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Desktop CNC Router, Engraver, Mill


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Hi All

 

I have been getting very interested in these little machines recently.

Only really for fine wood milling.

You see a lot of them across ebay and Amazon, pretty much all of the home market ones seem to come from China.

They are three axis, USB linked, approx. A4 table size and come with a software package.

And the prices are very good.

But that is as far as I have got, in a lot of respects they seem too good to be true.

Has anybody got any experience of using one?

Or even seen one in action.

I would like to understand a lot more - build quality, spares availability, ease of programming, reliability etc etc  

 

Nick

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi pompey2

 

I've used a desktop engraving machine, -4 axis.The machine is all made of cast steel. The price is about $1200, excluding pc and software.The Mach3 license will cost about $175.You also need a computer, but you can use the old one,  Mach3 does not require high performance for PC. You also need programming software and design software,it's the costs that need to be considered.Most importantly, you must design and learn to program.In China, tuition for embossed programming is more than $1000.

 

Only for the engraving machine itself,If you are only occasionally used to process some wood parts, such as cutting frames, and making some relief, the Aluminum Alloy Structure Carving machine is more cheaper. but as far as I know,the engraving machine, the price under 500 dollars, is called a "toy machine".

 

The benefits of engraving machines are unquestionable, accurate, labor-saving and high efficiency. Able to process relief and make complex parts.

Edited by hjx
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The 4 axis engraving machine can make almost all the parts of a ship model-- except sail, the 3 axis engraving machine can produce most of the parts of the ship model.

Some parts which are difficult to be produced by traditional manual methods, but they are machined quickly and accurately with the engraving machine.

 

For example, some special shaped parts of the bow and stern.

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Edited by hjx
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Very interesting hjx. I have also a 3 axle cnc machine made by German Eas gmbh   http://www.easgmbh.de/CNC-Maschinen/Fraesmaschinen/EASY

I have used it a lot when building my models, mainly with cars and tanks. The problem is that I only have a 2D CAD, which gives me the possibility to produce 2D and 2.5D parts.

I would like to upgrade my programs into 3D to be able to make also the carvings. So the question is: Which CAD program are you using to make those carvings shown in your pictures?

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I just bought one of these to play around with(it's still in the post, so i'm waiting in anticipation!)

 

It was on special for USD200, so just couldn't resist it...

 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/820277733/mini-cnc

 

I'm gonna see if I can cut some frames with it for an upcoming Triton cross section build.

Eleksmill.jpg.7a02c5e972e5bcd314a7eed9ec7586aa.jpg

 

Edited by Jolley Roger
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19 hours ago, Moxis said:

Very interesting hjx. I have also a 3 axle cnc machine made by German Eas gmbh   http://www.easgmbh.de/CNC-Maschinen/Fraesmaschinen/EASY

I have used it a lot when building my models, mainly with cars and tanks. The problem is that I only have a 2D CAD, which gives me the possibility to produce 2D and 2.5D parts.

I would like to upgrade my programs into 3D to be able to make also the carvings. So the question is: Which CAD program are you using to make those carvings shown in your pictures?

Hi

I don't know what software you used,  as far as I know, if you want to make 3D models and mill it by NC machining, you also need 3D modeling software.I recommend X+zbrush,the X is cad software such as autocad/rhino/solidworks/UG/...,ZBrush is used to make sculptures,it works very well and is much cheaper than 3DMAX /maya... and other software.

 

These software are generally expensive,  if you don't work in some companies that use CNC (they can buy these machines and software), maybe you don't have the chance to learn these professional software. I benefited from my friend who have a furniture factory,  he had a lot of CNC machines and software that made me learn how to use these software.

Edited by hjx
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Very interesting, I've been thinking about using this approach on my next build.  Right now i'm considering a Shapeoko 3 as a CNC router, a 4th access should surely be nice but seems like a good start.  Most use a Dewalt trim router with the setup but there are quite a few options for spindles if you're more of a shop build kinda person.

 

 

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On 9/19/2017 at 6:40 AM, wefalck said:

Is anyone aware of such a small CNC-mill/router that can be controlled from a Mac ? The guys that make the Shapeoko 3 also make a thingy called Nomad that seems to work with Macs, but I found it too big and pricey. Most small, cheapo machines only seem to made to work with Windows ... :angry:

The control software may be windows only but you usually can interface other CAM software like Fusion 360 you do most of the work on your Mac and use Windows to run the program.

 

One option is to use virtualization software from your mac to run Windows.

 

We we use Oracle VirtualBox at work as it's free and open source. See http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/virtualbox/overview/index.html.

 

There are good commercial software options as well (Parallels, VMWare Fusion) but virtualbox has been good enough for my uses.

 

Microsoft offers free downloadable images of Windows for testing browsers they just expire in 90 days.

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/vms/

 

Another option is to use Boot Camp that is built into OSX that lets you run Windows by rebooting.

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That's a good suggestion. Just don't try to design your model in Fusion or any other similar app from withing the virtual machine.

 

The problem with virtual machines is that they don't use the full capabilities of your video card. VirtualBox does install a pseudo card driver, however it can be hardly used for the software we are talking about. We are using VMs for almost anything at work, but when it comes to CAD design, they simply cannot handle it.

 

Ben is right, do your design in Mac and do the milling in a VM.

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I actually do have Parallels Desktop on my Mac, but would have preferred a 'native' solution. It is quite strange that you can get drivers for any odd printer, but not for those CNC ord 3D-printing machines. Perhaps the number of Mac-users is too small - so a lot of the graphics people seem to use Macs.

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A few days ago I visited a trade fair for 3D printing / Additive Manufacturing as part of my day job.

I noticed a great little filament machine that was boasting multiple interchangeable heads.

That included a router head and a laser cutter head as well as a few different printing heads.

The laser was limited to paper and card really but the router head was cutting and carving some pretty nice details in wood to about an inch depth.

 

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  • 3 months later...

I have let the subject of a new tool rest for a bit but I'm picking it back up now.

Part of the reason is that we recently got one at my workplace.

It is a different type of design to the ones I was looking at, but more suitable for the things I need it for.

Most relevant is that the type I am now considering use a commercially available router for the cutting spindle (Dewalt or Makita)

That then comes with a 1/4 chuck so is a lot more flexible with regard to tools it will accept and is also made to specifically resist some side loading.

So is capable of milling in wood across 3 axis.

 

This is the design I am considering, and is the one we have at work, there are a couple of alternative suppliers:

Router.jpg.dfd41af8ef776c9a101d09d437bcdf82.jpg

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Prices are more but still keeping me interested.

This type including router, milling kit, controller and software is circa £1300 for 750mm x 500mm bed with 140mm Z axis.

I intend to get to know the one at work a little first then probably go for it.

The other thing that I like is that the ones I am looking at are UK or US made.

The two that look best to me are

https://www.robotshop.com/uk/carbide3d-shapeoko-3-robust-cnc-router-kit-us.html

and

http://ooznest.co.uk/3D-Printer-CNC-Kits-Bundles/OX-CNC-Machine/OX-CNC-Full-Kit

Nick

 

 

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Hi pompey2

 

I saw your picture of engraving machine. The drawback of this engraving machine is that the less rigidity. When the carving is deep relief or cutting, the vibration of the machine will affect the accuracy. 

 

I suggest that you choose the carving machine made by steel casting, the machining precision will be higher and more durable. It's just a little more expensive (if in China). But if you use a laser as Z axis, it would be better to use an aluminum alloy machine.

 

If you need to make 2D or 3D sculpture, I suggest you choose a 4 - axis engraving machine. The 4 - axis engraving machine can make a perfect relief (sculpture) and figurehead. If there is a chance, I will do a demonstration for you(There are great differences between the 3 and the 4 axes engraving machine in making relief-excluding the figurehead).The sculpture made by 3 - axis engraving machine, the side will be stretched.

 

If you are very interested in that machine, ask them to carve a sample for you.

Edited by hjx
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I want to add that, when you have mastered the 3 axis NC machining, you will look forward to 4 axis engraving machine, but once you have 4 axis engraving machine, it is eager to 5 axis engraving machine (like me), but the mother-board of 3 axis and 4 axis /5 axis is not the same and as far as I know, there is no way to upgrade-You have to replace a lot of parts, and it will cost you a lot of money(to upgrade 3 axis to 4 axis ) , but the 5 axis engraving machine is very expensive, and the CNC program of 5 axis  is very difficult, so, I suggest you buy 4 axis engraving machine, because the 4 axis engraving machine basically can make all KITs of the ship model.

Edited by hjx
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Hi hjx

 

Thanks for the comments.

Rigidity is certainly an important factor especially to achieve a decent accuracy.

But these are not milling machines so I would only expect to be taking light cuts.

That is why I hope to evaluate our work one, so far it looks good, but it has not been challenged, it's mostly used for foam cutting.

I don't think I have a great need for a fourth axis.

That would be useful for rotating the work piece whilst machining, like turning.

But I can handle that on a lathe.

Being able to approach the work with the spindle at an angle is not something I think I need.

But I will update this subject as I move further forward.

 

Thanks

Nick

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On 2018/1/11 at 9:19 PM, pompey2 said:

A further note, hjx.

Could you tell us which type of machine you use?

Do you have any photos of it please.

 

Thanks

 

Nick

I use 4 Axis carving machine,3040-Actual processing area 26x36cm.

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It's my carving machine,the product is being processed and has not been cleaned yet.

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It doesn't include computer and any software, costs me about $1200 ,equivalent to 8000RMB.

 

This is made by my friend's factory.It is made of cast steel and can engrave the metal and stone such as jade and copper. The precision is +-0.02mm,1500w,water-cooling.

 

He also has a 6090 machine, the table is aluminum alloy.

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The price of 3 axis's is 7000RMB this year(excluding computers and software),about $1000.

 

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3 hours ago, pompey2 said:

Hi hjx

 

Thanks for the details and photos.

Does your friend market them?

Do you have a link of something?

 

nick

Hi nick

He didn't sell products on eBay yet, and he can't speak English. He said he had exported a number of machines through the agent,he can not provide after-sales service to customers.A cast steel engraving machine with a weight of more than 120kg. Secondly, Machines with electric motors are difficult to express or send by mail. (customs formalities are very tedious),perhaps the European voltage is 110V, but 220V in china ...so I suggest you buy it locally.

 

Even if I send you the Chinese website of their company, Chinese is also an obstacle to you.

 

I suggest that you'd better buy a cast steel engraving machine. Secondly, I suggest you buy 4 axis engraving machine. The 4 axis engraving machine can make almost all of the shipmodel parts, even the metal cannon with relief (except for sails).

Edited by hjx
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