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  1. #1
    Hello folks,I am posting on behalf of my wife.

    she has recently started up a wooden craft/letter company hand painting etc.. Thickest wood being 18mm most popular height 400mm x 300mm.

    I am the one suggesting she buys a machine thus I am the one to do the research.

    budget say 500 maybe? I know I'm expecting a lot possibly?

    basically I want all the info I can get.

    software cost?
    also when buying a machine surely the router is included?



  2. #2
    Hi Aaron,

    Welcome to the Forum!! For 500 all you're going to get is a Chinese 3020 from eBay which has an area of 300mm x 200mm. It will cut wood 18mm deep but taking lots of light cuts as it uses unsupported rails which flex if you try to do too much. If it's a company she's setting up then you'll need a sturdy machine (and I'll bet once you've researched it a larger machine as you'll think of more and more things to cut on it!!) and 500 will not buy you much. As a miniumu for a good solid DIY machine you build for her I'd suggest a minimum of 1500....sorry!

    It's hard to say what software you'll need but as a minimum a program that can take pictures/drawings and convert them to DXF files for cutting, then a cam package to convert the DXF files into machine code. There are free programs out there such as Inkscape (for drawing and exporting as DXF's) and CAD/CAM packages such as Fusion 360. If you're cutting out letters then I'm sure engraving/V carving etc will be on the cards and a program that will do that will also be needed such as Cut 2D, Vetric and the like.

    Have a look on the forum, all these questions have been asked before so the answers are out there, there are loads of build logs you can see what's involved and if you ask and listen then the people on here are really knowledgeable and helpful


  3. #3
    Its about double your budget but I recommend a machine like this:
    Its much more rigid, than any cheap chinese parts. But you must add an easy BOB and make the wiring, because these machines run only with a special SW from Boxford and they don't give it to others than schools. I think the machine is in the range of 200kgs, the chinese machine will have something in the range of 30kgs. And the electronics in the chinese parts is famous for its low quality. Read about the TB6560 quality issues.
    Last edited by uli12us; 28-11-2015 at 12:23 PM.

  4. #4
    Hi Aaron,

    Occasionaly build machines for people and I've built several now for others doing exactly what your wifes doing and I can tell you confidently that 500 won't cover the software you'll need to do this properly and be worth the time.
    Yes there are Free or Cheap software out there but they are either hard to use or Limited or unsuitable in there CAM capabilty's. Often not very Newbie friendly.!!

    The CAM software is what makes turning your ideas into reality and code the machine needs. Think of it has toolbox.?
    Free or Basic Cam packages come with limited tools in the box, better known as tool path types or cutting stratergies. So if limited then it makes achieving your goals harder or impossible. Can also make a huge difference in the time it takes just to produce the code, not to mention actual cutting time.

    Free or Cheap has it's place when first learning but it soon becomes limiting when the Artistic creative juices flow and reality of what these machines can allow kicks in.!! . . . Esp in Arts & Craft enviroment where 3D or V-carving is often desired.

    Unfortunatly reality is that 2000 is more like realistic figure for small/med size machine with everything you'll need if you want to do this properly and be worth the trouble. . . . That figure is also on the low side and if you DIY build.!!

    My strong suggestion is Don't bother unless you can do it properly as you'll only lose time and money which NO business needs. . Esp a new one.!!
    If you need CNC capabilty's then Farm work out untill you can afford or drop across a good suitable machine.
    Last edited by JAZZCNC; 28-11-2015 at 01:47 PM.

  5. #5
    Thanks guys,

    I had looked on ebay at the Chinese 3040 machines, I assume they are not good enough?

    I am not talking major scale here to begin with, the like of this letter? It is 12mm thick by 250mm Click image for larger version. 

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    I dont think at the minute vcarving etc is what she is looking at? Just cutting out this type of font and triangle shapes and hearts etc at 6mm thick.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Arzo10 View Post
    Thanks guys,

    I had looked on ebay at the Chinese 3040 machines, I assume they are not good enough?

    I am not talking major scale here to begin with, the like of this letter? It is 12mm thick by 250mm
    I dont think at the minute vcarving etc is what she is looking at? Just cutting out this type of font and triangle shapes and hearts etc at 6mm thick.
    I get asked this all the time and it's often discussed and argued on Forums. These Chinese Machines IME are GREAT.!! . . . But only for learning the Basics of CNC.
    If you want to do any serious work they quickly become more trouble than they are worth. They are unreliable at best and at the really cheap end very unreliable to the point of breaking within weeks or days if pushed remotely serious.

    The problem comes from several issues all related to there cheapness.! At the Lower price range the Spindle is by far the weakist link and often blows up within weeks due to it's low power and poor quality. This mostly happens because folks try to cut too deep or for too long and it overheats and dies.

    Next is the Main electronics which are basicly low powered junk all-in-one boards which when dead take the whole machine down.
    General wiring is low quality so often cause troubles with strange happenings like false E-stops or missed steps etc and all sorts of other weird head banging happenings

    Then you have the fact the machine isn't actually fast enough to cut most materials correctly. Esp MDF. This means while it does cut these materials it's taking much longer than it should, Is wearing cutters out much quicker and worse still giving a poor finish.

    It gets worse because when trying to cut materials like MDF etc that need higher feedrates the machine is constantly working at it's Max capabiltys 100% of the time which further add's to the problem because the Cheap electronics can't handle this High duty cycle so die even faster.!! . .

    Honestly for anything other than Learning then they are best avoided.

  7. #7
    It might be worth looking at Fusion 360. Its free until you earn over 100K per annum from it. Its very powerful and whilst it doenst do 4th axis CAM yet, it is very powerful (for no money). this is worth a look to show the very basics.

    In this thread Ive just started, the drawings are renders from within Fusion 360.

  8. #8
    Yea. I've started with that and it seems it would be everything i'll ever need.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by amd7000 View Post
    Yea. I've started with that and it seems it would be everything i'll ever need.
    I happened to buy Cambam and its now not being used. Pity, nice product for quick things though but once you get used to Fusion .... dont need much else.

  10. #10
    Neale's Avatar
    Lives in Plymouth, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 18 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.
    I've also been using Fusion 360 but so far, only for the CAD side of it, not CAM. I did want to try it out on a couple of little MDF components that I wanted to cut as profiles (nothing fancy) but I went back to vCarve once I'd produced a DXF file as I couldn't find any way in F360 to automatically generate holding tabs. In vCarve, this is trivially easy and there are plenty of options about how/where/what shape. Maybe this is the difference between an aimed-at-woodworkers and an aimed-at-engineers product? Anyway, it's the silly little kind of thing that might be relevant to the OP, given the kinds of work his wife wants to do.

    Unless anyone can tell us how to easily generate holding tabs in F360? I'd really like to know!

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