Working toward a 3d-printed CNC coil winder

My recent excursions into the world of Arduino and 3D printing has opened up a whole world of possibilities.  Since I am in the process of retooling my workshop and designing a new winder, I thought it would be a good opportunity to start another project to help the community.  Namely, I would like to design a good, solid coil winder with readily-available parts, and hardware that can be printed at home on a desktop 3D printer.  Since decent 3D-printing and micro-controller tech can be had for very little money these days, it seemed like the right time.


Many hobbyist or budding-professional pickup makers are hamstrung by the cost/availability of decent winders, as well as the associated add-ons (tensioner, de-reeler, turns counter, tachometer, etc).  Many entry-level winders are very expensive for what they offer, and CNC winders are pricey by nature… and don’t even get me started on the price of tensioners!  This usually leads folks to decisions of necessity, like a makeshift winder by strapping a drill to a board or hacking a sewing machine.  But by my estimates, a complete winder  (with turns-counter, tach, speed-control, motor reverse, de-spooler, and tensioner /w gauge )  can be made for somewhere in the ballpark of $100 or so — if you have a 3D printer and don’t get gouged parts and shipping.

Early prototyping has been encouraging:  I managed to piece together a basic bobbin spinner with RPM+direction control, tachometer, turns-counter, and all the associated code in a few days, and for about $40. I grabbed the traverse motor, foot-controller, bearings, and misc hardware for another $35.


I will be putting together a few variations on auto-traverse soon, and experimenting with designs for the hardware, tactile controls for the software (for running the winder untethered from a computer), de-reeler, tensioner with grams gauge, etc.  I will be trying to keep it as modular as possible to allow people to hack the design for their own specific needs or just use parts of the design (i.e. no auto-traverse, just the digital readout, just the tensioner/gauge, etc).  I also hope to include the lowest-cost sources for the parts listed, and code resources as well.

As of right now, the interface software would be the Arduino IDE since it is free, cross-platform, stable, and community-supported with updated, libraries and modules, but maybe in the future I could brew up a proper GUI to hide the code behind some pretty graphics and buttons.

This could take a while, but hopefully things go smoothly enough that I can post another blog soon.


About alexkenis

Guitarist, philosopher, tinkerer

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