Welcome to our new Roland Mini-Mills!

We have recently introduced three new mini-milling machines to the Lab: two Roland SRM-20s (called Peter & Bernard), and a Roland MDX-50 (called Rem). Use of the two big CNC routers has grown four-fold in the last year, and we expect their use will grow to capacity soon. So we have expanded our range of machines. We also found that they were often being used for jobs for which smaller machines would be more suitable, and that people were finding the step up to an 8' x 4' machine intimidating. So we've added CNC machines that are smaller, easier to use, safer and generally much cuter. 

They're relatively safe, easy to use and fun. We hope you enjoy using them!

Machine Properties

The Mini-Mills are good quality machines designed to cut very accurately and to produce a fine quality finish. They are however obviously meant for smaller parts and are only designed to cut softer materials.  The materials you can use are restricted to foam (polystyrene and polyurethane) and balsa wood.  These materials are however both very useful themselves, and also a great starting point for other manufacturing processes like casting. 

I can't wait to get started - what do I need to do?

Before you can use the machines by yourself, you will need to complete the 'Balsa Challenge'. This is a simple task we've carefully designed to be quick while also including all the basics you need to make something in the mill without hurting yourself or breaking the machine. It covers both file preparation and operation of the mill.

The task is simple - you must join two small pieces of balsa wood together using a CNC joint cut in the mill. Note the following parameter for the challenge:

  • We will give you two pieces of Balsa wood stock, each 65 x 35 x 4.8mm
  • Your design for each part of the joint must be maximum 50 x 20 x 4mm
  • You can design your joint in any 3d software, but we recommend Rhino. If you use other software, import it and bring it as a Rhino file ready to cut.
  • Read through the guide below for further details of machine properties and how to approach this challenge.

Once you have completed your design, bring it to the CNCShop in P1 and we'll book you a time to show you how to use the machine so that you can cut your joint. Be sure to read through the following guide and complete your design before coming to the Lab. Neither of these things should take you very long.

For examples of the sort of thing you can make, Google 'CNC joint', or come along to the Lab to get inspiration from joints other people have made.


No Undercuts


No Narrow Cuts

Always add extra 0.2mm to tool thickness

No Long Reaches

No deeper cuts than tool lenght

Manifold Edges

Have edges properly joined

No holes

Extrude solid, watertight mesh

Bed Size

Maximum stock size 150x200x40mm


Remember to save each object you want to mill as a seperate .stl file.

Step 1

Step 3


Step 4


Choose Material

Light materials only (foam, balsa)

Check The Size

Maximum material size 150x200x40mm

Stick It

Put Double-sided tape on the back of the stock



Insert the Tool

Leave approx 10mm from the end of the flute


Tighten the Tool with allen key


    1. User Coordinate System : A coordinate system in which the location of the origin point can be freely changed. Machine Coordinate System : a machine-specific coordinate system in which the location of the origin point is fixed.
    2. Coordinates: The current position of a cutting tool is displayed.
    3. Speed: The movement speed of a cutting tool is displayed.
    4. Spindle: in [ON] and [OFF] rotation of a spindle is started and it stops.
    5. Feed Buttons: clicking these buttons moves the spindle head or table. Holding down the buttons performs continuous movement.
    6. Cursor Step: specify how much the cutting tool should move every time you single-click the X, Y, Z buttons.
    7. View: moves the spindle head to the center and moves the table to the very front. XY/Z: Moves the cutting tool to the XY/Z origin point. Stop: stops the cutting tool at that point when it is moving.
    8. Set Origin Point: select the coordinate system for setting the origin point.
    9. XY/Z: sets the current XY/Z position to the base point.
    10. Adjust Speed: the feeding speed of a cutting tool.
    11. Adjust Spindle Speed: adjusts the spindle speed. (The spindle speed cannot be specified from any
      application other than VPanel.)
    12. Setup: sets the cutting machine's operating conditions and the correction values for the axes. Cut: configures cutting settings. Pause: pauses and resumes cutting. Cancel: cancels cutting.
  1. Output File List : cutting files are listed in the order they are output. Make sure the Roughing Path is set first.
  2. Add : adds the file to cut to the list.  Delete : deletes the selected file from the list. Delete All : deletes all files from the list. Up/Down : moves the output order for the files. Test : if a cutting data file is written in NC code, you can test the output of the file to check for the presence of mistakes (bugs).
  3. Pause at each file : select this check box to pause output after a single file is output.
  4. Save List : the output file list and output order can be saved to a file.  View List : opens a file saved.
  5. Output : outputs the files in the output file list to the cutting machine in order from the top. The dialog closes once the output begins Cancel : edit of the file carried out in the dialog is canceled and a dialog is closed.


Let's make!

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Monday - Friday 9.00 - 17.00
Saturday 9.00 - 17.00 (Peak Periods)



020 3506 7173