5 – Axis CNC Mill/ Printer – In Progress

What is a 5-axis CNC

A 5-axis CNC is a machine that can perform operations like a 3D printer that works in 3-axis, however, taking things to the next level, it can work from the sides in addition to the top.

*CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control

Why build one?

Starting in 2020, the intention was to build a desktop 3-axis mill for the HulFlo development. However, as I learned more about CNC systems, building a 5-axis would provide a “shop in a box” when after school, shop access might not be as accessible.


Milling compared to 3D printing is significantly faster. This reduces lead times for parts.

Print Finishing

5-axis milling reduces the manual labour of cleaning up 3D prints and provides tighter tolerances.

5D Printing

5-axis 3D printing improves the structural integrity of parts and printed surface finish.


The objective was to create a machine that is aesthetically pleasing for a studio office environment, with a maximum build volume given the defined parameters.

Design Parameters

  1. A footprint of 500mm x 600mm
  2. Suitable heights for user interactions
  • Monitoring operations while seated
  • Control display at or below eye height
  • Interact with top filament storage at or below shoulder height.

* The product was tested with people in a height range of 5’4″-5’10”

  • A – Emergency Stop Button
  • B – Touch Display
  • C – Climate-Controlled Filament Storage
  • D – Build Chamber
  • E – Waste Collection
  • F – Storage Cart

Sample Sketching

Stock Prep

Over the course of two weeks, the angle iron was measured and cut into lengths.

Improvised Lath

The lead screws sourced were 5/8″ and the stepper motors have a 6 mm shaft. To interface the two, I used a drill press as a lath and drilled a hole at the end of the lead screw.


This was my first time welding, so I spent some time practicing with an AC Arc welder at work. Then, I welded the frame using a Mig welder.

Motor Mounting

To level the motors, plastic spacers were used, before the surface was later milled.


For the housing, 4.2mm plywood sheets were used. Then, polyester was used to laminate the sheets and 5mm T-nuts to secure them to the frame.

While manipulating the top housing, one of the shoulders cracked, so fibreglass was laminated to repair the broken section. To prevent cracking in other shoulders, fibreglass was laminated to reinforce the other sections.

Top Door Construction


To protect the machine while not in use, a cover was made that provides access to the front or back without having to remove the entire cover.

Conclusion & Next Steps

Through the course of this project, I have been able to combine what I have learned in Engineering and Industrial Design. Along the way, I have been able to refine and develop new skills and I look forward to the next steps of the project.

In the next phase of the project, the linear and electrical systems will be installed.

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