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  • Looking for a bit of info on CNC router/wood mills

    I am currently contemplating a short-run production project in wood. It's a fairly simple part, but needs a bit of contouring, and if all goes well (always a tricky thing) I hope to have need of 100 to 200 parts.

    I may farm it out, if I can find a shop that can do it cheap enough (although there would still be quite a bit of shipping involved if they're not right here in town) but I also started thinking of picking up one of the now-popular home-shop sized 3-axis CNC wood routers.

    I know that as I was looking around for parts for my Logan CNC conversion, I ran across several models of various capacities and costs. I'm not personally familiar with any of them, however, nor do I know anyone who has had one, used one or built one.

    So what I'm looking for, is a pretty well-built 3-axis CNC wood router/wood mill. I need a minimum working area of about 18" (I could stand 18" x 12", but I need to be able to cut a part at least 14"-15" long.) I don't need particularly amazing accuracy, but it does need to be rigid enough and have enough HP to be able to rough a fair-sized slab of wood without requiring a 6 or 8 hour cycle time.

    And, if possible, available for $2K to $2,500.

    NOT really looking for a DIY solution, unless it's simply an assemble-it-yourself kit. The last thing I need right now is another long-term build project.

    There's a bunch of options listed on eBay, virtually all of which I'm sure are of Chinese origin, but there's several that (at least superficially) look promising at only $800-$1200.

    Anybody have the insider's take on this? Any and all information welcome.

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  • #2
    Got one of these a few months ago:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-5kw-CNC-4a...-/272145408161

    Have not used it a whole lot but no real complaints yet.
    It was packaged well for shipping.
    Everything assembled with out a problem.
    Worked out of the box with only one issue, M3 didnt turn on spindle, had to change a parameter on the control box (dont have info infront me right now).
    (edit) found info, adding incase someone finds this thread through a search
    Changed VFD parameter 32 to equal 0 and now the VFD is talking with Mach3.
    Spindle only works CW, but for wood working thats fine for now.
    The 'PC' and 'Manually' switch are working.
    FWD and REV are not working.
    While in PC mode, i must press the RUN button once and then Mach3 has control, spindle speeds, M3 and M5 work correctly.

    (end edit)

    As of now, if i was to do it again the only thing i would do different is get a bigger motor just for the bigger collets (dont remember the ER size, but max shank is 1/4 and the next size motor max size is 1/2).

    The bed is kind of crap, not flat or square to the machine, i haven’t measured it (havnt really done anything which would require anything closer then +- .025 of parallelness (to the bed)) and it was little flimsy/bounce in the middle which i didnt care for and bolted a peice of 3/4 plywood as a sub plate and it worked for me. When i got the machine i was not expecting much and was alittle surprised at how well it works.

    The "directions/manual" which came with it was a joke.

    It came with a cd with Mach3 on it which i didnt use, i whent strait to the Mach website and downloaded from there (ohh.. and had to use the NEXT to last version/release of the download, the latest had issue at the time, dont know if they released any fix the issues.)

    With a 4 day weekend coming up, if you want me to run some tests or measurements just ask and ill post the results.

    Heres some things which it cut...

    The bord and "fixture":





    Plexi Glass...



    Plexi Glass...




    _
    Last edited by iMisspell; 11-20-2016, 07:21 PM.
    ~ What was once an Opinion, became a Fact, to be later proven Wrong ~
    http://site.thisisjusthowidoit.com
    https://www.youtube.com/user/thisisjusthowidoit

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    • #3
      Thanks! That's more or less one of the models I was looking at- maybe not that exact one, but one of those flavors anyway.

      I don't really need the 4th axis, but I have a buddy with a little Grizzly mill conversion that wanted one... How big is it? Probably a 4" chuck?

      Just as a ballpark figure, say you had a workpiece where you had a slab of wood, and had to mill a dinner plate out of it (- both sides, as a rough idea of how much material is to be removed.) Roughly how long would something like that take, including enough finishing passes that it would only take relatively minimal sanding to make it ready for stain and clear?

      Is that something that might take 20 minutes a side, or would you be looking at 2-3 hours per side.

      Doc.
      Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

      Comment


      • #4
        Anyone else? I keep running across mentions of the Shapeoko unit, which is apparently rigid enough people have been cutting aluminum with it...

        Doc.
        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

        Comment


        • #5
          Something to consider on the low end units is the controller software. Shark, Axiom and other systems sold at the woodworking stores like Rockler and Woodcraft, etc have odd ball, proprietary controllers. These controllers make hand coding difficult, the machines are usually supplied with Vectric software to program, but that's odd ball itself. Why they don't use Mach 3 which well supported is a mystery.

          Comment


          • #6
            I bought something similar to this a few years back straight out of China, without the water cooled spindle motor.

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/3-AXIS-Route...MAAOSwgQ9V48sC

            It has a dc spindle motor with a speed control knob in the cnc controller. No changing spindle speeds in software. Uses an older PC with Linux CNC software.

            Not long after I got it, one of the logic chips in the controller died. Moved that axis to another channel. Then the couplers between the motors and lead screws started breaking. Replaced them all with solid ones. Then had to grind flat spots on the motor shafts and torque the crap out of the set screws or the couplers would slip. Then the x axis quit. Turns out there was a break in one of the wires from the controller to the motor. Ran an external wire. Then when I tried to speed things up, found that the x axis would get lost. Turns out the driver board for that axis would work fine at slower speeds, but didn't like 750mm/min. Replaced the driver board. Started having trouble turning it on and off. Had to replace the power switch. A lighted rocker switch that was rated at 20 amps that arced itself to death. I think if you actually ran 20 amps through it, it would had exploded. Most recently the z axis started getting lost. Another broken wire in the cable to the z axis. Apparently the Chinese can't make brown wire.

            If you buy one, don't expect anything akin to tech support, documentation, or even return emails. And don't think the term "USA Seller" is going to help you. That just means they shipped it to one of their relatives in California to resell, and they don't want to talk to you either.

            Best of luck.
            Definition: Racecar - a device that turns money into noise.

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            • #7
              Things like that was essentially what I was worried about with the cheap eBay offerings. Some of those start looking "suspiciously" cheap, which made me start thinking of all the corners that got cut- undersized steppers, counterfeit power supplies, etc.

              I'm starting to lean towards the Shapeoko setup. Support seems decent, quality seems pretty good, they have an active forum, etc.

              Doc.
              Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

              Comment


              • #8
                Doc

                If this is a test run to see if the product is marketable or a one of production run I suggest you take advantage of one of the rental shops available up here. This particular shop has 2 CNC routers available along with other machines and probably expertise to help you get started in the CNC world. Plus you get hands on experience to see if you want to actually buy a CNC router or farm the job out.

                http://anchorage.craigslist.org/off/5833281096.html

                Since I haven't heard from you I assume the grinding project isn't going to happen anytime soon.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Boxford in the UK made a series of routers for schools , that may have made it out to Canada.

                  I have an ex school Boxford HSR500 as below,and its a heck of a machine for the price,and a very easy conversion to mach3 with a Lpt1 break out board, as it already has all the stepper drivers and power supply in the side cabinet.

                  https://www.gandmtools.co.uk/shop/bo...-1ph-80203821/
                  (ignore the security issue FF flags up.)

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nc5a View Post
                    If this is a test run to see if the product is marketable or a one of production run I suggest you take advantage of one of the rental shops available up here.
                    -I wasn't aware there even was such a thing up there, thanks for the tip.

                    Unfortunately, a 3-hour drive each way, especially in the winter, is a bit much for regular use of the facilities, and if I did wind up in production, I'd need to carve up between 100 and 200 parts- and I can see each part taking an easy 30 minutes to an hour of profiling. It's not complex, but we'd have to do both sides, and it's a largish piece with a lot of stock removal.

                    Even just 20 minutes each for 200 parts is still over sixty hours of machine time.

                    I'm currently leaning towards the Shapeoko unit. I hear good things about it, the support seems decent, and I've heard from a couple of people that have hundreds, if not thousands of hours of production cutting on theirs. The 16" x 16" model is $1,100, and a eBay water-cooled power head kit (ER-ready spindle, VFD, water pump, cables and hoses) can be had for around $400.

                    That's just $1,500 (plus a PC, which I have) and I can be up and running in my own shop.

                    Yeah, if I lived in Anchorage, I'd likely be spending a great deal of time at the Maker shop, but for the moment, travel time alone would be a serious issue.

                    Since I haven't heard from you I assume the grinding project isn't going to happen anytime soon.
                    -On the contrary, I've made a few calls and will be making a few more shortly. I don't have any hard answers yet since some of the people I've needed to talk to have been either busy or out of the shop, but I'm working on it.

                    Most of the project is up to you- it's your truck and your trip. I have my preferences, but it'd be easier for me to work around your schedule than the other way around.

                    Doc.
                    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Doc Nickel View Post
                      -That's just $1,500 (plus a PC, which I have) and I can be up and running in my own shop.
                      Maybe. If you're looking at using Linux CNC, I suggest downloading it and testing it with your PC. Unless something has changed since my older version, back when it was still called EMC2, it can be very particular about the PC's it will run on, especially the newer stuff.
                      Definition: Racecar - a device that turns money into noise.

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                      • #12
                        Vetric is CAM software for programing tool paths, not a machine controller like Mach 3 . Plenty of post processors available.
                        Toolznthings

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by TOOLZNTHINGS View Post
                          Vetric is CAM software for programing tool paths, not a machine controller like Mach 3 . Plenty of post processors available.
                          Exactly. And Vectric supplies post processors for Shark and other low cost routers with proprietary controllers. The problem is Shark does not supply a programming manual if you'd like to know about available Gcodes and Mcodes, etc for programming using methods other than Vectric. Things like G41,42 are nice features to know about, if it does support them.

                          I was considering a Shark for some very simple parts. When I requested a listing of all Shark Gcodes their tech support sent a program listing for the machine to cut a 1" square. I called back thinking the guy made a mistake, nope, that was the only programming info he had. He seemed surprised I would want to know.

                          Vectric may be fine if you want to make sign-like things.
                          Last edited by DR; 11-24-2016, 03:30 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by browne92 View Post
                            Maybe. If you're looking at using Linux CNC, I suggest downloading it and testing it with your PC. Unless something has changed since my older version, back when it was still called EMC2, it can be very particular about the PC's it will run on, especially the newer stuff.
                            Since the 2.6 version is way better in terms of compatibility wtih PC's.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The Shapeoko I'm looking at comes bundled with what appears to be some kind of proprietary software- they call their design software and control software "Carbide Create" and "Carbide Motion" (the company that makes the Shapeoko is Carbide 3D.com)

                              I have no idea if those are entirely proprietary, based off Linux, or based off something else. What little reading I've had a chance to do so far (hey, it's been a busy week ) nobody seems to be overly concerned with the software, or spending a lot of time complaining about having to convert over to some other software, so I'll assume the bundled stuff is at least reasonably functional.

                              In any case, the part I need to make is fairly simple- as long as I can make that one part every time I press the "go" button, I'll be happy.

                              Doc.
                              Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

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