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  1. #1
    How plausible is it to make a machine better than a chinese 6040 for a beginner? At around the same budget. Not including my time..


    My CNC 6040 is taking an age to arrive and the seller has been messing me about with incorrect tracking numbers and generally being useless..


    So now I can't get the thought out of my head of wanting to cancel the order and build a better machine myself. Rather than ordering it again from someone else on ebay.


    However, at this stage, is it out of my reach do you think? With a budget of 1k (not including electronics)


    My main usage would be 3mm aluminium & PCBs.. Work dimensions around the 600mm x 400mm mark. Machine size no bigger than 900mm x 670mm.
    Speed isn't a huge concern for me as it's mostly prototyping and one off projects rather than long production runs.


    If my budget is too tight, then I'd rather spend it all on the mechanical stuff and use a cheap spindle to just engrave the marks, which I'll then cut by hand.. and then I can upgrade to a better spindle in the future..


    And I think I know the answer, but I'll ask anyway.. is there any way at all, I could build a machine that could cut stainless steel 1.5mm say.. ? Or any type of steel?


    Any guidance greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by d4cnc View Post
    How plausible is it to make a machine better than a chinese 6040 for a beginner? At around the same budget. Not including my time..
    Yes it's plausible without electrics to build a router style machine but will depend on your skills and how tooled up you are. You'll also need to spend wisely.

    Steel is by far the cheapest option but requires more skills,tools and time to get accurecy.

    Regards cutting steels then it's mostly down to the spindle speed and strength of machine. Forget router style spindles for steel work they are just too fast. Also Router style moving Gantry is in general without massive over engineering too weak for steels so best going with fixed gantry style machine.
    This comes with cost of machine size and in general Fixed gantrys are often used with smaller cutting area.

    But in all honesty you should forget cutting steels and woods with same machine has it's much more difficult to cut both correctly and certainly not do-able with 1k.

    If you build a Strong router style machine you will however be able to scratch steel away but it won't be cutting really and take much longer and more stressful on machine and tooling than it's often worth.!

  3. #3
    When you say steel requires more skills etc.. you mean the frame of the machine? Or everything?


    I wouldn't be able to get it right with a mitre saw, a little welding & filing I presume?
    Would I need to outsource to a metal worker to cut and weld for me? Or is trusting that to a stranger not good enough perhaps.. Is the problem not so much the cutting but the aligning everything square and level?


    Or are the big problems after the basic frame is built? attachments for motors/spindle etc. etc.

    If I change my goals somewhat to just building the strongest most rigid frame I can for 1k..
    Using moving gantry as space is at a premium.
    Last edited by d4cnc; 04-11-2015 at 07:24 PM.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by d4cnc View Post
    When you say steel requires more skills etc.. you mean the frame of the machine? Or everything?


    I wouldn't be able to get it right with a mitre saw, a little welding & filing I presume?
    Would I need to outsource to a metal worker to cut and weld for me? Or is trusting that to a stranger not good enough perhaps.. Is the problem not so much the cutting but the aligning everything square and level?
    By skills I meant the skills to use the tools you have. Just because someone has the correct or best tools doesn't mean they can use them better than a skilled man with basic hand tools.!! . . . . IME Often they can't.

    I can't answer your question whether you could get it right with basic tools has I don't know your skill level.? Only you know that.

    What I'm saying is that to build a machine that is accurate, and lets face it whats the point if not, or strong enough to cut steels CORRECTLY needs certain amount of skills/tools and abilty. This is in both construction and fine setup has they go hand in hand.

    My experience with out sourcing steel work is that while often they are very fine welders or fabricators they don't fully get what your trying to achieve when it comes to a CNC frame so they will weld it like any other structure unless instructed otherwise. While strong this often leads to higher distortion of metal and more work for you down the line when trying to get level or planer surfaces.

    If you do the welding your self you fully control the heat and to some degree the distortion of the frame so saving or lowering work.
    It's wrongly assumed that you need perfect looking runs of weld beads and the frame needs the bejesus welding out of it for strength. It's perfectly possible to build a nice strong frame if you have never welded before with just a little practice.
    Grinder is your best friend when welding skills are low and resemble pigeon shit.! The fact that heat needs to be kept to a minimum is also an advantage to inexperienced welder because all you need is short welds or lots of tack welds spread heat out over time.

    If you cock up whip off the welds with the grinder and start again.!!

    The accurecy is partly down to how you approach the build and what tools/machines you have available. I won't blow smoke up your jacksy and say it's easy because without machines and know how to use them it's not easy achieving accurecy required for good machine. Strength comes from design and materials along with Fab skills but no point having one without the other so you need to either account for this and get the machinery and skills to use it or again out source. Which doesn't sit well with a low budget.!!

    Cutting hard materials really and quickly shows any weak spots on a machine and why I say cutting metals requires whole different approach and to some degree skill set. Do-able yes and has been done many times, easy NO NOT AT ALL.!!!

    Routers cutting softer materials are much more forgiving with higher tolerence for error or lower skills of the builder.!! . . . . Hell even I can build a good one so anybody can. . Lol

    With only 1k forget steels is my advise.!

  5. #5
    Ah well skillwise I'm very basic.. but with a mountain of patience.. so that normally gets me out of trouble.. However I've never built anything that needed μm of precision before and think I'd struggle sqauring and aligning everything.


    So my pipe dream of building a machine strong enough that someday I can change the spindle, add a flood system and be able to cut 1.5mm steel is not happening you think?


    If that's the case, I wonder if I'd be better buying a 6040 (from a different seller) for my first machine and as you say, forget steel. Just wondering if there's any advantage to me trying to better a machine that seems to be capable of doing everything I need as is. (3mm aluminium & PCBs) Apart from the fact I'd absolutely love doing it.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by d4cnc View Post
    So my pipe dream of building a machine strong enough that someday I can change the spindle, add a flood system and be able to cut 1.5mm steel is not happening you think?
    No not at all and like I say it's very do-able but not for 1k.!


    Quote Originally Posted by d4cnc View Post
    Just wondering if there's any advantage to me trying to better a machine that seems to be capable of doing everything I need as is. (3mm aluminium & PCBs) Apart from the fact I'd absolutely love doing it.
    Yes because while they may well do it that doesn't mean they do it well.!! . . . . They are very easily bettered by just using a different design or even similair design just done better and use higher spec components which you can just about do with 1K(no electrics as per your first post)

    If your just wanting a cheap entry level machine to learn with then I'd say buy the cheapest chinese machine you can find and run it until you pops.!! Don't waste a penny on trying to improve it. This is were they shine IMO has a learning machine so long has it's realised can't make silk purse out of sows ear and don't waste penny tring to do so.

    Then build your own machine when you have a much better idea of what you require and have saved up some funds for your dream machine.!

  7. #7
    Ah I see.. I had in my mind that I could plan out a machine that one day could be upgraded bit by bit to a machine that could cut stainless.. Basically, building as much as my 1k would take me.. to get a working machine for my needs now. But with an upgrade path.


    In my mind I was thinking that I could do the basic structure of the machine say.. without the really good quality bearings/spindle/holder/motors.. but that can easily be exchanged down the line.
    However, is this flawed thinking? ie. is the needs for PCB (accuracy), stainless (strength), wood / aluminium (speed?) just too different that switching between the materials is not feasable.


    How much more than 1k would I need to say, get me the strong steel frame/rails.. but with basic motors/spindles etc for cutting aluminium at the moment..


    The plan B of learning on the 6040 is definitely something I'm leaning towards, but thought I'd just sound out the idea of building the dream machine right of the bat.. !

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by d4cnc View Post
    In my mind I was thinking that I could do the basic structure of the machine say.. without the really good quality bearings/spindle/holder/motors.. but that can easily be exchanged down the line.
    Unfortunatly Not.!! . . . . Like any good high quality structure it all starts at the foundation. Start off with the wrong design or build with the wrong or lower quality building blocks is just a recipey for disaster or expensive future upgrades. Often with CNC machine this isn't viable has the work involved is more than starting over again.
    Much better to aim lower and build the best structure with what you have available now, making it the best it can be. Then Use it and make small improvements along the way. When it becomes no longer full filling your needs or limiting you then sell it on and build another with the knowledge you learnt from the first.
    Many many first time builders have failed by aiming too high but equally many many builders have gone on to build great machines by aiming low and then working up.!! . . . It's easy to turn 1k into 3k then into 6k etc but it's just has easy to turn it into rotting pile of scrap thrown in the corner so aim low and work up.

  9. #9
    Ok.. so at this stage then I think I'm better off going with the 6040 (if I can ever get my hands on one) and learning.. then when I have a better understanding of things, go and build something more sturdy..
    Thanks for the words of experience!

  10. #10
    If you get a 6040 make sure you get a good one , I got one 8 months back and Ive had nothing but problems , bearing holder on x axis was machined not square and there was so much slop in the bearings it was rediculous after shiming x axis and replacing bearings in y with good jap bearings I cut few things out of plywood and now there is play in z, I've had to replace all wiring to motors and get new driver to get motion reliable , I would not go down the same route again , the holes that are drilled in the parts are huge and when measuring look like they have been done with a hand drill

    i can say it's made me learn something but prolly mostly how not to do something, maybe I got a bad one but who knows

    before going with a router I've made a few scratch build 3d printers for myself and friends that work fantastic and am a good modeller , I just lacked the machines to do the job right so started with 6040 , the structure you get with a 6040 is only very basic and could be recreated with getting 4 pieces of 20mm alloy machined by somebody else and some lengths of extrusion

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