BeamCNC – machine for making life-size constructor

BeamCNC is a CNC mill originally developed for making a construction system called Grid Beam, but it can also perform custom operations via gcode files. BeamCNC is the easiest way to produce Grid Beam—the eco friendly modular construction system that you can use to build many things. BeamCNC can make Grid Beam of different sizes from 20x20mm to 50x50mm of any length, parts can be reused and projects are highly customizable.

Short history of Grid Beam

Early version of this construction system was developed by Ken Isaac in the late 1940s. He used 2×2 lumber and three dimensional joints to create living structures. He called this construction system – Matrix and later publish a book How to Build Your Own Living Structures. After this book a group of artists, designers and builders continued to work on developing this construction system. They upgraded and standardized it, made it fully modular. Three of them later summarized their work in a book How to Build with Grid Beam: A Fast, Easy and Affordable System for Constructing Almost Anything. And I`ve learned about Grid Beam from Kevin Kelly Cool Tools blog (which is also awesome, you should check it out).

Reasons for creating BeamCNC

When I discover Grid Beam I instantly want to use it in our makerspace. It is a lot cheaper that aluminum 80/20 system and comparably versatile. You can build a lot of “makerspace” parts with it. Workbenches, shelves, painting booth, 3d printing station, tools cart, you name it. And because everything have same pattern, things are compatible to one another and can be easily customizable for the task at hand, providing the freedom so urgently needed in creative spaces.

Idea seem interesting so I bought lumber, make a steel template and use a drill press to make a first batch. But task that look really simple turn a bit harder that I thought. Lumber that you can buy in local hardware store are not totally straight and often have some curvature. So when you put a straight template on curver lumber they didn’t match and you have to constantly readjust template to drill hole on the center of the beam. If you misaligned holes – parts won’t fit together. So as you can imagine it was quite labour intensive to make a Grid Beam with template and drill press. And same issues will appear with CNC router. Straight tools – curved lumber.

So I`ve develop BeamCNC that can work with materials you can buy in you local hardware store and make functional Grid Beam out of it. I really think that this construction system can be useful in a lot of cases. BeamCNC can help Grid Beam to become common thing, so I made BeamCNC open source.

Distributed manufacturing

We see how digital fabrication tools affects production of the goods. We can spot a pattern. Broadly available materials + Broadly available tools + Open source designs + Web service for finding local manufacturers.

For example: Plywood + CNC router + Open sourсe designs + Web-service to find local manufacturer (like = awesome plywood furniture and projects produced locally. 3d printing filament + 3d printer + + = all kinds of 3d printed projects nearby.

BeamCNC can create another one of such distributed systems. Square lumber / tubes of different sizes + BeamCNC + Open source designs + Web-service for finding local manufacturers = all kinds of Grid Beam constructions and projects for makers and local communities.

Indiegogo campaign is now live. Check it out –

Additional Materials

– Photo of BeamCNC prototype
– Grid Beam projects examples