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  1. #1

    I've just joined the forum after trawling it for weeks along with other forums and have now got all the information I can without asking specific questions so can I get a bit of help please.

    im basically looking for a CNC mill for machining stainless steel. I'm only looking for a work area of 60 x 60 x 10 (it's for machining watch case prototypes) I'm looking for it to be fairly accurate (0.05) and I'm not too concerned how long the parts take to machine.

    I've looked into lots of mini mills and ways to convert them but wondered what others thought. I only have about 1000 budget at most and that would include the conversion.
    I've seen lots of ways to convert machines and make improvements but was hoping it wouldn't be too necessary to make big changes for a small work area as the main reason for the machine is to work on other things.

    any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    kind regards,


  2. #2
    Hi Chris and welcome to the party!

    Ask as many questions as you have and I'm sure you'll get what you need, use the forum search first as the same questions may have been asked already, if you need clarification on an older topic/discussion don't be afraid to revive the said thread, we're here to help at the end of the day. That being said, new content is always a good thing, if your inclined to start your own, feel free and good luck

    Last edited by Lee Roberts; 20-10-2015 at 08:57 PM.

  3. #3
    Hi Lee,

    Thanks for the welcome message. I have actually trawled through the threads for weeks now and haven't found the exact thing I'm asking. I guess I'm looking for someone to point me in the right direction.

    kind regards


  4. #4
    Hi Chris,

    My initial reaction is that your budget is very low for a machine capable of accurately machining stainless steel. I have doubts that the smallest CNC column type machine, would have the virtues you seek, and that is at least 2.5k. I would think your best bet is to look for a good second hand machine, possibly one that sat in a school doing nothing until they decided that they had to get rid and buy new.



  5. #5
    Hi chris,

    Do you want to Mill or engrave Stainless.? One is much harder to achieve than the other. Unfortuantly Stainless is a very unforgiving material and if the machine isn't upto the task you'll be very disapointed with the results.
    Like Rob says 1k isn't really enough money if your wanting to buy a ready built machine and even if converting you'll struggle unless you can find a really cheap base machine to start with.

    In my experience low budgets just lead to disapointment and actully end up costing you lot more in the end thru lost time,material,tooling etc and thats without losing out on the actual machine it's self when you throw it out the window in frustration.!!

    My advise would be hold off save some money, at same time keep watching for the Odd bargain to pop up because some times they do. Then when your budget is more health look again and buy or Convert something that will do the job good.

    Edit: Also if your not space limited then look towards some of the Older larger Mills to convert has they often come up much cheaper than Mini mills and will easily handle Stainless. Think on a Large Mill can still cut small parts and lots of them at same time with a good fixture Jig.??
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 21-10-2015 at 08:57 AM.

  6. #6
    Last edited by mekanik; 21-10-2015 at 09:49 AM.

  7. #7
    Hi jazzcnc,

    thabks for the reply. I had figures as much. I was hoping that as its a small area I want to mill it may be easier. I had looked into some mini mills (manual) to convert to CNC. What's your thoughts on doing that. Do people get good results generally with converted machines? I just don't want to have to spend the next month converting a machine. I have seen some of the mini mills (x1 and x2) have conversion kits or quite a bit of information on conversions. Are these any good in your opinion?

    Im otherwise going to have to wait as you say.

    Hi mekanik,

    I saw saw these machines. I looked at their specs and don't think they'd be capable but again I may be wrong. I've seen people (youtubers) milling steel on these types of machines with low speeds, high feeds. In all honesty if not be putting much through it. It's for some prototyping and concept testing really.

    thanks again,


  8. #8
    Good trawl of eBay, just watch the prices fly up in the last few minutes of the auction.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by chrisjames View Post
    I had figures as much. I was hoping that as its a small area I want to mill it may be easier.
    5mm or 5000mm in size cutting is the same. The grade of material determines how easy or hard to machine and the cutting machine needs to be up to the task. Stainless is hard and fussy regards heat making it very intolerant of being cut wrong. Like wise the hardness really taxes the machine so if it's weak then surface finish and tool life will suffer.
    Weak machine and cutting wrong will soon have you pulling your air out has the cutters ping and snap like carrots has the Stainless work hardens.!!! . . . . In which case you'll then need explosives to shift material.!!

    Any of those little mills will handle Stainless to some degree but you have to realise they are limited in there abiltys so need to be run accordingly. Feed rates and DOC will be painfully slow milling stainless so if these matter then not really the right tool.
    If your wanting high accurecy and high quality finish with any kind of decent feed rate then they will struggle.

    Re- converting then again same applies regards limitations. It also depends to what degree the conversion is done.? Some kits just provide motor mounts etc and use the existing Lead screws which to me is doing half the job.
    Proper CNC conversion really needs Ballscrews but this does bump up the price and time/work involved but really is the only way to do it IMO.
    This is why you will struggle with only 1K to do a good conversion by the time you have bought the mill. The base machine is key.? No point buying a flimsy machine just because it's cheap. Can't make a silk purse out of sows ear.!!
    You need the right base machine then go from there with converting to high standard and you stand half a chance. Personaly I don't think you can do it with 1K unless you drop on a really cheap machine that is upto the task in strength terms.

    MHO is if converting then to forget these Mini mills like x1 x2 if at all possible and look for something robust and convert that. Like these RF45 clone square coloumn type mills often see converted. They are much more upto the job and won't cost much more if you look around and buy wisely.

  10. #10
    I'm agreeing with Jazz again, another huge disruption in the force

    If it is prototypes I would suggest you cut them in compo brass and electro-nickel plate them.

    Looks like stainless cuts like a dream

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