Kickstarting a cardboard CNC mill for mixing drinks, drawing circuit boards and frosting cookies

Ryan Wistort is an MIT roboticist (we covered his dancing bird robot while back) with a new project up on Kickstarter. He sez, "I am a MIT nerd/robot maker and just released a CNC Robot for Makers on Kickstarter. It's like a Shopbot or other CNC mill, but made for doing things like drawing, painting, frosting cookies, and mix drinks."

This is one of my favorite kinds of Kickstarter projects. It embodies the greatest of Eno's oblique strategies: "Be the first person to not do something that no one else has ever thought of not doing before." In this case: build a super-cheap CNC mill by constructing it out of flimsy materials that won't manage any of the usual milling projects, and then find other use cases for it: frosting cookies and painting pictures, mixing cocktails and drawing circuit boards with conductive ink.

Wistort's had some successful business experience before, suggesting that he has at least a fighting chance of shipping something here. Kits start at $250.

The SB-1 is a CNC robot, just like a CNC router, but much smaller and made of cardboard. The machine is not strong enough to cut wood or metal, but is a fraction of the price of larger machines, and can be used to do everything from frost cookies with vector graphics, to mix cocktails. The robot is open source, Arduino based, and comes with everything needed to get started at with automation at home.

ShoeboxCNC (Thanks, Ryan!)

Notable Replies

  1. I am confused by this. I just ordered the Shapeoko 2 mechanical only kit for 300 dollars. I figure I will have about 200 more in the electronics for a fully functional light weight mill. Why would I want one made out of cardboard?

  2. Overall, this doesn't seem cheap enough to make a niche for itself. Less limited CNC machines are not that much more expensive.

    It's not exactly setting its Kickstarter on fire either. If it were about $50 less I think they might have something, but $250 is too close to the real thing.

  3. Being able to demo a printer kit straight from the box, before investing in a more permanent build, is a fine idea.

    In practical terms, first thing anyone who's willing to spend that much money in the first place should do is rebuild it with better materials.

    Whether it's worth the low price to get that hardware-and-electronics kit and ignore the cardboard except as templates, I'll leave to others.

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