There are a lot of different cnc milling machines out there. Finding the best cnc milling machine from all the others can be hard. There are many options to cater to different project needs and specifications. Below are some of what I reckon are the best cnc milling machines out there:
You pretty much have 3 leading brands (in no particular order):
3. Bolton Tools
4. Wait, there’s a number 4? Yes and that is your lesser known, no brand machine that does the job well, but does not have all the hype. We will talk about this one later.
First up, let’s look at Grizzly’s cnc milling machines.
Grizzly has been around for a long time, and they have a ton of experience and product in the milling/drilling category. Their top cnc milling machine is the G0618 3 axis cnc milling machine. The total price comes out to $45,650 USD including freight. It seems like an awesome machine with Centroid running at it’s core and it also has as high resolution level, going down to one ten-thousandth of an inch (0.0001″).
The high precision resolution level on the G0618 cnc milling machine means the product does not really need any finishing when it comes off the mill. I have had some experiences in the past, where I have had to spend a lot of time finishing the product, because the resolution on the milling machine was not so good. In my experience, having that level of detail is definitely worth it.
Their G0499 10″ x 54″ 3 axis cnc milling machine is also a good option and it is cheaper, coming in at $28,600 USD after shipping is added to the United States. It features a large enough bed size for a lot of standard manufacturing. Remember that parts can be broken up and attached back later to make it so you can mill on a smaller machine.
You can use a good cad/cam program to split up a file and do this such as the program the product was designed in, or a program like Solidworks or Concepts Unlimited. Of course, these machines are very large and are not just the standard benchtop cnc milling machine. These are industrial sized and require a large payment up front, but can make a good return on investment if you foresee yourself or your company using it a lot.
The great thing about Grizzly milling machine is that they sell their own machines, so you are not having to go through a third party to buy product or ask questions. This to me is a huge benefit, and can be hard to find in the manufacturing industry as a lot of companies scramble to sell their product through many different channels.
Now let’s take a look at Jet’s flagship cnc milling products.
Jet have also been around a long time and have a solid range of milling/ drilling machines.
Jet’s JTM-1050EVS/460 Milling Machine is as solid option, coming in at around $43,000 USD including freight (You can get it for around $5000 cheaper through Southern-tool.com). This is similar in price to the Grizzly G0618 and at that price, it comes equipped as a 3 axis machine. The list of features goes on and on, and it really is up to you to choose which best suits, but it is safe to say that this machine and the Grizzly’s are definitely worth considering for the serious buyer for a 3 axis cnc mill. It is interesting to note that neither of these companies offer a 5 or 4 axis cnc mill in their current product line.
How about Bolton Tools?
Bolton Tools also do some solid 3 axis cnc milling machines. They are also a lot cheaper than the competition. They offer a cheap 3 axis cnc milling machine for $25,000, but down to only around $10,000 here on Amazon (non-affiliate link) or $11,000 USD from their official website. The only problem is that their website does not really give the exact resolution accuracy. This shouldn’t be a problem, as if you are really interested, you could just give them a call tor email to get this.
I’d definitely recommend checking Bolton Tools out for their cheaper range, but if you have the money, I’d say splash out on a Grizzly or a Jet. It all depends on whether something is for commercial or is just a hobby cnc milling machine.
Unfortunately, I have only scratched the surface on this one. There are tons of different features, cool things as well as limitations to these brands and machines. It really depends on the user and what project he or she is going to do on the machine. Of course, if you do not need the cnc aspect, Grizzly, Shop Fox and Jet offer milling or drilling machines that are non-cnc.
It might also be beneficial to look into used cnc milling machines. A used cnc milling machine can save a lot of money. Try looking at older models that people do not want to buy, and you may be able to pick up a machine that has been re-certified or refurbished. You could also look at snapping up a used machine off of someone who is looking to upgrade. Check to see if the software can be updated and whether it will be easy to get new tooling for the machine or not.
The machines listed above are all industrial sized as well, so you may require something a little more smaller such as a tabletop cnc milling machine or a mini cnc milling machine. Once again, it all depends on your project specification or the cnc machining service that you have. Having as portable, small cnc milling machine is also a great option, as it allows the user to store the machine away when not in use.