Category Archives: CNC

Repurposing the cricut expression

Now that I have the firmware in a working condition, I’m contemplating all the neat little uses I can get out of this machine.

To be honest, I’m probably really late to this whole craft cutting party, since I’m really not a crafting person.  I’m more of an electronics/computer programming hobbyist, so that is my style of crafting.  However, this machine interests me greatly because I’ve always been intrigued with programming tiny micro controllers that control machines.

Luckily, I don’t have a huge investment in cartridges like this person on Craigslist:

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I mean, really!  Could you imagine the money involved in this?  I’ll be honest, I admire Provo Craft’s product development, engineering and marketing teams that were able to design, produce, and sell this machine and it’s required proprietary cartridges.

Provo Craft invested heavily in their artwork library, product development, the little books that come with the cartridges, etc.  I really do hand it to them.

If you’re a normal user, you can be perfectly happy living in the Provo Craft eco system.  If you’re like me, where you want to create just anything arbitrarily, then the love affair ends.

For example, I wanted to cut a Star Trek logo out of card stock to make little lamp shades.  I could not do that with the regular Cricut.  So my only option was to print the logo using my large format inkjet printer, then use an exacto knife to cut them out.

Now that I have my own software running on the machine, I can cut anything I want:

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And since there are tons of these machines on Craigslist and Ebay for cheap, anyone who is able to use my firmware can pickup a really good machine, skip the cartridge investment, and express their Free Expression:

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So what’s next?  I think I’m going to build a laser cutting head so that I can do some burnishing and engraving wood, leather, etc.

lasercutting

The laser cutter mod would actually be very simple to implement, and it’s at the top of my list.

Another modification I’d like to try is automatic registration so that I can increase the accuracy of multi-cuts.

The controller in the Expression has a lot of IO that I could borrow from some controls that I’m not using, such as the three dials that control pressure, size, speed, or the cartridge port which has four digital pins I could use.

Another mod that is possible is adding Dremel tool, but this will require some more extensive mods that may end up being overkill.  I might save the Dremel mod for my stand alone table top CNC  machine that I plan to build from used Cricut Personal machine parts.