CNC wood… and other materials

Something I must share with you all….

Last Friday I have visited Roland DG  (Digital Group)

I wanted to see how their CNC machines work…and I must say I got very happy seeing how it works, the end results and the potential this has.

I got a demo of one of their bigger machines with an automatic tool changer and a rotary axis unit.

Not sure who of you have any experience with CNC and designing for CNC production but in general you can state that the level of details in a product is defined by the layer height and smallest tool used. Smallest tool defines the smallest inside radius.

Here are some pictures of some of the samples they made for me.

What do you guys think of this? Do you like it? Why ….? How…??

Peter Paul

Bookmark and Share

Pin It


  1. Michael Williams

    Very nice looking, I think pricing will be interesting, and the number of rejected models will be high as a CNC can’t do hollow. (be sure to turn it off on all existing models.)

  2. Madox

    Like it alot!
    Would the pricing be reversed? Priced on material cut from a rectangular bounding box?

    1. Peter Paul Cornelissen


      Pricing a good point…
      There are various variable that could determen the price. layer height, min inside diameter, bounding box, ect…

      Apart from the pricing, what would you like to use this (material, technique) for?

      Materials are multiple that can be used. the pic’s are from plain wood coming just out of the mill. If you use harder material you can get more / better details.

    2. Stewart Dickson

      Helisys Laminated (Paper) [Object Manufacturing] is a free-form fabrication method using a
      recyclable material — or, at least you can use recycled paper as the build material, rather than first-generation wood. And laser-cut paper takes on the appearance of wood when finished.
      I don’t work for Helisys, but I can see the couple of advantages over CNC in a not-so-sustainable material. Just a suggestion.

  3. Philippe Garenc

    We’re waiting for your offer (max. size and pricing). What king of wood is used ? Surface texture seems to be soft ? Is this out from CNC ? How long does it take for this object ?

  4. Eric Finley

    Nice. I have access to a Roland MDX-15, which is their tiniest model – the size of an inket printer, not even an all-in-one. (The software even loads in Windows as a simple printer driver, which is beautifully apropos.) Which is cool, but the absence of things like a tool changer and a fourth axis have always made it hard for me to utilize effectively. I would certainly expect better results from their higher-end models.

  5. Michiel Cornelissen

    Hey Peter Paul,

    I think this would be an amazing addition. Of course the constraints of cnc milling would be completely different than for 3d printing, but for one thing, larger objects would probably come in scope. And having (sustainably sourced) wood as an option is great.

    Important is the final quality; is it good enough to be used as a product out of the box? Will you consider options such as sanding, oiling and lacquering?

  6. Peter Hermans

    First of all; it would be very nice to have! In wood and maybe (later) even in aluminium or other metal.

    Next, although my CNC experience is limited (only worked once with a 2.5D w/ auto-tool changer) my impression is that setup is much more difficult and time-costly (remember that it goes per product; not per print build) than with layered processes. And this is not just a machine-operation issue; it depends for a large part on the design as well; can the tool reach the part to be cut – without hitting and breaking the part? At what points do you want the affixing-points (“opspannen” in Dutch); how many operations does it take. Unless Roland has awesome automation software (I don’t know, would be great) there is a great deal of ‘feel’ and experience from the machine operator that goes into this. It will be tough to communicate what you can and cannot design and equally hard to bring pricing down to an simple equation like you have with the layered processes (because of the unpredictability due to a part’s design). Nevertheless, please don’t pay attention to my negativity and just do it! :D It would be a great addition.

    P.S. Any plans for 2D (laser) cutting and taking the fight to Ponoko? :P .

  7. Michiel Cornelissen

    Yes forgot to mention, like Peter I would also love metals such as (polished…) aluminium or even brass…

  8. Jessica

    this would be a great addition to your current services. For materials I would like to see wood (multiple types), aluminum (while you are filling my fantasies please offer an anodizing service), and a Corian-like material

  9. Michiel Cornelissen

    Also recently saw some material called paperstone. A recycled, natural alternative for Corian or stone I think. Don’t know much about it but looked interesting.

    Yes, anodizing, absolutely!

    Marble would be nice as well :)

    Certainly is nice to dream away for a bit…

  10. Lin

    You can also use FOAM with CNC machines, which is great for prop makers who want a “non thethal” or heavy weapon they may try to replica. I hope if you guys do this that the foam is also considered.. usually its done in multiple foam layers or styrofoam.

  11. Marc Tyler

    I’d be interested in Delrin and ABS :^)

  12. John Bear Ross

    Machinist Wax and butterboard are two tool-friendly materials you might also want to consider. Wax chips are able to melted back together, as well.

    Delrin or other machinable composite is another alternative.


  13. Jake Drews

    Sounds really cool, and usefull. Especially if we could combine multiple models. (an order of a certain product would consist of 2 or more models: some CNC, some 3D Prints)

    I REALLY think laser cutting would be cool. :-D In fact, it rates higher on my list than Wax printing.

  14. franck

    I’ve wanted to do things in wood for ages!
    I would definitely do characters and toys, but also a lot of “normal” objects, like designer handles, buttons, candle holders and so on…
    One thing that would be important though, is the type and quality of wood we choose from and also being able to tell you which way the wood rings should be.
    I love it :D :D :D

  15. P van Nieuwpoort


    Really looking forward for all those materials.
    Keep on going :)

  16. Peter Paul Cornelissen

    What also becomes possible with CNC…. and I say also because it’s also possible with 3D printing… ;-) is making is making Lithophanes (aka Lightsculptures) I have seen this version in really live and it looks really good. It’s made from PVC.

  17. Jesse Kaufman

    The larger Roland mills may be fine, but you might also take a look at MiniTech and Modelmaster CNC mills, they’re typically more robust and mechanically solid than the smaller Roland machines. I use a 13 year old Modelmaster CNC 1000 mill to cut wax for jewelry prototyping.

    The surface resolution is very smooth. You’ll have to consider toolpathing strategies when pricing a project. Sometimes a model must be cut from 2, 3, or 4 sides to reach all the detail whereas some designs such as simple rings are cut on a rotary table.

  18. Randy Hightower

    Making items in wood would be very cool. If for nothing other than the unique texture and east of finish work (painting, sanding, etc) that can be problematic at times with artificial materials.

    If the cost is considerably lower for large scale items than print options that would be fantastic.

  19. Paul

    I would LOVE to see some CNC manufacturing techniques!
    Polycarbonate and 2011 Aluminum (free machining allow) would be a spectacular choice for speed of machining and quality of the end result.

  20. julien Lefebrve


    CNC that’s sound like a great idea especially for bigger pieces.
    Wood, foam, styrofoam so many new possibilities….please do it ;)

Comments are closed.