3 Axis Cardboard CNC machine (CCNC)

By Dan Chen, September 1, 2016

After achieving decent accuracy with the 2-Axis Cardboard CNC machine, it gave me the confidence to make the 3-Axis CNC machine with the cardboard.

Here are some of my design considerations when designing this machine.

  • No Glue
  • Modular design elements / cut outs
  • Reconfigurable, you can make the bed/stage larger or smaller
  • Press fit construction
  • You can use different materials other than cardboard by changing the press fit slots based on the thickness of the material.
  • Easy to disassemble and reassemble. Easy to repair




Here is the physical output overlaying the SVG file.


To build the Cardboard CNC machine you will need.

Material & Hardware

  1. One sheet of Corrugated cardboard, at lease 36″ X 24″  (200 lb. test – General Purpose.)
  2. 3 Lead Scews
    3X T8 L300mm 8mm Lead 4 Start Lead Screw and Nut
  3. 6 Linear Motion Ball Bearing (Buy 2 pack of 4)
    2X BQLZR SCS8UU Linear Motion Ball Bearing CNC Slide Bushing 34.5mm Length Pack Of 4
  4. 5 Linear Motion 8 mm Shaft (the Z-Axis only needs one shaft, because we are cutting it in half )
    5 X Linear Motion 8 mm Shaft, 330 mm Length, Chrome Plated, Case Hardened, Metric
  5. 3 X Shaft Coupler  5mm to 8mm, I used the more expensive one, but there are cheaper ones out there
    2 X 2 PCS Flexible Couplings 5mm to 8mm NEMA 17 Shaft for RepRap 3D Printer
    3X Enpoint™ CNC Motor Encoder Curved Jaw Coupling 5x8mm 25x30mm Jaw Clamp Style Shaft Coupler with Aluminum Jaw Coupling Hubs and PU Elastomer Spider for Servo Motors
  6. 3 Nema 17 Stepper Motors
    3PCS 45Ncm Nema 17 Stepper Motor 2A 4-wire 1m Cable for DIY 3D Printer CNC Robot
  7. 6 of 8mm x 19mm x 6mm Sealed Deep Groove Radial Ball Bearings
    uxcell 8mm x 19mm x 6mm Sealed Deep Groove Radial Ball Bearings 698Z 10 Pcs
  8. M3 and M4 Screws, M3 Nut and M3 Stop Nut.
  9. TinyG or any other Stepper Motor Controller
    I like TinyG because it’s easy to setup and it has on board easing.
  10. Power Supply Adapter for Tiny G



Install Serial Port JSON Server (Instructions are all in the Chilipeppr)

For Mac users, In terminal type in the following to start serial-port-json-server
/Users/dan/Downloads/serial-port-json-server_macosx_v1.80/serial-port-json-server ; exit;


Machine Access / Tools

  1. Abrasive saw or jewelers saw
    This is for cutting the 8mm Linear Motion Shaft and lead screw
  2. Laser Cutter
    Tip: use 80 to 90% dpi or laser frequency so that the cardboard won’t burn as much
  3. 3D Printer
    3D printer is used to produce the coupler that connects the lead screw and the platform.
    Download the STL file below.


Design Files / Cut file

EPS Cut File. For laser cutter

Lead screw platform Coupler. STL for 3D printer


danchen-cardboard cnc


Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 2.22.50 PM


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This is mostly press fit construction, the trick is to put the parts in without bending the cardboard. Press the pieces in by leveraging large uncut areas. The cardboard should fit just right, it should not be lose at all.

Most of the mounting holes are fastened by M3 nuts and bolts. Use the M4 bolts for the linear Motion Ball Bearing to connect the bed surface.

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