Mendrel Hardware

This page details the major parts purchased and hardware changes that were implemented to convert the Mendel 3D printer into what we refer to as the Mendrel CNC machine.


In order to facilitate cutting we purchased a Jobmate Dremel from Canadian Tire for approximately $15 CAD on sale.

Dremel Flex Shaft

We used a Dremel Flex Shaft to avoid the various issues that come with mounting the Dremel on the carriage. The snap brack that holds the flex shaft end pieces is discussed below.

Dremel’s Tile Cutting Bit (562).

We used a Dremel Tile Cutting bit for the vast majority of CNC Styrofoam cutting. The bit has decent length and cuts the Styrofoam well without melting it.

Adjustable Plunger End Stops

To make adjusting the end stops for the different axes easier, Guy Pommares designed adjustable sliding end stop plungers. The end stops were printed using the Makerbot Thing-O-Matic.

The mounted component of the end stop plunger.

The adjustable component of the end stop plunger that actually comes in contact with the mechanical switch.

Y-axis plunger.

Z-axis plunger.

X-axis plunger.

After printing the plungers, some sanding and cleanup were required for a nice fit.

Carriage Holder

The major component of the snap bracket.

The second component of the snap bracket.

The cam for the snap bracket.

Designed by Guy Pommares, printed using Makerbot Thing-O-Matic. The carriage follows a cam design to apply pressure and tightly hold the flex shaft in place.

An adaptor for the snap bracket to fit tools thinner than the Dremel flex shaft.

The design is not just limited to the dremel flex shaft. Smaller objects, such as a pen or Styrofoam hot knife can be used with an adaptor.

Shop Vacuum

Jobmate Shop Vacuum

Using a Dremel on Styrofoam (pretty much anything), produces a large number of particles, so we bought a $30 CAD shop vacuum from Canadian Tire for cleanup. We experimented heavily with mounting the vacuum cleaner tube on the carriage, but found that it resulted in significant resistance which affected cutting accuracy. Instead, cleaning is initiated after cutting has finished.

Dust Mask

Dust mask.

A must when using the Dremel to cut Styrofoam. The particles caused by cutting can irritate the lungs.


See the RAMPS post.

Putting it all together

Dremel zip tied to the Mendel.

The Dremel was mounted to the Mendel using two tie strips. The original plaster extruder head and carriage were removed and replaced with the Dremel carriage bracket.

A wooden platform added to the Mendrel to situate the various electronics at a single point.

Kill switch.

To simplify wiring, a wooden board was added in which a kill switch, mechanical end stop wiring and the RAMPS board were mounted. This resulted in significantly cleaner wiring and a one stop location for all electronics.

A plastic lunch container enclosing all the electronics.

Circuitry can easily become covered in charged Styrofoam particles from cutting. To address this a plexiglass enclosure can be situated around the RAMPS and other electronics. For us this ended up being a plastic food container that had the correct proportions.

Y-Axis end stop moved for easier adjustment.

Y-axis plunger as it is attached to the underside of the cutting platform.

The Y-axes end stop and plunger were moved closer to the electronics for the sake of wiring and to afford easier adjustment of the Y-axis end stop.

A highlight of the cumulative changes made.


All STLs can be downloaded from here:

And were designed by Guy Pommares with River Allen under the direction of Dr. Mantis Cheng, 2012.

  1. Mendel Background
  2. Hardware
  3. Electronics
  4. RAMPS
  5. PyCAM
  6. G-Code
  7. Cutting

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