Monday, June 4, 2012

Kit Built CNC Mill/3D Printer

What do you get when you cross a MakerBot, a dremel, and a kit built CNC router from

A WhiteAnt CNC Mill/3D Printer

Video stolen from the white ant product page, via

Although the cost of the WhiteAnt kit strikes me as similar to other open source 3D printer kits, and I already have a Makerbot thing-o-matic in the house, there are a few things that catch my  interest about the idea of building a WhiteAnt:
  • I am a proponent of versatile, low cost manufacturing equipment, and the WhiteAnt looks like a 2 for 1 deal since the user can quickly swap the extruder for a Dremel and have a CNC mill without taking up extra space, or investing the time to build another frame and set up a second set of electronics and software
  • The WhiteAnt frame looks a lot sturdier than the Makerbot
  • Building a WhiteAnt is essentially a practical, guided lab exercise for this textbook on 3D printing in plastic, and I am old school enough to like textbooks and formal labs.
  • produces good videos about how to assemble their various kits. (To see what I mean, you can watch an instructional video on the WhiteAnt Dremel mount assembly here, or the video instructions for connecting the WhiteAnt electronics.)
The WhiteAnt is built using the arduino, a single-board open source microcontroller, replicatorG, an open source 3D printing program, and the generation4 electronics and tool-head available from

If the ability to do 3D printing via fused deposition modeling in extruded plastic is unimportant to you, and you need to use a mill more than you want the experience of building your own, you may be better off to sacrifice the cool factor and buy a low-cost mini-mill like this one from It comes fully assembled, has enough torque to mill steel, and has a similar price and x/y/z travel to the White Ant kit.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Kit. When program is correct Custom CNC machining are usually 100% correct with what they produce.