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As a follow up to our guide on 3d printing, we thought we’d dig through all the different 3d printers out there and lay out the pricing as well as specs. There’s been an explosion in 3d printing (cooler name than what it used to be referred to which was rapid prototyping). Here we go!

First up: what we looked for in terms of criteria

Price

We’ll be focusing on finding the best home 3d printer in terms of price. From what we’ve seen you can get a 3d printer for as low as $300 all the way up to $3500 for your home. There are a few picks we really like in the sub $500 range, but there are some good picks if you’re willing to splash out.

We’ll also take a look at costs of materials. Some resins that come with these machines are upwards of $150-$200 a bottle. This may quickly negate the savings you may get froma cheap 3d printer to start.

Printable area/ size

This is important. The printable area. Of course you could always split up your 3d file and print in multiple parts then glue together later on. However having a good working area is going to make things a lot easier. Typically looking for anything over 100 mm x 100 mm x 100 mm would be a good start, and a good size for home use.

Tolerances

We will need to take a look at the tolerances for each machine. Some go as fine as 50 microns (0.05mm) or 25 microns (0.025mm), which is a very fine resolution and sufficient for home use without having to refinish too much by hand. e.g. getting something that is too rough and having to sand it back.

On the opposite side to this you want  a printer that has a good upper range in terms of tolerance so the printer can build faster. We’ll look into that soon.

Ease of use

Does the machine have to be assembled? Does the machine have to be calibrated? Lots of 3d printing machines take a bit of set-up time, this can take days to get built and calibrated right. There are some 3d printers like the Form 1+, Buccaneer and the M3D that all have enclosed working areas, so assembly and calibration is almost non-existent.

Warranty/ support

Often cheap 3d printers come with crappy support and warranty. With a lot of the made in China stuff, trying to get warranty support is difficult, and new parts cost a fortune (It would be bad-ass if you can print common parts that break).

Because we’re going to be looking into home-use 3d printers, the cost of a 3d printer will also have to balance out on service. Personally, I like to deal with more reputable companies that give a  good warranty, especially in the cnc/ 3d printing space.

Dremel Idea Builder 3D Printer

Dremel Idea Builder 3d printer

Price: sub $1000, approx. $900

Build area: 9″ x 5.9″ x 5.5″

The Dremel Idea builder is a solid choice at just under $1000. Aside from great customer service, the filament is only $30 for different colors for 0.5kg spool weight which means your printing in terms of material is going to be very cost effective.

Full color touch screen with on-board software so you can use this standalone if need be. Seems a bit gimmicky as everyone has a computer/ tablet these days to plug in.

M3D

m3d micro 3d printer

Price: Sub $500, 450 for the retail version (has 1 year warranty, and 1 filament bottle) pretty damn good!

Print resolution: 50 to 350 microns

Build area: 109mm x 113mm at the base, but reduced to 91mm x 84mm above a height of 74mm, for a total height of 116mm

The M3D is a huge new up and comer. The M3D is now available to the masses direct from their website. While the overall size is somewhat small, for the price of under $500. In order to get this at such a low price at a good quality the printer’s footprint is much smaller than some of the other models mentioned here. If you’re okay with the size, then the fact that this is a fully enclosed unit that requires almost no set-up, then this may just be your top pick!

Form 1+

Form 1+ 3d printer

Price: Between $2000 to $3000, now at $2799

Print resolution: 25 to 200 microns

Build area: 125×125×165 mm

The Form 1+ is a slick looking 3d printer, is not on the large size, so slightly larger than the Micro, but not as big as the Dremel or MakerBot. What makes the Form1+ really stand out is its ease of use. You can easily plug in a usb and just go ahead and print – no computer necessary!

However due to the price, we can’t help but wonder that maybe if this feature wasn’t present, the unit would be cheaper buy a good amount. Everyone has as tablet, smartphone or computer – so for the machine to not require one is kind of obsolete – but we do get the idea of giving people options for easy printing.

The Buccaneer 

The Buccaneer 3d printer

Price: Under $1000, now at $799

Print resolution: goes down to 50 microns

Build area: 130 x 96 x 139mm

The Buccaneer probably competes with the M3D (Micro 3D) the most at the sub $1000 price-point. It is more expensive however, but this is because one of thee cool features is the UI. The user interface can be done all through a phone app. Now that’s pretty cool – being able to sit back on your couch and create objects that can be sent to print on your networked 3d printer is now a reality.

The Buccaneer just looks bad-ass. With super sleek lines and a stamped stainless  steel frame, the build quality is just amazing and will look really good on top of your desk/ table.

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What we don’t recommend:

MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer

MakerBot Replicator desktop 3d printer

Price: Between $2000 and $2000, approx $2600

Build Area: 25.2 L x 19.9 W x 15.0 H cm

Filament: MakerBot PLA Filament

Other features: Wi-fi, lcd interface, camera

The Makerbot is a solid machine in the $2-$3000 range, but we can’t recommend this due to the tidal wave of bad reviews out there. There are reports of really poor customer service and the extruder having issues. The extruder nozzle seems to clog often if you are refilling the filament often – which is unavoidable for different colors and textures.

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As you can see there is no one best 3d printer out there. It all depends on your budget and what you plan on 3d printing. For sub $500 the Micro 3D is the way to go. Beyond that the Dremel Idea Builder and Buccaneer offer compelling options.

Which 3d printer do you think is the best?

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cnc router table

So you got yourself a cnc machine, now its time to look into inexpensive as well as the expensive options that you can get when it comes to cnc router tables. The line in the sand seems to be tables under the $1000 mark. It is possible to get something under $1000, but it all comes down to application.

Going the custom route

You could get a custom cnc router table made up. The cheapest diy cnc router table would probably be one that is made out of mdf or custom wood. MDF is probably the best way to go if you want something cheap and easy, as plywood can warp a bit (however treated plywood repels water a lot better without any swelling). 3/4 inch plywood cut up and screwed together would make for an extremely strong base, but wouldn’t be 100% flat, so custom wood/ particle board/ mdf wood is a good way to go, and can be bonded and clamped together to create a stable platform.

Aluminum or steel is another way to go. This is where things start to get expensive, and with aluminum you’d need a specialty welder. You could find some lengths of extrusion then weld them together to a base frame to form a solid base if you’re going the aluminum route. Steel could be done, but you may have to use fasteners to join together if you don’t have access to a welder. The fasteners may vibrate and come loose during repeated application. The good thing about steel is that you can create a lip on the edges, so you can clamp down material easy – also clamping onto steel directly will not dent, unlike a wooden cnc router table top.

Getting the kit with a table

Buying a cnc engraving/ routing machine with a table is the easiest way to go. Cost-wise it’s going to cost from a few hundred to a thousands more, but then you have the whole package ready to go. This kit by CNCEST is a solid 3 axis router that comes with a 230W DC spindle motor and a small, but solid aluminum base.

cnc router table 4x8

This table here (pictured above) is for those that want a large table (4 foot x 8 foot). However you will be paying a lot for this – in the $3000 range.

DIY router table

As mentioned above in the custom router section, diy is definitely going to be your best bet. Getting some treated plywood, or untreated and then cut to size. Home Depot typically allows 2-3 cuts per sheet for free and you can rent a truck from Home Depot for cheap (around $20) for the first 75 mins, then $5 for each 15 minutes afterwards.

We would suggest measuring up what you need, then heading down to Home Depot and picking up your wood then renting one of their vehicles if you don’t have your own. Or if you cut your table down enough you could probably put the plywood into the back of your car. For pre-made plans Build Your CNC has some good ones.

What are your plans for your cnc router table? What solutions have you found to be the best?

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M3D 3d printer

3d printing and rapid prototyping has exploded recently. An industry that used to be super expensive now has some compelling choices under the $2000 and even under the $1000 mark. Today we at CNC Estab will be digging into all the machines that have come out recently to see just what you can get for your hard earned dollar.

The rise of cheap rapid prototyping / 3d printing machines

With the rise of Kickstarter, we’ve seen a ton of new exciting 3d printing machines available for home use. One thing to keep in mind is that there are a few different methods for 3d printing. Lets dig into this first before we get into the different kinds of models you can buy.

Different ways to 3d print – What’s the deal?

Essentially there are 7 – yeaht thats right – 7 ways that you can 3d print as classed by the American Society for Testing and Materials under the Addictive Manufacturing ASTM F42 group.

Here are the 7 different ways you can 3d print:

1. Binder Jetting

binder jetting 3d printing

With binder jetting for 3d printing there are two materials being used. The liquid binder and the powder base. The binder is spread out and then the glue is spread using jet nozzles to set the powder base where needed. This is done over different layers, and then the powder is cleaned off to leave the bonded powder behind which will be the final object.

2. Directed Energy Deposition

directed energy deposition cnc

Not found in home use machines. Essentially metal powder is used and it comes out of a nozzle combined with n energy source like a plasma arc or laser.

It looks like metal is getting squirted out, but the heat source bonds the metal powder together super quick. This is typically used with a 5 axis machine and an object is built up in layers. This process is used to create parts with tougher metal such as titanium.

3. Material Extrusion

3d printing material extrusion

Building a part up layer by layer, the extrusion nozzle shoots out material, but the nozzle is heated which will melt the material so it an be moved and added from different angles to produce a shape. Typically ABS and PLA plastic is used in this process. This process is probably the most common in household 3d printers.

4. Material Jetting

material jetting 3d printing

This process uses a nozzle that jets out little droplets and then is hardened by UV light layer by layer. The nozzle puts out actual build material and supporting material that you can remove later.

5. Powder Bed Fusion

powder bed fusion

As the name suggests you have a powder bed of your material (can be parts of metal, ceramic, plastic or glass). A high powered laser is then used to fue the powder into the desired shape. Then the powdered bed is lowered one layer at a time to produce different layers that will turn into a final object.

No support material is needed as the unused powder remains and becomes the support structure during the 3d printing process.

6. Sheet Lamination

sheet lamination 3d print machine

This process builds up different sheets using an external fore. Essentially you take paper and glue or metal and ultrasonic welding in layers then layer up your object. This isn’t very common with home use.

7. Vat Photopolymerisation

VAT Photopolymerisation cnc

As the name suggests you have a vat of photopolymer resin (clear very sticky bond glue type stuff for those who haven’t seen it. A UV light source then shoots into this vat and hardens parts of the resin (common process used is called SLA – Stereolithography). The light hardens the material in layers with the vat filling and unfilling as the light hardens every layer.

Top 3d printing/ rapid prototyping machines for your home or apartment

Now that we got the process out of the way, its time to look at what kind of machine might fit your needs.

Best sub $1000 machine: Flashforge 3d printer creator pro

flashforge 3d printer recommendation

Made by FlashForge, the FlashForge 3d printer creator pro is a highly regarded home printer made by FlashForge. At just under the $1000 mark, you’re getting tremendous bang for your buck. We love the build quality on this with the metal frame and the 6.3mm aluminum build platform.

With this sub $1000 machine you are getting an easy to maintain, durable 3d rapid prototyping machine. Using a dual extruder you will be making a lot of parts here out of plastic ABS.

The advantage to this printing machine vs some others is that there is an enclosed chamber. This is great for safety and protects your ABS prints during the layering process of the ABS plastic. You are going to have to tinker a little with this machine to get the best results (like every home 3d printing machine – but no more so though)

Best sub $500 3d printer

HICTOP 3d printing machine

For those of you on more of a tighter budget, there are a few other options available out there. The HICTOP Prusa I3 3d desktop printer is the perfect fit here as one of the cheapest rapid prototyping machines for sale. At under $500 you can get this machine close to the $3-$400 mark. This is made in China and is cheaper because it is not fully enclosed.

The cheapness also reflects in the work to get this printer up and running. You`re going to have to assemble it yourself and calibrate it yourself. It took us a few days to get this machine assembled and calibrated correctly.

The unit does not come with an instructional cd, just an sd card with instructions and some sample .stl files. Like we mentioned earlier, it takes time to get this machine calibrated. The Cura software is okay to use, but you`re going to have to experiment a little with the printing speed, fill densities and the extrusion speed to get your print jobs cleaner, so you don`t have to finish the job by hand much. Overall if you have some time to assemble and tinker, the price point here can`t be beat.

Keep an eye out for the M3D though – more on this machine below.

Other 3d printers

Form 1+

form 1+ 3d printer

Coming in between $2000 to $3000 this printer is a great professional 3d printer, its not the cheapest 3d printer, but allows this workhorse can create parts to sell over Etsy or for other commercial purposes.

Using resin to make your parts, you can have different types of resin formations and colors depending on the object being made. This unit has a fully sealed chamber but has a removable build platform for you to remove your part easily for the next print.

Great thing abut the Form 1+ compared to the HICTOP is that there is no calibration needed, you can get set up and printing almost as soon as you get the machine. The Form 1+ gets down to 25 microns (0.025 mm) so extremely detailed, and comes with a build volume of 125 mm x 125 mm x 165mm.

Peachy Printer – only $100

This is probably the cheapest 3d printer around, at only $100 its worth dipping your toes into the world of 3d printing. This printer uses resin as well which can be purchased through their website. With this machine you`ll be able to create some smaller objects. We`d recommend going with a higher end machine, but this is a great start, and can be a fantastic gift option.

The Buccaneer

buccaneer 3d printer

This one started on Kickstarter and took a while to get out, but this promises to be the easiest to use 3d printer in the world. This 3d printer comes with some really cool features. The app allows you to wireless 3d print through your network and allows you to create 3d models on your actual phone to be printed. This eliminates the need for expensive software on your PC or Mac to get started.

With a highest layer resolution of 50 Microns (0.05 mm), and a max print size of 130mm x 96mm x 139mm, you can create some fairly sizable objects. Remember you can glue together parts to form a larger item.

The M3D (Micro 3D)

M3D 3d printer

The micro 3d printer allows you to print either PLA or ABS. This is a great printer for $350 or $450 with one PLA filament. Available in a range of colors including clear, this 3d printing machine comes in pretty cheap. But cheap here does not mean bad. This printer has the looks and layer resolution to go toe to toe with some of the higher cost printers out there.

Able to get down to 50 microns (0.05 mm) in resolution with a print area split into two, the base at 113 mm x 109 mm x 74 mm with and additional 91 mm x 84 mm x 42 mm on top. So an overall height of 116 mm. The Micro only really just hit the market, but we are confident this model has a great future ahead of it.

So which 3d printer are you interested in? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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autodesk autocad

There are a ton of different programs out there for setting up a file for cnc use. Our go-to would be Autocad for cnc (2d). Autocad allows you to easily export in a convinient dxf file for 2d (3 axis) cnc machining. We recommend exporting a dwg drawing first in a 1:1 scale where possible so you can see what everything is going to look like before-hand.

Sending the file to your cnc person/ if you have your own cnc software will allow you to get an estimate on the time it will take to cnc cut your cnc autocad dxf file. Typically most software programs can run the virtual path and calculate just how long your  job will take on certain materials. If we’re talking a 3 axis machine here, then the time should be somewhat short.

Autocad has some neat features that you may want to take advantage of. What you can do is keep all your ‘cnc cut’ related files on one specific layer, while other parts of your drawing can be on other layers like the dimensions and notes. That way you can easily turn off the other layers and export your file for your next cnc project.

One downside to Autocad back in the day is the lack of an integrated nesting program. Now there is a great solution called TruNest. This extra add-on integrates directly with Autocad so you can easily nest all your parts in the most efficient way without having to do this manually or export to a program like Rhino. You can set all your nesting parameters and the program will give you a report. This is great as the nesting process used to be a lot harder. You can always export if you wish and do some final touch ups before sending the TruNest final dxf files for cnc.

With more advanced 3d cnc routing or machining work with 5 axis cnc routers, you can use AutoCAD 3d or Inventor, but we also recommend programs like Solidworks for creating 3d items that you can export as an iges, igs or step file for sending off to a cnc or rapid prototyping center. The difference between Step and Iges files have often been the topic of hot debate as to which one you should export as. Honestly, it comes down to your cnc or rapid prototyping center that you are working with. You’ll always want to reopen in a different program where possible to double check the export of your 3d file for quality.

Most programs have the standard export file extensions so you should be able to get away with an Autocad substitute if thats not the way you want to go. Even with Adobe Illustrator you can do an export, however nothing really has the power for 2d like Autocad does.

Which program do you use when you do cnc work and why do you think it works well?

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used cnc router for saleAt CNC Establishment we LOVE our cnc machines, however finding great resources to buy used machines can be tough. A lot of the time we recommend to buy new as that way you are guaranteed some sort of software that matches the machine, machine-specific training as well as a warranty in case something breaks down during a crucial job.

For those of you looking for used cnc machines for sale there is some respite. Below is our list of go-to’s when looking for a good used machine:

CNC lathes

Used cnc lathe machines are hard to come by. Check out MachineTools.com, eBay, manta-machinery.net, premierequipment.com or emachinetool.com. These are all great places to start and actually do stock lathes. Note that many of these places are in the US.

Machine Tools bills themselves as THE largest resource and listing marketplace with over 220,000 new and used listings. This is our top go-to choice for used machines (second goes to ExFactory under the CNC routers section).

MachineTools.com has a powerful buy/sell/research module that will help you sort out the type of machine/tooling, category, tool and country that you need. This site is also worth a look for recently posted wanted ads as well as current auctions for machines (where you may be able to pick up a machine for a very reasonable price). Brands such as Nissei, Daewoo, Kato, Doosan, Mazak, and Bridgeport have made appearances.

emachinetool and premierequipment are also worth checking out. These two sites both have been around for a while and both are updated regularly. (We hate it when listings are defunct!).

CNC Routers – Woodworking, Metalwork, Plastic, Stone, Glass

used cnc milling machine for saleOnce again eBay really is your friend here. However there are many retailers that also sell used cnc woodworking machines.Check out cncrouterstore.com, exfactory.com, and usedcncrouters.com.

Cnc Router Store offers free desktop appraisals, cash offers and machine brokerage services (so attracts many sellers).

ExFactory has a handy categorization list that allows you to sort the used cnc router machines by manufacturer, machine type, region, brand, or price. ExFactory is a big one-stop shop for woodworking. plastic, glass, metal and stone work.

UsedCNCRouters.com has a much smaller selection compared to ExFactory but are still worth a look.

CNC Milling – Vertical and Horizontal

Quality used cnc vertical or horizontal milling machines are plentiful. We’ve seen many used Swiss screw machines, Fadal, Mazak and Bridgeport cnc milling machines for sale. For swiss screw machines we recommend ismscnc.com, MachineTools and Automatics. As mentioned above MachineTools just rocks in terms of range. You’ll definitely find something here.

If you want to stray out to see what else you may pick up, Automatics and ISMS CNC are worth a look, however the later doesn’t have the most friendly user-interface; but it is well worth digging through, especially for their Swiss CNC machines (Citizen, Star, Tornos, Emco etc.)

CNC Grinding Machines

Used cnc grinding machines are hard to find. We know it sounds generic, but you will have to look more towards eBay or Alibaba to fill your needs here. You could also check out Industrial Resources, Inc. or try MachineTools to try your luck. All-in-all you’re going to have to go further ‘underground’ within this category as finding one resource here that has tons of cnc grinding machines is tough.

Conclusion

In conclusion there are tons of options out ther for used cnc machines. A little bit of digging will go a long way. Your hidden gem may easily be found on our top pick MachineTools.com, or it may be hidden at eBay or Alibaba. Wherever it is we highly recommend you ask tons of questions to make sure the machine is the right fit for you and that there are no surprises when it finally arrives on your shop floor.

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3d printing

3d printing has really taken off these days. I remember outsourcing 3d prototyping work almost ten years ago. Now 3d prototyping and 3d printing has exploded, with the 3d printer now fairly accessible for at-home users. Recently there has been huge debate with 3d printed guns (note a full gun can not be printed and used over and over again yet). For those of you that don’t know much about 3d printing, I’ve done a bit of research and have put together the need-to-know guide for you right here.

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hot wire foam cnc product

There’s no doubt that cnc foam cutters are cool. I remember back in my university days having to fashion our own diy foam wire cutters (non-cnc of course) to cut through large blocks of foam for our boating projects. These were typically constructed with cheap wooden frames (a lot of time using custom wood/ mdf) with butterfly screws to tighten a hot wire across attached to a transformer.

Nowadays things have gotten extremely fancy with the new wave of cnc hot wire foam cutters that now make our diy back-in-the-day efforts pretty old-school. I wanted to set out to find and put together a cnc hotwire foam cutter myself to see just how much more awesome a cnc equivalent is and what the costs are associated with this. So here is what I ended up doing for this little diy project:

Step 1: Parts

The primary sources I used were Amazon and Home Depot. I found a few good instructions online and narrowed it down to the following:

  •  9v-12v switching adapter, at least 1.3 / 1.25 amps as an output
  • Something for a frame – I went with custom wood/ mdf, screwed together to make a frame.
  • Guitar wire .10 to .16 size works well
  • Butterfly screws

Step 2: The build

Building a foam cutter isn’t too hard. The biggest thing to think about is the size at which your EPS, XPS or EPP foam is going to be. Once you have this one of the biggest things people tend to forget about is the flex in the frame. The wooden frame I made did flex a few times causing the wire to move smooth in some areas and not so smooth in other areas. Adding some extra plastic reinforcement to reduce flex really helped out here.

Once you have the manual cutter itself it is time to hook this up to a cnc machine. You’re going to have to do your research depending on the type of cnc foam cutter software you use, as the baseline set-up would be different for ever machine. I managed to mount mine on a 3 axis cnc machine and programmed the software to account for the space between the drill part and the hot wire.

With the above set-up I was able to cut some basic shapes, shapes that have wooden templates as a guide as well as some wing shapes for hydrofoil testing. This was a bit of a hap-hazard build so I thought for my next build I would look into some sort of cnc foam cutter kit set, or some plans to give me better direction and save the headache of mounting anything too diy onto an actual pre-existing cnc machine.

The best resource I found was RCFoamCuter.com (for the diy spirited hobbyist). They have a few kit-sets that would really help someone who has zero prior experience get started.

However after going through the hassle of diy, sometimes just buying a machine outright makes a lot of sense. I am reminded of one of my co-workers who went back to his iPhone after constantly installing custom roms on his Android – sometimes it’s just easier to pay the money and move on knowing everything will just work without constant tinkering required.

So where are the best hot wire cnc foam cutters for sale?

hot wire cnc machine

It depends on usage. For smaller cutters, the RCUniverse forum is great. For larger machines the CNC Zone classified page is a good place to start for used machines. For brand new machines CNC-Multitool.com has some solid 4 axes cnc foam cutting and milling machines.

Alibaba is also a great place to look as many hot-wire foam cutters are generally brands that are lesser known – so it is best to go straight to the manufacturer in this case. At a quick glance many sellers/ manufacturers on Alibaba do allow you to order just one of their machines.

As always I always recommend you do your own due diligence and research as buying and operating a machine that is not fit for your project needs or skill level could be a disaster. Also the feeling of getting a diy wire cutter up and running or seeing a new cnc machine run its first test run is always great. Good luck!

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4 axis cnc machine in action

3 axis and 5 axis cnc machines get all the attention these days. I’m well versed in both 3 and 5 axis machines, but thought I would dig into the land of 4 axis cnc machining.

Without further ado, here is all you need to know about 4 axis cnc machines, where to buy them and what makes these machines stand out from just a regular 3 axis cnc machine.

4 axis cnc vs. 3 axis machines – What are the differences?

A 3 axis machine gives you the x,y and z straight axis. The fourth axis is a rotary mechanism that is oriented parralel to the x axis of the cnc machine.

This allows the workblock to be machined using different orientations in a single go (as opposed to having to unclamp a  workpiece and reposition). The fourth axis is also great for milling and sculpting complex surfaces.

You can see the fourth axis in the video below:

Controllers for 4 axis machines

The SainSmart CNC TB6560 is a good bet. This 4 axis stepper controller supports Mach3. There is a blue board variant, but the red board is what you should get (it is newer and supposedly gets rid of the vibration when not stepping). This controller comes with the right config files on a CD, so should be pretty straight forward to set-up. We highly recommend following the config and set-up in the CD for the 4 axis stepper motor driver.

Probotics also has a good range of 4 axis kits here. The is a good range between the ProbStep and SideStep stepper motor driver kits.

Although cliche, hitting up ebay is a great way to go for stepper controllers. During my research there definitely was a good range, but you are lacking on name brand products that also come with less community support.

Best 4 axis cnc machines

After doing a good hunt around, these are our picks to start as the best cnc machines out there with 4 axes.

MDX540 by Roland – This benchtop 4 axis cnc milling machine features SRP (Subtractive Rapid Prototyping) technology which allows greater precision and a better surface finish.The machine comes with a Handy Panel and Virtual Control Panel  so you can control the machine while away from your computer, as well as an automatic tool changer so you can walk away while the full job gets taken care of. Starting at just over $20,000 and with CAM software included (SRP Player CAM) this machine is a solid starting point.

4 axis cnc machine

Microkinetics has a low cost cnc machine available here. This is a basic, smaller machine, but comes in much cheaper than other machines. The price for this is just shy of $4000.This is the one you want for making custom jewellery, gears, and rings. Comes with G-code control and graphical software.

The HS-3R by Haas. Haas cnc machines are all pretty solid. Their HS-3R Horizontal Machining Center has a built in 4th axis as well as a 60-tool side-mount tool changer. This is a big machine with a flat-bed of 150″ x 50″ x 60″ (3810 x 1270 x 1524 mm), however this machine does come with an anchoring system. This beast does come with a high price-tag at just over half a million dollars.

The Makino 4 axis horizontal machining centers are definitely worth a look. Makino touts their 1-Series cnc machines as the top selling 4 axis horizontal cnc machines in North America. There is a solid range here, starting with a 15.7″ x 15.7″ pallet to a mondter 118.1″ x 63″ MCD-Series pallet size.

Another solid machine worth a look is the FCNC 400 P 4 Axis Cnc Machining Center from Kutez. This machine comes with a Siemens 802d sl pro controller, has a crazy fast tool change time of 1.7 seconds and comes with 20 tools. Much like the Microkinetics, this machine is perfct for crafting smaller items that have complex shapes such as jewellery or smaller parts for toys.

What Software Should You Use?

4 axis cnc vertical machine

Most of the big names are compatible with 4 axis. MasterCAM, BobCAD-CAM and CamWorks supports 4 axes. Other alternatives include MeshCAM, DeskCNC, and Dolphin CAD CAM. Aside from the aforementioned, you want to get simultaneous machining programming software that allows the user to create toolpaths for complex surfaces and shapes.

CNC use cases for a 4 axis machine

While a 3 axis and 5 axis machine may make sense, a 4 axis machine does have some significant advantages over a 3 axes due to the ability to work with complex shapes. But due to the machine not being a full fledged 5 axis machine, the cost can be a lot lower.

All in all it really depends on the type of project that you will be working on the most. I’ve seen many people with 3 axis machines manually move items around to create shapes similar to a 4 or 5 axis machine. But when it comes to speed and the need for that extra axis, then the 4 axis cnc machine is a great way to go.

For further info on 4 axes systems, check out our previous guide here. Please let us know what your experiences are with a 4 axis cnc machine in the comments below.

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cnc laser cutter

Welcome to CNC Establishment if you are one of our first time readers. If you’ve been here before, then I’m excited to have you back as I cover the topic of cnc laser cutters.

Cnc laser cutters are cool. I’ve seen some fantastic machines come out over the last decade and it is an exciting time for cnc laser cutters – both pre-made machines and the diy cnc laser cutter scene.

I’m going to go over some top brands that you should be keeping an eye out for as well as some machines that I think are definitely worth a look at.

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Robotic arm

Robotics engineering seems like a difficult thing to learn, but at the right college, it can be made easy. A lot of the courses available today are graduate level, but you can still find some offered at an undergraduate level. Below is a list of top colleges that offer mechatronic/ robotics programs.