Golden, Colorado-based Epilog Laser and Instructables, an online community that provides publishing tools for creative collaboration, announce Nikodem Bartnik as the winner for the 10th installment of the Epilog Challenge. The 20-year-old contestant received a 30-watt Zing 16 laser system, vector grid, and air compressor for his entry “DIY 3D Printed Dremel CNC.” Bartnik was one of 297 entries.
This year’s challenge opened Jan. 7 and closed at the beginning of April. There was no cost to enter; however, those interested in submitting needed to first register and create an account with Instructables.com.
To help determine the winner, Instructables members could vote during the contest, plus three days after the contest closed. A panel of judges made up of Instructables staff and respected members of the community rated the finalists. The averages of the ratings determined Bartnik, along with the runners up, as winners.
“It feels nice when someone rewards your work,” Bartnik states. “Winning the Epilog contest also means a new machine in my workshop that I will use in future projects to make them even better.”
Bartnik first became interested in how things are constructed from playing with Lego bricks as a boy growing up in a small town in Poland, where he still resides. As he grew older, he started disassembling anything he found out home, from old phones, an iron, and even his own toys.
“I was always interested in electronics, so my dad helped me with some experiments,” Bartnik recalls. “When I was about 12 years old, we built our first robot.” After that, he started programming websites and apps, making YouTube videos, 3-D printing, and designing. “I am trying to connect all of my passions to make cool projects,” he explains. According to Bartnik, he posted his first project online about five years ago. Now, he spends every day working on new projects and YouTube videos.
When working on the design for this contest, he says, “I wanted to make a machine rigid enough to mill aluminum but also easy to print and build.” Several of the components were printed on a 3D printer. According to Bartnik, the real challenge in creating the CNC machine was designing it on the computer.
“The machine is specially designed so that you can make it bigger or smaller just by using longer or shorter rods, lead screws, and aluminum profiles—you don't need to modify 3D parts.”
The project took Bartnik about six months to complete, only working on it irregularly due to school and holidays.
For anyone who wants to complete this project for themselves, Bartnik’s advice is to be patient, be gentle, and don’t be afraid.
“After finishing the machine, don’t be afraid to use it,” he says. “It will be loud; it may seem like you are going to break the machine while milling something, but as long as you are not going crazy with a depth of cut and feed rate, it should be fine.”
Epilog states that it plans to host the challenge again next year.
“The Instructables community is all about making, sharing, and learning—having them host the Epilog contest for the past 10 years has been incredible,” says Mike Dean, Epilog vice president of sales and marketing. “Just as the grand-prize winners of past competitions, Nikodem’s instructable was thoughtful, creative, and incredibly well-documented. We can’t wait to see the projects he creates with his new Zing 16.”
To learn more about the Epilog Challenge X, click here.