Open Source CNC Torch Table: First Fire

The Open Source CNC Torch Table has achieved first fire and is now cutting parts for the open source tractor:

Open Source CNC Torch Table: First Fire from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo. Sound track is Epic 1 by Joe Post, True Fan.

This is a sample cut through 1/2″ steel. It’s remarkably smooth, prior to cleaning the slag off the edges:

What is the news here?

  1. The price list for a 4’x8′ is about $800. The goal is performance equivalent to $10k and up price range commercial equivalents. Prtotype II aimed to be released by October 1.
  2. Open source controller will be milled with the open source CNC Circuit Maker for about $30 for 4 channels – aiming to complete this by October 1.
  3. Open Source Stepper motors to be produced via CNC laser cutter and CNC Lathe, also aiming for October 1. Contact me on this if you are a subject matter expert on the topic.
  4. Same structure may be strengthened by the use of thicker structural members for the carriage/gantry – allong for higher-torque functions such as CNC routing.
  5. The torch table is designed for retrofit with different working heads, including robotic arms for unrestrained degrees-of-freedom.

The development needs are for Full Product Release of the CNC Torch Table include:

  1. Shakedown of torch height requirements as a function of flame power for optimizing cut cleanness
  2. Addition of Z axis for height adjustment after piercing operations.
  3. Addition of height sensor.
  4. Open Source stepper motors and stepper motors controllers.
  5. Development of an oxy-hydrogen generator, for a cleaner burn, which would allow us to substitute imported acetylene (which is currently in short supply and more expensive due to an explosion at an acetylene plant) with electrolyzed water as the cutting fuel.

Other worthwhile goals, perhaps during the evolution phase after Full Product Release – would be the addition of computer vision for object recognition towards full automation. This would help your grandmother crank out high performance parts in her garage.


  1. Colin

    What about electronic pressure regulating valves and an electronic igniter? I don’t suppose that’s high priority, but it would allow for automation from start to end, and there’s not much of a safety problem with pressure reducers and quick shutoff valves up the line (which should be there anyway)

    1. Marcin

      Good suggestions. Can you point us to sources for electronic pressure regulating valves?

  2. WillCleaver

    Awesome! How automation makes things so much more precise and takes out the sweat labor of physical effort! My grandma is on the edge of her chair waiting to push her very own tractor printing button:)

    1. Marcin

      Via Android as the wireless automation side progresses.

      In practice – we’re talking about me spending 2 hours today to cut out 24 wheel mounting plates for 3 tractors in 2 hours – a task that would take about 16 hours by hand, in my estimation – after grinding and quality control is considered.

  3. Agustín Amenabar

    WOW! It’s amazing to see how the projects advance from idea to working prototype, to release. My best to you all.

  4. Daniel

    Not sure if you have considered it, but “metrology” (measuring system) will be needed at some point to produce accurate parts. This is to position the work piece and cutting head at known relative positions. There are lots of ways to do it, but optical may be the simplest. You look down from a camera attached to the cutting head, and detect edges of the metal plate by light contrast. Alternately you can paint reference dots or use stick on labels on the work piece.

    Then the support for the work piece doesn’t need any particular accuracy, just be sturdy and have clamping if needed.

    Generalized CNC machines swap out drill bits and other cutting tools as needed. To convert the torch table to a generalized machine, what’s needed is a mechanism to park and grab different heads from the side.

  5. Mark Norton

    This is very exciting, Marcin. Congrats on getting this to work. It will not only reduce your tractor production labor, but also save untold number of hours by other people as they follow in your footsteps and build their own XYZ Torch Table.

  6. Dream Team Sixteen | Factor E Farm Blog

    […] We have recently identified a major global collaboration barrier for distributed, open source machine design: the lack of an effective CAD platform. Moreover, CAM toolchains are complex and poorly evolved in the open source community. In the proprietary community, both CAD and CAM solutions are expensive. We have experienced this first-hand: frustrations with non-backward compatibility of a certain leading professional CAD package while collaborating with remote developers. Moreover, we are currently using 4 pieces of software to run CAM with the CNC torch table. […]