Home 3d Printing 3D Printer? Laser Cutter? CNC? Yes, Please

3D Printer? Laser Cutter? CNC? Yes, Please

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Most of us have, or, would like to have a 3D printer, a laser engraver, and a CNC machine. However, if you think about it naively, these machines are not too different. You need some way to move in the XY plane and, usually, on the Z axis, as well.

Sure, people mount extruders on CNCs, or even lasers or Dremel tools on 3D printers. However, each machine has its own peculiarities. CNCs need rigidity. 3D printers should be fast. Laser engravers and CNCs don’t typically need much Z motion. So common sense would tell you that it would be tough to make a machine to do all three functions work well in each use case. [Stefan] thought that, too, until he got his hands on a Snapmaker 2.0.

As you can see in the video below, the machine uses different tool heads for each function. The motion system stays the same and, curiously, there are three identical linear motion modules, one for each axis.

In addition to the interchangeable heads, you also have to swap out the beds for different functions. That means changing over quickly isn’t really an option. [Stefan] reports there are 22 bolts to attach the heated bed for 3D printing, for example.

This isn’t cheap, of course, but if you had to buy all three devices, you’d probably spend as much, especially for all aluminum framed machines. There are some compromises. The linear modules use a leadscrew, which is an unusual choice on X and Y axis for 3D printers because they are slow and have more backlash than belts. However, [Stefan] found the quality was good, even though printing speed was slow and noisy.

Of course, when machining with the CNC head, the rigid leadscrews are a plus, even though the 50 W spindle isn’t going to replace a larger CNC machine. He was even able to machine some aluminum slowly. The laser head is modestly powered, but it does have a camera and low-tech air assist, although it isn’t a proper air system. Overall, [Stefan] felt like the machine was usable in all three phases. He did miss a prominent emergency stop button on the machine or even on the graphical user interface.

Overall, the Snapmaker looks like a good concept with some implementation problems, but no show stoppers. Like most amateur builds, the machine is basically a small CNC with accessories to do laser cutting and 3D printing. Could you build better? Maybe. But it wouldn’t be trivial to match the build quality and software integration of the device.

We’ve seen conversions of 3D printers to a laser or CNC more than once. Results vary, of course, but it is doable.



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