CNC Controller Kits – What are the Best?

CNC Controller Kits – What are the Best?

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Are you looking at getting the best cnc controller kits? Well there are many different types of cnc controller kits out there that you can choose from. Below is my guide on getting the best cnc controller and also what are the best types of cnc controller board for you to look at:

Stepper vs. Servo controller kits

A stepper motor is probably the most cost friendly way to control a machine tool. Some stepper systems come with microstepping which ensures accuracy and smoothness.

The downside to this is that stepper motors do not have larger speeds for cutting and rapid moves compared to a servo controller kit.

With cnc servo control, you have a higher maximum speed compared with many stepper controllers. Usually the servo control uses feedback from the encoder to monitor the exact position of the cnc machine’s tool. This helps ensure cutting or routing with a high speed and with great accuracy, even with a lot of pressure on the machine.

Best Cnc controller kit

There are many different kits out there, so it really depends on the brand and manufacturer that you want. Below are some of my recommendations on the best manufacturers or places that have some quality cnc controllers:

Amazon. Amazon stock some solid kits from Sherline. Check out some of the kits below:

flashcutcnc.com – Flash cut Cnc have some solid controllers to take a look at. They have both stepper and servo controls as well as retrofit kits. Retrofitting is a great idea as opposed to spending a ton of money on a new machine. Check out these guys if that is something you want to consider.

machmotion.com – These guys have digital and analog cnc controls. There is a good selection of cnc controls that can be used with analog servo drives, motors as well as digital servos, stepper drives and motors. Some of the models can also be retrofitted onto older machines too. Prices range from around $2000 to $5,600 USD for their cnc controls.

Adtech – Adtech has a big range of cnc control systems, although no specific diy kits. Worth a look to see what they have, as they have many different controls for different machines from 3-5 axis, whether i is a mill, lathe or laser cutting controller you are after, they have it all here.

Centroidcnc.com – Centroid is also worth a look, as they have controls for many different kinds of cnc machines too.

Cnc parts dept – Hit up cncpd.com and see their selection. They are both an Ebay seller as well as a trusted online seller. They have a ton of different controllers as well as cnc controller retrofits.

They also have stuff like a usb cnc controller or different types of cnc controller board. Definitely worth a browse, as you might find something inexpensive, but useful here.

Fanuc – Based in Japan, these guys have a good range of cnc controllers for a huge range of machines, from routers to lathes. A Fanuc cnc controller is definitely worth having a look at. They also very sophisticated, with some controllers handling well over 20 axes.

Cnc controller software

There is a lot of variety when it comes to cnc controller software. Sometimes it may be worth it sticking to hat the machine comes with, as training is provided when you buy new machines. Other times, some cnc operators have their own personal favorites when it comes to different tasks.

Check out our cnc and g coding articles for more information on all the different cam, cnc and cad programs out there. You will find great programs like MasterCAM and cad programs like Pro E and Solidworks will cost you a lot of money. So you will need to find out how many licenses/seats you want for the software, as cost can add up very quickly.

Remember that a lot of these cnc and cad/cam programs come with free trials. AutoCAD for example has a 30 day free trial. Experiment with each cad program for your pc based cnc controller to see what works best for you. Below are the 3 kinds of software you will need and what the differences are:

CAD/Drawing Software – Create the parts to be machined

CAM Software – Converts the part file into G-code

CNC Control Software – Turns the G-code file into motion, usually by controlling the parallel port

Here’s a run down on the different cnc control software options:

Axis – GUI for EMC2
EMC2 – This is a Liux based cnc controller software
KCAM – Works with older machines too (back to Windows 98)
TurboCNC – Made for DOS – up to 8 axes. There is a registration fee of $60 USD
CNCPro – Also made for DOS
USBCNC – CNC controlled by USB
LinuxCNC – Linux based software for cnc – great for a linux cnc controller
Mach 3 – Up to a 6 axes controller
FlashCut CNC – Frequently updated Windows cnc solution

Of course there are many other solutions out there, so it pays to take a look at what will best suit your needs. You can also go for free cnc controller software which I have seen floating around different sites. Try your luck at the cnczone.com forum if that is the route you want to go.

Build your own cnc controller

cnc controller kitAnother option you could look at doing is to build your own cnc controller. Whether it is a 3,5 or even 4 axis cnc controller, there are plans out there that will help you to build a diy cnc controller.

A homemade cnc controller will be cheaper and help you save some money for some of the other things you need, such as software. If you are an experienced cnc operator, this might be something you may consider.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many articles on how to build a cnc controller out there. So if you want to go and build your own cnc router controller, then by all means, good luck, but you might have better luck just buying from some of the resources above.

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