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cnc machines in a factory

At CNC Estab we have gone over a ton about different manufacturing methods using cnc (computer numerical control), but we still get the occasional message asking us how cnc machines work? Well I’m going to go through and hopefully by the end of this post, you should be able to answer when someone asks you “How does a cnc machine work?”

How a cnc machine works

It all starts with a CAD operator who models the product in 3d or 2d using a CAD program. The most common 2d CAD program would be AutoCAD. I used this a lot in the marine industry for making cut files and nesting parts for cnc cutting. For 3d – there is a wide selections from Pro Engineer to Solidworks to Rhino 3d.

After the file has been modeled in the CAD program it is then exported into a friendly CAM format. For 2d this is typically a .dxf file used by a cnc machine to simulate a path and then cut. For 3d a path is also simulated, but in 3d to calculate how long the machine will take – this also varies depending on the material used (wood, metal, resin etc.)

Rhino 3d to MasterCAM

The CAM program then turns the file from the CAD program into G-Code, which is what the machine will then use to cut/ rout the material to form the 3d product or the 2d cuts in the case of plasma cutting or 2d laser cutting.

So in essence the process is CAD program – CAM program – G Code – Machine does the work.

At each stage there are usually ways to test for success. CAD programs allow checks to see that the 3d object is a closed object. Most competent CAD programmers will export in multiple file formats then try and re-import using the same or different CAD program just to check if it has been exported properly.

Typically large files that do get exported as a .stp or .iges file can sometimes corrupt ot don’t turn out properly. With .iges files I have seen surfaces missing after export – so checking the file by re-importing is very important and a time-saver before handing it off to a cnc programmer or cnc operator.

With CAM programs – these typically simulate the routing cycle. This gives you an idea of how the object will be cut, what paths are used and most importantly, the finish and time something like this will take. The beauty of this is that you will never get a ’round about’ figure from a cnc operator.

The software should tell them EXACTLY how much time a job will take and counting the lead time, you should get an exact estimate on time as well as cost. Don’t be fooled if they tell you otherwise.

Types of cnc machines

There are a good variety of different cnc machines out there. Before going into different mediums, I want to talk about the axis.

3 axis cnc machine

3 axis cnc machine – This means the router only has 3 axis, typically x, y and z. This means the machine can not rout complex shapes. I worked with a cnc operator in the past that had this type of machine, but was able to rotate the work piece in between cuts to achieve close to what a 5 axis cnc machine could do.

5 axis cnc machine – I have discussed these a lot previously here on Essentially you get another 2 axis enabling the machine to rout complex shapes. You will also find 4 axis machines as well.

Mediums – laser, regular, plasma, water-jet. Each is unique and used for different purposes. Check out the respective category pages to learn more. But here’s a quick rundown anyway:

Laser cnc machines – This typically uses a  CO2 laser to cut through the material.

Regular cnc routers/ lathes – This typically uses a cutting edge very similar to a drill piece. Actually many use hardened drill pieces to mill any cnc machine work. Used a lot with foam, wood and for cnc engraving work. Most cnc engraving machines use this regular cnc method.

Plasma cnc machine – Similar to a plasma cutter – A plasma cnc machine is typically used for cutting through steel or metal with extremely high heat.

Waterjet cnc machines – Waterjet machines are awesome. They use a high pressure blast of water to cut through material. They are used a lot in 2d cutting metal/ aluminum. The benefit with waterjet cutters is that there is no heat, so the material does not loose any of its original strength and this process provides an extremely clean cut.

Now you should have an understanding on how a cnc machine works, and what the different kinds of cnc machines are. The cnc process has come a long way in the past 50 years and will only continue to get better and better.

What else do you want to know about cnc machines?

Photo credit: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

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cnc router kit

You know what? I love diy cnc machines, but finding a good kit is hard. There are tons of cnc machines out there that cost tens of thousands of dollars, but finding a budget friendly cnc router kit is tough.

I’ve scoured the net to help things be a lot easier. Here are my recommendations for a good cnc router kit:

Zen Toolworks CNC Carving Machine DIY Kit 7×7

The Zen Toolworks CNC Carving Machine DIY Kit 7×7 is probably my favorite recommendation for a kit. It comes with great instructions and comes from one of my favorite retailers, Amazon. The last thing you want is a machine that you can’t return if it’s not the right fit.

Regular price is around $400, but I’ve seen this diy cnc router kit as low as $360 USD. This is a great diy cnc router kit for the beginner who does the occasional cnc routing/ engraving work.

The Zen Toolworks 7×7 is a desktop machine so can be stored away pretty easily and has a small footprint. Also as a head’s up – this machine runs on Artsoft Mach 3 software.

As with most diy kits, it may take a bit of time to put together. This should take you no more than half a day, as the machine is put together mainly be screws. The PVC plastic should last a while as it is nice and rigid.

Zen Toolworks CNC Carving Machine DIY Kit 12×12 F8

This machine is a larger version of the aforementioned 7×7 machine that is available on Amazon. This cnc machine has a list price of $700, but can be found cheaper on Amazon. There is a 12 x 12 inch travel capacity on the bed.

Remember that stepper motor drivers will need to be purchased as well as a dremel/ spindle/ cutter.  The stepper drivers will drive the 3 stepper motors that comes with this kit. This kit should be pretty easy to put together, definitely around half a days work with regular tools.

The good thing about Zenworks is that the support is great. You also get protection from Amazon in terms of returns if the machine is not up to standard. A great deal for those looking for a complete cnc router kit that is easy to buy.

Kikori CNC – What started as a Kickstarter project is now available as an entire kit. That’s right – you don’t need to get anything else. This low-cost cnc machine has a 4’x8′ milling area and comes in at only $4000.

All you need to supply here is your own router, table and of course, a computer. This a great deal for a complete cnc router kit!

BuildYourCNC has a great diy article as well as parts that you can get from then separately  You’re going to have to read through and get the parts separately which they do have – but this is a big annoying compared to getting a whole kit like the ones recommended above.

Motiontek has a great little mechanical router cnc kit available. With different kit steppers and working table sizes, there are different parts available here to build up a hobby cnc router kit of your own.

FineLine Automation has cnc kit routers available in different sizes. These guys are definitely worth checking out. Sizes available include 2’x3′, 2’x4′, 4’x4′, 3’x3′, 3’x4′. These are some reasonable sizes for doing some good work on.

Cnc router parts – I’d recommend the CRP4896 4’x8′ diy cnc router kit here. They do have other products, but this particular size isn’t available at Fineline Automation, so I definitely suggest cnc router parts as a good place for larger diy router kits as a start. They have 6 different kits to choose from for a cnc wood router kit. – This is a great resource for conversion kits. They also have both cnc lathes and routers available too.

What cnc router kits do you recommend?

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4 axis cnc router

Are you looking for a 4 axis cnc router? Well I’ve put together a guide on what to buy, what the big brands are and also what parts you may need going forward.

Specific 4 axis router brands are hard to come by, as a lot of typical 4 axis machines are modded from an original 3 axis machine. Without further ado, here’s our 4 axis cnc router guide:

Top brands to look for:

Haas – Haas do great 4 axis cnc machines.The ES-5-AX, ES-5-4T, HS-3R are big bed type 4 axis cnc milling machines. From $130k to just over $500k (the first two models are enclosed) The largest 4 axis machine here is a monster 150″ x 50″ x 60″. Yes that’s right, a cnc machine that is actually the price of a house – definitely worth a look.

Haas also does slightly smaller (but still big) machines. Check out their VF-2SS cnc machine for a 16″ x 30″ table travel 4 axis machine, or their 26″ x 40″ table travel HAAS VF-3YT enclosed cnc machine.

Flexicam – Flexicam have some cool machines that have different strengths and weakneses. If you want variety – see these guys.

The Flexicam XXL is a HUGE machine that can have multiple gantries. The XXL machine can go up to a length of just over 12 meters!

Remember, Flexicam doesn’t just do super huge 4 axis cnc machines, they also have a good range of smaller machines that are worth a look.

Careel Technology – Careel’s CR-1325S and their CR-2040S are solid 4 axis machines. Each have a fairly sizable table size. One at 1450×2950 and the larger model at 2500×4700. There is sufficient size here to cover your 4 axis cnc milling needs.

Other recommendations:

MDX-540 subtractive rapid prototyping system – This machine isn’t technically a cnc machine, but is a rapid prototyping machine that has 4 axis capabilities.

Rapid prototyping is something I have never really gone into too much on this particular site, but it is a great alternative as opposed to a cnc router. This is because of its accuracy.

For snap-on parts, smooth finishes and parts that need a smaller resolution (very fine and small parts) – rapid prototyping is a must. Definitely worth checking this machine out.

Different 4 axis cnc controller parts/ accessories to look at:

4-axis CNC driver box – This is my top pick for a 4 axis cnc mill driver box. This is a Sherline cnc driver box. We have been looking and writing about Sherline cnc machines for a while. This also comes with Linux software and a 6 amp power supply. – This is a great site that has a ton of options for different fourth axis parts. If you have a diy 4 axis cnc router, then this site is definitely worth checking out.

Products and accessories include 3 and 4 jaw chucks, motor axis, magnetic faceplates, adaptor kits and different tutorials for these particular parts/ cnc accessories. – These guys do some solid cnc machines. They also have specific 4 axis cnc machines.

Their machines come with larger bed sizes, such as the Swift 4-axis 24 x 48 as wekk as the Smartshop D 48″ x 96″ 4hp cnc router 10hp vacuum. A larger cnc machine like this definitely needs a vacuum to function well, so I’m glad to see this functionality with this larger bed cnc machine.

Probotix – 4 axis stepper motor driver kits for the person who loves the diy 4 axis cnc scene. These are some quality parts for a potential 4 axis cnc kit.

Xylotex – For cheaper 4 axis drive boxes, check out the Xylotex 4 axis drive box.

4 axis cnc software

BobCAD-CAM – 4 axis mill professional software. This is a great piece of cad/cam software. Cad/cam software can be really expensive.

Solidworks and Pro/Engineer are my usual go-to’s, but the BobCAD-CAM cnc software works perfect for a 4 axis cnc machine, without needing to have the extra bells and whistles of the aforementioned programs.

Seats for Solidowrks, Pro/Engineer and Autodesk Inventor can be expensive. BobCAD-CAM also has software for 5 axis machines too. Also I wouldn’t recommend AutoCAD 3d, it’s best to just go straight to a dedicated 3d program or with Inventor.

Beginner G Code – Check out our tutorial for beginners. There are plenty of other books out there as well for this sort of stuff (see below) or our write up on different cnc courses.

CNC must-have books – check out these books for further information on cnc training and software recommendations. Good luck!

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There are a ton of different cnc wood lathe machines out there. So which one do you choose? Today I look at the HUGE range of different brands, manufacturers and wood lathe models out there and give you a full cnc wood lathe review so you will know which one best suits you. These are the cnc lathes that I recommend:

Intorex – These guys have a solid line of industrial strength cnc lathes and sanders. Their CNX is fully automatic equipped with a 3 axis+ head drive.

This lathe has a solid heavy duty cast iron frame – which is great for keeping jobs stable (reduction in vibration with a heavier fame). As with a lot of cnc wood lathe purchase.

Intorex’s LNX-1500 is one of their top machines. This cnc wood lathe is a beast – with 7 spindles! This machine is great for multitasking and knocking out those larger jobs, but the cnc wood lathe can also be fitted with a steady to avoid vibrations when working on thin and long pieces.

Techno Inc. – This is a good option for people who are looking for a smaller tabletop cnc wood lathe for sale. Techno offer fully enclosed drive mechanisms for their wood cnc lathe (polycarbonate shield).

CNC Auto-Motion – These guys have a solid lathe – Motioncat cnc lathe. This a 2 axis wood lathe cnc – the Motioncat TC650E also comes with cnc software to convert to G code for lathe work. There is also a flip up safety guard as well as a dust extraction hood, so your project stays contained.


Talon cnc lathe – The Talon cnc 1315 wood lathe cnc is a great pick. This lathe has a cast iron base to make sure the lathe stays rigid. This industrial grade cnc wood turning lathe comes with an enclosure as well as a 3 hp spindle drive with encoder. This machine is a game changer and one I definitely recommend looking into.

Woodwrite Model 462 – The Model 462 is a great alternative for people that want a cnc mini wood lathe as opposed to a larger 5 axis standalone desktop. This definitely qualifies as a mini lathe cnc machine with an overall length of 29″ x 16″ and only a weight of 22 lbs or 14 kgs.

Mori Seiki – NLX and NL series for a rigid and precise cnc lathe. Mori Seiki also has other higher level lathes, such as vertical and 2 axis cnc lathes.

There are a ton of options here between the different systems. I say start with the NLX and NL series. Step up to the DuraTurn or higher series for a 2-axis cnc wood lathe machine.

For the DIYer out there, here are some cnc wood lathe plans:

Router lathe build from over at here. This is one of the coolest diy wood lathes I have seen with a solid plan on how to build it too, using mdf/ custom wood as the frame as well as the other parts – spindle etc.

Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) – This is a great book and one we recommend on our ‘must have’ book list here. This is a great book that offers guidance in making a cnc machine as well as common frequently asked questions for using and maintaining a cnc machine after you have built it. Be aware – this book is for a diy cnc router and not a cnc lathe machine.

Also check out our other article on finding the best wood lathe machine for turning here.

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Are you looking at building your own homemade cnc machine? Well check out our picks for the BEST homemade cnc milling machines (to follow after our recommendations for places to get plans):

Here are our recommendations for homemade cnc machine plans:

Build Your Own CNC Machine (Technology in Action) – This is my favorite book for making a cnc machine. It’s a fairly cheap book that has a solid plan for making a cnc router at home. The book even goes into how you use the cnc machine after its been made and how to document your CAD/CAM work.

Downloadable cnc router plan – Homemade cnc milling machine plan that you can download. It was a Kickstarter project and you can even buy the laser cut parts already – so you can put it together easily. The instructions give you a step-by-step on how to build everything, as well as the DXF files, so you can laser cut the parts yourself (great option!)

BuildYourCNC – This is a cool little website that has a great guide for building a cnc router – there are 36 lessons that have detailed pictures to help you build a cnc machine (I love free instructions!) from start to finish.

If you’re looking for a free homemade cnc machine plan for a cnc router – this is probably one of the best resources on the Internet.

Instructables cnc plan – Instructables has a few really good step-by-step guides. What I love about this particular guide is the amount of open communication with other members that have shared their experiences/ their own ideas for building a diy bench top cnc machine.

You will also get a ton of tips from users who have finished building the machine and are currently running the machine – this is very valuable information that you may no necessarily get with other cnc machine plans.

CNC router courses – CNC router plans  for a homemade cnc machine can be tough to find, but this site is a solid go-to for many in the diy cnc router community. The cnc router pans here are very detailed and comes with the right dimensions on all the different parts. Main construction materials: mdf/ wood/ custom wood

Large 3 axis cnc machine – If you are looking for a large 3 axis cnc machine as opposed to a benchtop or a homemade 5 axis cnc machine. This 3 axis machine has a large bed – so perfect for someone that wants something larger.

Main material is MDF/ custom wood. Expected cost around $1200 – $1800 USD to build this cnc machine homemade router.

 Tweakie CNC – Homemade cnc milling machine plans for a smaller benchtop router. This is also great for people that want a steel/ aluminum frame for their cnc router. Check it out!

Now, here are the coolest homemade cnc machines that we’ve found – some of these vids are just plain cool (so may not necessarily have a specific model number):

Let us know what your favorite cnc machines are below!

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Are you an aspiring or expert wood crafts-person looking for that perfect wood cnc machine? There are a ton of different cnc manufacturers and machines out there that you can try, but given the fact that it all depends on your location – some of us may have it more difficult than others.

This article will go through the different types and brands of wood cnc machines that are available globally – I know in the past we have focused on US based brands – I’ll be digging into US brands as well as different brands and machines for our readers outside of North America.

In no particular order:

Zen Toolworks CNC Carving Machine – This machine is a great DIY machine. It is PERFECT  for the enthusiast out there as this is a DIY kit. If you live in the US or have access to then this 7×7 DIY kit would be perfect for you. At a regluar retail price, this benchtop DIY cnc machine comes in at a very cheap $400 and can be had cheaper depending on the sale.

You will need a 3 axis stepper motor driver as this only comes with the actual CNC machine and motors, so will need the driver to manage each motor, a cutter/spindle or dremel and a DC power supply for the actual driver itself. You can purchase this on Amazon too. I highly recommend this machine for a great cost-effective benchtop solution for anyone making smaller molds using wood or even models/ cnc products that do not require a large tabletop.

Here’s a time lapse video on the build of this DIY cnc machine kitset:


CarveWright N01 – The Carvewright is an excellent choice for people that require a benchtop cnc machine for making wooden products – but can work with a larger bed size. This machine – although tough luck in many reviews actually has a feww solid working points.

The maximum workpiece size can be 14.5 ix 5 inches high and a whopping 12 feet long. That’s a huge benefit over many other benchtop mini cnc milling machines. It may be compact (making it easy to store), but it can handle larger wood projects – whether it be regular or custom wood (mdf).

The machine provides great results and is fun to use. Carvewright also provides a great user forum which is a great resource for learning from other users. It’s also free to join and you can even get free patterns for laying out your projects from the forum.

Click-N-Carve 84030 CNC Carving Machine – This is a great little machine that also comes with some great cnc software. I have discussed in the past how expensive cnc software for converting to G code is and also how much 3d modeling software can be – which can amount into the thousands – this is not ideal for many businesses or individuals that don’t have a large budget and just want an economical benchtop cnc mill for wood projects.

The software that comes with this machine is compatible with G codes, and has a total engraving area of 11.8 x 11.8 inches and a 3.94 height. Many beginners love the ease of use for this machine. I recommend this highly for its ease of use and included software.

More expensive all purpose machines

There are definitely plenty of other cnc routers that can be used for wood – but may not necessarily be cheap. K2 cnc offers some great routers and has a good selection of cnc routers – but their routers can be expensive because they are made for applications with plastics, foam,aluminium and other materials. Getting a specialized wood cnc mini router or benchtop router is the way forward as it will save you on cost if you only plan to work with wood.

Wood is also quite a messy product to rout or carve. Given the material’s properties, having a machine that can easily be enclosed or easily cleaned up is crucial here.

Remember that there are many different kinds of machines out there with many different variables. The above three are my favorite picks due to them being easily available and relatively inexpensive compared to some of the hybrid material applications used by other expensive models. We’ve taken a look at some of the models in the past here if you are looking for a machine that can rout and cut other material as well.

What do you think is the best wood cnc machine out there?

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Are you looking for the best mini cnc lathe? Well I know finding the right mini cnc lathe can be hard. Finding the right machine can be a great opportunity though as there are some solid options out there.

Below is my comparison of the top mini lathe cnc machines available  out there on the market right now:

NOTE: As there are many different brands and machines out there, I’ll list the mini cnc lathe manufacturers and brands that I think are worth checking out and the specifics to go along each brand such as which models are better than others.

Sherline: These guys are awesome and have a ton of tabletop and benchtop cnc mini lathes available. If you are looking for a mini cnc lathe for sale, Sherline should be your first stop.

Their 4000CNC/4100CNC as well as their 4400CNC/4410CNC are solid options to choose from.

Some of their lathes can even be retrofitted for CNC use, so you can talk to them to see which of their lathes would be suitable for a mini lathe cnc conversion and go from there.

Of course with the above, you would also need to add drivers, stepper motors a computer and cad/cnc software. Remember that their stuff is made in the USA, which means warranty issues and spare parts can be sorted easily if you are purchasing in the USA.

GrizzlyGrizzly G0602  – This is a great mini lathe, while it’s not CNC straight out of the box – this is a great machine to buy and convert to CNC. This is a 10″ x 22″ bench lathe that supports a wider bed, larger chuck and a variety of different thread ranges – perfect for a wide range of smaller cnc jobs that deal with metal.

The 1 HP, 110V single phase motor on this should be able to handle a solid amount of jobs in most home or even professional workshops. Convert this to a CNC machine and save yourself some solid $$

IntelitekproLIGHT 3000 – This requires no conversion as it is already a great and also affordable desktop CNC milling center. The Super proLIGHT 1000 also makes for a great desktop 3-axis cnc machine. With the proLIGHT 3000 you are getting a very capable machine that also comes with user-friendly software.

I have always argued that cnc software is one of the biggest hinderences to a great machine, especially for people on a tight budget. The software included provides support for linear and circular interpolation, canned cycles, different multi-tool programming as well as cutter threading and compensation. These are big benefits in a piece of software – and should not be overlooked – as software that provides this sort of functionality would add to the cost of a home conversion from a regular lathe.

Gunhead – Gunhead machine werks makes some great CNC lathes. They have a solid 7 x 14″ cnc lathe that I highly recommend. Their V2 has a longer 27″ bed, offering 16″ between centers – which is a good amount of space for most projects for a mini cnc lathe. Check out their Gunhead V2 cnc lathe here.

The whole CNC kit is only $1999 on top of the 7x cnc machine if you already own one – so upgrading is fairly reasonable – although I’d like to see this price come down even more over the next year with the CNC and 3d printing market heating up.

 Conclusion – Which is the best mini cnc lathe for the masses?

It’s a tough call – although there can be limited brands depending on where you live – I’d definitely go for Sherline or Gunhead. Both these manufacturers have relatively user friendly and cost friendly cnc conversion kits that work well with their machines.

What cnc mini mill would you recommend? Leave your comments below!

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Are you looking for a great cnc plasma kit? Well look no further as we have gathered the best cnc plasma kits to review below:

The best cnc plasma table kit – Where to buy

cnc plasma table kit

There are so many different kits out there to choose from. I recommend heading over to the following places (In no particular order):

1.) Motiontek – These guys have a wide range of different parts and pieces based in Canada. From your average stepper drivers and motors to other things such as a cnc plasma cutter and table kit.

Motiontek offers a flat shipping rate to both Canada and USA.

2.) CamCutCNC – These guys don’t carry a lot, but they do carry cnc plasma kits. They offer the following: plasma controllers, an optional Z axis, and kit components.

Contact them for more details on what they offer. They have pricing right on their website here.

3.) ProCutCNC – This US based company (their slogan says ‘made in the USA’). These guys have been around since 2003 and offer a wide range of gantry, table and motor kits as well as electronics and software to support a new plasma machine. Their prices are also very reasonable too.

4.) LowCostCNCKits – These guys focus only on kits and offer some very low cost cnc plasma cutter kits. Their 4×4 cnc plasma cutting table goes for $8,100, while their 4×8 cnc plasma cutting table goes for $9,700 USD. Both these are worth checking out while on your hunt for the perfect plasma cnc kit.

5.) EaglePlasma – These guys also have a few table, gantry and full kits available. Prices range from $3-5,000 USD plus shipping for their full cnc plasma gantrykit with a table.

cnc plasma kit

Their payment area is straight forward and they have a no-nonsense website so you can see pictures along with prices straight away.

I’m not sure why a lot of sites don’t have pricing straight away, I believe it is to upsell you when you call most of the time. I like this site because of it’s transparency.

Their kits also come with software that you may need. Depending on the model, you may get Mach3, Sheetcam or Qcad software.

6.) EZCutCNC – EZ Cut CNC offers a solid range of heavy duty industrial cnc plasma tables. They offer a full service where they come on-site and install as well as provide system training and unlimited technical support by phone and email.

Their most popular table sizes are the 6′ x 10′, 5′ x 10′ and 4′ x 8′. They also do a smaller 4′ x 4′ among other models. They offer both a Hypertherm and Thermal Dynamics plasma cutter as options with differing amps.

7.)  Stepperonline through Amazon – In terms of merchants, Stepperonline on Amazon is a good choice to go to for your stepper motors and drivers for your plasma cnc build, they’re an easy go to for high torque Nema motors.

Refurbished CNC plasma tables

You could also look at used or refurbished cnc plasma tables, which you can find here or on eBay.


For changing your files into cnc machinable g-code, there are both free and paid options out there. For paid, I highly recommend Mach software. Their latest Mach 4 is an easy to use piece of software well worth the price. For free versions, check out ReplicatorG, CAMotics, and Probotix as great open source options.

Things to Remember

cnc plasma cutter kit

Remember that your personal or commercial cnc plasma cutter can be an expensive investment, so it is wise to have a good look around using some of the resources above to help find the best plasma kit for your needs.

Other factors to consider that may end up adding to the total cost are things like deliver, maintenance, tax and software upfront as well as software upgrades. You will also have to consider training as well if it is a new machine and comes with unfamiliar software.

Be on the look out not only online, but there may be local dealers that may be able to demo machines for you.

Also look for things such as a solid warranty, service and support. Anything could happen with a new machine or even a refurbished one. If you aren’t one to fix things technically, then having that warranty will prove priceless if a machine fails during an important job.

We have a ton of other articles on this site to help you out, so be sure to have more of a look around.


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There are plenty of cnc knee mill machines out there. A good cnc knee mill really comes down to the purpose it is going to serve.

Cnc knee mill milling machine

Whether it is a new machine, a cnc knee mill conversion or a knee mill cnc retrofit, we have you covered below with our top 10:

1. Bolton Tools Industrial 3-Axis CNC Milling Machine

For a 3 axis cnc machine, this machine is super cheap. Coming in at only $12,000 USD. Similar machines can be up to 4-5 times that amount easy. This machine comes with a solid working table area of 11.8″ x 31.5″.

 2. K2 cnc router, cnc milling machines 2514 

K2 do some great stuff and are relatively cheap. You should be able to check out this model on Amazon. Coming in at around $3000 USD, it is very cheap, but does not do cnc.

3. Grizzly g0499 10″ x 54″ 3-axis cnc milling machine

Grizzly are a solid brand to go for and have been around for along time. Definitely a trusted mill to go for. Because of it’s cnc capabilities, you are looking at around the$27-30,000 mark for this machine. They have someone that will come out to you and go through the operation of the machine for an extra charge too.

4. Jet 690912 JTM-1050EVS/230 milling machine with 3 axis cnc

Jet is also a well known brand. This machine comes in at just under $40,000 USD. With menu prompted conversational programming and easy to follow software, this is a solid choice for many.

5. Minitech Minimill-4 Cnc benchtop 3 axis milling machine

The 4 series is Minitech’s largest in terms of a benchtop machine. A great option for someone looking for a machine that will not take up extra workshop floor space. Don’t mistake this machine for something that can’t do the job because it is a bench top machine. This machine will be able to offer a solid production experience for a 3 axis machine. Pricing comes in at just under $20,000 USD.

There are also many other add-ons that can be found for this machine, such as an extra axis and different spindles.

How about a Used CNC Knee Mill?

Going the used route can be a great way to save some extra $$.

The problem is location, cnc machines can’t be shipped easily, so you are limited by where you live. If you are one of our US readers, then I highly suggest checking out used machines (see link below).

Otherwise it can be tough to find a good machine to buy used or even to be retrofitted with cnc.

Also think about software upgrades, maintenance and training to use a new/used cnc machine. All this can very easily add up pretty fast.

For used machines, check out our previous recommendations here.

Knee mill cnc conversion – Convert it or let it die?

Another way forward is doing a conversion by yourself. Here are some steps:

1.) Set a budget – around 10k is a good start to possibly help a mill such as a bridgeport cnc knee mill to convert to a 3 axis cnc mill.

2.) Define what you want it for: This will help you decide the tooling that may be needed. It will also help you figure out just how much power you might need.

For an auto part maker, a 2 or 3hp model works well. For cutting tougher materials such as thick Carbon Fiber for the marine industry, you will need more power.

3.) Define what you want the machine to do. Do you want it to just do regular milling on 3 axis, or do you require a fancier 5 axis retrofit or special turn types.

Remember that with a 3 axis machine, calibration and the right clamps/ vises, you could definitely shift a part around to get the job done (more time wasted, but may save you on a 5 axis machine set-up). I have seen this done successfully before.

4.) Look at the knee mill cnc condition. Is it even worth a retrofit? Some models are hard to do this worth and may break down soon.

If this is a machine that you have owned personally for a long time, then you know the history. But buying a machine especially for a retrofit can be bad news, as it may break down shortly after paying a lot of money to retrofit it.

Good luck in finding or retrofitting your dream cnc knee mill machine!

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Alright, so you are looking for the best cnc for sale? Well there are a ton of places out there where you can find a great cnc for sale.

Below are some of the best places to get your cnc router for sale or any other cnc machine for that matter. I have split it up into different sections for your reading pleasure.

Here we go  (In no particular order, it’s worth checking them all out): – Salecnc has a ton of different machines. From lathes to mills of all sizes, this is where I would go to scope out some machines online. Not a huge amount in terms of quantity, but more so in variety, with categories in plasma, laser, router, servos, and accessories. – These guys have a small selection, and does not really have a good overview for pricing. You have to click on each product to get more details and you also need to take further action to see pricing. For myself, I like to see the pricing straight up for everything. Until they fix this, I think you will need to work hard here to find what you need. – Great place to pick up machinery for cnc. They also have a ton of other machines on offer too that you can browse. – These guys have a good selection which are split into specific categories: Lathes CNC, Vertical CNC Mills, Horizontal CNC Mills, Boring Mill & VTL, Other.

Going the auction route

MMI Auction – MMI Auction has a good range of cnc machines on auction. This is an interesting way to go, as traditionally machinery like this has not been auctioned before. Now it seems to be the new hot thing. So get in there and create a bid. There are both 3 and 5 axis cnc mill for sale, as well as different machinery such as lathes. There are also reserves/ times here so you know exactly what the real deal is. – These guys are the motherload for machine auctions. Tons of selection here from a whole different bunch of auctioning companies. Whether you are looking for a large or small cnc mill for sale, definitely worth a look here.

I know the list is not very long, but it’s all about quality over quantity. It can be really hard to find a good place to find used machines. Check out the above links to help you leverage your time for the best sites to hit when looking for a quality used cnc mill for sale.