The other thing is how much space do you have? Are you looking for something bench-top or a floor mount? Spindles and routers are noisy things so something running for hours on end needs soundproofing or operating away from the home!
Well 100mm (4") diameter rules out the tiny micromills as they have a travel of around 60mm on the Y-axis. As Robin has already intimated the key is rigidity. Aluminium is harder than Perspex, but perspex has its own issues (and any reason why perspex and not an alternative engineering plastic that machines better; I guess transparancy is part of it, but there are other acrylics that machine better).
Cutting from the A4 sheet suggests a working area of 300 x 250mm minimum, a footprint of 500 x 400mm would be possible. 10mm depth of cut isnt an issue if done in multiple passes. Perpex needs a high spindle speed, and high feed rate to ensure its cutting and not rubbing else things melt. Some form of mist coolant is also needed. All these add ££ to the budget -
Router's dont have to be flimsy things (Robin is an old-iron man lol) but its true that getting the rigidity to machine hard stuff to fine tolerances is hard to do - fixed gantry moving table is more rigid but has a smaller work area than a moving gantry design for the same footprint and slide rail/leadscrew sizes.
Machining a PCB is relatively easy on a gantry type router, but very fine lines are best etched so dont be expecting to do PCBs for that all-singing PGBA package but basic through hole or SMT stuff works fine. HAve a browse round the CNC mill videos on YouTube to get an idea of the sort of thing.
Some good devices have been constructed from MDF (£) although the preference would be aluminium extrusion (££+)
A common route is to construct a learning one from MDF and use that to a) gain experience and b) make parts for Mk2
For plans look round the web; JGRO, Solsylva, Buildyourcnc.com, mechmate and rockcliff are typical designs. I cant recommend as I've not used any, but several members here have built to these designs - or more usually used them as a starting point...
I have a 1100 sq ft workshop so space is not a problem. I was thinking floor mounted so it can be setup in a corner and not be moved. I think i agree with you on the PCB so i might have to look into converting an epson printer to printer directly onto the board instead of using the press 'n' peel lazer printer method im using atm.
Thanks for the info Irving i will have a read.
1 more queston does Maplins do any kits for CNC that you know of?
Maplins are a joke! If they did it be a toy at best...
If you have that space and access to a welder I'd consider building a steel subframe to mount it on, giving yourself room to put a soundproofing box around it. You'd probably want to look at the 2' x 2' designs (footprint 1m x 800mm approx) to give room for expansion. You wont get a lot of change out of £1000 and could easily spend more to hit your goal.
If you want a kit for the controllers then Roy's stuff at DIYCNC is quite well thought of, but many would argue that the savings are not enough to warrant it. If you want to buy the PCB and populate them yourself then Phil at pminmo.com has some good PCBs - I would advise you have a good understanding of your needs before purchasing anything... at least have a basic design in mind and some idea of sizing.
Don't be afraid of asking focussed questions... we are always happy to help those who are prepared to do the reading and research for themselves. You can appreciate we get a lot of 'newbies' who just want the answers without the effort. A good many of us here are just weekend hobbyists (like me) but there are others who do it professionally and have experience in spades that is a valuable resource. (they can't help being, with a few notable exceptions, northeners with a strange sense of humour :heehee:)
I'll forget Maplins then lol.
2' x 2' sounds a nice size. I will go through the links and information so far.
Thanks irving i will return.
Received building plans from Rockcliff a few days ago and I have decided on a fixed gantry type CNC made from MDF as my first attempt. Lucky my brother in law has his own woodwork workshop so Im going to get him to cut all the straight lines. I think I will properly build the 24” x 24” machine and should start very soon. I have also noticed you can use these machines as plotters (pen attachment) anyone have any experience with this?
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