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  1. #1
    I need a decent Cnc machine to cut my letters I just needs basic letters cut and don't have a ton to spend on a machine i just need some good feedback I know everyone has something bad to say I need to hear something useful and also need to know what type of software is needed as well as computer thank you in advance.

  2. #2
    Afraid it strikes me that you're simply refusing to hear what people are trying to tell you!
    And opening multiple threads on the same topic in the hope that somebody will eventually say what you would like them to say will probably also will not work, other than really pee people off!
    Maybe you can find a website whose membership is comprised solely of adoring 3040 fans?
    Btw, we tend to be blunt and to the point down here on the other side of the world.

  3. #3
    Doddy's Avatar
    Lives in Preston, United Kingdom. Current Activity: Viewing NEW MEMBER: Instrument maker Has been a member for 2-3 years. Has a total post count of 62. Received thanks 3 times, giving thanks to others 3 times.

    As AndyGuid says - there's a lot of blunt responses here - it's nothing personal, it just seems to be the nature of the beast that is a machinist, that they'll say it as-it-is.

    BUT, read what they say - there's an awful lot of experience here. For what it's worth, I came here after buying a second-hand Marchant Dice router (similar to a 3040, but UK build). I got much the same response from the forum as you are getting trying to discuss 3040s. After a year, I gave up the MD crap and had to admit that they were right all along, and I had thrown good money after bad trying to get it to do what I wanted (one goal - isolation routing of PCBs - that's taking 35 micron (sorry, US speak = 1.5 mils) of copper off fibreglass substrate - the machine wasn't stiff enough, and had too much backlash to do even that).

    That experience, between purchase price, tangible cost to modify (ignoring time, wasted material, broken cutters) and resale price probably lost me 500 ($700?). The less tangible costs were a year of frustration, confusion and grey hair. As a hobbyist, that I can afford. As a business, could you?

    I ended up replacing that with a 30 year old Denford StarMill, pre-converted to Mach3 (the CNC control software). That's taken some time and money to get to where I want it, and there are very real limitations with it, but it's a known entity for me know, and I'm confident with what I can and can't do with it - which is half the battle.

    That cost me 500/$700, which probably was usable out-of-the-box.

    I'm not suggesting that this is the best route, but you should at least consider it - you'll get an awful lot more machine for your money than buying new, and there's likely people here that could comment on a machine before you commit (although, over the pond, you tend to have an awful lot of US-build machines that rarely travel over here). If you can find one that's already converted to Mach 3 (or EMC2) then you'd have something that you could get up and running with a wide range of software fairly easily. Another way of looking at it, with your limited budget you're not likely to find a suitable solution buying new.

    You probably need to consider the whole tool-chain if you're looking to start up. If you was to go down the second-hand market then you might find that you can tick off a few items with your purchase at once. This was the most confusing bit for me when I was first in the market - understanding all the items that you need between an idea, and a lump of machined material. I'm not trying to teach you to suck eggs, but it might be worthwhile understanding each element that when you look at an advert you can understand what you're getting, and what you're missing.

    * Cutting tools - end mills, etc. There's a view that a rough rule of thumb that half your start-up costs could be expected to be eaten by cutters. I think that's perhaps a bit excessive, but don't underestimate your tooling costs.
    * Clamps - simple things - that can cost a lot of money. With your application you might be able to fabricate something yourself, or bolt directly to the machine bed. Think about what you need.
    * Tool holders - How are the cutting/engraving tools fixed to the spindle? Will you have to go out and buy a bunch of tool holders and at what cost?
    * Machine - CNC Mill, or CNC router (the former, the spindle is in a fixed position and tends to be a stiffer design, the latter tends to support a larger cutting area).
    * Spindle Controller - often part of the Control Hardware (below) - can be as simple as an on/off switch or relay, through to a 3-phase speed controller. Used to control, obviously, when the spindle is running/cutting.
    * Control Hardware - normally you'd expect a solution with 3-axis stepper drivers, integrated with a Break-Out Board (BOB). The former convert the logic-level signals to high voltage/high current drive signals for the stepper motors on the machine, the latter interfaces the host computer to the control hardware - often via a Parallel port (your computer has one?) or increasingly common via USB or Ethernet (those options being in ascending order of desirability... and cost). Oh, and there should be a hefty power supply in amongst that lot.
    * (Optional) Motion Controller - alternative to the BOB, typically provides greater capability (in terms of number of I/O pins), and provides localised intelligent control over the signalling to the steppers - it moves some of the real-time timing overhead from the host computer to dedicated hardware in the control hardware - nice to have, but not essential!
    * Interface to the host computer - depends on the BOB/Motion Controller. Most entry level systems use the standard 25-pin parallel port. These are increasingly rare with new-build computers, and USB/Parallel adapters would rarely work. If your BOB is USB or Ethernet, you might find support for this more readily available with modern computers.
    * Host Computer - for EMC2 or MACH3 (see below) there's nothing particularly arduous required here - any half-modern computer should be able to support the requirements for EMC2/MACH3 reasonably easily. Worth considering the O/S requirements...
    * OS - EMC2 requires Linux - free (usually). MACH3 requires Windows XP - not available now. There is information on ArtSoft's website that Vista or 32-bit Win7 is supported - you'd need to Google yourself to understand if that is a viable route for yourself (there's a lot of noise on early integration with Vista that isn't very polite). This choice is driven from your CAM solution, which may be driven from your CAD/design requirement.
    * CNC Control software - I've mentioned EMC2 and MACH3. The former is freely available and has a good reputation, the latter costs $175 and probably has the largest user base and support. This takes the output from the CAM software (below) and translates this to motion information to be transmitted to the BOB/machine.
    * CAM software - Converts your design (e.g. dxf) files into a machine toolpath, this is the part where you specify how a tool will e.g. plunge into the material and cut the outline of your letter. Sometimes integrated into the design software (e.g. Fusion 360), otherwise you'll need to buy a dedicated piece of software. Many options around, one being CAMBAM for windows.
    * Design software. Where you start - designing the object that you're trying to machine. Your needs are very different to mine - I've heard that Vectric is well suited to what you're looking to do but that comes at a hefty price. I typically use software like DraftSite and (as of last night) Fusion 360 - both available for free for private use, but you'll need to check the costs for commercial use.

    Much of the above is available bundled together, but at least with reference to the above you can understand (hopefully, and I'm sure someone else will correct the list if I've got it wrong) all of the elements that you need to consider when you're costing how much CNC is going to cost you.

    Personally, in your situation, I'd now evaluation honestly your requirements - start with your working platform size, your budget, and I'd be looking at used machines on eBay.
    Last edited by Doddy; 02-04-2016 at 08:00 AM. Reason: (grammar)

  4. #4
    thanks Doddy that's the feed back I have been looking for I admit yes it sucks to hear what you guys have to say about a machine I just knew should work, but wont but what was worse than that is no one gave a solution until now so thank you for details and not just saying pay more or build one because if I could do either I wouldn't be here.

  5. #5
    Doddy's Avatar
    Lives in Preston, United Kingdom. Current Activity: Viewing NEW MEMBER: Instrument maker Has been a member for 2-3 years. Has a total post count of 62. Received thanks 3 times, giving thanks to others 3 times.

    I think I saw one of your threads where you mentioned others in your field (your supplier?) has a similar machine to what you're looking at. Why not try to have an open and honest conversation with them to understand how their experience has been, what modifications they've made and why. Obviously they may not want that conversation but if you don't ask...

    It may be that the limits of the machine are tolerable for you - if this same machine is used for the same application then logically you might be able to get the same results, but I, for one, would try to get the experience of those that successfully use them, before parting with a sizeable lump of cash and a time sink. But, please understand that these machines have a significant lack of strength/rigidity, your results will be variable.
    Last edited by Doddy; 02-04-2016 at 08:00 PM.

  6. #6
    Doddy's Avatar
    Lives in Preston, United Kingdom. Current Activity: Viewing NEW MEMBER: Instrument maker Has been a member for 2-3 years. Has a total post count of 62. Received thanks 3 times, giving thanks to others 3 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by theceo View Post
    if I could do either I wouldn't be here.
    I'd come back here even if I could do both. Never underestimate the value of experience.

  7. #7
    I did reach out to them, but the tech only knew so much about the machine that was being used or she just didn't want to tell me but I can go back and see if I can get someone else who may know or tell me more.

  8. #8
    As we said in another thread. If you are cutting wood, you are proably lookng to get some good detail in the corners. The only fast way to do this is by getting a laser cutter.

    Here is a sign I cut the letters for on my Chinese 50W laser. The sharp corners would have taken an absolute age to get right on an industrial router never mind a 3040 with a shitty DC spindle.

    A 50W laser wil cut through 1/4" ply ok. 1/8" it will cut with speed. If you go to 80W you are in proper business and in fact I am looking at getting one myself. The wood in the photo is 3 layers of 1/4" ply.

    Last edited by komatias; 02-04-2016 at 08:45 PM.
    Stocking more goodies than just Smoothsteppers

  9. #9
    Ok you got me that looks great, so what's the cost of the 50w laser cutter

  10. #10
    Take your pick. Also have a look on the Facebook for the group "Laser engraving and cutting"

    Assuming you are in the USA:
    Last edited by komatias; 02-04-2016 at 09:10 PM.
    Stocking more goodies than just Smoothsteppers

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