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  1. #1
    Hello All,

    Does anyone have any suggestions for a beginner machine for someone with no cnc experience and not much space.

    Id like to be able to make keyboard cases and wristrests, cablecombs and other stuff out of wood and aluminium.

  2. #2
    jepho's Avatar
    Lives in Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom. Last Activity: 15 Hours Ago Has been a member for 0-1 years. Has a total post count of 4. Received thanks 1 times, giving thanks to others 0 times.
    It is not possible to get a machine to do everything when you first start because your needs will change as your knowledge, skills and experience grows. There is a definite learning curve to CNC machining and you will probably buy more than one machine if you follow a coherent learning pathway. Space is going to be one of the major limitations and this relates to the footprint of the machine you choose. Allow for the space that the machine occupies in X, Y and Z dimensions and if you can find the room for the space all around the machine, you will find and additional space to put tools, bits and workpieces will be helpful. My current machine can mill a workpiece 400 x 400 x 95mm and if I had positioned it differently, I could potentially mill 400 x 1000mm because I can slide some workpieces under my Y rails.

    I only have a small working space for my tools so I fixed my machine in a corner of a 2438 x 1828mm x 2133mm work area. It also contains a work bench, bandsaw, belt sander and pillar drill. I have started the process of changing it to 3658 x 2438 x 2286mm. This is because I want a larger work envelope and my intended machine provides 679 x 1044 x 194 mm. The machine footprint is 913 x 1226 x 646mm and it will have a machine working tolerance of 0.03mm. My pathway here was 4 years with a 3018 (DOA), Snapmaker 1 (very small work envelope 125 x 125 x 50mm) Shapeoko SO3 to Stepcraft M1000. I learned a few things on the Snapmaker and the SO3 Shapeoko had me making some great projects and learning the rudiments of CNC machining. I am now ready to step up after improving my machining techniques and working to a tolerance of 0.03mm on metal.

    You must consider the software you will need to control the machine movement, the software in which you will design your workpieces and the post processing software that will turn those designs into a language that the machine will understand. The operating system of your computer may require some changes too. I am a Mac user and that limits the availability of software so I use a Mac laptop running Windows 10 professional and I talk to it from my home using a Mac running Windows RDP. Just running Windows machine would be far easier but I have used a Mac since system 7. Some design software may also be necessary and I use Affinity Designer for some work but freely available Inkscape will do what you need in that respect.

    The working space limitations are an important consideration and can be addressed partially by having a mobile table with your machine on it. Dust recovery and collection is vital because the amount of dust produced in a CNC machining operation will affect t your breathing both short and long term. An effective mask and hearing protection are necessary to all CNC working environments. Safe working practices should include an emergency stop button within easy reach. Cutting hardwoods should be relatively easy and try to avoid soft high dust producing materials like MDF or OSB. Plastics like acrylics require special cutters which are often described as 0 flute. Metals require special cutters and a small machine (unless it is industrial) is unlikely to machine to fine tolerances required for good fit. I modified my SO3 with a bed and work holding system that will let me mill metal to 0.03mm.

    There is a huge amount of information on YouTube that will get you started. Select a machine you can accommodate and a mill or trim router and a few simple cutters and get working. The more you do the more you will learn. Expect to spend a few months learning how to operate your machine and then a few months learning how to improve what you have made. In a couple of years you will be at a happy place where you can decide what to make, plan it and the machine will produce it.

    TLDR: Try and look at all in one machines that are self-contained and will get you started easily. Something like the mini machines from Trend may be a good route to go if you can swallow the purchase price. https://www.trend-uk.com/products/cn...-mini-machines or the Carbide Nomad https://carbide3d.com/nomad/ Good luck.

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