CNC Options?

This thread is a sort of spinoff of this “budget machining” thread.

Our team has been fortunate in that we have a very large machining resource at our school. However, with the exception of a rather finicky PlasmaCam, we have no CNC equipment. However, we may be in the position for some grant money, and we have looked at several options for what we can buy.

One possible option is to buy a small, solid state laser. They range between $20-25 grand. We had one for a time, as a demo, and the CNC ability was very nice, but it was only capable of cutting wood and plastics. No metal capability whatsoever. Very useful for fundraising stuff, classroom education, and some plastic pieces on the robot, but again, no metal capability.

I am looking for other potential options, that have the metal option, ideally while retaining the other niceties: ease of use, low consumeable cost, low maintenance, and hopefully, non-metal material friendly still. The budget stands at up to 15k, but obviously the lower the better. I have seen some low priced CNC mills, but are there more *friendly *CNC options? Are there retrofit CNC mill kits?

This is a hypothetical question, as there is no money guranteed yet. But what are some options?

Hey there, in the past year I think everyone in the FIRST family has become somewhat familiar with intelitek because of EasyC, but what most of you don’t know is that we also make hardware as well. Specifically educational CNC machines.

They’re small enough to fit in a classroom and easy enough that anyone can use them without having a machining background. There is also curriculum available as well.

Check out some of our products at

To fit your budget and design needs I’d recommend the eXpertMill, it’s our newest product on the market and has some impressive specs for a small budget machine. If you need anymore info you can call the number on our company website or PM me directly.

Just as an FYI our team, Team 40 has been using the ProLight 1000 for years making parts for our robots. The expermill is new and that machine is starting to get some use making robot parts as well.


You’re right, I didn’t know intellitek had other ventures…

About how much would one of these babies set us back? I didn’t see any pricing on the site. And, is there special tooling? It looks like there are at least non-standard collets, if not tools.

You should be able to do a base expertmill with quick change tooling (yes it does require special toolholders, but they’re not too bad comparatively) for around $15k. I’m pretty sure…keep in mind I am an engineer and not sales, but that will be in the ballpark.

You can call our toll free number 1-800-221-2763 and ask to speak to an educational sales rep. and they can definately get you more info.

But I’ll tell you this, we’ve cut all of our aluminum gear box brackets on our machines as well as tons of other small brackets and stuff…steel can be cut as well but it does require patience and small cuts. You can even make your own omni wheels if you stay around 5" diameter wheels. Lexan and other soft materials are no problem either.

intelitek has been making educational CNC machines for 20 years now, they’re small, 110v, intuitive to use and very robust. Crashing the machine isn’t a huge catastrophic thousand dollar mistake. You may lose your part and break a tool, but re-home the machine and you’re ready to have another go at it.

Check out a forum for machining and home-built cnc machines. The CNC homebuilt router designs are certainly doable as an off-season construction project.

I think a CNC mill is the most versitile. You can retrofit a Sieg mini mill (x2) for a cost of <$1000 total probably. But you’re only going to get 4" Y axis travel and .002-.005 accuracy.