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  1. #1
    Hello. I run my own one man band company, I design and make small volumes of electronics or have the boards made out where quantities permit (above 25).

    Most of what I do needs to go into a box of some kind that invariably needs holes cutting. Machinists ans box manufacturers have long lead times and of course want tooling lcharges. So I'm figuring that if I get a small CNC myself I can have the benefit of production quality sam[les and prototypes and small quantities are viable. for example I have a project currently where i need to make 50 and tooling is 95+ VAT yet each box is only 80p to machine and I'd have to wait 7 weeks.

    I have set my eyes on a Proxxon FF 500 / BL-CNC machine which also cmes in a manual version. CNC is 3663 + VAT and the manual one is 1392 + VAT, so they want around 2200 for motors, controller and I guess the biggest cost is software.

    My question is, is this a good starting point ? It seems a reasonable amount of money although that is mighty expensive software.

    Should I consider any other options ? is there open source software worth considering ? (there is some question as to wheather the machine comes with software).

  2. #2
    m_c's Avatar
    Lives in East Lothian, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 17 Hours Ago Forum Superstar, has done so much to help others, they deserve a medal. Has been a member for 9-10 years. Has a total post count of 2,221. Received thanks 245 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    For the 2k, you're getting ball screws (the standard machine will only have acme lead screws), and lots of extra bits that allow motors to be fitted, along with a controller and some form of software.
    Most ready to run CNC mills of this size are pretty expensive, as they're not produced in the same quantities as the manual machines, and there are increased support costs.

    Personally, as you say electrical boxes, I'm assuming plastic/die cast enclosures?
    In which case I'd look at router style machines, as they'll be far more suited, provided they have enough room under the spindle.

    Software to run machines varies from free to expensive, but it all depends on what controller the machine uses. LinuxCNC is open source, and reasonable good. Windows has lots more options. Mach 3 or 4 is one of the more universal options, but there are lots more that are specific to certain machine controllers.

    However you also need to factor in software to generate the required G-code that the machine software accepts, which can range from free to extremely expensive, depending on what you'd like to do.
    Avoiding the rubbish customer service from AluminiumWarehouse since July '13.

  3. #3
    I see, I thought the manual one would be the same and that they just swapped handles for motors but as i said I am a total noob here. Yes I understand the potential value of all the bits and I thought it is a good machine and a good price but as I have not ventured into this sort of thing yet I thought I'd ask.

    Yes I am doing ABS cast boxes. What worries me with a router is the height indeed. The boxes I am currently looking at need machining on the side, they have draft angles so by the time you have one fixed in a vice on the bed and the tool in the machine you sudenly find you need 150mm of working height for a 120mm box. I'm not sure if this too tsll for a router. I'd also like to be flexible for the future. Currently I have a clarke CMD10 but it is painful to use.

  4. #4
    The CAD/CAM learning curve is not one to be underestimated, I bought a desktop CNC mill then spent 18 months before I could reliably produce 4-axis code for it ;-)

    - Nick
    You think that's too expensive? You're not a Model Engineer are you? :D

  5. #5
    Well I would prefer a ready to go solution. if this is what is costs then that is fair enough I just wanted to make sure I was going the right-ish way about it.

  6. #6
    Are you just wanting to drilling holes or wanting to cut out shapes etc. As drilling could be done on a manual mill.
    A picture is worth a thousand words of what you are trying to achieve.
    The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

  7. #7
    Holes and shapes. But even getting holes right on my manual mill is tedeaous because it has no readouts and the backlash is terrible plus my lack of skill. I am looking to do production quantities on this machine to get it to pay for itself along with good fast prototyping.

  8. #8
    There will also be plenty of cutting down of potting boxes, the bigger they get the taller they get and this can become a problem as what I need are more like trays so the only thing I can do it to cut down existing boxes.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by SparkyLabs View Post
    what I need are more like trays so the only thing I can do it to cut down existing boxes.
    That sounds like a job for a bandsaw with a suitable guide to get them within a couple of millimetres and a quick pass with the mill to finish ;-)
    You think that's too expensive? You're not a Model Engineer are you? :D

  10. #10
    Might pay to have a look at one of the blue A3 style laser cutters on Ebay for about 1500

    I used to mill boxes out for the division master style hand held controllers and one case too about 15 minutes with some rejects where the plastic had welded to the cutter and ruined the box.

    I now do these on the laser in about 2 minutes with no rejects
    John S -

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