Aluminum is the most abundant metal on the planet but finding the best aluminum milling CNC machines is like scavenging through a desert for mineral water.
Not to say there aren’t any great aluminum milling CNC machines out there.
Indeed, there are.
But if you are not careful, you might end up getting the wrong product.
Let us explain.
Aluminum is one of the most versatile metals that is used across a range of industries.
Whether we talk about automobile manufacturing or aerospace designing, aluminum’s strength and relatively lower weight make it one of the most used metals in the designing and production industries.
If you are a hobbyist machinist, you know aluminum is pretty great to work with.
It chips easily and is convenient to shape up.
Aluminum is 3x to 4x easier to machine than iron and steel.
That’s probably why most hobbyists machinists tend to work with aluminum.
It allows newbie machinists to hone their machining skills and get started with CNC machining.
But when it comes to CNC machining, the cost adds up.
Whether it is aluminum or steel, CNC machining is a costly endeavor.
Using CNC machines, it takes time, money, and resources to carve something out of a workpiece.
And chiefly because of the cost, the idea of CNC machining gets a bit out of hand for most hobbyist machinists.
But, don’t worry.
We have got you covered.
We are compiling a list of the best CNC mills for aluminum that don’t burn a hole in your pocket.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it:
The SainSmart 3018-PROVer is the most perfect aluminum milling CNC machines.
Succeeding 3018-Pro, the new SainSmart 3018-PROVer is everything a machinist needs from a mill.
Whether you are starting your machining journey or are a veteran in the field, the SainSmart 3018-PROVer won’t disappoint you.
The newer version of 3018-PROVer has improved on several parts, including design, safety features, pre-assembly, and the motherboard.
At a $350 asking price, SainSmart gives you an aluminum-made router that can withstand the test of time and hardships.
Unlike most other CNC mills, this new, robust machine from SainSmart can get up and running in 15 minutes instead of 2 hours.
The PROVer is based on open-based software and comes with its motion control software.
The spindle in the PROVer can go up to the speed of 10,000 RPM with a maximum power of 120W.
You can also upgrade your PROVer with Genmitsu GS-775M 20,000 RPM spindle for better aluminum machining.
There is also an offline controller to control the machine without using a dedicated computer.
The offline controller comes with a 1.8” touch screen, allowing you to control every aspect of the machine in one place.
The PROVer is also easy to move around, thanks to its relatively lower weight of 20lbs.
Cenoz 3018 Pro
The Cenoz 3018 Pro is one of the most complete aluminum milling CNC machines.
If you don’t want to go with the SainSmart 3018 PROVer and are looking for an alternative, the Cenoz 3018 Pro is right up your alley.
Unlike the PROVer, the Cenoz 3018 Pro is an entry-level CNC router.
The build and functionalities of the Cenoz 3018 Pro make it a perfect machine for milling soft and non-ferrous materials.
The router has recently seen an upgrade. Now, it comes with a new control board, the latest GBRL 3 axis control, more power, more precision, an integrated driver chip, and a fixed heat sink.
The machine comes with all the assembly details in the package, which makes the assembly easier. It only takes around 20 minutes to get the machine up and running.
The GBRL three-axis control can run on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Linus, making it convenient for everyone to access this machine.
It also comes with an external controller, allowing you to manually control the three axes without connecting them with a computer and downloading files.
The Cenoz 3018 Pro can perfectly cut through all types of plastic, aluminum, wood, acrylics, PVCs, and PBCs.
The best about this mini router is that it is easy to access and doesn’t have any hyperbolic learning curve.
The Cenoz 3018 Pro is also easily upgradeable.
You can simply add the laser kit module as a drop-in upgrade to the machine.
You can also add a Y-axis extension and expand your work area if you find the work area of the Cenoz 3018 too small.
Not to mention, the Cenoz 3018 Pro also comes with open-source software support and additional training guides and tutorials to get you started.
The Vevor 3020 is one of the most robust aluminum milling CNC machines.
The Vevor 3020 is known for its sturdy structure and powerful machining.
It can easily cut through aluminum, plastic, acrylics, PCBs, PVCs, wood, and other non-ferrous materials.
The machine comes with an aluminum worktable made of industry-standard 6061 aluminum alloy and 6063 aluminum.
Moreover, there is also an aluminum backing plate, which adds up to the robustness of the machine.
Suitable for both enthusiasts and amateurs, the Vevor 3020 offers a well-designed axis, high efficiency, precise control, and superior working area.
The solid build of the machine makes it one of the most efficient CNC machines out there. It cuts through everything you throw at it (as long as it is non-ferrous material) with little to no noise.
If you like your CNC machines with elaborate controls, the Vevor 3020’s controller won’t disappoint you.
It comes with a controller with a built-in transformer, making for a stable power supply throughout the control unit over a long and continuous period.
Each of the axes on the Vevor 3020 is equipped with 57 two-phase stepper motors for more effortless movements.
The stepper motors are also connected by external coupling, helping provide high-torque cutting.
It also comes with a USB flash drive using which you can connect the machine directly to a computer instead of relying on an optical disc drive.
The Shapeoko 4 is one of the most approved aluminum milling CNC machines.
Launched in 2021, the Shapeoko by Carbide 3D is the latest addition to the affordable CNC mill lineup.
It is the successor to the popular Shapeoko 3, which was already an excellent CNC mill to begin with.
If you are looking to machine aluminum with the Shapeoko 4, you will have to go at a slightly slower speed.
However, the machine is a breeze with woods, plastics, PCBs, PVCs, and other softer materials.
The Shapeoko comes in three sizes: Standard, XL, and XXL.
The machine is made of aluminum and is rigid enough to take heavy-duty tasks easily.
Its sturdy build also allows the machine to produce negligible noise and vibration during the machining process.
There is one caveat to the Shapeoko 4: its smaller sizes.
Nevertheless, seeing how an XL and XXL version is available, Carbide 3D has this issue covered.
The Shapeoko uses V wheels to move the gantry. The V wheels do not require lubrication and do not fall victim to rust in the absence of oil.
The controller on the new Shapeoko is that the same as Shapeoko Pro.
It uses the GBRL based Carbide Motion V3.0 board to connect to your computer via the USB port.
Carbide 3D offers the Carbide Create Motion Control software, and the Carbide Create software with the Shapeoko at no extra cost.
You can install the software or both Windows and macOS and get the machine running quickly.
Moreover, most of the machine comes assembled, drastically reducing the time required for assembly.
Onefinity Machinist X-35
The Onefinity Machinist X-35 is one of the most innovative aluminum milling CNC machines.
The Machinist X-35 is a compact milling machine suitable for tabletop milling of small aluminum stocks.
The machine offers a cutting area of 16” x 16”.
If you find the Machinist X-35 too small, you can go with Onefinity Woodworker X-35, which offers twice the length on each axis.
Although smaller in footprint, the X-35 is sturdy and robust thanks to its hollow steel tube frame and aluminum extrusions.
One of the best aspects of the Machinist X-35 is that it uses ballscrews in all 3-axis for linear motion.
The use of ballscrews reduces the backlash to almost zero.
The Machinist X-35 ships without the spindle or stock router, which means you will have to buy them separately.
The controller in the Machinist X-35 is based on the buildbotics controller design, which is the latest technology in controllers.
The controller offers 4 axis support and can be connected with WiFi or ethernet.
The touch display on this device also acts as an external controller, which means you can control the machine without connecting it to a computer.
The Machinist X-35 also does not come with any CAD/CAM software, which allows you to run your preferred software on the machine.
Most hobbyists go with Fusion 360 for CAD/CAM projects.
Onefinity Machinist X-35 is also extremely easy to assemble and, like most machines on this list, comes with a DIY kit that is easy to put together.
You can get the Machinist X-35 up and running within 30 minutes.
These are the five best, most affordable CNC aluminum milling machines in the market right now.
If you are looking to explore your enthusiasm for machining, we suggest you start with either of these CNC machines.
These machines are the best when it comes to affordable and efficient aluminum and other softer material machining.
They are easy on your pocket, and they offer a wide range of upgrade options that can take your machining skills to new levels.
Even the most veteran machinist can get their hands on these machines and churn out excellent, meaningful products.
In the meantime, if you are looking to convert your old manual mill into CNC, we can help you with that.
CNC Conversion Plus has been designing and developing cutting-edge machines and CNC conversion kits to make CNC machining more accessible and more affordable for you.
We can help convert your old machines into CNC and prepare customized CNC machines for you on demand.
Our machines and conversion kits come with quality electronic and hardware components for long-lasting machining solutions.
So, if you are looking to hone your machining skills or if you want to create something extraordinary using CNC machines that don’t cost an arm and a leg, CNC Conversion Plus is your best bet.