CNC Machine built by PHS Junior
Posted on 11/05/2020

Carson is a junior at Philip High School and he recently built his own CNC machine. I asked him to explain what he had done and following is his explanation. We are very proud of Carson and his accomplishments.

From Carson:

The project that I have been working on over the past two years and have finally finished in shop class is a CNC router. CNC stands for computer numerical control. It is a machine that allows you to take a file from the computer and cut or engrave it in wood. It works in a similar way as the laser engraver that we use in AG class.

To use the machine, I must first start with the design. Most of the time this is done ahead of time on another computer in CAD (Computer Aided Design) software. This design can be either a 2D vector or a 3D solid part. After this it must be converted into a file that the machine can understand. (The most common type of file is called a G-code or M-code file. They are files that contain the path that the machine will follow in the form of XYZ coordinates.) This file conversion is done in CAM software (Computer Aided Manufacturing). The CAM software takes the 2D vector or 3D part and converts them into paths that CNC machine will follow to cut out the final product. The CAM software is most of the time part of the CAD software and sometimes part of the machine control software. Now the machine needs to be set up with the correct tool and the work piece needs to be clamped down. Finally, this is where the CNC machine’s control computer takes XYZ coordinates from a G-code file and converts them into physical movements of the machine.