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[Newbie] 4 Or 5 Axis Cnc Milling Machine Build

Discussion in 'CNC IN THE HOME SHOP' started by Fingerpuk, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. Fingerpuk

    Fingerpuk United Kingdom Iron Registered Member

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    Hello.

    I'm new here. I've been Googling and hunting for a while, and lurking here for a while, and have decided to ask. I have a strong desire for a CNC milling machine for hobby use, 4 or 5 axis. I have been playing with the little Roland iModela 3 axis mill for 18 months and I'm loving it, but it's time to go further.

    A little background about me - I have been a professional 3D artist in the visual effects industry for many years, and alongside that work I have over a decade of CAD experience. So the software side doesn't worry me. However I'm struggling with the hardware. I could buy the Pocket NC and be done with it, aluminium is as hard as I'd want to mill in terms of material, but before I start the heavy saving I thought I'd ask the experts.

    I'm looking for a mill that can handle details, and although I think 4 axis would serve me needs perfectly (model work really, this is a hobby, it keeps my brain active) but why not look at 5 axis if it's available? I wonder if I should buy a manual mill and convert myself after, and if I go this route how accurate is it? Also I use Macs and don't own anything with a parallel port! I guess I could get an adaptor, or buy a PC to run the CAM software.

    I use a mixture of Rhino and Fusion 360 as my CAD software, and Maya/Modo/Silo/ZBrush for everything else.

    I live in Kent in the UK.

    Any advice you can offer I'd love to hear it, or any pointers on what I should read. In terms of build size I wont be making anything huge, I'd say a build size of a couple of packs of cards would work fine, I can always make things in bits. Unless I choose to make parts for motorbikes, which is my other hobby!

    Cheers,
    A.
     
  2. Boswell

    Boswell United States Hobby Machinist since 2010 H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Welcome to the forum. Build or Buy can be a tough question sometimes and often is a function of which you have more of, Money or Time. If you decide to buy a manual machine and convert it you will find plenty of support and advice in this forum and some nice build logs from people that have gone before you. Think about how much time you want to invest is building your tools instead of using them to build your art. For some building up their tools IS the hobby. For me, I generally would rather purchase the tools when practical and spend my time making stuff. No two people have the same goals, or funding so you will ultimately have to make that decision yourself. But you came to the right place for support and ideas. While my system uses MACH3 and runs on a MS Windows system is does not use a Parallel port. Instead it communicates to the motion controller via Ethernet. I have no idea if you can coax MACH3 to run under IOS under an emulator but I doubt it. Also MACH3 is not the only system in town but a very popular one for hobby level systems. You will also need to consider the number of axies that you want to run. I believe MACH3 will support 5 without a problem butt be sure to look into this if you look at other systems. Additional axises will not only drive up the cost of the Mill but some CAM systems charge more for 4 or 5 axis support. You mentioned accuracy. What level of tolerance are you thinking you need and of course have you decided on a budget?
     
    JimDawson, TomS and rdean like this.
  3. Fingerpuk

    Fingerpuk United Kingdom Iron Registered Member

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    Hello. Thanks for the reply. After a few more days hunting I think I'll have to build. I don't want a plotter style mill which is all I can find pre made for sensible hobby range money.

    So I guess my next step is to choose a manual mill which I can buy immediately, but one that can be modified later. I'll keep hunting :)

    I'd like to spend up to £1,500. In terms of tolerance levels my little iModela is fantastically accurate. If I could get to 1/10mm I'd be happy.

    I've already started the CAD work for a rotary engine. I like a challenge! ;-)
     
  4. Fingerpuk

    Fingerpuk United Kingdom Iron Registered Member

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    Another option would be to get something like the Proxxon MF70 3 axis for £522 (I'm not allowed to post links here yet) and add the CNC control unit and 4th axis myself.
     
  5. Fingerpuk

    Fingerpuk United Kingdom Iron Registered Member

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    Ignore that ^^^ turns out that mill is terrible.

    I think I'll have to drop about a grand on the manual mill then update it to CNC in a month or two.
     
  6. tmarks11

    tmarks11 Active User Active Member

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    The most popular machines for conversions are the Sieg SX2 or SX3, or a G0704, also known as a BF20 or WM18 from Warco or Waebeco in the UK.
     
  7. Boswell

    Boswell United States Hobby Machinist since 2010 H-M Supporter-Premium

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    be sure to look at the Max Z Travel. The 4th and 5th axis can take up significant height. I don't know anything about eh SX2 or SX3 but I had a G0704 that I liked very much but the max Z height was a issue on some parts and was made worse if I used a large milling vice.
     

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