Open Source Drill Press: Prototype 1

Fabrication optimization for The Liberator open source CEB press involves designing and deploying four, heavy duty, open source fabrication tools: (1) drill press for drilling 1″ and larger holes directly in metal without pre-drilling; (2) 120 ton hole puncher/ironworker for punching up to 1.5″ holes in 1″ thick metal, and shearing up to 12″ wide slabs of 1″ thick steel; (3) torch table for cutting meta via computer control; and (4) heavy duty lathe for making motor couplers. The reason for the above developments is a significant reduction in fabrication time – such as a second to punch a 1/2″ hole in The Liberator frame, as opposed to a  minute required for drilling. And, where we do have to drill 1/2″ holes, the time is reduced by avoiding switching of drill bits for pre-drilling of starter holes.

We have completed the initial prototype of the heavy duty, open source drill press. We are glad to report encouraging results, and a good addition to RepLab – the open source Fab Lab. It contains a hydraulic motor for the drilling and a hydraulic cylinder for the down pressure – so this is a literal press, and it is not short on torque or power as the motor can sustain up to 20 hp. We are using our Universal Rotor for the motor. This same rotor was already used for the lathe, tree auger (report forthcoming), and honey extractor (report forthcoming) – as it’s part of our LifeTrac infrastructure. This is part of our modularity concept in action – a key feature of the Global Village Construction Set.

You can see our wiki work page for the design and bill of materials, and the .dxf design file is at the Open+Pario repository. See the video of the build with explanation, plus  demonstration of drilling a 1″ hole, without pre-drilling, in a 1″ steel slab. The workshop fireworks are extra, as we just passed the Fourth of July in these united States.


  1. stu

    wow man, thats awesome!!!so stoked on the progress u have been making out there…jealous that i cant be out there right now….hopefully will make it out again at some point in the future…

  2. Demented Chihuahua

    Very nice progress. A large capacity drill press is key to making some of the equipment you want. Very good work.


  3. Ram

    Nice one there Marcin its real heavy duty except that the structure looks like it is not rigid enough and you made that point. How do you plan to make drill bits?

    1. Marcin

      We don’t have a clear idea on making drill bits yet. If you have suggestions, let us know.

  4. Leo Dearden

    Firstly: Awesome! Well done, again. A truly useful tool.

    It seems to me that the drill bits are a vitamin for the moment (at this stage we can’t make them, so we must eat – import – buy – them into the system).

    When our replab distributed industrial base is a lot more mature, we’ll start making high precision things from hard materials, but I think that’s over the planning horizon on the road map at the moment: many other capabilities come first.

    Two possible improvements occur to me:

    – Use coolant. Cutting coolant can radically improve tool life, cut quality, and cut speed. Recirculating flood coolant systems are easy to make. I’ll publish the details of mine if you’re interested.

    – Use a drill with a replaceable cabide tip insert, such as these spade drills . The super-hard insert lasts something like 10 times longer than a HSS drill and is cheaper to replace than a whole new drill. Result: reduced cost per hole for large numbers of holes.

    1. Marcin

      Leo, please share the technique for building a recirculating fluid coolant system, including the choice of cutting fluids.

  5. Leo Dearden

    Regarding how to make cutting tools, my favoured approach is:

    Sinter tungsten carbide (TC) or poly-crystaline diamond (PCD) blanks in appropriate shapes.

    Cast ceramic grinding tool blanks (Boron Nitride?). Dress them against each other in odd numbered sets on a CNC grinder/dresser.

    Grind the tools on a 5 axis CNC grinder.

    Use laser metrology (measurement) throughout to get high accuracy and precision using the wavelength and straightness of of the laser as references.

    Coat the tools with a hard ceramic such as TiCN or TiBN.

    I know this is high tech. You can see why I’m saying “Not for a few years”. Let’s be clear: I expect to do this. Just not now. 🙂

    We can probably make HSS tools sooner. However, carbide tools are required for high speed machining or hard turning or working efficiently with abrasive materials including MDF, High Si Al alloys, and cast iron.

    I think we can rely on the current status quo to provide us with TC inserts at reasonable cost for a few years yet.

  6. Ram

    Hi there Marcin as for the drill bits I guess the grooves can be rolled and then twisted but that would need you furnace etc. Another way would be to used a die with machined inner region to create the grove impression in a heated steel barstock. These would depend on the tolerances you are aiming for and for factor e farm would be entirely appropriate.

  7. mimarob

    I remember from shop class ages ago that we had a drill with a hose that you’d aim at the drilling center, then the coolant would just run down to a tray, get filtered from the cut left-overs and simply pumped up again.

    Probably just some kind of oil with a high viscosity.

  8. Stefan @ KombinatG

    You use a emulsifier blend (water+oil 2-5%).
    You can buy these watermixable oil and you just need a bit and mix it with water.

    Ordinary soap should work as emulsifier maybe.
    Water cools, oil lubricates, its both important.

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