sections as you need l
ength in the axis. Completely modular, and /so/ inexpensive.

This has about $7 of components in it -- $1 for the hardboard, $1 for the screws, and $5 for the stepper! :)

Why have the motor move at all. If you fixed the motor you could have rollers for the track to slide on so it was supported. very very cool. 8-)

That's definitely a design possibility, but that's similar to moving a table rather than having the (current) gantry design -- it would increase the footprint of the machine by double per axis, and for a 2 axis system it would increase the footprint by four times! Put another way, for a given surface area, your workable area would be reduced to one quarter of the size of that area, instead of the total area (minus borders) with a gantry system.

How are you designing the gears? Or should I say in what software rather?
Very good work bud. Wish this was around before I need my xy plotter for stepper code testing.


Thanks! I really hope people find it useful. I should have a new x/y version out soon, just wanted to hear people's comments before I did another iteration :).

I use a simple online generator to make the gears, and save them to a PDF when I print them. Then I import the PDF, copy out the gear, and there you go :).