Looking for Entry level Steel capable CNC

RyanTheMaker

New Member
Hey everyone, im new here. Since covid began i started converting my garage into a metalworking workshop and taught myself welding. I am looking for a Steel capable CNC Mill. Something of the same caliber as a https://www.langmuirsystems.com/ Plasma CNC but as a Mill. My price range is about $3000.
I look forward to any responses or suggestions!

Thank you!

-Ryan.
 

Alexander

Ultra Member
Administrator
With your current budget I would suggest searching kijiji and marketplace for used machines. Try key words like, Milltronics , syil , journeyman tree cnc , VMC , cincinnati milacron ,
in your budget you will likely be looking at a machine for parts or repair.
 

RyanTheMaker

New Member
With your current budget I would suggest searching kijiji and marketplace for used machines. Try key words like, Milltronics , syil , journeyman tree cnc , VMC , cincinnati milacron ,
in your budget you will likely be looking at a machine for parts or repair.

I understand that big CNC's run a lot higher then my budget, but im just looking for a nice small one with like 5"x5" workspace that can cut steel to make some small projects and to get my feet wet.

The issue i have with buying a used machine is i dont have the knowledge or experience with CNC's to know what to look out for on a used system. I dont want to end up with buying a lemon.
 

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
I am making one like this already with a budget of under 2000.

Its work envelope will be a bit bigger then what you are looking at - its a converted RF-30 mills. Budget includes used donor, all electronics and parts as well as heavy duty stand.

Buying a used system that is small and working (demonstrated) on your budget would mean either a mini mill conversion or some home made mill. Most "commercial" small milling solutions even when used will go well above 3000 if you can find them. Even *dropped* mills that may need a lot of new parts can be 1000s.

Problem is huge demand for small CNCs.

Yes you can (or at least used to) be able to buy actual VMC (through I seen 10x as many lathes in Alberta) for more or less scrap price. But it may not be that easy to fix it up. I could have gotten for just around 700 CAD more a BP clone for my donor. BUT conversion would be touch more involved for my first machine - for example I can lift the table off RF-30 but not off BP clone. Not to mention all parts would be touch more expensive.

After all once I do this conversion and know what I am up to I can always upgrade to a bigger machine if needed. My RF-30 CNC will not be "tiny" the whole set would top 1000 lbs without enclosure. Roughly similar to Tormach 770.

I also wanted a true VMC but VMC that Alexander has did not come on the market in last few years. I have missed a nice Hass Mini like 5 years ago but that was at the start of my machining. More recent auction finds had brutal pricing, Tormach that was used commercially and 2 versions old went close to new price. Thus "Alex" grade small true VMCs if you can find one somewhere will easily go for 10k when working.

A Tormach 440 machine alone without anything else is around 5400 USD new plus all the fees.

I expect my machine when all working will be worth at least 3000 CAD.
 

RyanTheMaker

New Member
I am making one like this already with a budget of under 2000.

Its work envelope will be a bit bigger then what you are looking at - its a converted RF-30 mills. Budget includes used donor, all electronics and parts as well as heavy duty stand.

Buying a used system that is small and working (demonstrated) on your budget would mean either a mini mill conversion or some home made mill. Most "commercial" small milling solutions even when used will go well above 3000 if you can find them. Even *dropped* mills that may need a lot of new parts can be 1000s.

Problem is huge demand for small CNCs.

Yes you can (or at least used to) be able to buy actual VMC (through I seen 10x as many lathes in Alberta) for more or less scrap price. But it may not be that easy to fix it up. I could have gotten for just around 700 CAD more a BP clone for my donor. BUT conversion would be touch more involved for my first machine - for example I can lift the table off RF-30 but not off BP clone. Not to mention all parts would be touch more expensive.

After all once I do this conversion and know what I am up to I can always upgrade to a bigger machine if needed. My RF-30 CNC will not be "tiny" the whole set would top 1000 lbs without enclosure. Roughly similar to Tormach 770.

I also wanted a true VMC but VMC that Alexander has did not come on the market in last few years. I have missed a nice Hass Mini like 5 years ago but that was at the start of my machining. More recent auction finds had brutal pricing, Tormach that was used commercially and 2 versions old went close to new price. Thus "Alex" grade small true VMCs if you can find one somewhere will easily go for 10k when working.

A Tormach 440 machine alone without anything else is around 5400 USD new plus all the fees.

I expect my machine when all working will be worth at least 3000 CAD.


thanks for the info! it sounds like you will have a pretty solid setup then for that budget. I know there are desktop CNC's on the market for Aluminum milling, which i might have to settle for in the beginning, it just would be nice to also have steel capability, but as you are explaining to me that seems very difficult for around $3000.

Are entry level Tormach's good quality? ive heard that brand a few times as far as beginner level home garage mills and CNC's.
 

Tom Kitta

Ultra Member
All milling machines can mill steel as well - just they may not be able to "hog" steel. I.e. my conversion as well as all Tormach mills have no issues cutting steel, even harder grades - they just remove metal slower then aluminum by at least a factor of 3.

The main difference is that compared to even old VMC these hobby machines are very weak and very flexible - i.e. light weight. They also do not come in with cool features like auto oiler. Automatic tool changer is usually expensive extra etc. Hass Mini Mill is well within "hobby size" that most people can easily handle in the garage - it can even be had in 1ph. BUT it is based on capabilities of larger VMCs - thus it is not "hobby grade" like Tormach.

Tormach generally, from what I have heard, has better support then many other made in China hobby mills but far less then any industrial VMC. As far as capabilities it is "well fitting together" hobby grade - i.e. it would be hard, but not impossible for a hobbyist (especially beginner) to match their performance on budget. Advanced hobbyists easily make machines that out perform a Tormach, through these machines may end up costing more $. Heck some people build their machines from scratch - they use special liquid materials to poor in the casting, formulas are online and make machines that exceed even commercial VMC precision. One guy whom used to work for NASA has a lathe capable of 1 millionth of an inch precision - or something like that. Usually these machines are for precision not speed & are certainly not cheap + tons of work.

One member has a brand new Tormach 440. From pictures I recognized that it has smallest Nema 34 open loop motor - at least on X axis. My mill will already feature closed loop motors - i.e. 80% of a servo at 1/3 of the price. Thus when doing rapid traverses my mill (at least the motor) will be more precise then Tormach 440.

Of course it will be a learning curve to put together a CNC - the first time around takes like 10x more then 2nd.
 

thriller007

Well-Known Member
All milling machines can mill steel as well - just they may not be able to "hog" steel. I.e. my conversion as well as all Tormach mills have no issues cutting steel, even harder grades - they just remove metal slower then aluminum by at least a factor of 3.

The main difference is that compared to even old VMC these hobby machines are very weak and very flexible - i.e. light weight. They also do not come in with cool features like auto oiler. Automatic tool changer is usually expensive extra etc. Hass Mini Mill is well within "hobby size" that most people can easily handle in the garage - it can even be had in 1ph. BUT it is based on capabilities of larger VMCs - thus it is not "hobby grade" like Tormach.

Tormach generally, from what I have heard, has better support then many other made in China hobby mills but far less then any industrial VMC. As far as capabilities it is "well fitting together" hobby grade - i.e. it would be hard, but not impossible for a hobbyist (especially beginner) to match their performance on budget. Advanced hobbyists easily make machines that out perform a Tormach, through these machines may end up costing more $. Heck some people build their machines from scratch - they use special liquid materials to poor in the casting, formulas are online and make machines that exceed even commercial VMC precision. One guy whom used to work for NASA has a lathe capable of 1 millionth of an inch precision - or something like that. Usually these machines are for precision not speed & are certainly not cheap + tons of work.

One member has a brand new Tormach 440. From pictures I recognized that it has smallest Nema 34 open loop motor - at least on X axis. My mill will already feature closed loop motors - i.e. 80% of a servo at 1/3 of the price. Thus when doing rapid traverses my mill (at least the motor) will be more precise then Tormach 440.

Of course it will be a learning curve to put together a CNC - the first time around takes like 10x more then 2nd.
Hey tom do you have any pictures of your progress thus far?
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
Problem is huge demand for small CNCs.

I also wanted a true VMC but VMC that Alexander has did not come on the market in last few years. I have missed a nice Hass Mini like 5 years ago but that was at the start of my machining. More recent auction finds had brutal pricing, Tormach that was used commercially and 2 versions old went close to new price. Thus "Alex" grade small true VMCs if you can find one somewhere will easily go for 10k when working.
I agree prices are brutal. A used cnc lathe is surprisingly expensive too. $30k for a 2005 haas SL-20 Edmonton. 16 years old. It’s no longer listed so I imagine it sold for about that price. $25k for an even older haas lathe here in Calgary with only 4 post tool changer and no chip auger or hydraulic chuck. How much was that machine new? $25k twenty years ago?
 
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