An introduction to MicroCNC

What is CNC?

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) is a technique of controlling the actions of a machine through the use of coded instructions. Many manufacturing sectors use CNC Machines tools to perform a range of manufacturing operations such as:

• Turning
• Milling
• Cutting
• Routing

Modern CNC machines are programmable, automated tools used for machining components from a wide range of materials; they perform many different functions from turning, milling, cutting, routing, etc. They first appeared in the 1950s and use numerical control techniques to control the actions of the machine by input of instructions in the form of a code. Today CNC machines are used for many specialised applications covering virtually all manufacturing processes.

A range designed to deliver effective and efficient teaching of machining principles to students who are learning about the prototyping of various materials, the Micro CNC offering consists of three machine combinations; a 2-axis lathe, 3-axis milling machine and 4-axis milling machine.

Our solutions are suitable for teaching Unit 43 of the BTEC National award in Engineering (level 3): Manufacturing CNC machine processes and also Unit 23 of the BTEC Higher National: CAD/CAM (level 4/5).  These compact, low voltage, low power, low cost solutions help students of all ages learn the core concepts and principles of CNC machining.


Matrix MicroCNC range
The whole range of machines are low voltage, easy to store in Gratnell’s trays and are very much a cost-effective solution for your CNC needs; allowing students to work in small groups to prototype their designs and learn key machining concepts. The extremely robust range is a great introduction to manufacturing engineering principles.The first necessary product is the MicroCNC system controller and base plate, which allows the user to control our machines using a variety of software package through the integration of a range of control boxes and motors, which drive the machines axes when in use.

After creating designs using CAD software including Solidworks or Autodesk, users convert their design into G code. To do this, we supply Deskproto and CamBam software, which imports STL files from a CAD program, calculates CNC tool-paths and then writes a G code program file, allowing prototyping using materials including wax, PU board and acrylic, suitable for lathing, milling, engraving etc.The range is complete with three individual machines, 2 axis MicroCNC lathe, 3 axis MicroCNC milling machine and 4 axis MicroCNC milling machine. There is also the opportunity for users to purchase our Complete Micro CNC solution. This kit of parts allows students to assemble all three of our Micro CNC machines at any one time.   Learning objectives for the Micro CNC range include:

  • Construction of a range of CNC machines
  • G and M code commands and CNC programming
  • Manufacturing a part using a G code editor
  • Design of parts using a 3D package
  • Manufacture of parts using a CAD CAM tool chain

Lastly, an perhaps most importantly, is the provision of full curriculum free of charge. We have scoured units among popular UK curriculum including EAL, City & Guilds and BTECs at level 3, 4 and 5, namely unit 43 of the National award – Manufacturing CNC machines processes and unit 23 of the Higher National – CAD/CAM.

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