Milling Halftone Images Using the Sienci Mill One

I recently stumbled upon this idea of milling halftone images and found it to be a neat way of transforming regular photographs into CNC millable projects. While it does work with any photograph, I have found that black and white drawings provide the best results, especially when working with a relatively small work area.

I created a youtube video on the process and chose to mill the following two images: 



The images are sourced from Ken Hunt on Deviantart and the software I used was the Half-Toner V1.7 by Jason Dorie.












Using the Software

The software is relatively straightforward to use. You can set the angle of the bit you are using which in my case is a 30 degree v-engraving bit for the dead pool image and a 45 degree bit for the Batman image as well as the dimensions of the material you are working with. You can play around with the size and spacing of the dots depending on how detailed the image is and how detailed you want your print to be. The Deadpool print was simpler and as a result, required lower resolution. It ended up being comprised of around 22 000 dots while the more detailed Batman print was 35 000 dots.

Choosing the Material

The nature of this project requires that you have a very flat piece to mill on as even a slight variation in height can cause variations in the size of the dots. Having a different color beneath the surface of the material helps the dots stand out creating a more defined image. I decided to work with what I had and paint some poplar plywood black.

In my video, you can see I decided to sand and coat the plywood in wood glue prior to milling it. I found that the wood was slightly fuzzy and absorbed a lot of the paint I spayed creating a rough surface. Sanding removed the fuzziness while the wood glue made the surface even smoother and created a barrier keeping the paint on the surface which is why the finish on the Batman image looks significantly better than my first attempt with the Deadpool Image.










Milling the Piece

Halftone images are definitely one of the more time-consuming things to mill using the Mill One, especially when printing detailed images that can be comprised of over 30 000 dots. The Batman print in the video took over 8 hours. Reducing the depth of the dots and increasing the feed rate will help speed up the process. Another option is to use a bit with a higher angle which will allow the mill to create bigger holes at a shallower depth which is why I switched to a 45 degree bit for the second Batman image.


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If you create your own halftone images, be sure to share them on the Mill One Facebook Group and If you have any questions about the projects I milled or need help milling yours, I encourage you to reach out.


We’ve reached 1000 likes on our Facebook page!

Can you believe it? We’ve reached our 1000th like on Facebook! I want to thank everyone who have been with us and supported us throughout the last two years.

To celebrate, we’re giving out free anti-backlash nut kits with every Sienci Mill One order (first 30 units) with coupon code “YAY1000”. To use the coupon, make sure to add a machine and an anti-backlash nut kit to your cart before using the coupon, and you’ll get a $25USD discount (the value of the anti-backlash nut kits).

Here’s to the next 1000 likes! If you haven’t yet, make sure to like us and help us get there:!

Latest Mill One mods on the Mill One Group

There’s been a lot of activity on the Mill One Group on Facebook, especially with new mods and addons.

Here’s one by Fred that’s pretty impressive. He’s also written up some details about his project, which are listed down below.
Second Story Write Up

LED Lighting Mill One Update

Another pretty cool mod is the one that David has created by extending the axis to 500mm and creating a new frame around it. .


David has also started a Youtube channel to talk about his CNCing adventures. Make sure to check it out and follow along on his adventure.

Here’s his latest video from yesterday!

New v-bits and collet adapters

If you’ve been waiting to order a 1/4″ to 1/8″ collet adapter, they are now back in stock on our store.

We also have 60 degree v bits available for sale on our store as well. These bits great for doing v carving or engraving smaller projects like PCBs or tags.


Also, make sure to use coupon code “newstock” to get $10 off any order over $50 until Friday Feb 9, 2018!

Turning the Mill One into a 3D printer



3D printers technically ARE CNC machines because they use “Computer Numeric Control” systems, but when it comes to CNC routers we start to see some major differences between the two types of machines.

Almost all consumer facing 3D printers are FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) 3D printers, laying down layer by layer of molten plastic to create 3D objects. They use a variety of mechanical systems to move a nozzle which extrudes out the molten plastic to build up that object.

CNC routers work in a similar way, except starting with a block of material and removing material using a rotating cutting bit until you’re left with a object.

Before we dive into how the Mill One was converted it’s important to point out some major differences between CNC routers and 3D printers.

The most important is the differences between the mechanical intent of these machines. CNC routers experience huge amounts of force during milling and rely heavily on the stiffness of the mechanical systems to maintain accuracy. This makes them significantly heavier and slower than a 3D printer. 3D printers on the other hand need to move the extruder nozzle quickly, and because they are relatively lighter than a router or spindle, the mechanical systems lighter and are much more nimble.

While there are several 3D printers which can act as a CNC milling machine, due to the different mechanical requirements of each machine, they are either slow at 3D printing or underpowered as a CNC router. It’s up to the customer to choose if they want a machine that can do one thing really well, or a few things so so.

Regardless of this fact, we still went ahead to see what would happen if we turned the Mill One into a 3D printer!


The first step to modding the Mill One into a 3D printer is to find the right electronics. We had a RAMPS 1.4  control board on hand so we chose to use this. The RAMPS 1.4 has all the sockets and pins needed to control all the periphery devices of a 3D printer (like a hot end, extruder, homing switches). You can find newer, more powerful control boards with many more features that the RAMPS, but the RAMPS is fairly easy to find and can be found inexpensively online.

We followed this dossier to help me wire the RAMPS together and wired the 3 motors which power the X, Y, and Z axis, as well as a spare extruder we had lying around from the old, out of commission Tevo Tarantula. It was quite busted, and some hot glue was to put it together.


Next we made a hotend mount on Onshape ( to mount the hotend and set that up as well. We printed it out on the 3D printer.


As for the hotend, we bought a E3D Volcano hotend clone online for a few dollars. It works pretty well, although if you do use this hotend, make sure to use the fan included otherwise it will clog.


Last thing to do is upload the firmware to the Arduino Mega in the RAMPS 1.4. We used this tool to configure the firmware, which will help you configure the firmware to match the rest of your hardware. It took a bit of trial and error to select the right settings. You can also change some of the settings through the EEPROM settings in Repetier Host (the gcode sender/slicer) we used, in case you need to fine tune things.

Installing the firmware is as easy as selecting the right port and device on the Arduino IDE, extracting the downloaded firmware ZIP file, and opening the Repetier.ino file. Simply click “upload” and the firmware should install onto the Arduino.

There’s a couple more things we could add, like a part cooling fan, homing switches, heated bed, etc. However, we wanted to keep things simple and just prove that it was possible to turn the Mill One into a 3D printer. All in all, the Mill One did a decent job at printing out this little low poly Pikachu. You can see there is some blobbing, which can be fixed with fiddling with retraction settings, and we can improve the pointiness of the ears by adding a part cooling fan.

In comparison to a regular 3D printer, the Mill One is a little bit slower and a little bit louder, but it can still produce high quality prints because the mechanical systems are more rigid and more precise. It was a really fun modification to make and the total cost in parts, had we purchased everything new would be around $60, making it a pretty inexpensive mod as well.

Until next time…