CNC Mill Help

Ok our team has had a mini CNC mill lying aroung for a while, but nobody has touched it because we havn’t had time to learn it. First off is this thing even capable of machining Aluminum? What bits etc do we need? Any advice at all would be appreciated. I know almost nothing.
ps: We have mastercam and i am learning it.

Ok, i’m guessing it is a light milling machine. aka a very small milling machine. They usually can cut through most metals easily (cutting small amounts at a time). The one in the link looks like you have to link it with a computer. Is it linked with one now?

Yes it is linked with a computer. The computer has both mastercam and some sort of software for milling things from nc files.

When you say that this thing can machne most metals do you mean just soft metals like aluminum and brass or harder metals such as mild steels as well?

i have seen that machine before and it is not capable of cutting metals it is designed for cutting plastics and snythec materials. it is mainly a teaching tool but you could make some awsome hand outs with it…

The woodshop our team is based out of has an identical machine. It’s hooked to a Windows based PC like that one. The motor isn’t powerful enough for steel. The only thing we use it for is engraving plastics and brass. We basically make signs or name tags with it as that is all it’s basically good for. Like mentioned above it’s main purpose is a teaching tool and not manufacturing parts.

I know its meant for education and plastics. Is it capable of doing even light machining of aluminum. Right now the only means of getting parts made that need to be milled is for us to goto our sponsors. This is time consuming and a pain.

I don’t know the specs of the one at our woodshop off hand but if they are similar to the one you’re looking at for all intents and purposes I’ll have to say “No”. While it may be capable of machining by taking small passes at a time I think it’s service life will be greatly reduced. I’d rather not see you’re team be disappointed when the unit fails in the middle of build season.
Now I don’t know you’re teams position but I feel you’d be better off purchasing a new or used mill like a Bridgeport. This suggestion should eliminate or reduce you’re team’s dependence on outside help for machining. Several bonuses of a mill is a wider selection of bits and attachments than you would have for that mini CNC mill. You would also be able to remove more material in each pass. This is if you have the funds and the space to put a machine like this. You might even be able to ask local businesses and they might even donate one as they upgrade to newer machines.
This may not be what you wanted to hear but my gut feeling is that the mini CNC mill will not hold up to what you want it for.

$.02 :wink:

Ideally a real AKA: Bridgeport style is our goal. Unfortunately we don’t have $5000 to spare for somethign like this new. Depending on how fundraising this year goes this year though it might be possible for us to get a used mill. Until then i guess we will be outsourcing.

Ok heres a question. Out budget is rather limited. What are the disadvantages of a “Mill/Drill”? They are considerably cheaper. It looks as if we can get a new “Mill/drill” with powerfeed and DRO as well as an assortment of accessories for the price of a baseline mill with almost nothing. Even if we do get a real mill we will still leave complex/precision parts to our sponsors because none of us would be skilled enough to make these parts even with the right tools. Would a “Mill/drill” be adequite for basic parts (IE: various mounting adapters, simple mechanisms etc.) ?

A general rule that I remember hearing is that you should plan to spend as much on tooling as you do on the machine tool. It aint gonna do you much good if you have a nice and shiny mill, but nothing to go with it.

I’ve seen ads for used bridgeports from machine shops in my area for like $2000-2500, which seems pretty good, but I’m no expert, so who knows what you might be getting when you buy used.

$0.02 Cory