Meet Maslow, the $350 CNC Cutting Machine

Meet Maslow, the $350 CNC Cutting Machine


hey everybody its norm from tested and I
am so thrilled to have two guests here in our studio today this is bar and
Hannah you guys work on the Maslow right the Maslow CNC device which is right
behind us this is one of the biggest things we’ve
brought to our studio ever and parking actually what is what is Maslow so
Maslow is a open source four by eight foot CNC router it comes with a kit and
basically our goal is to make CNC routing especially big seen through
outing accessible to everyone and we really we knew we needed to have it be
four foot by eight foot to work with plywood and it’s like native form and we
also need it had to be affordable and affordabl to ship and so the whole thing
is two hundred fifty dollars and ships in a box that’s like yay big as a kit
and then you go to Home Depot and buy a sheet of plywood and some two by fours
and some bricks and the other that’s kind of mind-blowing because it said
three hundred and fifty dollars in a box that you can you can get an assemble and
then do amazing projects like this coat rack which I am immediate in love with a
big fan of the Sutro Tower and this is made on a Maslow yeah right so I’d love
to hear about the story of how this project came to be because this isn’t
your first CNC the vise you guys have made you also
kick-started the the make Smith which is a desktop CNC so what are your origins
and why are you designing the CNC machines so in college I had a laser
cutter I worked in the lab that had laser cutter and I totally fell in love
with like design something digitally and then watch it become real and I wanted
to have that sort of be accessible to more people I wanted more people to have
that experience and so I did a desktop CNC router did a Kickstarter for it you
know it was good we shipped it on time and I sort of ran out of things to make
just cuz in that smaller sort of space I realized that the things I wanted to
build were really you know furniture or you know things that were human scale
and so I’ve wanted to build a bigger machine but the bigger machines that are
out there are all in sort of the 15 to a hundred thousand dollar range and I just
wasn’t in my budget and they also take up a tremendous amount of space because
they’re normally flat so the goals for this project were that it had to be had
to fit in one car garage had to be under $500 what else was it had to fit in the
box more expensive to ship than it is to put the parts feeling right yeah and we
hear that a lot from people who maybe are buying desktop C and C’s or just off
laser cutters they always want the bigger bed space right like those
desktop machines are great to learn about vectors and design and to
prototype and iterate fast but if you want to build something like furniture
it’s always really nice to have a really big canvas to work on and the design of
the maslow is unlike you know looking at other CNCs there are more bigger and
more expensive like if you talked about they’re all you all ate the we were four
by eight on a table this is almost like on an easel how did you end up on this
kind of design to have it and how does it work so the how did we end up on this
design was actually so we’re here for Maker Faire and actually because we were
at Maker Faire doing the desktop CNC router and someone came up to our booth
and we were just chatting he was like I’ve always wanted to do an upright one
so it wouldn’t take up all the space in my garage and I thought that was the
coolest idea and I just started thinking about if once you go upright what you
know it you know if you take a regular CNC you can flip it up right and it
would still work but you suddenly start to have gravity be a factor absolutely
and so if you make gravity work for you you can basically use it to your
advantage well let’s take a look at the anatomy of
this machine I’d love of you guys could run me through exactly what’s going on
it clearly a 4×8 big sheet of ply right you guys bought from Home Depot but when
I think of CNC I think of like how many axes the machine has so you need at
least two to do something really interesting three if you want z-depth
how is the two axis work so thanks and why the the it is a three axis machine
it’s two by default and then you can a third if you want basically what
happens is these two motors are their DC motors with the gearbox and an encoder
so they’re very precise we get very precise movement out of them and it’s a
closed loop control system and these motors adjust the length of these chains
and by knowing the length of those chains very precisely you can define
exactly where the where the router ends up in your four by eight sheet so it’s a
little bit more complicated than your standard XY system but it’s same basic
principle you have two axes and you end up with two degrees of freedom and you
want these change to be extremely taut so you have that precision the motors
give you a lot of precision already and then it’s at a slight angle because
you’re also working against gravity don’t want to pop up actually notice you
have two big bricks attached to this care system here which guys push the
router right against the board yeah that’s that’s exactly right and those
are just those can be sort of anyways we had a guy in Lao email us and he said I
can buy plywood but I can’t buy bricks can I use you know make my own oh yeah
yeah you’re like yeah why not Wow so in terms of setting this up because we’ve
been setting this up all morning you know everything comes in comes in a box
so there’s the carriage you have the bricks that your customers or users
supply their own weighted system they supply their own their own router and
end mills and what comes what comes in the box I guess and what do people have
to put together the box is pretty much everything that you see that’s metal –
the router more or less obviously the motors are super important the chains
like we’ve been talking about but then there’s just a bunch of like small and
larger pieces of hardware that keep everything in place so even down to the
wood screws that that you see that are like holding the frame together that’s
all part of the kit what you get shipped so you had all the hardware people
provide their own 2×4 or so their own do you find that people who are now you’re
shipping them already the people have designed their own stands for it or is
everyone pretty used much using the designs that you guys have put out and I’d say that most people end up
redesigning the frame there been a couple a couple people did hanging ones
so they can flip it up to the roof of their garage when they’re not using it
or against a wall so that you know it’s at a slight angle so you just tilt it
out a little bit people have done plasma cutter
modifications people have you know it’s open source with the goal of you can
really take it and do whatever you want with it
and you’re actually mounting your material directly is it is it locked
into the frame it’s there’s like a jig that locks it into place using
calibration is gonna be really important so it knows what part of the material
are cutting yeah so basically you because the base is also for bite you
can just clamp it with regular c-clamp edges and the registration of this piece
is actually not quite as critical though having having exact registration between
this and the frame itself is very important but if you shift this a little
bit it just shifts your cut you know you don’t you don’t get a distorted cut or
anything weird and unexpected like that all right no with this two axis system
are your cuts more precise and in certain parts of your material like
toward the center because if it’s going toward the end it’s gonna be more taxing
on one motor than the other yeah that’s a that’s a really good question so I
think our biggest thing that we didn’t see as an issue going into before we
started shipping and it’s actually a pretty big issue is it has to very
precisely know its dimensions in order to do the math because it’s very
nonlinear so we’ve been working through the process of how do you set it up and
do some test cuts in order to make make sure that your machine is precise
everywhere mm-hm and where we are so we’re still in our beta phase and our
goal is sort of plus or minus a 64th of an inch across the whole 4×8 sheet and
right now we can do substantially better than that in kind of the middle region
but as you get like right up here we’re more like a sixteenth of an inch right
now but I think well we’ll get that figured out in the next couple weeks and
there’s a lot of that just software improvements and and just we working the
code in iterating yeah its software improvements and it’s figuring out how
to make it easy for people to enter to get everything set up
right because really the math doesn’t need to change it’s just a matter like
when we first shipped we were just like we’ll just measure your machine and
enter the numbers and that turned out not to be precise enough so now we do
this system wasn’t in my idea we’re open source so someone else is like Mina came
out this idea that you take one of the chains and you string it from one motor
to the other motor and then it pulls itself tight and then it knows exactly
how far that distance yeah right using the exact same materials that it’s using
yeah Halle Berry yes thanks hi and then the interface itself so you
take a vector file it’s SVG files and do you have a piece of software that
creates that work path yeah well Barr programmed our software is called ground
control but yeah pretty much you have to it takes in g-code files which is like
pretty much standard for all CNC machines so you’ll have to convert your
SVG or whatever into G code and then ground control will read that and and do
the cut and I notice that you have like the best version of the mazza right now
with your Z access there’s you have an optional you have your dust collector
but this is something that people can just set up like in a garage that was
kind of a the goal this if you have a garage that can fit a four by eight you
can make these big cuts and make some furniture we don’t have the time to make
a full chair today or one of these Sutro coat racks even though I really love one
but I’d love to see a test cut if possible can we start this up and make
something and see how it works yeah that’s that’s constantly out awesome do
it so we’re just gonna open up an SVG file here and so this is a sword cool so
you right now you’re in a web interface this is a website called maker cam yeah
this is a website called maker cam and basically it’s it’s so the machine uses
g-code which is sort of the industry standard for controlling CNC routers and
we can work with pretty much any any g-code source that you want so if you
already have like you know you like using autocad and they’re they’re g code
or autocad fusion 360 you can you can just continue to use that we recommend
maker cam because it’s pretty pretty straightforward I think it works well
and it’s great for these two excess designs yeah exactly
exactly so now we need to tell maker cam a little bit of information about about
the machine itself and so in order for it to cut so the first thing we’re gonna
do is select the thing when I cut and then just say we want to cut around the
profile of it so we’ll tell it the size a bit we’re gonna use which is a quarter
of an inch we’ll tell it how thick are wood is which yeah so let’s just call it
point four five just yeah okay get ourselves a little extra and I guess one
of the advantages that this being upright is that you’re there’s no
backing material you’re gonna worry about cutting into it just goes all the
way through yep exactly we do usually throw a piece of waste board behind it
you know sheet of MDF or something like that just to spare the machine from I’m
cutting it mmm and then you just said how deep you want
it to cut with each pass and how fast you want it to cut and our machine is
not as fast as something like a shop we’re really not looking for you know
like a production environment where you’re like manufacturing something it’s
sort of like a home hobby kind of environment that’s if we just tell it to
you calculate that path see you know there’s a green line just around the the
profile yep so that’s where we’re gonna cut so it’s offset by the width of the
bit just to make sure that your your final part is the size of your SVG file
rather than yeah you know we do still yeah yeah all the states for the kerf
and let’s add some tabs to it just so that it stays in place now here in our
software you can see we were previously cutting some swords we’ll just open up
that file and there’s our sorry awesome and then within your software ground
control you can you can move where your start position is this image right here
is what the system knows about your your your morgue right exactly so it’s all
pre calibrated yep exactly and that’s that’s why we do a calibration step so
it no where it is and it remembers that
between powering it on and off so you really only have to do that one time
when you sit in the machine mm-hmm is that so that you can use one sheet
and just cut as many until you have holes in it and have as many things cut
out as possible yeah yeah maximize that she will the system retain information
of past cuts it does not it would be nice to have sort of a drop-down of
here’s all my sheets because it knows where you’ve cut things from each sheet
right just be a matter of storing that information and letting you recall it
right and not have to make those cuts again but somehow visualize that yeah
and exactly exactly well and this is all of our software or firmware or hardware
is completely open source so we see a lot of a lot of our features are things
that have been added by the community because some want someone will want that
and they’ll just make it and then add it and then everyone gets to benefit
awesome I think we’re ready to make our cut perfect let’s get started okay so about 20 minutes later we have I
see a very clear outline that is ass or very cool there are tabs here which I
know you designed as you’re making the g-code is to remove those what’s that
process like so we’re just going to cut those with a with a saw in our shop we
usually use one of those vibrating saws for a flush cutting it works really well
you just zip zip-zip and then you can just sand those off if you don’t want to
leave any sort of mark oh very cool okay so I’ll let you do that you can use any
type of handsaw now you know when you guys you guys have this setup in your
shop right what’s safety like I’m sure that when
you meet people at Maker Faire or with all or think about backing this and
reordering it the question is it it looks pretty exposed how does this
compare to a different type of CNC yeah I mean it’s definitely comes up because
it looks pretty kind of raw you know but really what makes it even safer than
most ents is the fact that this is all this is all contained and the the bit
spinning you would really have to try to get in there and you know hit your
fingers or something like that and otherwise I mean it is heavier you know
there’s there’s some weight obviously in the bricks that you know you could drop
something on your toe or something like that but generally we say it’s really
safe like I’ve never hurt myself using it I don’t think we know that anyone has
so and this whole thing like this is a big thing yes will fit in your garage
but if someone wanted to get the Maslow kit and maybe not have it cut a full
four by eight cuz you can go to a hardware store and get before my head
cut in half or you could is this configurable is it scalable to be
smaller yeah yeah the calibration process will fix all that for you so if
you say you want to just use half of this and you know have it be a four by
four format or even two by two is something that a lot of people ask about
it’s really easy to just modify your frame you know as long as you feel
comfortable sort of changing the size of the frame
then the machine will do that for you or you could even build a frame with that
in mind and have it be a smaller footprint if you wanted to do that
that’s totally possible cuz it’s doping yeah yeah and and the people using the
Mauser right now are already making their own versions it looks like oh
absolutely yeah there’s a there’s a huge community in our forums of people who
are modifying it and doing their own making it their own Wow let’s take a
look at this piece all right that is a routed sort that’s so cool yeah this is
gonna be a huge hit maker yeah no way she’s gonna walk up and want to walk
away with swords we’re a little bit worried are angry parents if we give
them swords and like it’s not okay to have them make it themselves it’s
possible so what’s next like is the idea that you guys gonna keep on making these
keep improving it what are the improvements gonna be and what are your
long-term plans yeah so our real goal is just to push this idea this technology
we love CNC and we love the idea that people can make something digitally
share it with people around the world and then have it become a reality as you
you know take something digital and make it real so we just want to push this
technology and make it more accessible to more people so it’s not necessarily
about us being the the sort of sole providers of this kind of thing we we’re
open-source because we want to see other companies take this idea and adapt it we
think there’s a ton of niche markets out there for people building different
types of things they would want to modify the machine for a lot of
applications this two horsepower router is just too big yeah so we we look you
know worse is designed to cut plywood you could build one that was designed to
cut foam for making RC airplanes so you could you can you can take it in a lot
of different directions which is something we’re really excited to see
people do yeah the scalability isn’t just in the
canvas size it really also the type of router you use because you’ve done the
hard work which is the math of getting an upright CNC to work using gravity yep
and we when we did all of that we designed it in such a way that it’s easy
to adapt a different thing so if you want to do a 50 foot one that goes
across the side of a building and draws murals it should be pretty plug and play
to make that make that a reality so we’re really
we’re really excited to see what people do with the open source technology that
we’re putting out there and for people who want to buy um as low you can buy
the box so they get some your flat rate shipping box get all the hardware and
they can build one what do you guys shipping if you have some pre-orders
like today that we’re aiming to ship by the end of the summer so we’re doing
August September is kind of what we’ve been telling people but yeah they
ordered today that would be hopefully by September they’d have their mouth as
well you know I would love to get one set up in my garage to test it cuz
something like this coat rack I can’t can’t say enough great things up
is this it tells you exactly like I know the scope of what a laser cutter can do
what I could desktop see and so you could do but you can’t make this unless
you’re cutting in the large sheets of ply absolutely well it’s great to meet
you guys thank you so much for coming to our studio and we’ll see you at Maker
Faire see you Maker Faire thank you so much for having us thank you

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