For that price, you can buy a Taig:
Or buy a CNC-ready Taig, and purchase the controller and motors separately to save ~$700. You can use an old computer running LinuxCNC to input your files.
You will also need some software (and skill) to turn your 3D models into G-code toolpaths. If Other Machine has that part semi-automated, it could be a simpler out-of-the-box solution, but otherwise expect quite a bit more learning than for setting up a 3D printer.
Or, if you’re only milling small stuff, it looks like Roland now sells a mini-mill for $900:
As far as I understand, Other Machine is being developed so that you (the user) won’t have to deal with the software side. they are semi-automating, so that you will be able to take 2-D or 3-D designs and just toss them into a simple interface without knowing all the backend modeling and coding.
They want just about anyone to be able to use it out of the box.
The (selfish) part of me wants to see a RepRap-(style) community doing this kind of machine.
Why selfish? It’s pretty logical.
There are some existing DIY CNC communities out there. If this machine gets popular, DIY clones are guaranteed to pop up; the main difference seems to be the software, and even that is likely just a repackaged, duct-taped-together existing software, with limited functionality as a tradeoff for user-interface simplicity.
The problem with Taig is that they don’t offer an enclosure, so bits of metal/sawdust fly everywhere, which is a problem if you’re not running it in a shop. Building a good enclosure yourself is either time-consuming or expensive or both, especially a sound-damping one, and super-especially if it’s one that pumps cooling/cutting fluid.
I’ve wanted to buy a Taig for years, but making a really nice enclosure for it is a big enough project on its own that I might not ever get around to finishing it, so I’d end up unable to use the taig, which would be a complete waste of a good machine :-/
They’ve been saying for (ten?) years that they’re going to produce an enclosure soon, but it never happens.
Cardboard boxes work for me as ad-hoc just-for-now emergency enclosures. Should work for you for the first couple days (years) before you get around to make a better one.
I’d probably throw something “temporary” together by gluing structural foam board… (and finally get around to doing something nice years later)
That would do the job neatly as well. And if you do it well enough, it may last for the lifetime of the machine.
Gonna just leave this here too.
I was a little surprised at the price too… I know they are trying to solve the software issue, but the reality is that for subtractive milling you need some skills. Their 7000 RPM minimum speed and low torque is also going to limit materials… for most plastics you need slower RPM with some torque so you don’t melt everything.
I think where this could shine (and by the fact it takes EAGLE board files) is to compete against closed source and quite expensive dedicated PCB mills… this almost would make me get one for circuit prototyping, except the work area is a bit small, and ordering “real” circuit boards online is $100 and 3 day delivery.
If someone really wants to get into milling aluminum etc, just buy a used CNC, kick the car out of the garage and burn through a load of tool bits. It’s good fun! Years ago before I had a shop to put it in I purchased a 24"x"15"x6" travel CNC knee mill with a boatload of tooling for $10K. 5HP motor. Had to cut a notch in my garage to fit it in. It now has its own dedicated area with 3 phase power, and EDPM covering the floors and walls for easy cleanup.
That is incredibly fast for most metals. It would be limited to aluminum, small depth of cut and small diameter endmills.
I have been programing for 20+ years and use mastercam/esprit almost exclusively for cam anymore. This is some free software that helps with speed/feed code, if you are using a cam with limited post processors or are g coding. It is a little aggressive, for full coolant and rigid setups, but is a good starting point and most materials can be scaled back effectively.
My friend just bought one of these.
It’s pretty damn pimp. Anyone got suggestions for something to build with it?
Anything in sheet form, most cabinet shops use them.
I’m old-school, so I’d etch a PCB, not machine it. Then you don’t have to worry about burrs shorting out tracks. But I suppose milling allows you to drill the holes in the same operation. Also think that if building a box around a mill is too much trouble, maybe you need a different hobby. Cardboard box and a plexi window would suffice, I’d think.
That’s rather dismissive, it sounds like you don’t understand. Sure, a cardboard box might suffice for you, or for some easy materials, but most of the milling projects that interest me will want fluids pumped into the cutting, so the enclosure wants to be something that seals when closed and features (or can accept) fluid reclamation, a filtering system, a pumping system, etc. Sound-damping also matters to me. Building all that is not about the difficulty - it’s not difficult. It’s time-consuming (and uninteresting), pointlessly re-inventing the wheel, custom-building what could happily be an off-the-shelf item, dithering around with the tools instead of spending that workmanship on creating wonderful things. Even just a basic-but-solid enclosure that requires me to install the filtering etc would be a head-start. (Or more accurately, less of a back-start)
The big limit I face is time. Setting up for milling is time-consuming enough already.
So if I can use money to buy some time, I will. Hence, I intend to buy a mill, not design and build one.
What are you using as etchant? I have minor issues with CuCl2/HCl/peroxide, it etches quite well but awfully s-l-o-w even when heated.
Also, there are sometimes small areas of the board that just do not want to get etched well and form tiny little bridges of copper. So board inspection is strongly suggested. Double so in the areas that go under parts and will be inaccessible.
Likely not without exchange of the tool bit. But the board won’t have to be unclamped, if suitably backed (not laying directly on the metal bed of the machine).
In the age of webcams, you don’t even need a window. Slap the cam in, and watch the operation remotely.
Nice synopsis of the art. Last year this time I was a total dolt about 2D and 3D milling. Now, after having done it every day for the whole year, I’m approaching intermediate skill level, with a whole world of stuff still to learn.
The Makerbot way is to get people to download stuff from Thingiverse and simply print it out. REALITY is:
-different filament needs different temp and speed.
-you have to know how to level your bed.
-how many different ways do you know to get your print to stick to the bed? You should know at least 2, and that kapton tape is for punks.
-what if your print stops extruding in the middle of a print, what happened?
–what if your print is thin or has bumps? What do you do?
–what if you have this STL file and you need to make one teensy alteration, move a hole or add a piece, what do you do then?
And for CNC, what about when your mill goes awry and starts cutting strange lines? What if your mill is cutting too deep and you keep breaking bits? What if your steppers are skipping, what do you do then? What if your endstops are messed up and you keep overrunning? What if you think you had the right dimensions, but it’s off by 2mm, what do you do?
2D and 3D milling/printing require a tinker spirit. You have to be able to investigate problems and try to fix them yourself. These “turnkey” solutions have me scratching my head. Everybody wants easy. How about learning about the software toolchain and really understanding the process? There’s nothing wrong with that.
Also, $2100 for a CNC that can only do an object that’s about 12" by 12"? That’s a ripoff. There are tons of other off the shelf machines that can do that for under a thousand.
Or you can build your own.
Or you could get one of these off Banggood and put a small spindle on it. http://www.banggood.com/300mW-Desktop-DIY-Violet-Laser-Engraving-Machine-Picture-CNC-Printer-p-958365.html
Or a million other ways to get there. The upshot is that Bram is 100% correct: you need some skill to really make this happen, or you will be very frustrated.
The problem here is a rather steep learning curve with absence of motivation-maintaining intermediate results.
What I’d consider ideal is some sort of upgradable turnkey device, limited by its turnkey characteristics that necessarily require gross simplifications. Then a step-by-step gradual way that the user can follow, getting the necessary knowledge/skills while gaining more capabilities.
The intermediate successes are what I consider to be highly important for keeping the motivation needed to spend the time and effort and money.
Thought… could we sample the motor’s waveform, and detect when it skipped the steps that way? If yes, it could be integrated to the motor driver, which then could auto-adjust the parameters.
What would you consider the best way for such stepwise upgrades of both the machine, its software, and the operator (as gaining knowledge could be considered a person’s upgrade)?