Hi Pete. Welcome to the Zone!
Start by reading this. It may help you get up to speed a little:
Then we can figure out what size mill you need.
ok. the plan is for steel and less. I need a cnc mill to take my business to the next level but Lack the $$$ to just buy one. i am looking to either build my own or alter an exsisting machine (prefered choice). This is my 1st cnc and i am pretty ignorant in the parts i would need. The electronics are confusing and i need to know what i need. Help me please!!
Welcome to world of CNC. You are in right place to learn.
In your case I would lean towards conversion.
Read up and learn and you will discover how much you will know more and use in years to come.
Let's start with the basics:
What is your business?
What do you make?
What do you plan to make with the new mill?
What do you estimate to be the largest object you will work on?
How wide, deep and high?
What is your budget?
In my personal opinion I would give myself little more size as this would not infulence budget that much. But it would give an opportunity to takle biger jobs and with budget being tight building another but bigger machine may not be an option.
Right now I am just in need of something for prototyping while I establish the actual "shop" portion of my business. My "other job" is a little overwhelming at this point still.
hey pete. i think the prefered choice is to use old printer/scanner stepper motors. connecting them to a driver and connecting them to a computers parallel port. here a good beginners tut that i am using as i have just started my CNC machine http://www.instructables.com/id/Easy..._a_Recycled_M/. i have to add this is just for connecting 1 stepper motor to a computer. here http://www.instructables.com/id/Recy...ller-Followup/ is a site that shows you how to make a driver for 3 stepper motors. the second sites easy to follow providing you read and understand the first one. hope this helps a little. as i said i'm only a beginner as well but found these2 sites the best and easy to understand.
You haven't answered any of my questions--especially the budget one, so it's hard to calculate exactly what you need. I will lay out some relatively cheap options for you:
1. DG1 Taig. This is a tiny mill, but will do steel albeit very slowly. At $1700 it is about the least expensive nearly turnkey CNC mill you can buy.
2. Another, more capable mill, but way more expensive, is the new Novakon NM-145. About $6500:
3. There's always the Tormach options:
Now, if you are handy, and don't want to spend so much money, you can build a very capable mill by buying a $1500 SX3L:
and retrofitting it yourself with a $960 CNCFusion kit, (You will have to request longer X ball screw and CR G540 option.)
and These $560 electronics:
Last edited by Crevice Reamer; 02-23-2010 at 06:49 PM. Reason: Correct price of NM-145
Too many PMs. Email me to my name plus At A O L dot com.
I personally took the manual route to start with when I started developing some different mechanical parts to a product I already made. I started out making the initial product completely by hand using routers, jigs, fixtures etc. Drill press or two, tablesaw and then finally came a manual X2 mill and lathe.
I then built my first cnc, which is a router.
I had planned on the next one being a plasma, but built a mill sooner and didn't need a plasma cutter then.
Third was a cnc converted lathe. Then built another from scratch. Now I have bought a larger mill to convert and that is getting parts shipped for it little by little.
You don't have to jump into anything full tilt.
I let my business do the buying and at first only worked at night building these machines. They were built for a purpose and are perfectly suited to what they do. Very little risk involved this way and my machines grew as the business did. I now have another full time employee and may be looking for a second soon. No reason to expand too fast I don't think. Just been keeping the books in the black and plugging away.
There is a fair bit of software learning curve that one must overcome, but it isn't as hard as say calculus. Best place to learn that if you have questions is right here, so you are starting off in the right place and where I first knew that cnc machines where going to be a part of my business plan.
Good luck with it. tell us more about the project when you can.
DIYlilcnc.org For roughly $750 in parts, + laser cut panels (which usually run $250 dollars for someone to cut them for you on a lasercnc) you will fully understand how a cnc machine works, how steppers work and programming software. There is a full 60+ page pdf on how to build the machine, a open forum, etc. Both the creators are educators and wrote the PDF amazingly. PLUS the plans are 100% free along with the forums. That is how i got my feet wet. If you have a $1000 dollars it will be money well spent, not just on a machine but education that will put you on the next level along with your business. It will open doors for you to build a much larger cnc and fully understand what is going on with the parts, electronics etc. Just my 2 cents.