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.




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.



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.




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:




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.




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.




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.




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. 



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. 


Precision Matthews PM-25M CNC Conversion Kit

Everything You Need to Know About CNC Conversion Kits

Machining is not easy but it can be with CNC conversion kits. 


Let’s see for example.


You have to consider many factors before you even turn on your mill, lathe, or grinder. 


Some of these factors have become a daily task for you. 


For instance, taking appropriate measures, doing the math, taking enough time out of your day for the task to complete, and so on.


Other factors are a bit more tricky, causing you to go in-depth with your research and analysis. 


These factors could include the use of material, work-holding, tooling, axial and radial depth of cuts, spindle rigidity, rpm limit, etc.


What if we tell you most of these factors will become irrelevant with one modification to your machine? 


You will most likely ask us, “what kind of modification?”


And the answer is CNC conversion.


What is CNC conversion?


To better understand CNC conversion, you will have to first learn about CNC machining. 


What is CNC Machining? 


CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. 


CNC machining is the process of using pre-programmed computer software to dictate and control the movement and functionalities of a machine. 


Many industries use CNC machines, with the most saturation in metal and plastic production. 


Compared to manual machining, CNC machining is faster, more efficient, and more accurate. 


CNC machining is a subtractive manufacturing process, which means such machines typically employ computerized tools to remove layers of materials from a workpiece to produce a custom design part.


You might think that the computer has always been an intrinsic part of CNC machines, but that’s not true. 


The first CNC machine was a mere machine with a metal frame. It was invented in 1751 and was developed later to become what it is now. 


Earlier forms of CNC machines, NC machines, didn’t have any computer in their design.


The automation part came in the late 70s, and the inclusion of computer precision technology came later. 


It was not until the Cold War when computers started to become a part of the NC machines. 


At that time, US Navy commissioned Parson Works to increase the productivity of its product line for helicopter blades.


John T. Parsons, the owner of Parsons Works, motorized the machine’s axes to fasten the production of helicopter blades. 


Later, working with IBM, Parsons studied the use of computers in controlling these machines. And thus, CNC machines came into existence.


In 1952, Richard Kegg, in collaboration with MIT, developed the first CNC milling machine. And that’s how CNC machines came into commercial fame.


What are the Different Types of CNC Machines?

  • CNC milling machine

    CNC Milling Machine

Perhaps the most basic type of CNC machine, CNC milling machines, are used to produce a wide range of shapes, including face-milled features and peripheral-milled features. CNC milling machines have built-in tools for cutting and drilling.


Most CNC milling machines come in 3 to 6-axes configurations. They can produce gears like spur gear and drill into workpieces.


  • CNC lathe

    CNC Lathe

You can use CNC lathes to cut workpieces as they rotate. These machines can make precise cuts quickly and efficiently using various tools.


Compared to manual lathes, CNC lathes are more precise and come with a wide range of features to make shaping workpieces easier. 


CNC lathes come with similar features to CNC mills and can read G-codes and other proprietary programming languages. 


  • CNC router

    CNC router

Similar to the commonly used handheld router used for cutting, a CNC router is automated and you can use it to cut woods, glass, composite, plastic, steel, and foam.


A CNC router powered by a computer uses numerical control to route tool paths that allow the machine to function according to set parameters. They are incredibly efficient and fast, enabling the operator to produce large amounts of products in a shorter period.


  • CNC drill machine 

    CNC drill machine

CNC drill machines are primarily used in mass production industries. They are multipurpose and can also be used for milling and turning. 


One can equip these machines with various tools to make them more versatile in production output. Moreover, the kind of drilling you need also mandates a change in the tools.


  • CNC plasma cutter

    CNC Plasma

You can use CNC plasma cutting machines to cut through materials using a plasma torch. You can use these machines to cut through heavy materials such as steel and other metals. 


A plasma cutter has gas blowing at a very high speed through the nozzle, which produces an electric arc. The electric arc formed through the gas is applied to the workpiece.


This process converts some of the gas into plasma, which ranges from 10,000-50,000 degrees.


  • CNC Electric Discharge Machine

    CNC Electric Discharge Machine

Electric Discharge Machines–EDM for short–are machines used to create specific shapes from a material by using electric discharge or sparks.


The machine removes the material from the workpiece by producing a series of recurring electric discharges between two electrodes. A dielectric fluid separates the two electrodes and receives electric voltage. 


In EDMs, you put the material between the two electrodes, and the machine calculates the amount of electrical discharge each electrode needs to produce to create specific shapes. 


Modern CNC machines are capable of great things. 


They are fast, efficient, consistent, versatile, accurate, and capable of greater production.


Unfortunately, CNC machines are expensive and massive, making them a difficult choice for hobbyist machinists and small shop owners. 


This brings us to the topic at hand: CNC conversion.


What is CNC conversion?


CNC conversion is the process of converting your old machines (lathes, mills, grinder, drill, etc.) with the help of external components. 


Converting your manual machines into CNC gives you all the advantages of a CNC machine without burning a hole in your pocket.


Simply put, CNC conversion drastically improves the performance of your manual machines by automating their functions with the help of motors and software. 


But how do you transform your old machine into CNC?


Using CNC conversion kits.

What is a CNC Conversion kit?


A CNC conversion kit is a set of tools that you can integrate into your old machine to turn into CNC. 


A typical CNC conversion kit comes with new hardware components, motors, and up-to-date software to keep it all running. 


It also comes with a new control unit, home and limit switches, and a motor control system. 


Some CNC kits are designed specifically for particular machines, while others can be implemented in most machines.


Not to mention, CNC kits also vary in terms of the features they offer.


Some CNC kits are extensive and come with complete electronic packages, control units, and software. 


Others are simpler and offer only hardware components and motors to make your machine CNC-ready.

Benefits of Using CNC Conversion Kit


CNC conversion kit is an excellent option for those looking to amp up their production and improve their machining capability without investing in a full-fledged CNC machine. 


The first and foremost reason for using a CNC conversion kit is that it is a much cheaper option than buying a new CNC machine.


Moreover, a CNC conversion kit allows you to revitalize your old machine with improved performance. 


CNC conversion kits also allow you to do the conversion yourself.


Most CNC conversion kits come with comprehensive guides that you can follow to perform the conversion yourself. 


Some of the advantages CNC conversion kits offer over new CNC machines include:


  • Familiarity with the machine


You know your machine the best. When you work with a machine for years, you develop an uncanny familiarity with it. So when you convert your old machine into CNC, you are more likely to be in sync with its functionalities compared to when you buy a new CNC machine. 


  • Improved Accuracy and Productivity


CNC conversion kit helps you improve the performance of your old machine at an affordable price. With the integration of external components, you can get your inactive machine up and running efficiently and more accurately than ever.


  • Reduced Manual Labor


One of the most beneficial aspects of converting your machine to CNC is that you don’t have to spend hours finishing a product. Automation allows you to set the parameters on your machine and let it do the work for you. A CNC-converted machine will produce thrice as many products in an hour as you produce within an entire day.

How Does a CNC Conversion Kit Work?


A CNC conversion kit is a set of supplementary components. 


A CNC conversion kit does not add new axes or movement to the machine. It automates the existing ones.


CNC conversion kits come with a range of hardware components along with power units and motors. 


These components fit on your machine are connected with a motor to automate the movement of the machine.


Installing the new hardware may require removing certain components from your old machine. 


Most CNC conversion kits come with a detailed how-to guide to help you make the conversion yourself. 

How to Build Your Own CNC Machine Using a CNC Conversion Kit?


Before you get started with converting your mill/ lathe/ drill/ router into CNC, understand that it is a challenging process. 


Despite the comprehensive guide that comes with most CNC conversion kits, you need technical knowledge and skills to make the conversion. 


A successful transformation requires planning, expertise, and, most importantly, time on your part. 


It will most likely take you a week to complete the transformation, and if you are tight on schedule, it might even take a month. 


Moreover, CNC conversion kits are targeted at hobbyists and small shop owners. 


While you can improve the productivity and efficiency of your machine by converting it into CNC, you will not be able to use it for any commercial operation. 


You will also need another person with you to help you out with the conversion. 


Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s look at the tangible things required for a successful conversion.


  • Mechanical components


First up, you will have to replace the lead screws in the machine with ball screws. Lead screws have backlash and aren’t suitable for CNC operations. 


Ball screws have little to no backlash and are an appropriate choice for CNC operations. 


Moreover, you might also have to remove some other components of your machine to make room for the conversion kit.


  • Electronic components


Next up, it is time for the electronic components. 


You would need stepper drivers, a controller, limit switches, and mechanical test probes for controlling the X, Y, and Z movements.


The kind of speed and movement you need determines your choice of motors. 


Lastly, you would need a computer to run your CNC software and provide instructions to the mill. 

Making the Conversion


The exact steps of conversion depend on the machine that you are using. In this article, we are taking a more general approach that you can apply to most machines. 


If you get stuck at some point or are unable to follow the instructions, you can reach out to us, and we will help you the best we can.


  • Mechanical retrofitting


The first step to the conversion is disassembling the entire machine to its bare structure. 


Remove each axis and replace the lead screws with ball screws.


If you are converting a mill, bear in mind that the weight of the Z-axis can be quite heavy, and you will most likely need an engine hoist to pick up and move it.


When you have dismantled each axis, add the CNC conversion kit components individually.


After replacing the lead screws with ball screws, replace the lead screw nut block with a ball screw nut block.


If the mounting holes in the nut block do not match, use an adapter to fix the ball screw nut block to the axis. 


You might also need to manually grind a bit to make the whole thing fit correctly. 


Once you have put the ball screws inside the axis, put the oil line back on.


Now, attach the stepper motors to the axis. For a mill, make sure the motor can handle the heavy weight of the Z-axis.


Repeat the same procedure with other axes. 


Once you have put all the axes in their place, ensure they are all in perfect alignment to avoid any accident.


For mill conversion, make sure the Z-axis is perfectly perpendicular to the table. You can use a tramming indicator to ensure the alignment of the Z-axis. 


You will also need to tram the spindle so that it is square to the bench.


  • Managing the electronics


Once you do the mechanical part, you will need to move on to the electronic components.


You have already installed the stepper motors on each axis. Now, you need to fix the control system of the motors.


You will also need limit switches, probes, and an unregulated DC power supply.


Moreover, you will need stepper motor drivers.


The limit switches help prevent the machine from going beyond its physical limits. The probes are for assessing the position of the stock.


The computer connects to the controller using USB, ethernet, or Parallel Port Cable. 


The software that you use will depend on your choice of controller. It could be Mach3, GRBL, LinuxCNC, or something else entirely.


Wrapping It Up


We hope that this piece of content gave you a clear idea about CNC conversion and its applications.


If you are looking to transform your old mills, lathes, drill, grinder, router, or other machines into high-performance, efficient, and powerful machines at affordable prices, CNC conversion is your best bet.


They provide you with the same features as a full-fledged CNC machine and help you scale productivity and accuracy to the next level.


Let us know what kind of machine you work on and whether a CNC conversion seems the right way to move to automation. 


If you are looking for more expert advice or are stuck in the middle of a conversion, feel free to contact us, and we will help you build the perfect CNC machine for your needs.


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


Whether you need a CNC conversion kit for your mill or lathe or need a pre-built CNC machine at low prices, contact CNC Conversion Plus for all your CNC needs.


In the meantime, be safe, keep your machines well-oiled and keep experimenting. 



Looking for Mini Lathe CNC Conversion in Texas? Choose CNC Conversion Plus for Optimum Conversion and Long-lasting Results

Looking For mini lathe CNC conversion in Texas to save time and energy on projects and churn out more products? We, at CNC Conversion Plus, are up for it.


Mini lathes are one of the most used machines in production industries. They are used for producing cylindrical, conical, and flat surfaces. Lathes can also be used for drilling and boring circular and conical holes.


Mini lathes, in the hands of a skilled machinist, can be a great tool to conduct a wide variety of machining and production tasks.


However, despite the versatility of lathes, they are not as efficient when it comes to machining identical parts in quick successions.


This is where CNC comes in.


Mini lathe CNC conversion process is simple and straightforward.


CNC machines are Computer Numerical Control machines.


CNC conversion is basically the process of adding new technology to the old machine to make it more accurate and efficient in its functions.


Why should one consider mini lathe CNC conversion?


Well..the benefits of mini lathe CNC conversion are limitless.


Besides offering faster turnaround and efficient machining, CNC machines are also safer, more accurate, low on additional tooling cost, and more reliable.


So if you are looking for mini lathe CNC conversions, you are right on the path to better production and machining processes.


However, not every CNC conversion is the same.


In order to properly attain mini lathe CNC conversion, you will have to carefully figure out every single step of the conversion, including dismantling the machine and retrofitting it with proper tools.


If you are looking for mini lathe CNC conversion in Texas, CNC Conversion Plus is your best bet.


We offer easy-to-install CNC conversion kits that you can use to convert your mills and lathes into CNC yourself.


We also provide turnkey machines, where we purchase the machine you want, modify it as per your requirements, and deliver it to your address.


With that said, let’s take a look at how we convert mini lathe into CNC:


Mini Lathe CNC Conversion


The modern CNC mills and lathes come with microprocessors that read the G-code programs that the operator feeds into the computer.


Using the code, the microprocessors allow the lathes to function accordingly.


Operators also use computers to design the parts and to write programs either manually or through G-code using CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software.


So the first step to mini lathe CNC conversion is to introduce the machine to several new technologies including motors, processors, and a computer.

  • Electronic Design

Starting with mini lathe CNC conversion, we establish an electronic design for the same.


The power supply circuit is scaled down to 25V AC and 9V AC, with the former catering to the motor voltage supply and the latter powering the logic circuit.


Later, these two AC voltage supplies are rectified using full-wave rectifiers separately. The rectification takes the 25V AC to 35V DC and 9V AC to 5V DC.


Moreover, before the main supply is fed into the capacitor and transformer, a 2A fuse is bridged to protect the circuit from high voltage inputs.

  • Motors

Stepper motors are used in mini lathe CNC conversion in the place of manual handles of the machine to automate the movement of the lathe.


Stepper motors are affordable and reliable, allowing for easy and inexpensive conversion. We use Nema 23 stepper motors as they are suitable for X and Z axes of the lathe.

  • Software

CAM software is used to make the machine move according to the design requirements. With the help of software, mini lathe CNC conversion starts to take shape.


Designs are developed in CAD (Computer Aided Design) and transformed into CAM. The software interprets the human-written codes into machining signals.

  • Experimental Process

The next step in mini lathe CNC conversion is an experimental process. The program initiates as soon as the user starts the software. The operator can use the software to send exact instructions and coordinates on which they want the machine to perform.


The software also monitors limit switches and provides feedback to the operator. The operator can use the software to control and modify the motor speed and the direction of the lead screw.


If there is an issue, the program loops back to the beginning of the code route.

  • Testing

Once the experimental process is done on mini lathe CNC conversion, we conduct an experiment to make sure everything is in sync and running smoothly. We conduct several tests on mechanical and electronic prototypes separately.


Once we finalize that both the prototypes are working fine, we integrate them with each other to produce the final device.


We use tools like an oscilloscope, digital multimeter, power generator, and tachometer to ensure the quality of conversion.


Assembling Part of Mini Lathe CNC Conversion


We mount the motors and flexible couplers for the X and Z axes directly to the current hardware without modifying the lathe in any way.


Once the device has been assembled, the power supply will automate both the axes and the computer can be used to modify and control the movement of the machine.


Concluding Mini Lathe CNC Conversion


Mini lathe CNC conversion is the best way to make use of computer-operated machines for production tasks without having to invest in a CNC machine.


If you are on the lookout for an easy and inexpensive way to convert your mini lathe into CNC in Texas, CNC Conversion Plus has got your back.


With 40 years of experience in designing and automating machines, we offer affordable and easy-to-install CNC conversion kits and turn-key machines that can automate your tasks and allow your operators to focus on other important things.


Our full 3-axis simultaneous machining capability kits come with top-notch quality components and help you design and execute more complex shapes with ease.


Grizzly G0704 CNC Conversion Made Easy: DIY Way to Convert Your Manual Milling Machine into CNC

The Grizzly G0704 is the best-selling milling machine in the country, thanks to its affordable price and unparalleled range of features.


It is easy to operate and even newbie machinists can use it to carry out various machining tasks. It is also a versatile and adaptable machine suitable for professional shops and dedicated production tasks.


The R8 spindle in the mill is powered by a variable speed 1 HP motor. The motor powers the spindle from 50-1125 RPM in the low and 100-2250 RPM in the high.

It also comes with a convenient digital readout, a chip guard on the spindle to keep the debris from flying to the operator, and tapered gibs with double locks for accuracy and precision.

With all these features, you would think the Grizzly G0704 is the perfect milling machine for you. But, there is still room for improvement. And the best way to make this mill better is to convert it into CNC using the Grizzly G0704 CNC conversion kit.


What is CNC Conversion?


CNC conversion is the process of integrating various parts and modules into a manual machine to automate it. One can convert a machine into CNC using a DIY CNC conversion kit.


CNC conversion kits come with a range of hardware components and motors to automate the movement of the machine. CNC conversion kits also come with a new control unit, home and limit switches, and software to help you control the movement of the machine on various fronts.


Alright, now that we have understood what CNC conversion is, let’s take a look at how Grizzly G0704 conversion can be achieved.


The Right Way For Grizzly G0704 Conversion 


The Grizzly G0704 Benchtop Mill, as the name suggests, comes with a table. This table provides support and helps in the easy conversion of the mill.


Moreover, most parts of the Grizzly G0704 are straightforward, allowing for seamless conversion.


The Grizzly G0704 is also a popular contender for CNC conversion because it has a large work area and square vertical column, making it simple to integrate new hardware.


A Grizzly G0704 comes with three axes to cut metal: x, y, and z. The machine comes fitted with handwheels by the table and on the top to manually operate the three axes and produce modified objects.


Using a CNC conversion kit, you can add motors to these handles and automate the machine’s movements.


How do you control the motors? You use drivers. Drivers take impulses from the breakout board, which is sent from a computer to automate the movement of the machine.


So far, we have identified the essential things you need to convert your mill into a CNC machine. On the electronic side, you would need motors, drivers, and a breakout board.


On the non-electronic side, you would need mounts that put the motors, drivers, and breakout board to use.


You also need ball screws to replace the acme screws inside the machine that controls the motion of the table and the head.


Now that you have all the parts with you, it is time to take the machine apart.


First of all, you would need to take the head off the machine.


Start from the top and remove the parts of the machine where ball screws and mounts need to be installed.


Remove the components from the Z axes first and then move on to the X and Y axes.


Once you have removed the head and the three axes, you will have a bare naked machine ready to be integrated with new bits and pieces.


Now, you need to modify the Y-axis block to allow space for the X-axis ball nut.


The second permanent modification you need to make to the machine is to drill and tap the two holes that will hold the X-axes motor mount in place.


Now, put the Y-axis ball screw into the G0704 milling machine, set the bearings into the Y-axis bearing block, and install the motor mount. Finally, mount the motor on the Y-axis.


Similarly, put the ball nut and table assembly for the X-axis into place and mount the motor on it.


Do the same with the Z-axis.


Lastly, put the head of the machine back to its place, and you have got yourself a motor-operated milling machine.


Now, all you need to do is put in the electronic parts that are going to be driving the machine.


Set the electronic components to work with the hardware, and your manual machine is now CNC.


Once you have converted your G0704 mill into CNC, use it to perform a simple machining task like cutting a circle in a metal plate. Make sure the machine is working accurately and is producing the result that you input into the software.




Converting your Grizzly G0704 Into CNC is a pretty quick and straightforward task. All you need to do is be careful about the parts you are using and make sure they are sturdy enough to carry out whatever kind of task you need to carry out.


CNC Conversion Plus provides the best conversion kits for Grizzly G0704 and a range of other machines. Our products are inexpensive, factory-certified, and allow you to convert your manual machines into CNC yourself.


We also provide quality electronic components to go with the hardware so you can start converting your machine without having to worry about missing parts.


Lastly, our DIY conversion kits come with a comprehensive installation guide to revert to whenever you are feeling stuck.


Should You Convert Your Mill / Lathe Using CNC Conversion Kit or Buy a New CNC Machine?

To convert your mills or lathes into CNC using a CNC conversion kit or to buy a new CNC machine is a question that bothers both hobbyists and full-fledged machinists. 


On the one hand, converting your old mills and lathes is an affordable way to upscale your production. On the other hand, buying a new CNC machine is a profitable and productive option for the long run. 


In this article, we will take an in-depth look into CNC machines and CNC conversion kits, identify their pros and cons, and provide you with a clear idea of which one you should opt for.


But before you get into that, let’s first understand CNC machines and CNC conversion.


CNC Machines


CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. CNC machines are computer-operated machines that use pre-programmed computer software to do the machining. 


Specialized software is used to program CNC machines. The software comes with a customized G Code, the language that allows the operator to control coordination, feed rate, location, speed, and other factors. 


For instance, a CNC lathe can be programmed to shape the materials into certain shapes using the software. 


This allows operators to save time and effort in manually shaping the material and still get accurate results. 


Since CNC machines are computer-operated, they tend to give more accurate and precise results than what a machinist could achieve with his bare hands. 


CNC machines are used by large-scale industries and manufacturers to increase production and ROI. 


CNC Conversion with CNC Conversion Kit


CNC Conversion is the process of transforming manual machines such as lathes and mills into CNC. 


CNC Conversion kits are used to transform the old machines into CNC.


A CNC conversion kit typically comes with new hardware components, motors, control units, and software to allow you to automate and set the movements of the X, Y, and Z-axis.


Since manual mills, lathes, and machining tools don’t have a limiter, a CNC conversion kit integrates one into them to restrict the travel range of the three axes.


 It also comes with a motor control unit that allows the operator to set the speed, accuracy, and velocity of the movement.


All in all, a CNC conversion kit allows you to turn your old machines into CNC without burning a hole in your pocket. 


CNC conversion kits are often used by small-scale machinists and hobbyists as they give practically all the advantages of a new CNC machine at an affordable price.


CNC Conversion Kits vs. New CNC Machine


Now that we have figured out the basic differences between CNC conversion and CNC machines, we will better understand which option could be more suitable for us. 


So far, it is clear that new CNC machines are for high-scale production. Industrialists use CNC machines to improve the accuracy and turnaround of their production, which in turn helps them improve their ROI. 


CNC conversion kits are a budget-friendly option for getting almost the same quality machining work without having to invest in an expensive CNC machine. 


Why choose a CNC Machine? 


CNC machines are the best alternative if you have major production requirements. A new CNC machine is efficient and precise in its action. 


Moreover, CNC machines don’t require external components or hardware to run and can be operated by a single machinist. CNC machines come ready to use. 


All you need to do is plug it in, set the parameters, and get it working. 


Once you have put in the design parameters and specifications, CNC machines can churn out a huge quantity of products, allowing you to scale the operation as per your requirements.


Not to mention, the products made by CNC machines are much better in quality and execution compared to anything done on conventional machines, even if it is by the most talented engineer.


Why Choose to Convert your mills/lathes to CNC?


Converting your old machines to CNC using a CNC conversion kit gives you all the same advantages as a new CNC machine but at a more affordable cost.


You can use a CNC conversion kit to transform your old machines into computer-operated machines that can carry out days of work in a matter of hours.


CNC conversion kits come with several external components and require expertise on your part to do the conversion. Nevertheless, if you are wary of something going wrong, you can always hire an expert to convert your machines for you.


CNC conversion kits are the best bet for machining enthusiasts and small-scale operators as they allow for efficient and quality machining at a reasonable price. 




At the end of the day, your preference for a new CNC machine or converting your old machine to CNC lies in your requirements. If you have large-scale production requirements and can afford a new CNC machine, then, by all means, buy one.


But, if you are a small-scale machinist or a hobbyist looking to enhance your skill and production quality, converting your machine to CNC with a CNC conversion kit is your best bet.




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What is a CNC Conversion Kit, and How Does it Work?

Machines, as we know them, have gone through a lot of changes since the industrial revolution. Over the years, machines have evolved to be more intelligent, compact, and more efficient.


Earlier forms of lathes and mills used to be huge and challenging to operate. But over time, we have finessed them into intelligible gadgets that can accurately conduct a wide variety of shaping, grinding, crushing, and cutting tasks.


But that’s not it. The unprecedented development in technology has made it possible to make further improvements in lathes, mills, and other manually operated machines.


Now, you can buy completely computer-operated machines to automate your tasks and focus on other essential aspects of your business.


But, a CNC mill or lathe is not something a hobbyist or a small-scale machinist can afford. They are expensive and require an expert to set them up and get them working.


Fortunately, there is a more affordable and equally capable alternative available.


What is this alternative?


A CNC conversion kit.


What is a CNC Conversion Kit?


Before we get into what a CNC conversion kit is, let’s first understand what CNC stands for.


CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control.


As the name suggests, it allows automated control of machining tools with the help of a computer.


Simply put, a CNC machine is a computer-operated machine that you can automate to carry out various machining tasks.


A CNC conversion kit allows you to automate your manually operated mills and lathes without burning a hole in your pocket.


A typical CNC conversion kit comes with new hardware components and motors to automate the movement of the mill or lathe along the X, Y, and Z-axis.


It also comes with a new control unit and software to help you set parameters on which you want the machine to work.


A CNC conversion kit also includes home and limit switches that restrict the limit of travel on the three-axis and a motor control unit to set the motion of the machine.


However, not all CNC conversion kits are the same. Some are designed to work with older machines, while others are designed for machines by specific manufacturers.


Some conversion kits are extensive and come with complete electronic packages along with a control unit and programming software. Others are simpler and come with only the motor and hardware components needed to make the machine CNC-capable.


The kind of CNC conversion you need depends on your requirements and the type of mill or lathe you want to convert.


You can also choose to use the CNC conversion kit to convert your mills or lathes yourself or have an expert convert your machines for you.


DIY conversion might sound intimidating but is very doable. The hardest and the only tricky part of the conversion will be dealing with the machine’s weight.


Nevertheless, if you are unsure, you can always have an expert machinist have your mill or lathe converted for you using a CNC conversion kit.


You could also ask such experts to take you through the process and specify all the essential tools so you can practice converting machines to CNC yourself.


How Do CNC Conversion Kits Work?


Before you get into converting your manual machines into CNC, you need to understand how a CNC conversion kit works.


Conversion kits act as supplementary components for automating machines. Typically, a CNC conversion kit doesn’t add new axes or movement to the machine. It computerizes the existing ones.


CNC lathe conversion kits and CNC mill conversion kits make use of the machine’s current layout to automate it.


When you buy a CNC conversion kit, you will get several hardware components along with a control unit and software. Most conversion kits come with detailed instruction manuals that can come in handy while converting the machine to CNC.


Before using a CNC conversion kit to make a machine CNC ready, you need to remove certain components from your machine. DIY conversion kits come with simple instruction manuals, allowing hobbyists and small-scale shop owners to convert the machines themselves.


If you are looking forward to converting your mill or lathe yourself, make sure to order a DIY CNC lathe conversion kit or CNC mill conversion kit as it will be available with easy-to-understand and follow instructions.


Having said that, there are a lot of factors that could go wrong while using a CNC conversion kit to convert machines into CNC. If you are not careful, you could end up ruining your current machine and wasting the conversion kit.


The process for Lathe CNC conversion and mill CNC conversion differ because of the different structures of the machines. Nevertheless, the process usually remains the same.


Similarly, harbor freight mini mill conversion might also require different hardware components but almost the same process.


Make sure to check out the backlash and the general serviceability of the machine before using the CNC conversion kit so when you finally make the conversion, it runs smoothly and efficiently.


A typical CNC system contains the following components:

  • Machine
  • Motor
  • Drive
  • Parallel Port
  • Computer
  • GCode Interpreter



The machine is the most basic part of the CNC. A machine can be anything that you use to carry out tasks. It could be a lathe, mill, gear cutter, injection mold machine, or anything with moving parts that you want to automate.



Motors help the machine automate. A CNC machine uses motors to automate manual tasks. Just as a human would use their hands to turn the wheels, a CNC machine uses motors.



A drive is a component that allows the computer to control the motor through an interface. The type of drive you should use in your CNC depends on the type of motor you have.


Parallel Port

Parallel ports are 25 pin connectors usually found at the back of a computer. It helps connect the drives to your computer so you can put in the specifications at which you want the machine to operate.



Computers are where you can access, edit, and modify the information and parameters you want the machine to operate at. You can simply feed in the data in your computer, and your CNC machine will do the rest.


G-code Interpreter

A G-code interpreter is responsible for sending signals out to drive your motors and, eventually, your machine. Notably, a G-code interpreter only involves motion and not the shape.



CAD/CAM is software that one can use to map their idea and realize it in a physical form by generating its G-code.



The question of buying a new CNC machine or converting your old ones using CNC conversion kits depends on your requirements. If you run an extensive machining business or work for a major production company, opting for a new CNC machine will be more suitable.


Nevertheless, if you are a hobbyist or new to machining, CNC conversion kits are a more practical and cost-effective alternative. Converting your old machines into CNC allows you to improve your machining capability while maintaining the serviceability of your old machine.