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Old 06-30-2009, 07:30 PM   #1
iflymyhelishigh
 
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Default Looking to start in the CAD/CAM hobby, and want a mill?

Hi guys, This is a little description of the two cheapest mills out there that I know of.

There are 2 mills out there which I think meet my price expectations for a beginner mill.

Today, while at my Nationals TSA (Technology Student Association) there were exhibits for all types of companies. I saw companies like Vex robotics (IFI), Universal Laser Systems or something like that, for laser etchers, and this other interesting company, which was demonstrating a mill called the CarveWright. I talked to their representative, who seemed like she knew what she was doing. After finishing talking to her, I learned a couple of facts that I personally did NOT like.

First off, this mill can apparently NOT cut any types of metal, even soft aluminum alloy. Looking at the mill's structure, I didn't know how it could not cut aluminum alloy, except for the fact that the Z axis is controlled by wheels rather than gears. This mill is supposed to be able to cut wood 14.5" wide, 5" thick, and can cut wood of any length because of a feed table in the back. Even though it can not cut metal, it looks like a good product, especially for the price of $1,899 USD.

I have also seen TaigTools mills, and I like those. For $2,500 USD, you get a nice mill which CAN cut metal. I myself am looking to maybe remodel my own heli, and mill out some of the parts as an experiment. The main purpose of the mill is to mill out PCBs, or Printed Circuit Boards. If you look inside of your computer, preferably a desktop because it is easier to take apart, you can see a either green, yellow, blue, or some other color board. Those are PCBs.

Hmm... I did have an HTML comparison table I whipped up, but it seems that HeliFreak does not allow html. Because of that, I have hosted the table on another website of mine which is found here.

Table

Carvewright website
MicroMill 2000 website

Make sure you are looking at the MicroMill 2000, which is found here.
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Old 07-01-2009, 09:25 AM   #2
TMoore
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Look for a small manual chinese mill with an R8 spindle so you can use industry standard tooling and learn how to use it. Until you learn the basics for cutting metal a CNC will be more than you can handle.

TM
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Old 07-01-2009, 02:04 PM   #3
My 2 Cents
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www.sherline.com
Your Taig
or
www.tormach.com
Kind of a big price difference but its a couple options

Last edited by My 2 Cents; 07-01-2009 at 05:58 PM.. Reason: Removed Syil
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Old 07-02-2009, 01:49 AM   #4
stevo082
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I built my cnc with a Sieg X2, otherwise know as a Grizzly or Harbour Freight in the USA, they go for about $400, then I purchased the CNC electronics from http://www.kelinginc.net/ they have packaged kits, just make sure the motors are at least 280oz-in Nema 23, if you dont find a good package on their website, check their page on ebay, I picked up my electronics for about $350 from them and thats for :

3 x Stepper Motors
3 x Stepper Controllers
1 x cnc4pc.com C10 Breakout Board
1 x 5V Power supply
1 x 36V Power supply

Then I got my cnc ball screw conversion kit from www.cncfusion.com I think it was about $450.

Then over and about that you need a pc to run the cnc and the cnc software, I used the free linux cnc controller distrobution call EMC (www.linuxcnc.org)

The for design you need a CAD package and then to do your toolpaths you need a CAM package which creates your g-code from your CAD drawing.

One thing you have to realize is that cnc is not cheap and when you try to save on a few $$$ here and there, that mistake will cost you more.

Here is a pic of my Sieg X2 Mill below, approx cost I spent on it is $2500 so far.

Other pic is of a Washout base I am making for an Esky Belt CP
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Old 07-20-2009, 03:24 PM   #5
Gareth-71
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Hi

Have a look at LPKF, I had one of their mills. it is specifically made for PCB's and works very well. Youu can have track widths of 0.2mm and gaps of 0.2mm. It take common gerber files and can mill both sides. I also had a plating system to copper plate the holes.

Built many hundreds of prototype pcb's

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Old 07-28-2009, 05:10 PM   #6
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What about MaxNC?

http://www.maxnc.com/

Those look like very capable machines in the same price range.

_Scott
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Old 08-13-2009, 03:25 PM   #7
LowOreo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scm6079 View Post
What about MaxNC?

http://www.maxnc.com/

Those look like very capable machines in the same price range.

_Scott

we use MAXNC in our metals lab. we have like 4 or 5 of them and they work pretty well.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:29 AM   #8
verticalpilot
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LowOreo View Post
we use MAXNC in our metals lab. we have like 4 or 5 of them and they work pretty well.
What is the average tolerance you get on a simple part?

What was the cost range for this machine?
I may have too look into this...
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:43 PM   #9
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I was looking at a Roland MDX 20 (used) this week.

then I watched a 'setup tutorial' video, http://fablab.blip.tv/file/352084/ whose example appeared to be a metal fan.

Looking at it before understanding enough about CNC is ass backwards, but I'm curious. Especially the 3d scan function it has. Is this the type of machine that would be suitable for machining small RC aluminum parts? (assuming a lot of skills and software).
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:16 PM   #10
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It's a toy IMHO. I would consider something a lot stouter that runs on G-Code.

TM
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMoore View Post
It's a toy IMHO. I would consider something a lot stouter that runs on G-Code.

TM
alrighty, thanks!
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:38 PM   #12
rotordick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyc863 View Post
I was looking at a Roland MDX 20 (used) this week.

then I watched a 'setup tutorial' video, http://fablab.blip.tv/file/352084/ whose example appeared to be a metal fan.

Looking at it before understanding enough about CNC is ass backwards, but I'm curious. Especially the 3d scan function it has. Is this the type of machine that would be suitable for machining small RC aluminum parts? (assuming a lot of skills and software).
That MDX-20 is very useful for PCBs, take a look at some PCBs milled with it here
http://www.fourth-axis.com/gallery/
I have the smaller MDX-15 plus the Tilt Motor Mount from fourth-axis.com and a Proxxon motor for a higher speed 20000rpm. The standard motor in MDX-20 is only 6500rpm, bit slow.
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Old 12-26-2009, 03:43 PM   #13
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Short attention span after Xmas, did not answer the original Q.
Yes it will mill very nice small parts (up to 200x150mm) in brass, aluminium, acrylic, wax for castings, the motor upgrade makes the process much faster, see that here
http://fourth-axis.com/tilt-motor-mount/
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Old 12-26-2009, 04:11 PM   #14
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Having just recently (November) gone through this same investigation process, I settled on a Taig 2019 with the extended X travel. The machine is very accurate and repeatable (though most machines in this class are, nowadays, specs don't actually vary very much). The only issues I had were with the Mach-3 driver software, and they were mostly my own fault for trying to install and use the software on a machine that was configured for generic use. Once I switched to a dedicated Epia based MoBo system (without any Virus software installed and configured with a network connection that's easy to enable/disable), those problems disappeared.

I haven't been impressed with the design of the Roland table-top mills. I had an old MDX-3, which was good for cutting foam (albeit in small bites given the limited 6x4x1.5" workpiece size) but it wore out relatively quickly (and Roland dropped support for this model - spare parts are impossible to find). My general impression of the Rolands is that they're too "light duty" and much more expensive for what you get compared to a Sherline or Taig or a Harbor Freight home-built.

I am a very advanced computer/electronics engineer, but in spite of that I didn't want to spec and build my own machine. I wanted to be up and running as quickly as possible with the least amount of effort so choices like a Harbor Freight home-built went to the back of the list.

I didn't like the looks of the Sherline's design compared to the other choices. It's too light-duty. I don't need to cut metal very often, but I wanted a machine that would be sturdy enough for some occasional heavy-duty work.

I liked the Taig over the other choices for a few reasons - first and foremost, the Taig was the best combination of size/weight/rigidity and working area (the Sherline Z-stage especially is fairly flimsy compared to the Taig). 6x6x15" working area, with an optional 1.5" Y axis extension. I also bought the 4th axis, which is sourced with parts from Sherline. Second, the company I bought it from, MicroProto, is directly affiliated with Taig and as I had hoped, the technical and customer support has been excellent (a factor that I strongly recommend you don't overlook. There are cheaper suppliers but do some machining forum reading and make sure they have a good rep for support). The machine is rated at a relatively slow 30IPM feedrate, but I've found that it will reliably run at 40IPM in X and Y (but not Z) when cutting light materials like wood and foam. And it'll go faster with larger Steppers. The Mach-3 license was included in the cost of the machine, it shipped the day I placed my order and arrived in 3 business days, and they threw in a license for MeshCam too (you'll need something to generate toolpaths, and while there are lots of choices, this one is about the best in terms of ease of use and it supports 2-sided cutting or a rotary 4th axis).

So, if you're looking for advice from someone who just bought a Mill, I say do a Taig (but don't spend the extra $ on a servo motor version unless you already know you need that level of precision).
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Old 01-12-2010, 01:58 PM   #15
Vegabond
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Here is some inspiration from me...


I built it my self.


Robert.
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Old 03-10-2010, 12:32 AM   #16
Garland
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very nice vagabond!

I have seen the maxnc run.... if the sherline is any equal then you can stop the spindle with light pressure of your hand. You would quickly outgrow them as they are best for small engravng jobs.

I think that for the price of entrance the Taig is the smallest I'd go.
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Old 03-17-2010, 01:02 AM   #17
corona007
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This is my little sherline mill. It cuts anything, Though it might take a few passes extra and not cut through 1/2 aluminum all at one time. It does the job. Besides I like seeing it run.
I have actually cut A2 hardened tool steel 60/62rc with it. It's a milled clamping slot on my vise in the vid. .187 X .25 X 3.5 slot.
I also like the accuracy is dead on and I could usually get parts within .001". The controller board is from hobbycnc and I didn't need a breakout board. It's also a 4 axis board but I haven't gotten around to using the 4th since I don't have a rotary spindle yet. 300oz steppers.
I have some pic's in my gallery of parts that I have made, Need to update it I have a lot more.

mill was 500 I think, Board was 200 with motors.



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