Computer Numerical Control is possible at home. In fact, there are now a lot of machines on the market which can be bought for hobbiest money. My Denford Orac was bought off of eBay for £500, although they go for a lot more than that nowadays. The old 1980’s control interface is generally removed and Mach3, or EMC2 is run on a PC with a parallel port. The PC parallel port is then interfaced with control electronics to the motors and switches on the CNC machine to allow true computer control.
If you’re in the market for buying some CNC components to convert a manual machine, there are some links below to help you get started:
Zapp Automation have a good selection of components including ball screws and nuts (including zero-backlash double nuts), power supplies, etc.
Motion Control Products have a good selection of components including ball screws and nuts (including zero-backlash double nuts), power supplies, stepper controllers, servo’s, stepper motors etc.
Arc Euro Trade have a pretty good select of components. They have some good spindles and motors.
Belting Produts Online have great prices on synchroflex pulleys and timing belts.
My CNC UK is a good set of forums for information on home CNC setups, and also has an active community which drives a food classifieds section.
General Engineering and Tool Supplies
RDG Tools provides good, value for money engineering tools and products. Useful for chucks, backplates, etc, etc.
Chronos Ltd provides engineering tools in a very similar way to RDG. They compliment RDG well, although there is some overlap between the two so you can check for the best value for money before placing an order.
Gloster Tooling provide CNC and machining tools.
J and L Industrial (MSC) supply the engineering industry. They may offer pretty expensive parts, but some of the stuff they do is very good value for money, and it’s likely that if they don’t sell what you’re looking for then it doesn’t exist! Check out their advantage flyers which are great for picking up some bargains.
An interesting video of Denford VMC 1300 parts being cast at the foundry.