1. #1
    Hello, I'm hoping for some help to find a reliable entry level CNC for milling logos into plywood.

    We run a small business making furniture dollies, and currently outsource our customer logo engraving, but this is expensive and we want to take the production (and skills) in house. I should add that I have no experience of CNC technology.

    As our plywood boards are maximum 60cm square, I think I am right in understanding we would need a 60/90 work area. The logos we engrave are only required to be 1-2mm deep, so I am looking for a desktop solution that is reliable, yet as inexpensive as possible.

    Can the experts here point me in the right direction for which type of machine I need, and some rough approximation of cost?

    Kind regards
    Greg

  2. #2
    As no-one else has chipped in, I'll try and help as much as my limited knowledge allows. Regarding work area, you need to read machine specs carefully to find out exactly what the usable cutting area is - some machines seem to get the numbers in their name from something like the total bed size, not the usable cutting area . As most tend to be longer than they are wide it's likely that you'll end up with something like a "60/90" to be able to work at 60 x 60 cm, but it's not definite, there are some machines with a squarer aspect ratio, and some much longer. The only machine I have personal experience of in this size range is an Isel that a good friend of mine in Scotland runs, it's proven to be an excellent bit of kit over a number of years, but wasn't cheap, about 11K IIRC. General comment is to avoid the cheap Chinese things you see all over eBay for 2500 ish, they're poorly designed and often need a lot of fettling to get them to work accurately. Before I decided to embark upon making my own machine, a couple of the outfits I briefly looked at were Rhonmac in Wales and then Stoney CNC who are agents for a number of brands, though I didn't get to actually try out machines from either.
    Last edited by Voicecoil; 1 Week Ago at 02:37 PM.

  3. #3
    Hi Greg

    Sorry you are not getting many replies but most members on here build there own and a fair number of the threads are relating to build and design queries. The other common set of threads relate to converting milling machines into CNC control.

    There have been a few people starting out looking at commercial offerings but then realising you can build a very nice machine for less than buying a ready made machine - but you need to invest time and that might not be something you have if you are running a business.

    Hope someone has some commercial machine experience and can add some more to Voicecoils starter for ten. I agree with the machines he listed as looking into further and would repeat the advice of asking about the actual cutting area.
    Building a CNC machine to make a better one since 2010 . . .
    MK1 (1st photo), MK2, MK3, MK4

  4. #4
    Neale's Avatar
    Lives in Plymouth, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 6 Hours Ago Has been a member for 5-6 years. Has a total post count of 1,193. Received thanks 221 times, giving thanks to others 5 times.
    Friend of mine runs a small business making noticeboards and suchlike, and wanted to be able to engrave writing and logos in-house. He bought a 6090 size machine from Acctek a couple of years ago for about 3K, including shipping. It's a bit rough round the edges and needed a day or two to set up but has been running pretty well for his needs. He spent quite a lot of time talking to them via Skype to agree the detailed spec. I doubt if you could buy a new ready-to-run machine for much less, at least one that will stand up to light commercial use. There is always a bit of uncertainty in buying from China but it all worked ok in this case. As already mentioned, there are other possible lower-risk and maybe better quality machines available - but at a price.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Voicecoil View Post
    As no-one else has chipped in, I'll try and help as much as my limited knowledge allows. Regarding work area, you need to read machine specs carefully to find out exactly what the usable cutting area is - some machines seem to get the numbers in their name from something like the total bed size, not the usable cutting area . As most tend to be longer than they are wide it's likely that you'll end up with something like a "60/90" to be able to work at 60 x 60 cm, but it's not definite, there are some machines with a squarer aspect ratio, and some much longer. The only machine I have personal experience of in this size range is an Isel that a good friend of mine in Scotland runs, it's proven to be an excellent bit of kit over a number of years, but wasn't cheap, about 11K IIRC. General comment is to avoid the cheap Chinese things you see all over eBay for 2500 ish, they're poorly designed and often need a lot of fettling to get them to work accurately. Before I decided to embark upon making my own machine, a couple of the outfits I briefly looked at were Rhonmac in Wales and then Stoney CNC who are agents for a number of brands, though I didn't get to actually try out machines from either.
    Thanks Voicecoil, that is a very useful pointer, much appreciated. I have of course been seduced by seeing various videos of folk building sub 2k Chinese machines, but suspect possible product endorsement incentives. I'll look into Rhonmac and Stoney CNC, thanks for the steer.

    Kicking myself that I missed the Woodworking show at the NEC in October......

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by routercnc View Post
    Hi Greg

    Sorry you are not getting many replies but most members on here build there own and a fair number of the threads are relating to build and design queries. The other common set of threads relate to converting milling machines into CNC control.

    There have been a few people starting out looking at commercial offerings but then realising you can build a very nice machine for less than buying a ready made machine - but you need to invest time and that might not be something you have if you are running a business.

    Hope someone has some commercial machine experience and can add some more to Voicecoils starter for ten. I agree with the machines he listed as looking into further and would repeat the advice of asking about the actual cutting area.
    Thanks RouterCNC, you are spot-on, to the power of five, in that is how many other businesses I manage! Also, I wasn't in the Meccano Club at school, and haven't been a natural student of computing over the decades, so the prospect of building my own CNC router, whilst appealing as a challenge, isn't really a starter at the moment.

    Also, useful advice about the working area, something I hadn't appreciated. Many thanks for your reply.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Neale View Post
    Friend of mine runs a small business making noticeboards and suchlike, and wanted to be able to engrave writing and logos in-house. He bought a 6090 size machine from Acctek a couple of years ago for about 3K, including shipping. It's a bit rough round the edges and needed a day or two to set up but has been running pretty well for his needs. He spent quite a lot of time talking to them via Skype to agree the detailed spec. I doubt if you could buy a new ready-to-run machine for much less, at least one that will stand up to light commercial use. There is always a bit of uncertainty in buying from China but it all worked ok in this case. As already mentioned, there are other possible lower-risk and maybe better quality machines available - but at a price.

    Thanks Neale, we do a fair bit of business in China over all the businesses, so have agents who can help with the occasional language difficulties. Thanks for the steer to Acctek, I'll have a good look at their offering.

    Again, many thanks for your reply, much appreciated.

  8. #8
    You have obviously got a job for a machine to do and are doing the right thing in seeking advice.In addition to buying the machine,you will have to learn the software to generate the program or delegate this part of the process.You really need to be doing the same sort of research in this respect as it will be immensely frustrating to have a new shiny machine sitting there doing nothing.

    Do you have a suitable area for the machine to occupy?They do make a bit of a mess and noise, even more so if they use a vacuum pump to hold the job in place.To the extent that a phone call will be extremely difficult.Best of luck with whatever you decide.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by routerdriver View Post
    You have obviously got a job for a machine to do and are doing the right thing in seeking advice.In addition to buying the machine,you will have to learn the software to generate the program or delegate this part of the process.You really need to be doing the same sort of research in this respect as it will be immensely frustrating to have a new shiny machine sitting there doing nothing.

    Do you have a suitable area for the machine to occupy?They do make a bit of a mess and noise, even more so if they use a vacuum pump to hold the job in place.To the extent that a phone call will be extremely difficult.Best of luck with whatever you decide.
    Thank you, Routerdriver. The software is equally bothersome, as I understand this area can vary in expense and efficiency almost as much as the machine it drives. So I will be devoting a lot of attention in this area.

    Work area, noise and mess are already well covered! We produce over three tonnes of sawdust every year and the factory is ear-defender central! Most of the work surfaces are dedicated, so I will build a bespoke work area for the CNC once we decide which type and what its particular requirements are.

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