Mill conversion kit

Best Benchtop Mills for CNC Conversion in 2022

Benchtop mills are an excellent option for CNC conversion, especially if you are a hobbyist machinist looking to hone your skills. The best benchtop mills in the market can provide you with industrial-level machining at an affordable price and smaller scale. And with the help of the right mill conversion kit, you can transform them into computerized machines that will save you time and resources. 

 

And the best thing is once you have gotten your fair share of production from a benchtop mill, you can convert it into CNC and have an improved, helpful tool in your arsenal. Not to mention, you can also practice CNC machining with your converted benchtop mill and save a lot of time and effort that comes with manual machining.

 

But not all benchtop mills are made the same. There are some that work great with CNC conversion, and then there are some that are not conversion-friendly. 

 

This blog will talk about the best benchtop mills in 2022 for CNC conversion. But before we get into it, let’s first understand what makes a mill suitable for CNC conversion.

Finding the Right Machine and the Right Mill Conversion Kit

 

The first thing is the weight and size of the machine. You would want a small benchtop mill, so you could quickly work around it. But don’t get something too small otherwise, the retrofitting could get complicated. 

 

Go with an average-sized mill. Rigid and massive mills can take deeper cuts with less chattering. You would need an engine hoist to lift or move the mill. 

 

Next up is the spindle or, more precisely, the RPM rate of the spindle. You would want to make sure the machine you are buying has a spindle speed of at least 4000-6000 RPM(ofc the spindle speed you need depends on the kind of materials you will be working on. Moreover, if you can find a machine with a belt-driven spindle, go with that as they tend to be quieter.

 

Lastly, you have to consider the price of the machine. Typically, a benchtop mill should cost you somewhere around $1000 to $3000. 

 

Now that we have understood the basics of choosing the suitable machine, let’s take a look at the best benchtop mills for CNC conversion:

 

Klutch Mini Milling Machine

Klutch

If you are looking for a machine that is pure value for your money, the Klutch Mini Milling machine should be your choice. Made of cast iron and available at attractive price points, this machine is designed for small-scale machinists and hobbyists. 

 

The machine boasts 3.4 horsepower motors and doesn’t vibrate like its contemporaries at variable milling speed. 

 

The best thing about the Klutch Mini Milling machine is that it allows the head and column to tilt to 45 degrees to the left and the right. This movement helps you make use of the machine in several productive ways. 

 

The Klutch Mini Milling machine weighs 143 lbs, which is not much if you are looking for a benchtop mill for CNC conversion. Nevertheless, this machine can easily be retrofitted and transformed into a CNC as long as you avoid the deeper cuts. 

 

Klutch Mini Milling machine is a bang for your bucks. It is sturdy, affordable, and easy to move around, making it a good alternative for CNC conversion.

Erie Tools Mini Milling Machine

erie

The Erie Tools Mini Milling machine should be your choice if you require heavy-duty output from your mill. This machine comes with a range of unique features such as variable speed control, a forward and reverses switch, and a safety shut-off.

 

The machine comes with a spindle speed of 2500 RPM. The Erie Tools Mini Mill weighs 103 lbs, which is a bit lighter for a machine to be converted into CNC. Nevertheless, the sturdy structure and solid base of the machine allow it to be retrofitted according to your requirements.

 

One thing worth noticing here is that the machine runs on plastics gears, which might need replacement after a few years of use. You can integrate metal gears into the machine to make it last longer and perform better. 

 

If you are looking for a machine to work on your metal DIY projects, the Erie Tools Mini Mill will not disappoint you. It comes with a multi-purpose tool that can be used for lathing, drilling, and milling. 

 

Grizzly Industrial G8689 Mini Milling Machine

grizzly g8689

If we had to choose our favorite mini-mill producer for CNC conversion, it has to be Grizzly. Weighing around 150 lbs, the Grizzly G8689 offers stability and rigidity like no other machine in its range. 

 

The Grizzly G8689 can chew through any task you throw at it. With up to ½” drilling, ½“ end mills, and 1” facing, this machine is made for milling even the most complicated parts. The machine also offers unique features such as variable speed control and gear drive, making it one of the most efficient machines out there.

 

Moreover, the Grizzly G8689 also comes with a safety shut-off switch, adjustable depth slot, fine feed head control, rubber chip guards, and two T-nuts.

 

Not to mention, this is also one of the most accurate milling machines in the market, beating all the other mills on the list. And since it is heavy and sturdy, converting it into CNC is relatively straightforward and easy. 

 

Proxxon Micro Mill MF70-37110

The Proxxon Micro Mill MF70-37710 is a small mill with powerful features and capabilities. It’s an affordable mill that possesses an impressive spindle speed rate and a sturdy frame.

 

While it’s only ⅛ HP, the machine offers a spindle speed range between 5000 – 20000 RPM. It’s an excellent range for milling wood and aluminum. 

 

Like the Grizzly mill on the list, the Proxxon has adjustable dovetails, making it an excellent option for DIY projects that require interlocking joints. 

 

The MF70 only weighs around 15 lbs, which makes it one of the most portable machines on the list. But that also makes it difficult for CNC conversion. However, some manufacturers do provide mill conversion kit for the machine, and with careful assembly, you can transform it into CNC.

 

The frame is made out of stainless steel, which means the machine should last a few years with moderate wear and tear. 

 

Proxxon Micro MF70 has several things going for it. It is affordable, offers the fastest spindle speed on the list, and is incredibly sturdy despite being lightweight. 

 

If you are short on budget and want the maximum value for your money, go with the Proxxon Micro Mill MF70. 

 

Grizzly G0704 Benchtop Mill

The Grizzly G0704 is one of the most reliable and durable mills on the list. It has long been serving small-scale machinists and hobbyists for a variety of milling tasks. 

 

It is also lighter in weight (342 lbs) compared to other benchtop mills of this size, which makes it easier to move around. Not to mention, the lighter weight also comes in handy during the conversion process. 

 

With its 1HP-12A motor, the Grizzly G0704 can cut through any milling task. It can tackle materials like steel, aluminum, bronze, and cast iron. 

 

Moreover, the machine also comes with a cast-iron dovetail column, which simplifies the attachment and detachment of the head. It also smoothens the transition between low and high-positioned works. 

 

If you are looking for a reliable milling machine that can be easily converted into CNC, you can’t go wrong with the Grizzly G0704. Not to mention, there are a lot of forums on the internet that offer detailed information about converting the G0704 into CNC. So, you can rest assured that you will have enough resources by your side when you finally decide to flip the switch. 

 

WEN 33075 Benchtop Mill

The WEN 33075 Benchtop Mill is one of the most versatile machines on the list. With the 16-inch swing tool, you can create flat surfaces, straight holes, angled edges, slots, pockets, contours, and more. There is also an R8 taper which helps with incompatibility with a range of tools. 

 

Powered by an 11-amp motor, the WEN 33075 provides up to ¾-inch drilling capacity, a ⅝-inch milling capacity, and a 2-inch face milling capacity.

 

The spindle can reach up to 200 RPM, and the best thing is that it will display the current speed on an OLED monitor for maximum control and accuracy. 

 

The WEN 33075 is designed to give you as much flexibility and power you need in a more diminutive form. The mill is also compatible with a wide range of materials, including metal, wood, and plastic. 

 

There is also a rubber cover to help protect the machine and minimize cleanup. The WEN 33075 offers industry-level milling capability in a robust design. 

 

Conclusion

 

These are our choice for the best benchtop mills that can be converted into CNC. These are also some of the best mills in the market, which means you can use them for years before finally deciding to convert. 

 

CNC conversion using mill conversion kit is one of the most affordable ways to have access to computerized machining. And with a CNC machine by your side, you can save time and effort and still improve production. 

 

You can transform your old mills, lathes, routers, and drills using a mill conversion kit. If you are looking for CNC conversion kits, you can reach out to us. 

 

We can help you transform your old machines into faster, more efficient, and more powerful machines. You can get your production rate and value through the roof with a CNC machine by your side.  

 

We can also build turn-key machines for you and deliver them to your doorstep. Turn-key machines are when we buy a machine of your choice, convert it into CNC, and deliver it to your doorstep. All you have to do is turn the power on and get machining. 

 

So, whether you need a mill conversion kit or a full-fledged converted machine, we have you sorted. 

 

CNC control packages

6 Best CNC Control Packages in 2022

CNC control packages have evolved significantly in the last ten years. 

 

Earlier, industrial CNC controllers were the only choice available. However, with more hobbyists and small-scale machinists taking over production tasks, CNC controllers have evolved to simplify the hobby CNC space.

 

Many features available in industry-grade CNC control packages are now finding their way in CNC controllers for hobbyists.

 

In this article, we will review the best CNC control packages in 2022.

 

But before we get into that, let’s first understand what CNC controllers are and how do they work. This will help you better understand your machine and find the right controller for it. 

 

What are CNC Control Packages?

 

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, which only goes on to say that controlling is one of the primary functions of the machine. A CNC controller could be called the brain of the CNC machine. It is where the information gets in and is transformed into meaningful results.

 

A CNC controller connects the CNC machine with a computer, allowing you to put the desired data into the computer and get the machine to materialize something out of it. 

 

For instance, the brain receives and interprets external stimuli through sensory signals. Similarly, a CNC controller interprets signals from a computer and passes them to the machine to function specifically.

 

A CNC controller uses G-code to send the signals to the machine’s motors, getting it to perform certain tasks. 

 

CNC controllers can be broken down into two basic parts: the physical board and its software. Different controllers come with different software. Some manufacturers offer proprietary software with their controllers, while others come with third-party software. 

 

CNC controllers serve three main functions:

 

Axis Control: CNC controllers can control several axes at the same time, allowing for seamless machining.

 

Interpretation: CNC controllers also interpret the signal sent from the computer and translate them into signals that the machine understands.

 

Interpolation: Interpolation is the governing factor that actuates the movement of the trajectory. A CNC controller matches the data sent by the computer with the machining speed and accuracy. 

 

Types of CNC Controllers

 

CNC control packages can vary depending on the industry and the nature of the application. Broadly speaking, you can categorize them into three types:

 

Motion Control

 

Motion control is the most basic form of a CNC machine. A CNC controller helps provide automatic, precise, and consistent motion control in CNC machines. Each CNC machine comes with at least two directions of motion: the X and Y-axis. 

 

Generally speaking, CNC controllers determine the motion type (rapid, linear, circular), the axes to move, amount of motion, and motion rate using the signals from the computer.

 

Loop Control

 

These CNC controllers loop mechanisms to execute certain tasks. These types of controllers can further be classified into open-loop and closed-loop systems. In an open-loop control system, the controller transmits the signals through the input device. In a closed-loop control system, the system also collects feedback from the control system.

 

Axis Control

 

Axis control CNC controllers are designed specially to control various axis movements in the machine. These CNC controllers come in various configurations from two-axis (X and Y) to 5 axes (X, Y, Z, A, and B). 

 

Microcontrollers

 

Microcontrollers are self-sufficient controllers. They are tiny controllers with a small circuit board that run without a computer. These controllers are also known as plug-and-play because you can practically plug them in and out of your machine any time you want without having to shut down anything. 

 

There are also CNC retrofit controllers, which are used to convert manual machines into CNC.

 

Now that we have learned about the CNC controllers and their type, let’s take a look at the best CNC controllers in 2022:

 

#1. Centroid Acorn (Best for CNC Conversion)

Acorn (best cnc control packages)

 

Centroid Acorn offers industry-level controls and features at a hobbyist price range. It runs on all types of CNC machines and connects with a computer through an ethernet connection.

 

It is one of the most popular CNC controllers among hobbyists and small-scale machinists. Part of the reason for their popularity is that they can save you a lot of money by transforming your old machine into CNC. 

 

In fact, Centroid claims that you will be able to save more than 50% on an Acorn control compared to buying a CNC machine.

 

The Centroid Acorn comes with a Beaglebone green motion control CPU. Similar to Raspberry Pi, the Acorn is an open-source single-board computer allowing for CNC machining without the help of a computer.

 

Acorn uses Centroid’s proprietary AcornCNC12 software. It is optimized for retrofitting, gets regular updates, and comes free with the controller (base version limited to 50kb g-code files).

 

Centroid’s Acorn has an active and lively user community, which can help you eliminate any doubts about the controller and streamline your machining process. Not to mention, Centroid also offers phone support for Acorn. So, you can check and make basic changes to the program right from your phone.

 

#2. WixHC Mach4 

wixhc (best cnc control packages)

 

The Mach4 comes as an upgrade over the Mach3. It comes with a complete rewrite, containing only 1% of the codes from Mach3.

 

If you are a hobbyist looking for an affordable machining, the WixHC Mach4 could be a great option. It is flexible and can be adaptable to large files. 

 

You can use Mach4 to run a wide range of CNC machines, including lathes, routers, plasma cutters, and 3D printers.

 

The controller can also support up to 6-axis machining and offers up to 2000KHz step pulse frequency. Mach4 is great for stable, powerful, and accurate machining. 

 

Besides the usual features, the Mach4 also comes with LED to indicate the status of the USB connection. What’s more? It’s hot-swappable, allowing you to connect and disconnect without shutting down your computer. 

 

If you are seriously thinking of expanding your shop and improving your production, Mach4 will not disappoint you.

 

#3. Mesa 7I76E

mesa (best cnc control packages)

 

This one is for the fan of LinuxCNC. If you find Linux OS the best alternative for CNC machining, the Mesa 7I76E is right up your alley.

 

The controller connects to your computer through the ethernet cable and controls stepper and servo motors on up to 5 axes.

 

LinuxCNC is one of the most popular CNC software out there, besides Mach3 and Mach4. But unlike those two, LinuxCNC is open-source and can be integrated with third-party extensions.

 

You can use LinuxCNC on Mesa7I76E to run mills, lathes, plasma cutters, drills, etc. Some of the most outstanding advantages of LinuxCNC are its flexibility, robustness, reliability, performance, and active user experience. 

 

One thing to note about Mesa 7I76E and LinuxCNC is that it has a steep learning curve and might take some getting used to.

 

However, once you get the hang of it, the Mesa 7I76E offers some breakthrough possibilities with machining. 

 

#4. Buildbotics

buildbotics (best cnc control packages)

 

Buildbotic CNC controllers are one of the most advanced open-source controllers. It comes with a built-in web interface and a faster G-code processor. 

 

It can drive up to 4 stepper motors and a range of tools, including spindles, laser cutters, and plasma torches.

 

The Buildbotics controller is also plug-and-play, which means you can simply plug it into your computer and start working.

 

Running on raspberry pi, the Buildbotics offers some unique advantages over its peers. For one, you can use the raspberry pi inside to connect the controller with the computer over WiFi and ethernet.

 

With open-source software, you can rest assured that your CNC controller will remain up to date over the years, unlike brands that ship with proprietary software.

 

You can connect your Buildbotics controller with a keyboard, monitor, and mouse and use it as a computer. 

 

The Buildbotics might come as an expensive option. Nevertheless, it is one of the few controllers that ship with stepper drivers, which pretty much covers up the cost.

 

There is a wired gamepad included with the package as well. You can use it to move the machine around easily and intuitively. 

 

All in all, Buildbotics is a great option if you are looking for something powerful and versatile. It will amp up your production, improve your production value, and give you space to experiment with your process.

 

#5. Masso G3 

masso g3

From the up-and-coming Australian CNC manufacturer, the Masso G3 is a high-grade controller that is easy to set up and easier to use.

 

It requires firmware from USB that you can download from the Masso CNC website. You can set up your Masso G3 with stepper motors, spindle, speed, and acceleration with ease.

 

Like a few other controllers mentioned here, the Masso G3 does not require a PC to run and can control up to 5-axis CNC. If you have a 3-axis Masso G3 and you need to upgrade to a 5-axis, you can do so by paying an extra fee.

 

The best part about the upgrade is that it happens over a software update, which means you don’t have to integrate additional hardware to upgrade your machining.

 

You can use the Masso G3 to run CNC mills, lathes, and plasma cutters. The hardware remains the same for all machining types, but the software differs.

 

For offline operations, Masso offers a handheld MPG (manual pulse generator), which you can use to move the CNC in any of the five directions, control feed override, and spindle override. 

 

#6. Fafeicy Mach3

mach3

One of the most popular CNC controllers among hobbyists, the Mach3 remains the go-to choice thanks to its versatility and affordability.

 

While Mach4 has been out and about for a while now, many hobbyists still find themselves going back to its predecessor. It comes with a variety of features, including a customizable interface, visual g-code display, and “mini programs” that anyone can write to streamline the machining process.

 

The Faceify Mach3 also offers a variety of functions such as automatic probing, emergency input, and limit switch. 

 

You can use the Mach3 to work on 4-axis machining, which is one of the best features a hobbyist machinist could ask from you. Not to mention, both the hardware and software support almost all types of CNC machines with a maximum pulse rate frequency of 110KHz.

 

Faceify Mach3 is also one of the best-rated CNC controllers out there and offers comprehensive community support. 

 

Conclusion

 

We hope this article helped you understand more about CNC control packages and how to choose them. CNC controllers are the brains of your CNC machine. Therefore, you must be very careful while choosing one for you.

 

Most of what you should look for in a CNC controller is its versatility, ease of use, axis support, and included features. For hobbyist machinists, a CNC controller capable of churning out 110KHz frequency is enough.

 

You can also look for the retrofitting CNC control packages if you are looking to convert your old machine into CNC. You can reach out to us to learn more about CNC conversion.

 

In fact, if you are looking to transform your old mills, lathes, drill, grinder, router, or other machines into high-performance machines, CNC conversion is the only affordable option. 

 

CNC conversion will provide the same features as you would expect from a full-fledged CNC machine. 

 

You can let us know what kind of machine you work on and whether a CNC conversion seems the right way to move to automation. And we will help you find the best CNC conversion kit for your unique requirements.

 

Better yet, we will build a turn-key CNC machine for you from scratch and deliver it to your doorstep.

 

So, while you are on the lookout for CNC controllers, look for those that work with CNC conversion. We promise you will not be disappointed. 

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

5-axis CNC machines

3-Axis Vs. 4-Axis Vs. 5-Axis CNC Machines: What’s the Difference?

CNC machining has been one of the fastest evolving technologies, especially since the last ten years. One of the most noticeable evolutions has to be the inclusion of an additional axis in machining. Nowadays, CNC machines can be equipped with 3-axis, 4-axis, 5-axis, and even 9-axis. 

 

But, how do these differ from each other, and what are their advantages? 

 

In this article, we will be answering all of these questions and more. 

 

Before we get into it, though, let’s first understand how axes work in CNC machines. 

 

CNC machining is the process of removing material from a workpiece with high-speed precision to form desired shapes. Axis refers to the CNC machines that operate along with multiple axes points. 

 

Typically, CNC machines operate along 3-axis: X(horizontal), Y(vertical), and Z(depth). 

 

This multiple-axis movement allows the machines to design complex parts. Approaching the workpiece from various angles helps improve production and efficiency. 

 

3-axis CNC machines are still one of the widely used machines to develop parts and components for various industries. They can be used for automatic/interactive operations, drilling holes, milling slots, and cutting into workpieces. 

 

Now that we have understood how multi-axis CNC machines work, let’s look at their differences and advantages. 

 

3-Axis Machining

 

With 3-axis machining, the workpiece remains in a single position while the cutting tool moves around the three-axis to produce desired shapes. 3-axis machines mostly come into play for 2D and 2.5D geometry machining. 

 

3-axis CNC machines can operate on all six surfaces of the workpiece, but the workpiece has to be set up accordingly for each side, which can be an expensive errand.

 

These machines are suitable for projects that don’t require a lot of details or depth. 

 

Sometimes, the design feature requires complex movements from the CNC machines. For instance, 3-axis CNC machines cannot machine any feature on any angle to the X, Y, and Z coordinate system. 

 

If you are on a budget or only need to cut flat surfaces, 3-axis machines are more than optimal for you. They are affordable, easier to work with, and surprisingly versatile for most day-to-day milling and cutting tasks. 

 

If you need to do more complex machining, you might need to add axes or two to your machine’s movement. 

 

This is where the 4-axis machine comes in.

 

4-Axis Machining

 

In 4-axis machining, the workpiece is processed the same way as in a 3-axis machine, along with an additional rotary movement around the X-axis. This additional rotary movement is called the A-axis. 

 

The spindle moves in 3 directions (X, Y, and Z), and an additional A-axis occurs by the rotation of the workpiece itself. 4-axis machines can come in a few different arrangements. The workpiece is mounted on the X-axis, and the feature on the A-axis helps rotate it. 

 

4-axis CNC machines can not only take on the tasks that are virtually impossible for 3-axis machines, but they are also more efficient at them. 

 

4-axis CNC machines also eliminate the need for fixtures that need to be added to 3-axis machines, which improves the tolerance accuracy of the machine.

 

There are two types of 4-axis machines: Index and Continuous.

 

In index 4-axis CNC machines, the cutting tool does not interact with the workpiece until the A-axis rotates and stops at the correct rotational angle. 

 

In continuous 4-axis CNC machines, the machine can interact simultaneously with the workpiece as the A-axis rotates. This process allows the processing of complex shapes and components such as helixes.

 

One of the greatest advantages of 4-axis CNC machines is that they can machine angled features, which is impossible for a 3-axis CNC machine to do. 

 

5-axis Machining

 

5-axis CNC machines have all the capabilities of a 4-axis machine plus an additional rotational axis. These machines can move the tools in the X, Y, and Z-axis and the A and B axes. 5-axis CNC machines are one of the most optimal CNC machines used in automobiles, aerospace, and other complicated production requirements.

 

5-axis CNC machines utilize two of the three additional rotational axes (A, B, and C). The rotation occurs through a spindle or a feature. 

 

The multidimensional rotation allows for superior speed, efficiency, quality, and finish. Like the 4-axis CNC machines, these come in two arrangements: 3+2 machines and continuous machines.

 

3+2 machines have two rotational axes operating independently of each other, which means you can set the workpiece at any compound angle and start machining. 

 

With continuous machines, the two rotational axes can rotate simultaneously, allowing for the production of complex 3D shapes. 

 

3-Axis vs. 4-Axis vs. 5-Axis, Which One is Right for You?

 

One important thing to consider while choosing between these CNC machines is the cost. As you move towards multidimensional CNC machines, the cost keeps rising. Moreover, 3-axis CNC machines are more than capable of producing basic parts. 

 

So, unless you need to work on complicated projects, you don’t need 4-axis or 5-axis CNC machines. 

 

However, if you can afford a higher-axis CNC machine and need to develop complex parts, 4-axis and 5-axis machines offer innumerable benefits. 

 

For instance, with higher axes CNC machines, the need for setups dramatically drops. You can start and finish a product in one go. Thus, you can save time and resources and focus on more productive tasks.

 

Conclusion

 

We hope this article helped you understand the multi-dimension rotational CNC machines better. Did you know there is a 12-axis CNC machine too? Imagine what machining on that would be like. This only shows that CNC machines have continued to remain relevant and effective to this day. And in the coming years, we are only going to see more evolution in this technology.

 

At CNC Conversion Plus, we are all about CNC machining and programming. But we get that not all small-scale and hobbyists can afford a CNC machine. So, we have found a solution: CNC conversion kits.

 

CNC conversion kits allow you to transform your old machines into automated ones. Converting your old machines into CNC allows you to improve your machine’s processing capabilities and efficiency. Not to mention, CNC conversion kits also add to the lifespan of your machine and tools. 

 

So, if you are looking for a more affordable way to improve your production and machining skills, reach out to us, and we will help you find the best CNC conversion kit for your needs. 

 

Better yet, we will build a turn-key CNC machine for you from scratch and deliver it to your doorstep.

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

CNC machine tools

5 Things to Consider While Choosing CNC Machine Tools

One of the best things about CNC machines is that you can interchange their parts to suit your machining needs. You can add different CNC machine tools to your CNC machines and tackle or improve your projects. 

 

However, choosing the right tools can get complicated.

 

First of all, what does a “right tool” mean? 

 

Depending on who you ask, the right tool for CNC machines keeps changing.

 

While it comes down to your and your specific requirements at the end of the day, a few more factors make a tool right for you. 

 

For instance, your current machine tool setup, part difficulty and complexity, the material you will work on, tool material, and so on. 

 

Moreover, some of the general requirements for CNC tools are ease of installation, rigidity, high precision, and good durability. 

 

Lastly, if you are buying tools for DIY installation, you need to make sure they come with an instruction manual. 

 

All of this can be a little confusing when you are buying tools for your CNC machine.

 

But don’t worry. In this article, we are going through 5 things you must consider before you buy tools for your CNC. These 5 things will help you navigate the market and choose the right tools that improve your production.

 

But before we get into it, let’s take a look at what a machine tool is and what are its different types:

 

What is a CNC Machine Tool?

 

A CNC machine tool is a part of the machine that helps it manufacture, design, and shape products. Different CNC machine tools can be used to create virtually any component or a part. 

 

You can find various tools catering to your particular requirements to get the job done. There are different tools for milling, cutting, shaping, and drilling. 

 

Earlier models of CNC machines used to come with standard, irreplaceable tools. However, technology has improved tenfold in recent years, and so have CNC machines.

 

Nowadays, CNC machines come with high-quality, versatile tools that can be used to make production easier. You can also replace the tools in a CNC machine to suit your production needs. 

 

For instance, if you need to shape a component, you can use the milling tools in your CNC. Similarly, a standard drill can be equipped to the machine for drilling needs. 

 

Here are a few of the tools you can use with your CNC machine:

 

Milling Tools

 

Milling tools are used to cut into a surface with multiple rotating cutting edges. Here are a few examples of milling tools:

 

Slotting Cutter: These tools are used to create t-slots along the length of a workpiece. 

Face Mill: These mill cutters come with carbides in different colors that can be exchanged. 

End Mill: End mills are used for machining the slides and faces of metal workpieces and other materials. 

Slab Mill: These mills are come in handy when machining involves gang milling processes and for broad and large shapes.

Gear Cutter: Gear cutters are specialized milling tools that are used to create metal gears for specific purposes. 

Thread Mill: Thread mills are one of the most used milling tools. They are used to design threads on a workpiece.

 

Lathe Tools

 

Lathe tools are used for cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, deformation, facing, and turning. Here are a few examples of lathe tools:

 

Grooving Tool: As the name suggests, grooving tools are used to create specific grooves into workpieces. They are designed to come with multiple edges that sink into the material to carve out shapes and grooves.

Thread Cutting Tool: These types of lathe tools are used to cut threads into the workpiece. 

Turning Tool: Turning tools are of two types: finish turning tool and rough turning tool. Rough turning tools are used to scrape off the maximum quantity of metal in a minimum amount of time. On the other hand, finishing turning tools are used to remove small metal parts. 

Boring Tool: Boring tools are used to make an existing hole in a workpiece bigger. A boring tool will penetrate through an object, leaving a gaping hole behind. 

 

Now that we have understood what a CNC machine tool is and what are its different types and forms let’s get into the topic at hand, i.e., how to choose the right tools for your CNC machine?

 

Nature of Production

 

The first thing that you need to consider is the size and volume of the production unit. Think of it like this: how many products will you be able to produce using the tool? It will help you figure out the processing cost of each piece. 

 

Moreover, your choice of tool selection should also vary depending on the amount of production. If you have to produce a component on a large scale, a specialized tool is more effective. For small-scale batch production, standard tools should be more than efficient. 

 

Versatility and Ease of Use

 

Another important factor to consider is the use of the tool. A multi-featured tool would help you save time and labor since the machine will be handling 3 to 4 tasks on its own. 

 

While a multi-featured tool might cost you a bit extra, it will help you make it up and save extra for years to come. Not to mention, you can amp up your production value and volume using a specialized, multi-purpose tool.

 

Nevertheless, if you are a hobbyist machinist or in the market for small-scale production solutions, standard cutting, milling, and drilling tools are more than enough for you.

 

Component Complexity

 

One of the biggest challenges in CNC machining is the complexity of the parts. Parts for automotive, defense, aerospace and medical industries require complex machining and thus advanced tools.

 

In order to machine small, complicated parts, you would need multiple-axis tools that can cut, maneuver, shape, and drill complicated parts with ease. 

 

You can look through the product description and consider your requirements to narrow down the tools that will help you in your projects. Regardless of how complicated your requirements are, you can rest assured there is a tool that can help you produce them. 

 

Material

 

CNC machines can work on virtually any material as long as you have the right tool for it. The type of material you need to work on will also determine your choice of tool. While most tools are able to work on most materials, some materials require specialized tools for shaping and tuning. 

 

Physical properties and optimum cutting conditions will also influence your choice of tools and their functionalities, including spindle speed, horsepower, and torque.

 

Tool Coating

 

CNC tools come in a range of coatings to improve their longevity and performance. One of the most popular choices of coating is titanium nitride, which has been known to add durability and resilience to the tool. 

 

P.S: There are some coatings that cause the tool to get sticky that end up resulting in lubricant during machining. 

 

Other types of tool coating include proprietary nanocomposite, crystalline diamond, titanium carbonitride, and aluminum titanium nitride. 

 

Conclusion

 

We hope this piece of content helped you better understand CNC machine tools and their purpose. CNC machine tools come in several shapes and types and a range of prices. Depending on your requirements and production volume, you can get an efficient tool at practically any price. 

 

Make sure to choose your tools carefully while considering all the above-mentioned factors to make the right choice. 

 

You can also visit CNC Conversion Plus to find the right tool for your CNC machine. We can also help you develop customized tools and parts to make the machining process easier and more convenient. 

 

What’s more? We also provide turn-key machines as per your customized requirements. You can also convert your old machines into CNC using our CNC conversion kits. 

 

So, if you are in need of anything CNC, reach out to us. 

 

Thanks for reading. 

 

How CNC machining can boost conversions

7 Ways CNC Machining Can Boost Your Production

CNC machining is the future of the production industry.

 

Whether you have been in the manufacturing business for years or have just started the endeavor, finding ways to improve your Production will serve long-term benefits.

 

And when it comes to consistent production value, there is nothing quite like CNC machines in the industry.

 

They are faster, sturdier, accurate, and most importantly, have automated tech, which allows you to improve your Production without putting in extra manual labor. 

 

With the transformative step that manufacturing is taking with digital tools, it won’t be a far-fetched statement to say CNC machining is the future of the production industry. 

 

CNC machines come in various shapes and forms, transcending virtually all the facets of the production industry. From woodworking to cutting and shaping stainless steel, CNC machines are versatile and efficient. 

 

Some of the common tools that run on CNC machining include lathes, drilling machines, milling machines, routers, etc. 

 

CNC technology has only improved in the last few years and has become an imperative part of the production industry. 

 

Let’s see how CNC machines are slated to boost the production and manufacturing industry:

 

Making Production more Convenient

 

 

It’s no secret that CNC machines make machining easier. Where earlier machines required a group of operators to keep it up and runing, CNC machines can continue to work 24*7 without any manual interaction. 

 

Not to say, CNC machines don’t require an operator. A well-versed operator is needed to keep a CNC machine in sync and produce effective components. However, their interaction is only limited to feeding in the program and ensuring the machine is well-tuned and working properly. 

 

When it comes to Production, CNC machines do it on their own. 

 

Moreover, CNC machines can perform five times better than traditional machines in output. Since CNC machines work on computer programs, they significantly reduce errors that often come with manual machining.

 

Let’s take jewelry, for example. Before CNC machines and automation, it used to take weeks to produce a piece. 

 

Thanks to CNC routers, now a unique piece of jewelry can be prepared in a matter of hours. The material can be cut, processed, matted, and engraved faster and easier.

 

Not to mention, the technology around us is rapidly advancing, and so are the functionalities, so in due time, CNC machining is only supposed to get better. 

 

This brings us to our next point,

 

As the Technology Develops So Will the CNC Machines 

 

 

We are living in 2022—the time when Virtual Reality is a thing. And we are only getting started. As we move forward, CNC technology will only get more sophisticated and advanced. 

 

While AI and Machine Learning are still a long way to come in CNC, the technology has advanced leaps and bounds. 

 

The latest CNC machines are not only capable of producing all day long, but they are also smart enough to adapt to different materials and deliver excellent output. 

 

Not to mention, cloud computing integration allows you to save your projects and data and access them anywhere, any time. There is also enhanced monitoring and predicting integrations that help you respond quickly to or avoid errors.

 

An investment that Keeps Paying Back

 

CNC machines are surely an expensive investment. But when you look at the long-term benefits, you would find it worthwhile. 

 

Here’s how:

 

  • Automation

 

CNC machines are automated, so there is little to no need for human interaction. How does that help? It enables you to take off your mind of the process and work on other productive things. 

 

High-end CNC machines even allow you to execute complex components. CNC machines are also safer, so you don’t need to worry about accidents on the assembly line.

 

  • Replication

 

Since in the manufacturing industry, parts and components are often produced in bulk. Often, projects require you to produce similar parts in large numbers. With CNC machining, the replication process becomes as easy as the clicks of a few buttons. 

 

  • Flexibility

 

Another reason we believe CNC machines are in here for the long run because they are flexible and easy to learn. If you have worked with computers and CNC machines before, you can adapt to the machine in a few days.

 

Since you perform most of the functions on a computer or digital screen, you can always preview the outcome and adjust the program accordingly. 

 

Prototyping is Easy with CNC Machining

 

In the manufacturing industry, prototyping is vital as it helps avoid errors in the latter part of the Production. If you are producing a particular part in bulk, you would want to make sure it comes out functional. If it’s a showpiece that you are producing, you will also need to consider the aesthetics.

 

However, prototyping has been known to be a costly and time-consuming process. Thanks to CNC machines, prototyping is now faster and much more affordable. You can easily create a mock-up and figure out your next moves regarding the adjustments or improvements you need to make. 

 

Complexity is not an Issue

 

 

CNC machines, combined with 3D printing, can help you create an extremely detailed and complicated piece with ease. For instance, CNC machines and 3D printers can help you produce lightweight object with complicated geometry. 

 

CNC machines, on their own, are also capable of producing complex parts and components. And since there are so many varieties of them, you can work on a workpiece of any material. 

 

You can also make adjustments to your CNC machine according to the complexity of the task. For instance, if you need to design a complicated geometric shape, you can attach a five-axis head to your machine to make the process easier.

 

Talking about adjustments, you can improve parts of your CNC machines to get them working more efficiently. From axes to the gearbox, you can change almost every part of the machine with an upgraded part.

 

So, if versatility is something you are worried about, CNC machines have you covered.

 

Machines with a Memory

 

Another great reason why CNC machines are great for your Production is that they have a memory. When you design a part or a component on a CNC machine, it remembers and keeps a copy of your design on the cloud.

 

So the next time you have to design something similar or add to the design, you can do so easily. 

 

Minimal Maintenance

 

Unlike manual machining, the machining process does not have to stop when machinists are not present in the room. CNC machines can operate as long as 24 hours straight and sometimes even longer. 

 

CNC machines can also last a long time. Once you have got your machine set up, you can rest assured that it will keep churning out products for years to come. 

 

What’s more? In the near future, CNC machines can be integrated with sensors that will allow it to track the amount of wear on parts. This update will keep you in the loop with the machine’s efficiency and functionality. 

 

Conclusion

 

There you go. Those are some of the reasons we think CNC machines can boost your Production. CNC machines are surely here to stay, improve with time, and make Production easier and more convenient. 

 

However, CNC machines can often be quite costly for many small-scale machinists and hobbyists. And we have an answer for that as well: CNC Conversion Kits.

 

CNC conversion kits are a set of tools that you can add to your machine to make it automatic. Typically, CNC conversion kits come with new hardware components, motors, integrated software, control switch, motion control system, and home and limit switch.

 

It’s less than half the cost of a full-fledged CNC machine, and gets the job does just the same. So, if you are looking to transform your old machine into a high-performance machine, reach out to us. 

 

We can help you choose the right machine have it converted and delivered right to your doorstep. Whether you need a CNC mill, a lathe, or a turn-key machine built from scratch according to your requirements, CNC Conversion Plus is your one-stop shop for all CNC needs.

 

How to become a cnc operator

How to Become a CNC Operator?

As CNC conversion kits are allowing for more affordable CNC machining, manual machinists have the same question on their minds: “How do I become a CNC operator?”

 

If you have been wondering the same, this article is for you.

 

This piece of content will discuss what CNC machining is, how it is different from manual machining, and how you can become a CNC machinist.

 

So, without further ado, let’s get into it:

 

What is CNC Machining?

 

First off, let’s learn about CNC machines so you can better understand how to become a CNC operator. 

 

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, which means computer-controlled system. 

 

A CNC machine is, therefore, a computer-controlled machine.

 

When you work with a manual machine, most of the work you do is…well, manual.

 

You have to get your hands dirty.

 

You have to take the measurements, tune the machine, and set the pressure to get anything out of it.

 

With a CNC machine, you can say goodbye to most of these extra steps and get to machining in a matter of seconds. 

 

A CNC machine works with a computer. You only have to put in the design through software, and the machine will do the rest for you.

 

So, all in all, CNC machining is the process of manufacturing using pre-programmed computer software to dictate the movement of the machinery. 

 

In contrast to manual machining, CNC machining is superior. 

 

For instance, manual machining requires live operators to guide the machine via levers, buttons, and wheels. 

 

Not to mention, manual machining is also slow and less productive, and efficient. 

 

However, operating CNC machines is not easy.

 

CNC machines are the backbone of the American production industry. 

 

These machines shape, cut, and finish raw materials like metal, rubber, and plastic into usable components. 

 

A lot goes inside a CNC machine, and an operator has to know and understand all of it.

 

CNC machines are complex, and one must operate them with calibration and precision. 

 

In fact, sometimes it takes a lot of people to keep these machines running smoothly. 

 

So, yes, CNC machines can be a faster, more efficient, and convenient option for machining, but they require some expertise to operate. 

 

To better understand this, we will specify the difference between manual machining and CNC machining.

How is CNC Machining Different from Manual Machining?

 

Generally speaking, it is very easy to differentiate between a CNC machine and a manual mill/lathe/router.

 

A CNC machine is computer operated while a manual machine requires manual labor.

 

However, the differences don’t end here.

 

CNC machines are more versatile and robust than manual machines, which means they can last longer than an average manual mill/lathe/router. 

 

They are also safer and more accurate in terms when it comes to cutting, shaping, and finishing.

 

Moreover, CNC machines are more affordable than manual machines in terms of overall costs. 

 

Not to mention, regardless of the industry you work in, a CNC machine will make your projects easier. 

 

CNC machines play a vital role in production and design, from consumer electronics to the automobile industry.

 

However, we are not undermining manual machines in any way.

 

If you are a small-scale or hobbyist machinist, chances are you have been using manual machines for quite a while.

 

And you know how valuable those machines can be. 

 

The advent of CNC conversion kits has also made it possible for many machinists to transform their old machines into new, automated ones.

 

But we must clarify that operating a converted CNC machine is not the same as operating a full-fledged 

 

What does a CNC Machinist Do? 

 

As a CNC machinist, the first thing you are supposed to do is make sure the equipment is set up correctly.

 

You will also have to check up on various parts of the machines and ensure everything is in sync.

 

You must keep an eye on the stock, capacity, and maintenance.

 

There are several jobs that you can be assigned as a CNC operator.

 

Depending on the type of job, you will either work on the mechanics or the programming.

 

You might also have to work on many different machines or stay in charge of a single, complicated machine.

 

As a CNC operator, you will be working in a factory environment. 

 

You can work regular hours and choose to do overtime for extra compensation.

 

Your job description might also change depending on the amount of experience you have in the industry.

 

Moreover, you will have to work with other industrial and engineering staff, including CNC programmers and mechanics, to keep the machine working efficiently.

 

How to Become a CNC Operator?

 

CNC machining is quite complicated and therefore requires technical expertise. 

 

If you are looking to work as a CNC operator, you must have a graduation degree or a GED.

 

Once you have completed your graduation, you can pick up on CNC skills and work on them over the years.

 

Educational programs for CNC machining involve a lot of subjects, including math, engineering, computer, technology, and designing (CAD/CAM).

 

You can improve your chances by getting a degree in any of these niches.

 

There are a bunch of universities out there that offer courses in a myriad of CNC-related subjects.

 

However, it is better to think of it in terms of practical experience instead of degrees and certifications.

 

While your degree will undoubtedly provide you with a platform, it is only after you work with CNC machines that you will get better.

 

Many of the programs will have you working internships to gain practical knowledge. 

 

Even a few companies offer training programs to new machinists.

 

In the meantime, you should consider checking out blogs, magazines, videos, and other educational mediums on CNC machining.

 

Stay up to date with the latest technologies in the industry and keep learning about CNC machines and their mechanics. 

 

The learning doesn’t stop after certification, internship, or even a job. Instead, you will need to keep learning and gaining practical experience as much as you can.

 

Conclusion

 

We hope this content helped you get some idea about how to become a CNC operator. CNC machining is challenging as well as exciting. You need to be attentive, a technical expert, a problem-solver, and you have to love creating things to become a good CNC machinist.

 

If you think you are up to the mark, get started as soon as you can. 

 

Aluminum milling CNC machines

The Best Aluminum Milling CNC Machines for Hobbyists

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:

 

SainSmart 3018-PROVer

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.

 

Vevor 3020 

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.

 

Shapeoko 4 

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.

 

Conclusion

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. 

 

CNC software for hobbyists

The Best CNC Software for Hobbyists

When we hear about CNC software for hobbyists, we get excited. 

 

CNC machining, which is largely a large-scale production process, seldom caters to hobbyists and small-scale machinists. 

 

We are here to change that. 

 

The term ‘CNC software’ sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Nevertheless, this word pops up every now and then in the field of CNC machining.

 

If you are starting out in CNC machining, chances are you are not quite familiar with CNC software and how it works. 

 

And if you want to be a master machinist, you have to learn to operate the software that most CNC machines come with.

 

What is CNC Software?

 

A CNC software is a set of codes and instructions that control the physical movement of the machines. 

 

CNC software is used to control a number of CNC machines including mills, lathes, routers, drill machines, plasma cutters, and electric discharge machines

 

A CNC software not only eliminates the need for manual labor, it also makes the machining process more accurate, efficient, and fast. 

 

Moreover, it is easier and more convenient to produce complicated shapes using CNC software. 

 

CNC machines use two types of software: CAD and CAM.

 

CAD stands or Computer Aided Design and CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacturing. 

 

How Does CNC Software Work?

 

You use CAM to create 2D drawings of 3D models of the part that you want to create. 

 

After finalizing the design or model, you transfer it to CAM software.

 

In turn, CAM generates a tool path through which the tip of the cutting tool will travel and converts the path into a set of simple programming language instructions.

 

The most common programming language used in CNC machining is G-Code 

 

CNC software interprets the G-Code and sets a series of numbered, sequential instructions for the machine to follow. 

 

The machine then follows the instructions and produces an accurate physical representation of the drawing or model. 

 

CNC software also allows you to bring your imaginations to life. Anything you can design on CAD, you can create using the right CNC software and machine. 

 

Now that we have understood what CNC software is and how it works, let’s take a look at the best CNC software available in the market:

 

The Best CNC Software and Which One Should You Choose

 

CNC machining involves four main types of software. These include:

 

Computer-Aided Designing (CAD) software for creating 2D, 2.5D and 3D designs.

 

Computer-Aided Machining (CAM) software for converting the design into G-Code.

 

Control Software to read the G-Code and create signals to control the stepper motors.

 

Stimulation Software to read the G-Code and predict errors that might come up during the machining process.

 

However, these software programs are not limited to the above-mentioned tasks. Many of these software programs can perform more than one function.

 

You can dedicate software for each of these functions or you can get a comprehensive package that comes with all the software in one. 

 

Some of the CNC software available in the market is also free of cost.

 

However, should you get free software to run your CNC machine? That’s a topic for another time. 

 

Let’s first take a look at some of the best CNC software for hobbyists:

 

Easel Software

 

The Easel software from Inventables is a truly all-in-one CNC software that lets you run CAD, CAM, and Control all in one place.

 

Using Easel, you can create designs, convert them to G-Codes, and have your machine bring the designs to life without ever resorting to another software.

 

You can simply run Easel on Windows and MacOS as it does not require you to install any additional software.

 

Easel is easy to understand and does not require any prior CAD/CAM experience on your side. 

 

Easel is currently priced at $20 a month. However, if you are getting the yearly subscription, you can get it for as low as $13 a month. 

 

Easel has a wide user base and an active community so you know you will get the support at Inventables community support.

 

Moreover, there are thousands of YouTube videos, blogs, and free tutorials available that you can get back to if you feel stuck.

 

Fusion 360

 

Fusion 360 is another all-in-one CNC software that unifies design, engineering, electronics, and manufacturing in one platform. 

 

It is a cloud-based CAD, CAM, 3D modelling, CAE, and PCB software that can help you design and manufacture products with ease. 

 

Fusion 360 is one of the best CNC software for hobbyists as it is both powerful and easy to use.

 

It comes with a huge resource of information and tutorials to get you started with the software. 

 

It approaches the product design with a mechanical engineering perspective instead of an artistic or sculpting perspective, which makes it  one of the most efficient and technically sound options available. 

 

Fusion 360 subscription starts at $40 per month. You can also get a one month trial period so you can learn the software and see if it goes well with your machining process.

 

Not unlike Easel,  you can find a  rich and resourceful community with Fusion 360. 

 

You can find extensive support for Fusion 360 through YouTube tutorials and through official and unofficial forums. 

 

Fusion 360 runs on both Windows and MacOS platforms.

 

Carbide Create

 

Carbide Create is another great CNC software for hobbyists.

 

It offers CAM, CAD, G-Code sender, and Stimulation program in one platform. 

 

Carbide 3D is the parent company of Carbide Create. They also made the famous Shapeoko CNC machine, which means the Carbide 3D was created around the needs of hobbyists. 

 

It is also an extremely convenient software. You can get started with it without any previous CAD/CAM experiences. 

 

Carbide Create is also free and runs on both Windows and MacOS platforms, making it one of the most obvious choices for CNC software.

 

If there is one drawback with Carbide Create, it is that it is not cloud-based. 

 

According to the developers of the software, cloud-based software can be insecure and unavailable. They don’t want the users to feel locked-in into a vendor.

 

That’s why Carbide Create is a fully downloaded software that is for you to keep and run as you please, once you have downloaded it on your PC.

 

Conclusion

 

There are a lot of CNC software for hobbyists out there. If you research properly you might find the one specially suited for your unique requirements. 

 

These software programs help you streamline the machining process and fasten the productivity.

 

Moreover, these programs are also built to cater to the hobbyists, which means they offer simple and easy to follow UI that does not require any learning curve. 

 

The three software programs we mentioned here are the best-in-class, all-inclusive programs.

 

You can use these programs to create unique designs, convert them into G-Codes, and send the data to your machine to bring your designs to life.

 

If you want separate software for designing, converting into G-Codes, controlling the stepper motors, and predicting potential errors, you can do so too.

 

However, keep in mind that separate software programs cost a fortune and might not work in sync with each other. Some software programs need some kind of tweaking to work with other programs. 

 

We have carefully selected two paid and one unpaid programs to help you narrow down your choices. 

 

So, check them out and see if these programs will work with you or not.

 

In the meantime, if you are in need of high-quality CNC conversion kits to transform your old mills, lathes, routers  into modern, efficient machines, you can reach out to us. 

 

CNC Conversion Plus has been designing and automating machines for the last 40 years.

 

We have the expertise in converting manual machines into CNC as well as preparing modified CNC machines on demand. 

 

 We also build a turn-key CNC machine for you from scratch.

 

What are turn-key machines? 

 

Turn-key machines are ready to use CNC machines that we build according to your choice. 

 

We pick the machine of your choice, convert it into CNC, and deliver it to your doorstep so you don’t have to do any legwork.

 

Hope this article helped you make the right decision. 

 

If you have any questions, you can reach out to us and we will provide you sufficient solution as soon as possible. 

 

CNC Mill vs. CNC Router

CNC Mill vs. CNC Router: What’s the Difference?

 

A CNC mills and a CNC router are often confused with each other but they are not the same.

 

To an untrained user, the CNC mill and CNC router might look the same.

 

Nevertheless, an expert machinist can identify the significant differences between these two machines.

 

While both the machines are computer-controlled, they differ on some key aspects.

 

For the uninitiated, CNC routers usually come with a larger cutting area. These machines have a gantry style design and are generally used for milling non-metals.

 

CNC mills, on the other hand, come with a relatively smaller cutting area. They have a C-frame style design and we use them to mill metals.

 

This article will dive a bit deeper into the differences between a CNC mill and a CNC router.

 

But first, let’s understand what a CNC mill and a CNC router are.

 

CNC Mill

 

CNC mills are machine-operated cutting tools that run on computer programs to remove materials from a workpiece. 

 

Machinists use CNC mills to design a specific part or product with the help of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software.

 

These machines usually come with a main spindle and three-linear-axes. 

 

Some advanced CNC mills may have 4-5 axes for more accurate machining.

 

CNC Router

 

CNC routers are similar to CNC mills in terms of their functionalities and movements. 

 

Some CNC routers can perform almost all the tasks a CNC mill can perform.

 

Machinists mainly use CNC routers to cut, engrave, and carve objects out of a wooden workpiece. 

 

CNC routers vary in build and configuration, with some having more axes to make machining more efficient and faster. 

 

CNC Router vs. CNC Mill: The Difference

 

CNC mills and CNC routers differ on the following fronts:

 

Design

 

CNC routers come in a range of materials. We use plywood, plastic, aluminum, and steel to make CNC routers.

 

Depending on the material, the rigidity and robustness of the machine also change.

 

However, with the material, the cost of the machine will also change.

 

Usually, CNC routers come with gantry style design.

 

The gantry moves in the Y-axis, and the spindle moves in the X-direction. 

 

The gantry frame in a CNC router must be light enough so steppers motors can move it around. 

 

CNC mills are much sturdier and heavier compared to CNC routers.

 

Typically, CNC mills are made of steel and aluminum.

 

More advanced CNC mills use either cast iron or stainless steel.

 

Despite the heavier weight and more substantial structure, CNC mills are smaller in surface area.

 

Since CNC mills are heavier in weight, assembling one requires an engine hoist.

 

Cutting Area

 

CNC routers have a larger cutting area compared to CNC mills.

 

Since CNC routers mill wood and other non-metal materials, they need a larger cutting area and beds.

 

On the other hand, CNC mills work on thick metal stocks, so they need concentrated milling, and thus a smaller cutting area.

 

The smaller travel also aids in the overall rigidity of the machine.

 

Z-axis Travel

 

Another distinct difference between a CNC mill and a CNC router is the Z-axis travel on them.

 

CNC routers don’t make deep cuts, and thus they have smaller Z-axis travel.

 

CNC mills have larger Z-axis travel because we use them to make deep cuts.

 

CNC mills also have large X and Y-axis travel and low Z-axis height.

 

Spindle Speed

 

Since machinists use CNC routers to cut through softer materials, they come with high-speed spindles to cut through these materials efficiently. 

 

CNC routers can move the spindle from 10,000 RPM to 30,000 RPM. 

 

The spindles in CNC mills run at lower RPMs with high torque. 

 

The RPM on a CNC mill can range from 1000 to 15000.

 

Materials

 

As we mentioned earlier, machinists use CNC routers to cut through softer materials. 

 

However, you can mill steel on a CNC router if you use the settings correctly.

 

We don’t typically use CNC routers for machining metals

 

Machinists use CNC mills to work on metal workpieces and other harder objects.

 

Accuracy

 

CNC routers work on non-metals; therefore, their accuracy is lower compared to CNC mills. 

 

Woodworking does not require the machinist to be exactly accurate. A little bit of leeway in measurement does not drastically affect woodworking.

 

On the other hand, metalworking requires the exact same measurements; therefore, CNC mills need to be precise.

 

Conclusion

 

All in all, a CNC router is a computer-operated machine that you can use to work on wood, plastic, fiber, and other non-metal objects.

 

CNC mill is a computer-operated mill that you can use on heavy-duty materials such as steel, iron, and other types of metal.

 

Both the machines also differ in cost, but we didn’t get into that.

 

Because, in our opinion, converting an old machine into CNC is a more affordable and efficient way to practice your machining skills.

 

If you are looking for a pocket-friendly way to elevate your machining skills using a CNC machine, a CNC conversion is your best bet. 

 

At CNC Conversion Plus, we have 40 years of experience in designing and automating machines. 

 

We also provide turnkey machines

 

What’s that? 

 

We purchase your choice of machine for you, modify it according to your recommendations, and deliver it to your address.

 

So, if you are thinking of honing your machining skills on a CNC machine, we advise that you let us convert your old machine at half the cost.

 

You get the same efficiency, power, and accuracy without burning a hole in your pocket. 

 

Fixing backlash in CNC

What Is Backlash In CNC Machining and How To Avoid It?

Sometimes a solution can be a problem. Or so is the story of backlash in CNC machining or machining in general. 

 

Backlash is the space between adjoining gear teeth.

 

This space exists to allow the gear mesh without jamming. 

 

And to allow lubrication. 

 

So, the backlash is the solution to keep the machines from jamming. 

 

The more the amount of backlash, the less likely the machine is to jam.

 

And, unfortunately, also the less likely the machine is to be error-free.

 

This space also causes the machine to be inaccurate and unresponsive, increasing wear as loose-fitting moving parts collide together.  

 

Backlash in CNC machining

 

When the gears are pushing to one side, there is a small clearance in the opposite direction. 

 

When you push the gear to the other side, they have to travel this tiny space before they come in contact with touching the other side.

 

While machining, a lot of gears are working together to perform the functions.

 

So, while moving the machine one way would be fine. 

 

Getting it to move in the other direction would be a bit delayed.

 

And thus, backlash causes inaccuracy and inefficiency.

 

Backlash is also present in screws, nut bolts, or any mechanical system where the driving member does not connect to the load. 

 

What is Backlash in CNC Machining?

 

Some sort of backlash also exists in CNC machines, especially in converted CNC machines.

 

Backlash in CNC is especially alarming. 

 

Even the most closed-loop system can’t detect if the axis hasn’t moved even though the motor has.

 

Generally speaking, backlash causes even CNC machines to perform poorly and inaccurately, especially the converted ones.

 

Besides the ‘clearance’ between gears, backlash can also be caused by loosening or deforming mechanical parts.

 

Most often than not, you can reduce backlash in CNC-converted machines by replacing lead screws with ball screws.

 

The fundamental difference between lead screws and ball screws is that a ball screw uses a ball bearing to eliminate friction, and lead screws do not.

 

Generally, ball screws are better suited for cnc operations. Ball screws allow smooth motion, efficiency, accuracy, precision, and prolonged continuous high-speed movement. 

 

Lead screws, on the other hand, are made for more straightforward transfer applications that doesn’t require speed, accuracy, precision, efficiency, and rigidity.

 

All in all, ball screws are better suited for CNC machining as they are more reliable and accurate. (more on this later)

 

Compensating Backlash

 

Most manual machinists tend to compensate for backlash by covering up the ‘clearance’ on the handwheels. 

 

All you need to do is make sure to feed enough in the direction you will be cutting to take up all the backlash.

 

Some machine control software such as Mach 3 performs the same routine. 

 

However, a machine can only guess and is, therefore, less efficient in compensating for backlash.

 

Most software relies on the operator to tell them how much backlash is present. 

 

And with a CNC machine, it is pretty difficult to gauge precisely how much backlash is present as it can vary as your lead screws wear or your machine needs repairing.

 

Compensating for backlash can be helpful with lathes as they have limited movement.

 

Some g-codes force the motion to compensate for the backlash if you are concerned about accuracy.

Finding the Source of Backlash

 

As we already mentioned, most likely, the majority of backlash is coming from the lead screws.

 

Lead screws have weaker nuts that tend to wear off faster than the screws. 

 

Moreover, if you tighten a nut to eliminate backlash, it can cause too much friction.

 

There are other causes for backlash too. But lead screws are the most common. 

 

Therefore, you must first consider replacing the lead screws in your machine to reduce backlash.

 

One of the most common alternatives for lead screws is ball screws.

 

The nut in the ball screw uses recirculating ball bearing, which helps in reducing friction and increasing tightening tolerance. 

 

There are two types of ball screws: ground and rolled, with the latter being more accurate and backlash-free. 

 

Some other sources of backlash can include:

 

  • Motor drive mechanism
  • Slideways and or Gibs
  • Machine Flexure and Rigidity

 

Reducing Backlash

 

There are two ways you can reduce backlash in a CNC machine: software compensation and hardware compensation.

 

On the software side, you can use your machine’s control unit to adjust the amount of backlash compensation for the three axes. 

 

On the hardware side, you can either install an anti-backlash nut assembly on the lead screws or replace the lead screws altogether with ball screws.

 

If you identify the backlash from other sources such as Gibs and Machine Flexure, try lubricating the parts to avoid unnecessary friction.

 

In fact, lubrication should be an inherent part of machining. 

 

If possible, invest in an automatic oiler to lubricate all the parts of the machine in one go.

 

If the problem persists, you might have to have your machine checked out by a specialist.

 

Adjusting your gibs is a daunting task that is better left to experts.  If not done properly, it can deal some irrevocable damage to your machine.

 

Same with machine flexure and rigidity issues. 

 

Typically 0.005” to 0.007” backlash per axis is acceptable on a CNC machine.

 

You can use software and hardware compensation to reduce the backlash to zero. However, you should avoid being obsessed with completely eliminating it from your machine. 

 

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, a little backlash is essential to allow thermal expansion and contraction, debris extraction, and lubrication.

 

Be sure to keep checking your machine every 3-4 months to verify the anti-backlash system you installed is working correctly. 

 

If you find any minor backlash increment, you can reduce it using the CNC control software. 

Conclusion

 

CNC Conversion Plus has been designing and automating machines for the last 40 years. We have the expertise in converting manual machines into CNC as well as preparing modified CNC machines on demand. 

 

When we design your CNC machines, we make sure to consider every little aspect of machining. So you get high-performance, smooth CNC machines that can serve you for years.

 

We make sure all our CNC machines are backlash-free and accurate, so you don’t have to go around making any sort of adjustments.

 

We prepare our machines with quality electronic and hardware components, giving you the optimum CNC machining experience.

 

If you are looking for CNC machines with optimized backlash and performance, think of CNC Conversion Plus.