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CNC - Mind helpin me buy one?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Colonel Ingus, Aug 25, 2006.

  1. Never used one so I don't know very much about em. I read something a long time ago about a company selling one that you could plug into your own computer to run it. It was dirt cheap too but I don't know how well it would work. I'd mainly need it to just cut out paterns in some steel and that's about it. Any input is appreciated.

    I searched "cnc" in the threads and pulled up absolutely nothing. Maybe it ignores 3 character search strings.
  2. lolife
    Joined: May 23, 2006
    Posts: 1,120


    If it's just two-dimensional patterns, you can use a PlasmaCAM

    These are about $8k plus any options (like a router adapter, etc). Course you need an instant start plasma cutter. I'd mail off for the DVD. It makes your synapses fire-off in rapid epilectic fashion when watching.

    The software and adjustment control panel on this one is what really makes it the cats meow.
  3. Phil1934
    Joined: Jun 24, 2001
    Posts: 2,717


    Here's another. No personal experience.
    If you download catalog you will see this one can do tubes, etc. and you will probably remember the early pantograph version from an old R&C. If you think pantograph is what you need I think that book Make Your Own Shop Tools had a plan in it.
  4. ol fueler
    Joined: Oct 6, 2005
    Posts: 935

    ol fueler


  5. blue_oval23
    Joined: Jun 25, 2006
    Posts: 69


    i have experience with a couple of machines. Haas Vf-4, Haas VF-10, Bridgeport with CNC attatchment, and Gerber CNC router.
    the thing is, all of them are nice in there own way. Haas are ok, and are cheap, But there software is not that user friendly unless you have had G-code training. The bridgeport is nice, but depending on the size of the mill, there is not much table space. My favorite is the Gerber Router, Very user friendly, easy to set up, and low cleanup because of the down draft table. If you are interested in mass produceing parts invest in a haas, if you are going to use it for home use, buy a router. I have heard alot of good things about the brand ShopBot. I hope this info helps, and if you have any more questions feel free to ask. -Brian
  6. proto-trak makes a good machine thats easy to use and its manual/conversational too
    but you won't get into one with tooling for less than 20 large
    in chicago there is the IMTS show in september
    (International manufacturing technology show)
    just about every company that is worth seeing will be there
    take a look
  7. Blair
    Joined: Jul 28, 2005
    Posts: 361

    from xx

    I think a HAAS is very user-friendly. If you don't know G and M code then learn. I wouldn't ever trust a software package to spit out code and not check it myself, even on a 30K dollar HAAS let alone a more expensive machine.

    The HAAS has a very user-friendly control panel compared to a FADAL or other machines out there. It isn't all that accurate (define accurate) compared to a lot of other machines out there and it is not nearly as beefy as other machines out there but it works very well for the price and not many people have a need for real precision, a HAAS will hold a half a thou pretty easy depending on what you are doing.

    I've always used MasterCam with HAAS and it works very well. They make a lot of attachments (4th axis, bar feeder for a lathe , etc).

    I would never get a Bridgeport conversion because the lead screws in a conventional mill are not the same as a CNC and it won't hold the tolerance that a real CNC will. If you need a cheap and dirty half-ass CNC then it would work for you, but then again so would a file.
  9. That video IS awsome. Wish I had an extra $8,000.
  10. Ruiner
    Joined: May 17, 2004
    Posts: 4,145


    dear god, why did you have to bring up FATAL's (FADAL)...I've had nightmares about those things...CNC and cheap definately don't got hand in hand unless you got a lot of money to blow...or if you're thinking of the servo kits for tabletop mills, most of those have a cheap-o computer software interface to program and control the servos...I'd love to own a CNC, but the only thing worth having for me is a 3-axis, 2 just won't cut it most of the time...but if I WERE to buy a 2-axis then I'd get a Bridgeport EZ-Trax (yes, I know they're cheesy (CHEEZY-TRAX) but they get the job done and they're somewhat affordable...we have a lot of them at work and a couple HAAS', some Matsuura's, a Roku Roku and some Okuma's, I prefer the Matsuura's to be honest...)
  11. Flexicoker
    Joined: Apr 17, 2004
    Posts: 1,416


    we really need to know what kind of parts you're wanting to cut and how much you're willing to spend to give you a good recomendation. Theres a HUGE spread of capabilities between diferent machines. And the last thing you want to do is drop some fat cash on something that won't do something you need it to.
  12. Mine's CNC
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2011
  13. buschandbusch2
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 40

    from Reno, NV

    Depends how big a part you wanna make. I've got a little Sherline CNC mill that was under $3,000 (computer, tooling and all!) But it's not meant for making 1/4" cuts in steel billet, and has probably a max working area of 6X9X6. But if you respect it's limitations, it's great for making smaller parts, and I've learned a lot about CNC and CAD/CAM from it. And it's nice for someone like me without a huge garage, and who has a landlord breathing down their neck about working on cars at their place! "No ma'am, I'm not building hot rods. That there is a hobby mill, for making doll house furniture!"
  14. That sounds pretty good. Anything over $20k for a tool that I might not use all that much kinda makes me cringe.

    Now okay, I'm not talking about a 24k gold plated bottle opener with an LED on it for night-time drinking and a surround sound system built right in.

    I obviously want the cheaper the better as long as I can plug my laptop into it and load up bitmaps of the job, that's awesome. I have a ton of CNC And CAD software already.

    I'm thinking a CNC is the most used tool I've never used. If I had one, even just a decent one, I bet I'd make all kinds of shit with it. I'd love to be able to go 1/2 or 3/4 or even 1" with it but the biggest area of 6x9 really doesn't sound that bad.

    It's going to be more of a hobby thing at first I'm sure, then as I get used to it, I will use it more and more for custom brackets and so on. I have some brackets I needa make now but I'm gonna have to pay a shop to do it cause I kinda need them asap. Maybe some car club plaques out of steel or titanium, some parts for custom trophies, you get the idea.
  15. Flexicoker
    Joined: Apr 17, 2004
    Posts: 1,416


    Can you post some pictures of the style of brackets you'll be making? because besides the club plaques part, it sounds like you need a plasma/waterjet cutter more than you need a CNC mill.
  16. buschandbusch2
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 40

    from Reno, NV

    Hey Ingus, I don't know if you'd be able to just plug your laptop into the mill. It's got a controller board in the computer case (SCSI I think?) that controls the servo motors on the mill. I don't think you could fit that into the laptop case, it's a bit too big.
    Steel, you can do on the Sherline, but it is a bit taxing, the mill is really more geared toward *gasp* alumuminum. And titanium, I definitely wouldn't recommend it. I have machined stainless steel though, probably the hardest stuff I've worked with the mill, so it CAN do it. It just gets mad at ya for doing so!
    I do hope to get a bigger, more powerful mill someday, space and money permitting. But for just getting started in CNC, and learning the basics, I highly recommend the Sherline setup, especially if you already have good CAD/CAM software!
  17. sawzall
    Joined: Jul 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,725


    CNC and CHEAP should never be used together..

    I have 3 cnc machines at school.. all of which are NON -working at this time

    the most useful was the CNC router we had from TECHNO.. i used it several times to cut aluminum from a 1/4 inch plate..

    the mill and lathe we have are JUNK.. and made by "light machines"

    LIGHT being the operative word..

    the techno router uses mastercam, which can import DXF files.. but its cumbersome..

    whatever you do buy a machine that has excellent technical service after the sale.. YOU will have problems reguardless of the machines
  18. RClark
    Joined: May 14, 2006
    Posts: 147


    You can use a laptop to upload programing into most cnc machines. Your best bet is to decide which one would work with the programs that you would like to use. You mentioned cnc and cad software. What do you have and what files will they export to? Any experience with solid surface softwares? If so is it autocad based or a standalone program such as solidworks? Most equipment will run on most software, but getting there can be difficult.
  19. chitbox dodge
    Joined: Apr 25, 2005
    Posts: 598

    chitbox dodge
    from dunlap tn

    the best "bang for the buck" scenario ive ever heard of in CNC machining was a company called Centroid. they offered at a reasonable price ($35k) a machine with interactive graphics, a digitizer (for developing surface programs) with a probe, and the software that would actually create a program for you based off of what you just had scanned through the digitizer. my friend purchased one and loves it. he said it was very user friendly and the staff are very eager to help on not just sales and service, but training on the control itself and even installation requirements.
    overall they sounded like a good deal. they also do retrofits of other machines such as routers, plasma burners and the like. i hate to sound like an advertisement but:

    keep in mind though, where you usually spend the jack on machining/manufacturing in general is the consumables. the things like drills endmills taps, etc. hope that helps.
  20. We've got some HAAS at work. The VF0 is a small vertical mill that seems good for odd jobs not 24/7 production. The whole G and M code thing is real easy to figure out, hell I have
  21. 85-percent
    Joined: Apr 5, 2005
    Posts: 323


    Fadal makes a toolroom vertical cnc with 10 tool changer that sells for $19,995 BRAND NEW! that is remarkably low priced.

    Haas is the biggest machine tool builder in the USA. Gene Haas currently has some major legal probs going on. Not the best, but a good value.

    Light Machines are out of business now and their equipment was intended for the educational market. as opposed to production machining.

    theres a whole cnc hobbist/basement sub culture out there. It would be nice if I included some websites, wouldn't it?

    do a search for "modern machine shop" magazine. they have a good message board. I think "American MAchinist" magazine does also?

    A production vertical tool change cnc retails for $40,000 to $100,000, depending on builder and options. CNC Machine shops value support and uptime and accuracy and rigidity, so most "good" builders have lots of either direct factory support, or a dealer with a good support staff. And you pay for it in the cost of the machine. Accuracy, rigidity and long life COST MONEY, although you can take a risk and buy a cheesy machine and have it perform good. or have it perform bad. Boyd's has such machines. Mighty Comet and Vipers, I think. You could get a good one or a rotten one that will never perform properly. I used to work for a dealer that sold them so I got a lot of exposure.

    The hobbyist CNC world deals with homebrewed and hybred pc retrofit types that probably take a $5,000 min investment and A LOT OF WORK to put together when done.

    those signmaker routers and plasma cutter machines for $5,000 and you supply your own pc seem like incredibly good values, but $5,000 is way too steep for most of us, esp me.

    -85% Jimmy
  22. ProEnfo
    Joined: Sep 28, 2005
    Posts: 1,498

    from Motown

    "Proto-Trak's" are built by Southwestern Industries and as you say an easy to use and learn machine. The learning curve is short as the keyboard is 'conversational' and uses a modified Fanuc post-controller which eliminates having to learn or teach code. I own 5 of them (one is a lathe) in various sizes, both 2 and 3 axis and they are very dependable machines. The oldest one I have is a Bridgeport retrofit from when they first started and other than a couple of new encoders and spindle bearings it's been turning out parts for 18 years.
    The downside to them is no toolchanger but being a jobshop we don't run any 'production' and an air drawbar is fast enough. The upside is they can be run manually with the controller being used as a DRO which makes them the ideal universal 'luxury' mill for the home shop or 'start-ups'.

  23. rpkiwi
    Joined: Jan 16, 2006
    Posts: 285

    from Truckee CA

    BuschandBusch2 any chance of a picture of your machine.Also It looks like a lot of guys are into this,what are the good websites to visit for checking out machines.Thanks.
  24. Flexicoker
    Joined: Apr 17, 2004
    Posts: 1,416


    Stay away from ATrump, they blow hard.
  25. rpkiwi
    Joined: Jan 16, 2006
    Posts: 285

    from Truckee CA

    MCQUEEN great web sites,I should have read the post better.:rolleyes:
  26. buschandbusch2
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 40

    from Reno, NV

    Check out:
    My setup looks like that, only surrounded by scattered endmills, half-finished projects and tiped over bottles of wd-40 and cutting oil, lol.
    I would not consider the Sherline a "cheap" machine. It's well made, the customer service is great, and does a good job as long you don't try to exceed the capacities that it was designed for. Another thing I like is taht the Sherline is geared to hobbysits, so they make their instructions more understandable to the novice.
    So as long as you are thinking of making nothing bigger than miscellaneous brackets, license plate sized club plaques (though even then you'll probably have to move the workpiece on the milling table to machine all of the piece), fan pulley spacers, etc., AND you don't work with titanium and stainless steel exclusively, then it's a good way to learn CNC for a relatively low outlay compared to the big machines. But if you plan on machining heads or making a blower, then I would hold out for the big mills. I'm certainly glad that I started small before filling my entire garage up with a monster mill and mountains of instructional material that I wouldn't comprehend.
    And no, I don't work for Sherline! I'm just a happy customer.
  27. treb11
    Joined: Jan 21, 2006
    Posts: 3,659


    I'd be intereseted in the old ball screws when you covert.
    Joined: Mar 23, 2006
    Posts: 440

    from Manor, TX

    Learn to use a manual first(like a bridgeport), then hit an auction for a good used CNC. They can be had for cheap.

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