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MWills101
26-02-2017, 10:27 PM
Hi All

I make small models and have always got the parts I need from a friend who is emigrating and taking his equipment with him.

I have some stock of the parts - mainly thin Ply or Basswood - both 3mm, but I am quite busy so I am thinking of doing it myself.

I have no idea what I should buy, so thought it best to ask the experts.

The Ply or Basswood parts are mostly quite small - 5 inches square and smaller, mostly rectangular, some square, but all have straight edges.

Is there a small cnc machine for the hobbyist to cut 3mm Ply and Basswood ?

Is cmc the right move for me ?

Hope to hear from you

Thanks
Mark_W

njhussey
27-02-2017, 09:29 AM
Hi Mark, welcome to the forum!

Most of the small CNC routers you see advertised on eBay will do what you need but be aware that the quality of them is sometimes shocking. The electrics nearly always need replacing/upgrading and you're best to get the ones with ballscrews rather than trapezoidal leadscrews. What quantity of parts do you do, lots or just small batches? If lots then I'd reconsider using a small 3040 machine and perhaps look at making your own which isn't as daunting as it sounds!

Zeeflyboy
27-02-2017, 08:05 PM
To be honest for relatively thin ply and basswood even something like the ox cnc would be fine imo.

Big work area available for the price so you could get lots of parts cut in a single operation... could be worth considering.

Doddy
27-02-2017, 08:13 PM
If your parts are only 2D then have you considered a chinese laser cutter?

Zeeflyboy
27-02-2017, 08:24 PM
If your parts are only 2D then have you considered a chinese laser cutter?


That's actually quite a good shout!

JAZZCNC
27-02-2017, 09:15 PM
To be honest for relatively thin ply and basswood even something like the ox cnc would be fine imo.

Big work area available for the price so you could get lots of parts cut in a single operation... could be worth considering.

No better than a chinese router IMO.! . . . . Any of these machines will cut thin ply wood or balsa etc. This is not the issue with them.
Reliabilty and longevity is the real problem.

The Ox design is rubbish and over time will become sloppier than.!! . . Well you know.?
Rollers running over soft aluminium coverd in abrasive dust is recipe for wear and in short period of time things will start binding and sticking leading to all kinds of air pulling time consuming sessions.

The chinese machines while half ok on the strength side are often thrown together and with inferior components. The wiring and electronics are joke. However for learning and getting into CNC they have there place. Just don't expect the world.

Zeeflyboy
27-02-2017, 09:22 PM
No better than a chinese router IMO.! . . . . Any of these machines will cut thin ply wood or balsa etc. This is not the issue with them.
Reliabilty and longevity is the real problem.

Agreed, I certainly wouldn't say it is is better than a Chinese router... it would however be another option at the same/similar price point as a cheap Chinese one, but with the option of a significantly larger work area for the money which might be useful for his needs. Just another option without pushing someone into a much more expensive purchase than they want. Undoubtedly it will develop slop over time but given the light duty work I think it'd last ok and would be relatively cheap to refurb.

I think there's a lot to be said for the laser suggestion actually though... available cheap and would do a good job on the OP's requirements. Just the replacement tube costs to consider and reliability, though I don't think they are particularly less reliable than any generic Chinese CNC.

JAZZCNC
27-02-2017, 09:30 PM
I think there's a lot to be said for the laser suggestion actually though... available cheap and would do a good job on the OP's requirements. Just the replacement tube costs to consider and reliability, though I don't think they are particularly less reliable than any generic Chinese CNC.

Again not so sure from all the deads ones I've seen. End of the day you get what you pay for and buying cheap comes with risk of unreliabilty. If just hobby use then not so much a big issue but if lively hood or main income revolves around cutting then best avoided.

Zeeflyboy
27-02-2017, 09:36 PM
Again not so sure from all the deads ones I've seen.

I'd have to defer to your experience on that one - I have only limited experience with them but the one I know of in use have been ok so far. Sample size of 1...


End of the day you get what you pay for and buying cheap comes with risk of unreliabilty. If just hobby use then not so much a big issue but if lively hood or main income revolves around cutting then best avoided.

Can't disagree with that, but then again you could go through a lot of chinese lasers before you reach the price of an epilog or similar.

I don't get the impression that this is a livelihood, rather a side line - but I may be wrong! I do agree that if it's a question of livelihood then the equation changes dramatically as time spent sorting out issues is time spent not earning.

Boyan Silyavski
28-02-2017, 08:33 AM
Show me a working Chinese laser cutter / one that is not owned by super genius that hacked all of it/?? Cheap Chinese lasers are Trouble. Now if you find a company that gives UK or EU warranty and support for the machines, which offer upgrade of tubes and so on, then Yes.

Just look forum questions about lasers and the desperation of people. I have wanted a laser cutter from long time but my brain tells me to buy when i can afford a good one.

Doddy
28-02-2017, 08:41 PM
Show me a working Chinese laser cutter


I could show you mine. Okay, I re-routed the air feed into an energy chain, and added two perpendicular laser line generators to form a cross-hair, and removed the sprung loaded carrier, but other than that it's stock, and still working (at least the last time I checked).

It may be a crap, but it was eminently affordable and I've had it a couple of years now, cut quite a few things (but really need to get it back out of the attic and into the shed... once the missus gets rid of her car hard-top)



Just look forum questions about lasers and the desperation of people.

The problem on forums is you get a lot of people seeking to resolve problems - rarely extolling the virtues.

OP: Google "Laser Cut Basswood" for some pretty nice examples. If I had my laser easily accessible I'd offer to cut you a few test pieces.

Boyan Silyavski
28-02-2017, 09:39 PM
I have seen even personally a working one :beer:, but from what i have read many people had to clean and adjust optics, or exchange, etc. So its not a "straight out of the box" solution. I am not talking about more expensive Chinese machines. My wifes company bought one which as far as i know is working fine, cutting 2mm inox, though price is not same as you can imagine .