Make your own CNC Scanner

In the spirit of the website Hack-a-day, we’ve put a few things together to show you how you can get started with CNC Scanner on the cheap. Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Shareware version of Tormach CNC ScanCAD(TM). Download it here

2. A cheap USB Microscope or webcam. Like any of these ones on Amazon. Or play the auction game on Ebay and try to get one even cheaper.

3. The CNC Scanner Quick Start Guide.

Our friend Movie Matt from PicSound also helped me put together a small intro video on how it works if you’re more of a visual person. The production value is a big improvement over my HandyCAM movies. Unfortunately, Robert De Niro called in sick at the last minute, and I had to fill in for the on-screen talent. Be kind, please 🙂

We think this is a pretty cool tool and have been able to use it around the shop to make all sorts of difficult measurements. Any USB camera can be made to interface with the ScanCAD software, but choosing a high resolution scope with good quality optics can really make this a powerful device. We really like the ones we picked out for the CNC Scanner packages and would encourage you use something with similar specs if you plan to use this as an engineering tool.

Please feel free to give it a try. You won’t be able to save drawings with the shareware, but you can still make measurements. The full version requires a hardware key and will let you save and export files as dxf. If you do give it a shot, let me know what you think at

Andrew Grevstad

With over ten years of professional experience in advanced manufacturing systems, digital design tools, and applied software, Andy Grevstad has worked in product development and technical support for Tormach since 2008. Grevstad has received engineering degrees from Michigan Technological University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a regular contributor to Digital Machinist magazine and also blogs weekly about CNC milling and related topics on the Tormach blog, Milling Around.

Andrew Grevstad

3 thoughts on “Make your own CNC Scanner

  • Avatar
    06/05/2010 at 3:32 pm

    Great job on the video !! Very cool demo on your scanning software as well.

  • Avatar
    06/11/2010 at 2:15 pm

    Great video! High quality production which coresponds to the image Tormach desires to present.

    The low cost will encourage a lot of people to try this, even with non Tormach machines.

    I’ll be kind but you do need to work on not using all the umm’s… and aaah’s… in the dialog. Other than that, it was very fresh youthfull vebalization.

    Overall, well done! Thanks!

  • Avatar
    08/20/2010 at 6:02 am

    Nice video! Cool stuff! It’s encourage a lot of people like me to love MACHINING jobs…
    This encourage me attend cnc milling programming course.

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