hello. New member here. Been die cutting / engraving for 30 years. What is the best bang for the dollar for a (small) desktop 3d CNC engraver? I want to set one up in my basement. Looking to cut raised-letter stamps, Emblematic dies / hubs, etc. Haig? Seig? Charly? Help !!
.....just a note: I am no stranger to CNC. I have been using MasterCam and BostoMatics (daily) since 1985. I just need a good rugged desktop miller / engraver. PLEASE help!
The right answer requires a bit more info, I think.
What is your budget for hardware and software?
What is the largest piece of stock you expect to be engraving or milling?
Will you be working for pay on a regular, once in a while as a hobby, or somewhere in between.
Ultra high accuracy may not be important, but work envelop and engraving time might be. Spindle speed could also be important for run time if not finish of the engraved features.
Most would agree a Taig mounting a light high speed engraver spindle is far and away the best bang for the buck in a small desktop machine for any one of a large number of reasons. If its work envelope will suit you, you can pretty much just stop there. If you need a bigger work area, mounting a light high speed engraver spindle on a small router unit is probably the best bet. Sheer tonnage is not required in an engraver, speed and accuracy is. A good spindle with exceptionally low runout will probably be far more important than about any other factor for your application.
...I've "seen" the Taig's. Are they pretty rugged? Yes, I agree with Stepper Monkey, accuracy will be my main factor. I plan on cutting raised letter stamps out of aluminum and possibly S-7. I will be using a "V" type cutter with approx .003-.005" cutting face. Most of the stamps will be under 2" square. The Taig's will cut 3D? In other words, I can post an X,Y, AND Z on the same block? I read some of the other posts, and some other guy was having problems with backlash, and some play in his table (with his Taig). Are these the "best" out there in that price range?
My situation is my company is moving to China. I want to start my own business, and they are going to outsource some work to me. I also would need to pick up more clients. That being said, I will need to make a decent investment.
You are going to have a hard time milling tool steel with most inexpensive desktop machines.
Better to make a deal with your company for a mill that will not be making the trip to China. Older Bostomatics do not bring very much and you can update the controls.
The Minitech machine is a great choice for aluminum. Maybe the Minitech 3 Pro.
A lot of stamps still are being made by Gorton pantographs. Very reasonable on Ebay.
I thought about purchasing one of our Bosto's, but they are big, and need updated controls. The "new" controls are about 35K-40K. I know Gary Wells at G&W who is the expert on BostoMatics. That's why I am looking at smaller desktop models. Plus, I need to probably start out in the garage or basement until I can get some good cash-flow, and customers.
As far as pantograph's, I ran one for years. I am from the pattern-making days. My company "threw away" 3 Alexanders (Gorton clones). I could have had one for free. They were outside by the dumpster for the taking.....Jack, in your opinion I would not be able to cut tool steel with a good bench-top? I really need to be able to cut some Emblematic dies and anything else I can get my hands on.....those MiniTech's look really sweet. And, on the website they show many different tools that were cut with them.
Taigs are the best in their price range but it sounds like you need more which unfortunately costs more.
Minitechs are a good customizable, turnkey solution, I've got a MM3 Pro and it could do what you want, it's the sort of thing it's designed for really. Very accurate and low maintenance. Contact Jack, he probably already has customers using them for a similar use, he might be able to put you in touch with one.
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You should have pulled the spindles from the Alexander pantographs before they were thrown out. Nice heavy duty spindle for a desktop mill cutting steel. Alexanders are a Deckel clone. Also, you should round up any tooling,cutters, collets, etc. that were used with the pantographs. Perfect scale for desktop milling or Ebaying.
While its possible to do most anything on a Sherline or Taig, I don't see you making a living cutting steel on this type of mill. Too much work to finish a job. Visit with Jack at Minitech. The Minitech Pro 3 with a heavy duty spindle might work for you. Not cheap though.
Maybe something like a Dyna Myte CNC Milling Machine. Not very much money used. Don from Procyon/Practical Machinist sold this one for $3,500.00
The Dyna Myte is not a perfect solution for you but it gets you closer to cutting steel at high spindle speeds with small cutters. This machine could also be updated with better controls using the resources on this forum.
Making steel dies certainly takes a whole lot more oomph than just simple engraving, particularly regarding the spindle. Sorry, I missed that die cutting part at first. The Minitechs are awesome machines, but I don't think even that would do the trick if only fitted with the stock spindle setup. I have used that exact NSK Astro spindle setup for steel coin dies, and like you also with .003,.005, and .007 tools, and it was just too small and light. It was a nice unit and very accurate, but 106W was just too severely underpowered for steel, and 25K was a little slow. You need a lot more spindle, 300W at least, and more like 500-750w and 45K if you can afford it.
The actual machine you bolt it to probably matters a lot less than than the spindle choice, as those little tools just can't impart that much force/vibration back to the machine so you don't need a giant machine for the rigidity required. Desktop size does work fine, several large countries national mints use desktop machines for thier coin die needs. I was using a Model Master, which is roughly comparable to the Minitech, and right now I am actually having perfectly acceptable results with just a simple Taig mounted with a little 750W HF spindle and VFD, though it is not nearly in the same class as the other two units. Any of these three is certainly rigid/rugged enough to do the job with the right spindle, but the Minitech and Model Master are more accurate and far more convenient, or at least certainly less requiring of the periodic fidgiting and adjustment of the Taig. If you can afford/justify the cost of them they are certainly well worth having, though not strictly necessary if cost is a constraint.