Any thoughts on CNC machines?

durp

Member
I’m at a point now with my builds that I’d really like to start tinkering around with CNC machined parts. Mainly building custom triple clamps, instrument clusters, and other random one-off parts. I have plenty of experience with 3D modeling and CAD, so I know this will give me a little bit of a headstart. But when it comes to machine options out there, I’m not entirely sure of what to go with or what to look for. I’m not looking to spend an enormous fortune either, since I’m just starting out with it.

Do any of you have any experience, knowledge, or opinions on some of the machines out on the market?
 

SONICJK

Reminds me of...me No, I'm sure of it. I hate him
I do, what exactly are you looking to spend?
Anywhere from a grand to 50 is easy to spend in the entry level cnc world.
 

Hurco550

Keep er' Between the ditches
DTT BOTM WINNER
In my experience, it would be hard to beat either a proto trak retrofit on a Bridgeport, a proto trak branded knee mill, or if set on an actual full bore VMC a Hurco VMX is hard to beat. Both have very similar and very intuitive conversational programming. If going with a knee mill style machine, though my opinion may be un popular, I'd recommend a 2 axis with a manual z. It makes the machine less cumbersome to use in manual operations. I've programmed Haas, Doosan, Fanuc, Mazak and a few others, and hands down proto trak or Hurco would be what I put in my shop to do what your wanting to do.

Sent from my SM-S102DL using Tapatalk
 

SONICJK

Reminds me of...me No, I'm sure of it. I hate him
For doing one off small stuff in aluminum in a garage a tormach us hard to beat for the price. And it has a tool changer.
 

cxman

Active Member
DTT SUPPORTER
the tormach10 does all my flanges for my manifolds and a few other bits quite handily
 

doc_rot

Oh the usual... I bowl, I drive around...
DTT SUPPORTER
DTT BOTM WINNER
Ive been thinking about getting a small CNC router for the shopmyself. My first pick is Tormach, but its bit expensive for my budget. What are your guys thoughts on the Axiom "pro series"? are there any other small format CNC routers that can do both wood and soft metals that are worth taking a look at?
 

Pete12

Member
I bought a Delta turret mill with a three axis ProtoTRAK controller for AUD$12500 and it is the best tool I have ever bought. I only use it in 2 axis mode (conversational programming) but I have built all the goodies on my current project and, although it takes me some time, it has done a great job.
 

SONICJK

Reminds me of...me No, I'm sure of it. I hate him
I've been thinking about getting a small CNC router for the shopmyself. My first pick is Tormach, but its bit expensive for my budget. What are your guys thoughts on the Axiom "pro series"? are there any other small format CNC routers that can do both wood and soft metals that are worth taking a look at?
I have not worked with the tormach router or the axiom but I've been through several CNC routers in the last few years.
it's my experience that they are fantastic for wood and plastic and extremely frustrating for aluminum.
They all say they will do it, but in reality it's more hassle than it's worth trying to mill aluminum on a wood router. They just aren't rigid or powerful enough. You have to take very small fast cuts and without any coolant you break bits and ruin a lot of work.
IMO get a mill if you want to do aluminum and a router for everything else.
With a higher horsepower spindle and a very rigid frame routers (bed mills) work great for aluminum, but in the hobby size they are far from ideal IMO.
That's just my opinion of course there are lots of people out there doing aluminum on routers, but once you put a piece in a mill you'll wonder why you ever bothered.
 

SONICJK

Reminds me of...me No, I'm sure of it. I hate him
My first cnc mill was an old dyna (same as a Jet) that I picked up with a bad controller. I swapped over to a Dynomotion controller and a PC and it works well. Total investment about 1500 bucks and it's a full 3 axis.

I agree with Hurco to a point, if you've only got the one machine being able to use it as both manual and CNC is great. A full 3 axis can be very annoying when you just want to mill a slot or clean up and edge. That being said, lack of toolchanger and a Z axis means you're babysitting rather than doing other things while it's running. Extremely capable, but a bit frustrating to run to me as I'm just watching the machine and waiting on my next action rather than working on something else while it does the work for me.

A lot of hobbyists run a grizzly G0704 with a conversion kit. They can be had for ~2K if you're doing the conversion yourself (it's fun), Not rigid or fast but they will cut aluminum fairly well. Can also be had already put together and ready to run.

It really all boils down to what you want to do, how much space you've got, how much power you've got and how many moneys you can scrape together lol
 

irk miller

You've been mostly-dead all day.
DTT BOTM WINNER
Not all guys own a company that uses this stuff. We're talking about running equipment in our shops, not our companies. It's not an issue for most to watch the machine, especially if it does equal quality work at a fraction of cost. We ran a retrofitted Bridgeport at my last school and it never left us wanting more.
 

SONICJK

Reminds me of...me No, I'm sure of it. I hate him
Not all guys own a company that uses this stuff. We're talking about running equipment in our shops, not our companies. It's not an issue for most to watch the machine, especially if it does equal quality work at a fraction of cost. We ran a retrofitted Bridgeport at my last school and it never left us wanting more.
I understand that, just giving an opinion. If you have the budget/option to get a tool changer and/or a Z axis it's worth it IMO.
Same applies whether it's a garage or a business. You can either watch the machine and wait to reset the Z axis, or you can be on the other side of the shop painting the swingarm, or drinking a beer :D
Also the OP is trying to open/run a business, so time is money.

A retrofitted Bridgeport is an excellent machine, we run our cheap retrofit chinese dyna every day and it does it's job swimmingly.
Like I said it's all about the budget!
 

Hurco550

Keep er' Between the ditches
DTT BOTM WINNER
Again, i know my opinion on a non tool changer 2 axis knee mill isn't always a popular one, but it was mostly in regards to the O.P.'s statement:

"I’m at a point now with my builds that I’d really like to start tinkering around with CNC machined parts. Mainly building custom triple clamps, instrument clusters, and other random one-off parts."

At my last job, when I had equal access to a fully tooled Vertical Machining Center (with a tool changer), a 2 axis proto trak AND a 3 axis proto trak, I chose to use the 2 axis knee mill every time for the one off stuff. He is wanting to do mostly custom one off stuff, and those are rarely feasible to do in a machining center. Especially the idea of walking away and working on something else. Anytime we did a first part on a VMC, you were watching that thing like a hawk with one hand on the rapid control and one on the feed hold. Granted, once you got past the first part, there was time for other things, but if your talking about one or two piece runs it doesn't make sense. Aside im assuming that we are leaving out the idea of 3d countoring, which i did very little of even on a vmc.

There is also things like triples, especially pointed out by the p.o.

Even when I did program the VMC to mill a profile of a part, it was still much more common to do secondary operations on a knee mill. especially when you are talking about having to set up for the pinch bolt. You now have 5 tools to set and program for one simple operation. Tap drill, clearance drill, counterbore, countersink and tap. That operation is a bunch quicker on a manual than setting up to do two pinch bolt holes on a cnc.

Even in the job shop we worked in, the 2 axis was an invaluable tool for one and two off stuff, or even just second ops on the parts coming off of the vmc.
 

SONICJK

Reminds me of...me No, I'm sure of it. I hate him
I agree, there is always the correct machine for the job and even the most capable machines suck at some things.

If I wanted to make small motorbike parts in a home shop I'd get a tormach and a large HF drill press, or maybe a cheap mill drill (secondary ops like you mention)
Mostly because I do my programming on a computer not at the machine and I prefer having the extra capabilities even if sometimes you have to work around them.

To each their own for sure, you have a lot more experience at this than I do, i'm still learning.
Just giving my opinion after going from making things with a jigsaw and a file to full bore VMC and every step in between, all in a home shop with my own money buying the tools.
 

durp

Member
Man lots of great advice in here. This is exactly what I was hoping to hear.

I do, what exactly are you looking to spend?
Anywhere from a grand to 50 is easy to spend in the entry level cnc world.
ideally I hope I can do this under $5000. I’m going to look into the tormachs and Bridgeport’s, based off of the general consensus here.
 

doc_rot

Oh the usual... I bowl, I drive around...
DTT SUPPORTER
DTT BOTM WINNER
I have a couple big (for me) furniture commissions coming down the pipe that will be mostly cut on a CNC router. The joint design requires an attention to detail I have not been able to find with local vendors. The one guy I have found that is willing and able to do it for me will charge as much as a machine, so seems like a no brainer. To validate it financially I need the wood projects to pay for something that will make motorcycle parts... hence the router

I'm fairly confident with tool selection and proper feeds and speeds a router can be setup to work OK on aluminum, the key is to use small cutters so the spindle speed is less of an issue. I wouldnt be producing parts for production so cut time is less of an issue. Are there any other companies producing small format professional CNC routers that are in the 6-15k area?
 

3DogNate

"You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda"
I have a couple big (for me) furniture commissions coming down the pipe that will be mostly cut on a CNC router. The joint design requires an attention to detail I have not been able to find with local vendors. The one guy I have found that is willing and able to do it for me will charge as much as a machine, so seems like a no brainer. To validate it financially I need the wood projects to pay for something that will make motorcycle parts... hence the router

I'm fairly confident with tool selection and proper feeds and speeds a router can be setup to work OK on aluminum, the key is to use small cutters so the spindle speed is less of an issue. I wouldnt be producing parts for production so cut time is less of an issue. Are there any other companies producing small format professional CNC routers that are in the 6-15k area?
Turn-key?

If a nice DIY kit doesn't scare you, you could do a lot worse than a kit from http://www.CNCrouterparts.com ... very robust for their cost. They'll handle Aluminum just fine if you add a nice water cooled spindle.
 
Top Bottom