Going from a model on your computer to a real object in your hand can be a difficult process. While tools like laser cutters and 3D printers have come down in price and become easier to use, CNC milling has been one of the more challenging machines to put on a desktop at an affordable price.

Engineering firms and small businesses have been able to make their own production-quality parts from virtually any material for a while. However, the need for incredibly robust mechanics and complicated set-up and programming procedures has made desktop CNCing a late bloomer in the low-cost rapid prototyping industry. Thankfully, it’s now easier than ever to put a CNC mill on your desktop! Affordable options include machines like the Shapeoko, the X Carve, Nomad and Carvey – as well as the newly developed Sienci Mill One.

Our team at Sienci Labs recently brought the Sienci Mill One to the Communitech incubator in Ontario, Canada. We ran a workshop with one our our clients, Medella Health, which develops bio-sensors and electronic devices to monitor our health and the change the way we take care of ourselves. Medella’s hardware engineers learned how to take their designs and ideas and produce them right away on their desktop.

Using Onshape and the full-cloud Kiri:Moto CAM app from the Onshape App Store, we were able to create:

  1. Teflon flow cell sensors that retail for about a thousand dollars each; and
  2. Prototypes that would take weeks to fabricate and cost thousands of dollars through out-of-house firms.

With desktop CNC machines like the Sienci Mill One, companies like Medella Health can create products at a fraction of the traditional manufacturing cost – and deliver those products much faster. Onshape’s easy-to-use CAD interface combined with powerful tools makes learning the software simple for both seasoned engineers and brand new users, so companies can get their teams on the platform painlessly.

The Sienci Mill One creates amazing 2D and 3D parts from aluminum, wood, plastic, PCBs, leather, foam – and even bananas! To test its versatility – and really just for fun – we couldn’t resist cutting the Batman symbol into a banana peel. High RPM and sharp bits also work great on softer materials.

We’re excited to be on the forefront of changing the way digital designs get turned into real physical objects, and technologies like browser-based CAD and CAM, as well as low-cost rapid prototyping tools, will dramatically change the way we create products.

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