Tips for making a simple 2D support structure out of aluminium extrusions?


In the context of this endeavour of mine, I would like to build a support for two linear rails, that would ensure it is reasonably stiff & square. Just a simple/flat square out of four 20x20 aluminium extrusions, that can allow for some manual adjustments to square it.

To picture it, I want to redo this quick & dirty “rails screwed onto a block of MDF”:

My plane is to build a structure using extrusions, fasten the two rails onto two side of the square, then fasten the DRO scale onto the rails (the same way as above)

Problem is, I am a total newbie when it comes to designing and building mechanical assemblies, I have never built anything out of extrusions, so I’m sure my naive approach will make me buy the wrong type of extrusions, the wrong kind of corners/plates, and I’ll end with some kind of trapezoidal shape instead of a nice square.

Any quick tip/pitfalls/recommandations would be most appreciated !


Did you look at the 80/20 extrusions? They are very popular they come in different models and have a lot of accessories including bearing pads that can be used to slide up and down the extrusions.

I never used them personally but I know a number of people who have for building support structures for fixturing.


Yeah, you should be able to use their smallest (cheapest) ones and they have great support on buying what you need. Their customer support can guide you through the whole process.

Thanks, it’s like LEGOs for grown-ups ! very cool site.
I wish I could order there, but I live in France so I’ll try to find another similar source locally.

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80/20 is almost a standard, a quick search on Google gives me several sources for these extrusions including EBay and Amazon. I think what you would have a bit more difficulty finding are the accessories but maybe a there are international sources.


Motedis is your local dealer!


Indeed ! thanks for the pointer.

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There’s also regular old magnetic DROs that talk to Android tablets:

I have a set for my mini lathe (that I’ve yet to install), but I would think you could figure out a way to directly mount them to your X/Y extrusions. Mount the strip, mount the read head, wire as needed. There’s probably cheaper versions elsewhere, I bought mine from the same place I bought my lathe.


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Thanks, indeed that would have been an alternative option, with fewer mechanical constraints. Now that I bought two chinesium DRO scales I have a moral obligation to put them to good use though :slight_smile:

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