CNC Engraving Machine

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There are many different types of hobby cnc milling machine out there. Buying a hobby cnc machine can be daunting which is why I have written this guide to help you get the best cnc hobby machine for your money. So here goes..

There are a few different factors that you need to look at when looking to buy a hobby cnc machine:

1. Pricehobby cnc machine

2. New or Used

3. Uses for your cnc milling machine hobby

4. Maintenance of your hobby cnc milling machine

5. Where to buy or source a great hobby cnc machine

1. Pricing for a cnc hobby milling machine

The price is probably one of the most important things. You can save a bit of money on buying a used cnc hobby machine, or you could even make your own machine. For a new personal cnc machine, it can easily cost you between $5-10,000 USD. Also getting a machine outside of the USA, China or Canada can be hard. A lot of so called cnc websites seem cheap, but may only ship within China or the USA. So be aware of this and factor this into the costs of a hobby cnc machine router or lathe.

If you want to splash out, you could check out Sherline which does good mills that are almost ready to go, you just need to add your own motor and controller.

The option that I would recommend if you are really penny pinching it is to just go ahead and build your own. There are a ton of different sites that allow you to build your own personal cnc machine. Here are some articles to get yo started:

-Engadget has a great, informative article on building your own cnc machine here.

-RCuniverse has a good little article on making a diy cnc foam cutter here.

-Wired has instructions to make a cnc machine for only $390, check it out.

2. New or Used

cnc hobby milling machine

Buying a brand new cnc machine for only cnc machine hobby use can be expensive, with some personal kits costing up to $10,000 USD without shipping costs.

A full on 3 axis cnc machine for milling and routing even up to $50k. So it is important to figure out exactly what you need the  machine for and what your budget is. Like I said before, I like the idea of building something up yourself.

New means you get something that will definitely work straight out of the box, but be aware of additional costs down the line such as maintenance costs and any future software upgrades and possible drill or router piece replacements.

Used means you get a machine for cheap, but you will also have to factor in the above maintenance costs as well as the fact that the machine may break and you will not be covered by warranty.

If your frequency of use is not very much, then it may off to just get something used. But if you see yourself doing a lot of personal or even a little commercial stuff on the side, then it would probably be best to invest in something new.

Another option that you could consider is retrofitting an older mill using kits that do this from a place like Sherline.com

3. Uses for your hobby cnc engraving machine 

cnc milling machine hobby

Remember the best cnc hobby cnc machine is no good unless you find the right uses for it. Uses include things like:

-routing: creating special paths to create something in 2d or 3d such as a relief sculpture

-milling: milling means to use the cnc machine to take out parts of the material to form some sort of desired shape

-etching: cnc etching or cnc engraving a name or etching design details or joins can be used with a mix of the others to help join parts together later and reference them a lot easier

-cutting: cutting different materials for different purposes, such as sheet metal for welding later

-lathing: lathing options spin the material and are found on a specialist  hobby cnc machine lathe

-creating 3d shapes: using a mix of the above to create 3d shapes

 4. Maintenance for your hobby cnc milling machine

Maintaining your best hobby cnc machine for use is always a good idea. There are three things that you need to consider:

-Machine Maintenance: Think about what you need to keep your machine clean as well as running smoothly. Think about the right cleaning solutions as well as lubricant solutions.

-Extra parts: Think about what extra parts you may need in future, such as extra cutting/ routing pieces. Other accessories may include a cnc machine enclosure or different bed sizes and materials.

-Hobby CNC Machine Software: Software for cnc can be expensive, so make sure you get out and have a bit of a look around. There are a lot of different free alternatives out there, but if you buy a machine that comes with software, then make sure you can upgrade it in future. A lot of software can be expensive to upgrade, such as Mastercam, so be sure to check this out beforehand and factor this into your budget as well.

5. Where to buy or source a great hobby cnc machine

Here are my favorites which can be bought easily from Amazon’s site, including books on how to build your own hobby cnc machine: