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  1. #1
    75+ Posting Member Crescent's Avatar
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    Milling Machine or CNC?

    Hi there. I'm in a debate as to buying a milling machine or a cnc router. I'm familiar with milling machines, but not at with cnc. So, what's the difference or drawbacks? I know lot's on here use one or the other, so post your experiences please.

    Thanks.

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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Hi Crescent,

    Milling machine: You know it. Power, no subtile shapes.

    CNC: Much less power, difficult shapes.

    In fact that's the real difference, the rest is secondary.

    Hessel
    767 Level-D

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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    A CNC Mill has rigidity and is an extremely solid tool. A CNC mill will cut and shape hard/soft metals or any material to very accurate dimensions.

    A CNC router usually uses a gantry and is not as solid as a CNC mill as it does not need to be. You would never cut a steel piston head with a CNC router but you would with a CNC Mill. CNC routers generally favor soft metals, plastic and wood and the work tables can be very large in dimension (very cost affective).

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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Hi Crescent,
    I know exactly what you are thinking as I am a fitter/machinist by trade with quite a bit of milling experience and was faced with the same decision a while back. I have been looking for a cnc machine for quite a while and was lucky enough to score this one off Ebay last week. I decided on buying a cnc router as most of the parts I make are PVC. From all accounts it isn't that hard to get your head around and many say that it becomes a hobby in itself. My machine has been made by a pro from billet aluminium and it is solid as a rock so I was thrilled to pick it up for just AUD$875.
    CNC....go for it!!!



    Regards, Gwyn
    Last edited by Westozy; 11-06-2009 at 06:26 PM.

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    500+ This must be a daytime job BHawthorne's Avatar
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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crescent View Post
    Hi there. I'm in a debate as to buying a milling machine or a cnc router. I'm familiar with milling machines, but not at with cnc. So, what's the difference or drawbacks? I know lot's on here use one or the other, so post your experiences please.

    Thanks.

    Both can be made to CNC.

    3 axis mill can do metals while the router is limited mostly to wood and plexi although some soft Al could be done on the router I guess with slow IPM. You do your small intricate parts on the 3 axis CNC and can do larger shells cutting MDF on a large router CNC. When I think router table I think at least 4x4 foot size...perferably an ideal 5x10 foot table. There are people who do a lot smaller router tables, but if you go small just CNC a 3 axis mill. Better accuracy and can cut more. Small router tables are not really the way to go if you want to cut diverse materials. A lot of people here probably use them though as the plans are readily avaialble. I suggest just scaling the plans to 4x4 foot or more and doing that as a router table. As far as 3 axis mill just CNC retrofit an X2 or X3 Chinese mill and replace out the crap parts on it also with retrofit kits that are readily avaialble.

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    75+ Posting Member Crescent's Avatar
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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Thanks guys for all the info. That pretty much answers my question...I need both!

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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crescent View Post
    Thanks guys for all the info. That pretty much answers my question...I need both!
    There you go!

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    500+ This must be a daytime job BHawthorne's Avatar
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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Crescent View Post
    Thanks guys for all the info. That pretty much answers my question...I need both!
    Don't really need either, but you can do a ton of cool things (plus earn a bit of $$$ on the side with them) owning both. Of all the hobbies out there, CNC might be the only one I know that might pay for itself (if you're lucky). CNC in and of itself is a time consuming hobby, so keep in mind you'd now have 2 very time consuming hobbies.

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    300+ Forum Addict Steve A's Avatar
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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Are we talking hobby cnc's and millers here because in real life a manual miller can do everything a cnc can do just slower, given the the right equipment on the bed like rotary tables, boring heads, keyway cutters and sine bars etc etc.

    Personally i love cnc's but really given the choice i would have a good quality manual miller with auto feed in xyz and maybe a digital readout there wouldn't be a peice of material it couldn't machine.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/1990-BRIDGEPORT-...item53dde7fe1d

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    500+ This must be a daytime job BHawthorne's Avatar
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    Re: Milling Machine or CNC?

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A View Post
    Are we talking hobby cnc's and millers here because in real life a manual miller can do everything a cnc can do just slower, given the the right equipment on the bed like rotary tables, boring heads, keyway cutters and sine bars etc etc.

    Personally i love cnc's but really given the choice i would have a good quality manual miller with auto feed in xyz and maybe a digital readout there wouldn't be a peice of material it couldn't machine.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/1990-BRIDGEPORT-...item53dde7fe1d
    CNC retrofitting a Bridgeport would be my ideal 3 axis setup. I'd rather spend my time working out toolpaths in a CAM app than burning the time doing it manually. But really, it's just a personal preference. Most things can be machined perfectly fine manually though. My reasoning behind CNC vs manual is that I'd like to simulate the toolpaths before cutting, that way I'm not messing up an expensive piece of stock. Then again I'd probably use cheap MDF to prototype with before cutting actual metal stock.

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