PrintrBot has been selling a startling number of low-priced 3D printer kits recently, but now they’re branching out into a completely new product line: CNC Routers.
The company showed off a beta version of the “Printrbot CNC router”. It’s not a 3D printer; it uses subtractive manufacturing instead of the additive manufacturing process used by 3D printers. Pricing and availability is not known at this time.
We’re surprised that so few 3D printer companies take this route (no pun intended), as CNC routers are, more or less, 3D printers with a rotating bit instead of an extruder. The mechanicals that move an extruder around the X, Y and Z axes are very similar to those used in CNC routers. With some work, it is definitely possible to convert a 3D printer into a CNC router.
But there are some differences:
- CNC software is different; the movements are designed to remove material, not add material. There are also concerns about engaging the router motor, movement speeds for particular materials, etc., that make the software experience very different.
- CNC machines are very messy. When material is “subtracted” by the router, bits fly all over. PrintrBot’s router should probably be placed in an area suitable for dust and debris – and definitely not an office desk where you’d find a 3D printer.
- There is much focus on the bits used in CNC routers. There are a huge variety of bits for all kinds of situations and CNC operators often have quite a selection in their toolbox.
Nevertheless, it’s all about making. By you.