Laser / CNC Entry Level CNC Machine Advice needed.

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BryRocket

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Hello y’all creators!

I’m looking to add a smaller, table top CNC to the list of distractions in the garage. Mainly to rip out G10 fins, stepped G10 av bay lids, centering rings, maybe some soft aluminum motor retention doohickeys, etc and anything else more suited to a cnc job vs FDM printing. I have it narrowed down to 2 really. The Sainsmart 4030 ProverXL (with upgraded dewalt router) and the Millright Carveking 2. I've been reading about these two machines for quite some time (and the shapeoko 3).

I'm hoping someone here has some experience with one of these but also looking for some advice on things to consider. Criteria: I am not really wanting to spend more than $1500 to get up and running. I am not shooting for crazy tolerances. I don't think I'll need a larger work area (famous last words) than either of these offer. The 4030 will be expandable in the future too. I am aware that these are entry machines.

Things I've noticed:
The Sainsmart has NEMA 23 stepper motors vs the NEMA 17 on the Millright. Is this really important?
Working area is ~15.75" x 11.75" x 4.25" for Sainsmart vs 17.25" x 17.25" x 4" for the Millright.
Router: Dewalt 611 on the Sainsmart after upgrade and the Mykita on the Millright.
The Sainsmart has the ability to use the Offline LCD module to load jobs and talk to the machine.
I'd add the limit switches to the Millright so both would have those.
To me, the Sainsmart looks perhaps a little sturdier? There are certainly more reviews and tutorials for the Sainsmart online it would seem. I've heard customer service is really good with both.
Price after upgrades will be comparable between the two so no real concern there.
Lastly, I haven't completely rulled out the Shapeoko 3 but I was turned off by the lack of clamping options on the base and the belt drive. Change my mind!

Any discussion appreciated!

Thanks,

Bryan
 

shockie

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I have a question? How does one tell the cnc machine how or what to cut ? Is there some kind of software program that comes with it that runs on windows 10 connected via usb?
 

dhbarr

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I'm not 200% on this but:
- you make a shape in software
- that shape is exported to a different kind of software
- a third kind of software has actual instructions for the tool
- there's software on the tool that turns these last kind of instructions into movement along the various axes
- the tool may be directly connected to the computer, it may be networked, or the user may move files about with an external media of some kind

So in a sense, you have it exactly right -- much of the translation is not immediately visible to the end user.
 

KC3KNM

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I have a question? How does one tell the cnc machine how or what to cut ? Is there some kind of software program that comes with it that runs on windows 10 connected via usb?
Either CAM software or hand jamming some G-code. Most machines have storage on the control, but you can DNC them too.

Most makers seem use Fusion 360, though there's quite a few open source options available as well.
 

AllDigital

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I bought a shapeoko 3 about 4-5 years ago and it is still going strong. I haven’t looked at anything else since then, but I can vouch for the Shapeoko. It is a workhorse. I was just cutting 1/8” and 1/4” aluminum bulkheads this weekend. Fins, rings, and bulkheads are relatively easy.

Regarding the software... My Shapeoko has two programs. Carbon Create for designing your shapes and cuts. It is a 2D designer that defines your toolpaths, bits, feeds, etc. It saves a file out to gcode. Carbon Motion then uses the gcode file to run on the CNC to make the cuts. These are fairly primitive CNC applications, but easy to use and I’m not doing any complicated 3D designs or cuts.
 

ghostfather

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I've used a Shapeoko 3 at our local MakerSpace, and it's good 'nuf for most anything I need in plywood, G10 fiberglass, and aluminum plate. Would really like to get more into the aluminium and Tool Paths available using Fusion360.

You might be interested in the newest Shapeoko Pro, as it has a standard T-slot bed for clamping, and is just stiffer and sturdier than the Shapeoko 3. The Z-axis is now a lead screw, and the belts on the X an Y axis is now wider and better reinforced. Also includes a dust boot and integrated bit setter, which are addons for the Shapeoko 3.
 

BryRocket

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I bought a shapeoko 3 about 4-5 years ago and it is still going strong. I haven’t looked at anything else since then, but I can vouch for the Shapeoko. It is a workhorse. I was just cutting 1/8” and 1/4” aluminum bulkheads this weekend. Fins, rings, and bulkheads are relatively easy.

Regarding the software... My Shapeoko has two programs. Carbon Create for designing your shapes and cuts. It is a 2D designer that defines your toolpaths, bits, feeds, etc. It saves a file out to gcode. Carbon Motion then uses the gcode file to run on the CNC to make the cuts. These are fairly primitive CNC applications, but easy to use and I’m not doing any complicated 3D designs or cuts.
Good info and thanks for the reply. I'll take another look at this.
 

profmason

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I have run 6 different CNC routers and currently run 1x CNCrouterparts 48x96 with Mach3 control and 1x CNCrouterparts 48x96 with a plasma cutter head. The chinese 3040 machines are plenty rigid, but the control software can be a dog. The newest ones are running Candle which is OK, but I still prefer Mach 3. The Millright is terrible IMHO, under powered and floppy. With the chinese machines, there is little vendor support, vs the shapeoko or the x-carve.

I built my first router from EMT, skateboard bearings and a pieces I cut with a bandsaw. Second was a 3040 like you have (which still runs with a dewalt router). I had to throw away the controller and software that came with it and roll my own control box and stepper drivers (This was 10 years ago) The shop had a velox CNC which was fine and then another similar commercial model. Of the two you posted, the 3040 has a lot more potential and will make parts for you. Instead of upgrading the head to a dewalt, I would get the ER11 collet set and some decent HQmaster single flute bits then spend some time using the machine first make a dust collector (shopvac based) and then to an enclosure for itself. I cut a fair amount of fiberglass and phenolic and it wears out tooling.

It depends on your personality. The shapeoko will probably have you making parts faster. The 3040 is cheaper and you get to learn more about how things work.

Finally for software, you could use fusion to generate your gcode. I highly recommend cut2d desktop as it really makes things fast and intuitive.

Have fun with this!
 

BryRocket

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Thanks!

Instead of upgrading the head to a dewalt, I would get the ER11 collet set and some decent HQmaster single flute bits
So you're suggesting just use the included spindle to start?

Finally for software, you could use fusion to generate your gcode
I am pretty familiar with F360. I am currently playing with it to generate tooling moves but gonna take a bit more tinkering.
 

profmason

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Thanks!



So you're suggesting just use the included spindle to start?



I am pretty familiar with F360. I am currently playing with it to generate tooling moves but gonna take a bit more tinkering.
The included 775 dc spindle will cut just fine. It will also be quieter then the dewalt. Just keep your speeds and feed reasonable. You will be making lots of shallow passes at high speed. The tool deflection will be more of an issue then that spindle running out of power, particularly if you are running 3mm cutters.

I find Fusion 360 tool paths to be too smart for their own good for routers. Others may disagree. I just want to drill, profile and pocket!
 

mtnmanak

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I bought a shapeoko 3 about 4-5 years ago and it is still going strong. I haven’t looked at anything else since then, but I can vouch for the Shapeoko. It is a workhorse. I was just cutting 1/8” and 1/4” aluminum bulkheads this weekend. Fins, rings, and bulkheads are relatively easy.

Regarding the software... My Shapeoko has two programs. Carbon Create for designing your shapes and cuts. It is a 2D designer that defines your toolpaths, bits, feeds, etc. It saves a file out to gcode. Carbon Motion then uses the gcode file to run on the CNC to make the cuts. These are fairly primitive CNC applications, but easy to use and I’m not doing any complicated 3D designs or cuts.
I have a Shapeoko 3 and love it, great machine for the price.

Mike - I saw in your Pike build thread you CNC'ed the thrust plate for the flanged retainer. How did you get the little holes for the screws precisely in the right place using Carbide Create? I have been looking for a function that will equally distribute the holes around the circle (more powerful CAD programs have that function), but can't find that in Carbide Create.
 

BryRocket

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The included 775 dc spindle will cut just fine. It will also be quieter then the dewalt. Just keep your speeds and feed reasonable. You will be making lots of shallow passes at high speed. The tool deflection will be more of an issue then that spindle running out of power, particularly if you are running 3mm cutters.

I find Fusion 360 tool paths to be too smart for their own good for routers. Others may disagree. I just want to drill, profile and pocket!
The 775 says max RPM. I know there is a lot more to consider than just RPM but that seems awfully low compared to the Dewalt. No problems though?

Also, if you have a model in F360, what program then do you use to convert that out into tool paths?

Thanks for the responses!
 

BryRocket

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I have a Shapeoko 3 and love it, great machine for the price.

Mike - I saw in your Pike build thread you CNC'ed the thrust plate for the flanged retainer. How did you get the little holes for the screws precisely in the right place using Carbide Create? I have been looking for a function that will equally distribute the holes around the circle (more powerful CAD programs have that function), but can't find that in Carbide Create.
Have either you or @AllDigital altered the base or created some way to easily clamp things down or do you just tape/glue? That is one thing that looks bothersome to me is the plain flat surface.
 

profmason

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I export DXF from fusion (actually solidworks). Then I import into cut2D to create toolpaths. For lightweight drawing (fins, stepped bulkheads, motor adapters etc) I just draw it all in cut 2D.

I just run a piece of 3/4" MDF(Spoil board) anchored on the bed and then screw cut material to it. I have to surface the spoil board every 20 jobs or so and replace it after 100. I futzed around with carpet tape and all kinds of clamps, but #8 drywall screws are easy, cheap and good.
 

KC3KNM

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Speaking of fixturing (I think BryRocket was alluding to this method with tape/glue), this is a great method for thin parts or odd shaped parts that you can't reasonably hold in a vise or clamp.
 

mtnmanak

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Have either you or @AllDigital altered the base or created some way to easily clamp things down or do you just tape/glue? That is one thing that looks bothersome to me is the plain flat surface.
Tape and glue does work, but I took the time to create a sacrificial wasteboard and then use a flattening bit to make it smooth. The flattening bit also helps after you have gouged up the wasteboard and need to smooth it out again.

I used the techniques on Ben Myers site to create the wasteboard: https://www.myerswoodshop.com/blog/wasteboard

Then check out Winston Moy's videos on tramming and adjusting your machine so it cuts flat:


Took me some time when I first set it up to get it right, but subsequently, it was much easier.

I have a number of clamps, including the Oops clamps Ben Myers talks about - I like them because I have cut into them a couple times and it doesn't ruin your machine when you do.

I love the Shapeoko for what I need - it is small and relatively inexpensive. If you have more money to burn and a bigger space, you can also look at the ShopBots that John Coker uses and talks about. I just don't have the budget or a shop big enough to accommodate one of those machines.
 

BryRocket

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Thank you all. Awesome info and I’ve learned a ton in less than a day. Love TRF.
 

BryRocket

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Can any of you chime in on what bits you think are the most used for cutting and milling some 2D and 3D shapes out of wood, G10, carbon fiber and maybe some light aluminum? Prices are all over the place. Shapeoko sells a starter set of bits for $175 but Genmitsu sells a 40pcs 1/8 bit set for like $30. I'm just curious to know, with me starting out, what bits do you think I'd use the most or would want to buy.
 

FMarvinS

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Bryan- as an alternative for consideration, the makelab I attend uses an inventables X-carve. The model used has a 100mm x 100 mm bed and has performed like a work horse. There is a simple free online program "Easel" which enables you to easily design/cut out G 10 fins, stepped bulk heads, altimeter sleds, etc. The software is cloud based and designs are saved in the cloud so no need to drag around a lap top. The "help desk" for the X-carve and Easel is extremely helpful. There are also a plethora of tutorials, projects, and forums based on its use. You can also easily transfer Easel designs into InkScape for laser cutting use. Fusion 360 also integrates with the X-carve.

Fred, L2
ICBM, Camden, S.C.
KG4YGP
 

AllDigital

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Mike - I saw in your Pike build thread you CNC'ed the thrust plate for the flanged retainer. How did you get the little holes for the screws precisely in the right place using Carbide Create? I have been looking for a function that will equally distribute the holes around the circle (more powerful CAD programs have that function), but can't find that in Carbide Create.
ha. yes, I've had to find creative ways to stretch Carbide Create. In this case, CC allows you to drop an image onto the canvas. I drew a circle from the middle and then dropped an image of an old school protractor to get my screw holes to perfectly align in the right positions. I've also used this trick to design cuts in other applications and then drop the image into CC for tracing. A pretty simple hack.

IMG_8413.jpg


cc.png
 

AllDigital

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Can any of you chime in on what bits you think are the most used for cutting and milling some 2D and 3D shapes out of wood, G10, carbon fiber and maybe some light aluminum? Prices are all over the place. Shapeoko sells a starter set of bits for $175 but Genmitsu sells a 40pcs 1/8 bit set for like $30. I'm just curious to know, with me starting out, what bits do you think I'd use the most or would want to buy.
For 2D my go to bits are 1/4" three flute carbide end mills. These are overkill for wood, but work well with aluminum and G10. Keep your feed rate and depth per pass low with aluminum. A similar bit in 1/8" also works, but be careful when using 1/8" on aluminum with the Shapeoko. There are lots of different bits out there and they are all important for specific cuts/materials, but I find for simple cuts I only use a few. I wouldn't recommend buying a big set for now. Just get a few and start cutting -- then decide. The big sets are usually quantity over quality and you'll likely not touch half the bits.

Here is a pack of 1/4" end mills I bought 6 months ago and I'm only on the second bit now.

 

KC3KNM

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Can any of you chime in on what bits you think are the most used for cutting and milling some 2D and 3D shapes out of wood, G10, carbon fiber and maybe some light aluminum? Prices are all over the place. Shapeoko sells a starter set of bits for $175 but Genmitsu sells a 40pcs 1/8 bit set for like $30. I'm just curious to know, with me starting out, what bits do you think I'd use the most or would want to buy.
I use these (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07G3Z5FJ7/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&th=1) for smaller flat CF and G10 stuff at work. I do all of my composites underwater, but they should work fine with an cold air blast/vacuum as well (pay close attention to your speeds if you're not cooling the material). They don't have the same tendency to pull up on the material as a standard end mill does and helps avoid de-lamination. They have right and left hand teeth to avoid tearing as well. Don't use these in aluminum. Compression cutters are ideal, but I save those for more complex surfacing tooling foams and composites that like to tear out, the cheapos cover flat stuff. I attached a pic of a piece cut with the Amazon end mills, pretty good for how cheap they are. If you can justify building a quick and dirty water bath to machine composites in I think it's worth it.

For aluminum 3 flutes is a good starting point, but depending on tool stick out and machine rigidity I'll go up to 4 flues (larger core, stiffer tool but need to be cognizant of chip loading) or down to 1 or 2. Single flues are good for routers as you can drop the feed down, keep the speed up (where your router motor is happy) and not have to choose between loading a machine that's not super rigid or rubbing. I use them mainly for plastic, but they work a trick in a less stout machine milling aluminum. A standard 40* 3 flue should be fine for most things you're doing, to avoid over complicating it. It doesn't hurt to grab a few different types and have some options for when problems arise. 😅
 

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ghostfather

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I find Fusion 360 tool paths to be too smart for their own good for routers. Others may disagree. I just want to drill, profile and pocket!
I'm just starting to get into the adaptive clearing (or adaptive toolpaths) possible with Fusion360. It seems to promise optimal chip loads on the end cutter bits, and cleaner cutting all around, as well as longer life for the bits.
Need a "project" to do some experimenting, though, something in aluminium.
 

mtnmanak

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ha. yes, I've had to find creative ways to stretch Carbide Create. In this case, CC allows you to drop an image onto the canvas. I drew a circle from the middle and then dropped an image of an old school protractor to get my screw holes to perfectly align in the right positions. I've also used this trick to design cuts in other applications and then drop the image into CC for tracing. A pretty simple hack.

View attachment 453180

View attachment 453181
Brilliant! Thanks!
 

RocketRev

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Here's another recommendation to check out the X-Carve machine line by Inventables. It gets used a great deal here at Wilson F/X. Huge time saver.

Brad
 

BryRocket

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I do like the looks of the X-Carve but at the moment its just a bit too large of a footprint for the area I have available plus its about $1k more. Maybe one day...
 

mtnmanak

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Update.
Went with the Shapeoko. Made an enclosure for it. Been learning some things. Thanks for all the advice! I’m about to start trying to bevel some fins with it thanks to some advice and tips from @KC3KNM

Thanks y’all!
View attachment 460948View attachment 460949View attachment 460950View attachment 460951View attachment 460952
Wow! Great setup! Love my Shapeoko, but my setup pales in comparison to your new enclosure. Just a wonderful looking job.

Now, say goodbye to your family. If you are anything like me, you will spend the next couple weeks carving everything up you can fit under the router :)

You have now entered a world where you will walk around and say to yourself "I am pretty sure I can CNC that..."
 
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