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Can I use a Fadal 3016 w/4th axis for a 3D Printer?


Jun 2, 2005
North Central Montana
Hi All,

I have a Fadal vmc. My son has been pestering me for a 3D printer.

I see many print heads,parts, etc on Amazon. MUCH cheaper than buying a decent home use 3D printer in the $1k-3k price range.

Is there a kit or way to use my fadal as the x-y-z motion for a 3D printer?

Has anyone done this with a Fadal vmc? I do see desktop mills being used and some company converting a Hurco vmc.

My son's projects are often large so the 30" x 16" travel of the VMC is a plus (if useable)

Thanks for any help.
Given that DMG sells a ($2M) DMU with a plasma deposition head ("3d printing in stainless steel") I'm sure you could get it to work.

You are going to have to figure out to mount, support, and feed material to the hot head, all without damaging your Fadal, but given the weight of the hobby stuff, I'd think the whole rig could be attached to a CAT-40 tool holder.

Control might be a little funky....

I don't have my Prusa yet, so I can't tell you whether trying to copy that design into a VMC shell is a good plan or not - but from what I read details like what the build plate is made of, how level it is, its temp, etc. matter.
Control might be a little funky....

That's my main concern. I think the build plate could just be switch controlled. I was hoping that maybe I could use the "M" function from the control to trigger the flow of plastic, etc. I just do not know how the print heads actually work....
The print head on a 3d printer is a 4th axis. It is coordinated with the x&y axis velocity. It also reverses when stopping to suck back the filament so it doesn’t smear during a rapid move. The print head is heated and you need a temperature controller for that as the temperature must be very consistent. Most plastics other than PLA need a heated print surface too. The heating controllers can be turned off and on by M codes. I set up my home built mill for 3d printing but haven’t finished it as I installed a new PLC recently.
Any update on your project?

I will be playing with this idea this coming winter on my haas Tm-1 w/ 4th axis.

Seems simple enough to me. Make a heated bed to bolt to the mill,
Plug your hot head to a coolant plug for m code
Activation, plug your 4th axis line into the extruded feed head.

I wonder if our machines will have fast enough feed rated to do it well though?
Do you really want a CNC machine tied up for days (and it will be days) printing something? I'm sure you could make it work, but it is entirely the wrong machine for the job:

A 3d printer needs to be able to move and especially accelerate rapidly. There's no force on the head other than the acceleration loads. So a well designed 3d printer will have the lightest moving parts possible. The whole moving system of a 3d printer should be on the order of 5-10 pounds.

A CNC needs to be rigid enough to resist significant cutting forces with minimal deflection. The moving parts of the fadal are several thousand pounds. Running the same part will take hundreds of times more energy. The print will be significantly slower, and the quality will be worse because it can't move fast enough.

You can use a Ferarri to bring mulch home, one bag at a time. You can use a semi with a flatbed to drop your kid off at school. You can, but it isn't efficient at all because it isn't what either thing was designed to do.
It would probably be cheaper in the long run to use your mill to machine the parts for the rest of a 3d printer.