MIT Students and Professor Invent Handheld CNC Router System
I’m an invention geek, and I subscribe to a number of e-Letters that show innovative new products and ideas. Today I received a notice about a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who just may be at the fore of a CNC revolution for home shops.
Alec Rivers, a PhD student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), was frustrated by the imprecise results he was getting while building a picture frame using some of his grandfather’s tools. So, with the help of Frédo Durand, an EECS associate professor and member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and Ilan Moyer, a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he designed and built a handheld CNC-like router guide.
The handheld router guide automatically adjusts the router’s position so that the bit follows a digital plan. All the user has to do is get the bit within 1/4 in. or so of the cutline, and the computer takes over. The system allows you make exact, repeatable patterns that would be useful for cutting recesses for inlay as well as the inlaid parts themselves. It would also be helpful for reproducing identical parts.
This video shows the rig in use. The trio of inventors will unveil the system this week at the Siggraph (organization Special Interest Group on GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) conference in Los Angeles. The organization is dedicated to “the innovation and application of computer graphics and interactive techniques.”
According to the article, this device will cost much less than the CNC systems currently available, which typically run in the thousands of dollars (though some manufacturers are attempting to make useful, smaller systems for home shops).