How to Make (Almost) Anything is a machine design graduate class at the MIT Media Lab taught by Neil Gershenfeld. The class is designed to challenge students with weekly design and engineering assignments, ranging from electronics design to large format machining. By the second to last week, students have acquired nearly all the skills (electronics design, mechanical design, networking, interface design, embedded programming, etc.) necessary to design and build a CNC machine.
Many machines have been built during the decade-plus history of the course, so many that that a follow up course specifically on machine building was created called How to Make Something that Makes (almost) Anything. For the class this year, the team designed a cardboard construction kit and a framework for rapid machine prototyping. Extending the Modular Machines that Make project, they created a low-cost version of the reconfigurable stages using cardboard and off the shelf hardware. The bill of materials for a single cardboard stage including electronics is under 70 USD, and the cost goes down already in quantities of 2.