Low Cost CNC Machine

Our team is looking to acquire a CNC Router either through donations, or at low cost. Does anyone know companies in or around Houston, TX that we could reach out to who would be willing to either donate a CNC machine or sell us one at a discount?

Thank you!

If donation doesn’t pan out, I can practically guarantee this will be both cheaper and better than anything you can get at a discount in the US under 10k: X8-2200L-USB - CNC Desktop Engraver -omiocnc.com

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You might want to start making use of parts made on a CNC router by first asking local teams to make the parts you design. I have been made that offer by several Houston area teams. That saves you the time an effort to learn how to properly set up the tool and how to maintain it. Those teams might also be able to help teach your team how to design parts to be made on a CNC router. I can send you some contacts for teams that have had their CNC routers running for many years.

That would be great! Thank you!

A fun team project would be to build one. This also lets you spread out the build over more than a single year’s budget, and delivers significant expertise on how the thing works and needs to be maintained, which can be passed down to new members.

I recommend this one: Building the KRMx02 CNC — Kronos Robotics

It uses a lot of 80/20, which Teams can get at a significant discount, and can be built in several sizes (suggesting the 27 x 50 unit). And it uses reliable and fast rack & pinion drives and not slow screw drives.

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Keep in mind that there are differences between rack and pinion and screw beyond speed. Precision and backlash are usually better on screw-based drives, which is good for cutting precision parts from aluminum. Rack and pinion drives totally work, but it’s not quite right to reduce the argument to just speed.

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Im not sure what exactly your use case will be for the machine, but for my personal use, I have mostly printed cnc - works great for wood, and can run aluminum. Granted you already have a 3d printer, it’ll run you around $500-$600 depending on what router, electronics, etc you choose to go with.

Just bought one and it arrived this past Thursday. Plan to start unboxing it this week. Lots of great insight, resources, and support in this site for this machine

Any issues with import fees? Last I checked they label it as $200 gardening equipment.

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Haven’t seen anything so far related to import fees

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Because nobody has mentioned it in the thread so far, I’ll note that Swyft has the X8 for about $500 more than direct from Omio, but the units are already inside the United States and Swyft is a US company (which sometimes makes school bookkeepers happier).

I have no dog in the fight, but I’ve seen people share their troubles buying one because it’s overseas.

As a college student who sources nearly everything from AliExpress for that sweet, sweet, 3-7% discount and 3-7 week shipping time, I’m going to completely ignore this and probably regret it.

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I will get in touch with the teams I know have CNC routers and are using them effectively and get back to you.

The team my younger son was on was given an old CNC router. Some students and mentors worked on it in the off-season for a couple of years and never got it working. If I recall, some of the parts needed were either no longer available or way too expensive. Often equipment is given away because it is not economic to repair it.

We purchased this same CNC in December - it was reasonably priced, and the shipping cost (or time - we had it within a week because of it being in a warehouse already in PA) was lower than we expected. We paired this with Mach 3, and there are many CAM programs for teams to choose from - we use Solidworks as our CAD, so HSM Works is essentially an extension built into it, and you can use trial versions, or get the free Express version through your school system. We did slowly accumulate cheap yet quality tooling, and recently finished an enclosure, as we did have a mentor who owned a large machine shop. Obviously, everyone doesn’t have access to this, but this shouldn’t be a large concern, as they aren’t too difficult to find. Here is a link for a popular supplier (although they are typically more expensive than others, such as MSC):

Good luck

The best thing about those long ship times is that by the time you get it, you forgot what it is. It’s like getting a present from yourself!

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Of the three teams in the Houston area that I know have CNC routers and know how to use them effectively, two are having technical and non-technical issues right now. The third said that they had been making parts for your team in the past so your teacher/sponsor should be able to get things rolling for you.