Best Budget CNC Machine


Our team is looking for a simple to use CNC type of machine to use. We are on a tight budget, and want a machine that can cut polycarbonate and aluminum. We really want this for smaller parts. We looked at different kits online and could not figure out which ones are good. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


What’s your budget?


What is the budget?

Edit: sniped

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Our budget is basically as cheap as we can get it. Preferably we would like to get one under $2,500ish if possible.


I would recommend saving up a bit and getting an Omio X8 USB. Right now it’s on their website for $2,600 but there will probably be about $500 of importing fees.


Save you money till you can buy a X8-2200L-USB CNC Desktop Engraving machine from omio.

Edit: Sniped again


We have an XCarve 1000x1000 and it works well on polycarb and aluminium. You can get a fully loaded one for that budget. I dont really have any experience with other machines, so I cant speak to how it compares

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Ok something that will not be sniped.

When you are purchasing a machine that is sub-$10000 there are going to be major sacrifices in certain areas. You need to know or at least figure out what you want to do with it. Do you care about machine time, part size, holding tolerances? Additionally a machine does nothing on its own have you budgeted in tooling? That can be another $300 easy.

My recommendation is save up till you have $3500. It is going to be more expensive, yes but it will be worth the money.


Do you have to do a lot of maintenance on it, or is it pretty simple to use?


Is the Omio low maintenance, or is it difficult to use and start up?


For tooling I would recommend using Huhao endmills because they’re really cheap but still have pretty good quality. I have used them a couple of times but I mostly have used Onsrud endmills and I didn’t notice too much of a difference.

Another thing to keep in mind is when you’re going to get this cnc machine. I would preferably get it before the end of summer that way you have time to learn how to CAM, get comfortable with the machine, find good speeds and feeds, and figure out any problems your machine might have. I would also set aside some time to get the Tube Magic fixture working so that you can cut 2x1s and 1x1s on your cnc.


It comes in a kit and you have to completely assemble it, which isn’t necessarily simple.

As for matainence, there isnt a whole bunch to do. The only thing we have to do is tighten belts.

Im honestly not sure if an XCarve is the best option for an FRC team, its just what we have.


Nothing at this price point is going to be “low maintenance” but from what I heard they are good for the price. I will admit that I have not had first hand experience with them but from talking to other I have heard good stuff.


the XCarve is going to cut aluminum about 20-40x slower than an Omio will, which is why I think it’s worth saving up for. The Shapeoko 3 will do slightly better, maybe 2x as fast as an XCarve, but it still won’t hold a handle to an Omio.

The Omio X6 is also a viable option. A student down in SoCal posted this video a while back doing a feeds and speeds test on his:
Gets a whopping 4 cubic inches per minute of material removal with a Huhao 6mm endmill.


This may be some useful reading for you.


A Shapoko xxl is 1700 dollars for a 33x33 area, which leaves some money for tooling and other goodies.


While the bed size is attractive for plastics and larger parts if you want to cut aluminium the wooden bed will not hold up over time. I would not touch anything less than all metal construction if you want to cut metal.

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We’ve done 1/8 inch sheet on it just fine, although it is a 16x16 model. I would not do anything thicker than 1/8

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If you want to do custom gearboxes you would probably want to be able to do 1/4" aluminum so I would save up for an Omio.


Well, we are getting a velox in like two weeks, so :man_shrugging: (gosh darn my finger hit send too early) Omio is certainly better, but you do need to take into consideration that you can rarely do custom bellypans on it. X-carve is just slow and I honestly would skip it.