528,148 active members*
2,941 visitors online*
Register for free
Login
IndustryArena Forum > GENERAL MANUFACTURING PROCESSES > MILLING > Budget CNC Mill under $2000?
Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    5

    Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Hello, I am new to the forum, so if I break any rules please let me know. A little about me I currently a college student(Major:Industrial engineering Minor: Manufacturing Engineering, and automation certification) and interning with a large company as an industrial engineer the last year. I have experience with manual and cnc lathes and mills, much nicer than I can afford, but am looking for a cnc mill that I can cut stainless around .001 accuracy. I want am taking 18 credit hours next semester, so a full time job is probably out of the question, but I was thinking that if I could do some milling jobs, pay off the machine, then I could make some extra cash during school. I have also considered going the fiber laser route, but not having much experience with lasers and their life I am a bit weary. Trying to keep the machine under $2000 not including tooling. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1729

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Hi AJ - I think what you are trying to do is a tough call. I also studied part time and worked for various companies through that process for my degree. My suggestion is that you put the money into a good CAD system (or use a free one like FreeCAD) and create a relationship with a machining company. Learn to build good CAD models and drafting skills. Finding part work can be tough and then committing to building the part is even tougher with small machines. Great for a hobby but time and material and cheap machinery is not a good mix to make money. So your concept is the same except you will contract the parts. You do the model send it to the machinist for quote then talk to the client. If they accept the quote then the shop does the work. So in the end everything is the same except the result is better, you get paid for your time, you learn a lot. Also if the part requires laser work, machining or 3D printing no problem, use the shop that has the appropriate tools. Work on building up a network of machinists, painters, moulders whatever is needed. Then you should also pick a speciality area that attracts clients. When you market you need a hook and this is your speciality area. If you market for general work you will get all sorts of enquiries too many of which will be dead ends (read waste of time and therefore money) I now run two businesses for myself, one a consulting engineering business and I design machines (small high tech stuff through to very very large mining equipment) and 2) a cnc machine kit parts business. Both of which use contractors for making all the parts. I have done this for 30 years or so and it has become a successful way to do stuff. A good designer is one who designs stuff that although exciting and interesting is also doable. I see alot of stuff in machine shops that the machinist is complaining about or ignoring that is either tough to do (and could have been done much easier and the result would be the same) or is over specified or so many things that only time and experience will get you. So forge an alliance with a suitable company and become a great designer and project manager. Its an appreciated skill and resource when you can say you know how to get something done and then do it. When you do work for a company go and speak to the people on the floor and look at the machinery. Don't be an aloof engineer. They will give you more info then in any book and get your hands dirty on machines welders printers benders... whatever you can as much as possible.

    If you do have a makers bent then you need to research machines very carefully. Machines make more money then people do (but can cost you your business) so always buy the best you can afford that does the job. If it does not do the job then don't buy it. For many years I dealt with manufacturers that spent alot of money on machines and I could not get my head around that they had fleets of engineers so why not make machines or whatever. Took me some time to learn about money vs time vs machinery. A machine has to make money, if its idle or still on paper its not making money. So also put on your list some business studies, that will do you some good as well.

    Good Luck Peter

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    5

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Peter,

    Thank you for the reply, the reason that I am wanting the machine and not contract out is simply due to time. In today's world many people want things done and done fast, even if not possible, so I want to streamline the process and cut down on processing/production of the items. I really wanted to do some handgun slide milling and ar lower milling(not completing 80s), but also being able to machine broken parts from farm equipment for local people. The gun milling idea is very general, but that is because my specific idea may have been done, but is not offered openly.(I can't find anyone doing it). I am pretty good with different CAD programs, but just feel like anyone can learn them fairly easily, but machining takes skill and harder to get into. I am going to talk to some local machine shops and see if I can work something out.

    Thank you,

    AJ

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1729

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Hi AJ - A "fast" business model is not one of the best ones unless its selling hamburgers. You will have a hobby grade machine and you will be modifying someones gun? and you will be under serious time pressure and learning to be a machinist & studying all too complex to make $$$. And then you will muck one up and then it's really hard... So are you a Machinist or an Engineer? or a gunsmith? All require years of training to get good. I suggest you get a job as a machinist or an allied trade to learn a few things and find out where your feet are taking you. Someone may want a night shift programmer or toolsetter. Even a toolsetter is a skilled trade. Maybe a night shift machine loader is the go... I did lots of machine loading and tending when I was at Uni. this lead to setting up jobs etc You need to find a paying job that gets you some experience that they pay for not you, if you know what I mean. Your talking about a hard path that will conflict with your studies. Really need to knock your education over and then you can go for whatever you like, fail a few times, correct the course then succeed. Peter

  5. #5
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    4437

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    If I were in your position I guess I would be looking for a used knee mill. Sometimes you can find them pretty cheap, although the prices seem to have gone up in the last few years. I paid $1000 for my used BP clone in 2013, the old Anilam controller needed some love, but mechanically the machine was near perfect. Still in daily use in my shop. Came out of the protype shop from a local manufacturer.

    You just need to keep your eye on you local Craigslist ads or use Search Tempest for a wider search area. EBay is another good source, but you have to wade through the CNC router/engraver ads to find the lower priced milling machines. The Ebay sellers seem to confuse CNC routers and milling machines. Maybe one of your local shops has a machine sitting in the back corner gathering dust that they would let go for scrap price. Installing modern controls on old machines is done every day, not too daunting of a task.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  6. #6
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6449

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    For $2,000 you aren't going to get anywhere thinking in CNC terms unless it's someone's failed project that they just want to recover the cost of materials on and you pick up the pieces literally...………...don't bother, time is money and baking hamburgers part time or stacking shelves at your local supermarket will probably pay you more with less headaches.

    If you really are thinking in terms of a used CNC machine think about US$ 5K at least, where you will install it and how much it will cost to run power for it...…..tooling is an arm and a leg, even Chinese, if you want to compete against all the other guys who are already competing to get the lowest price deal......your biggest stumbling block is knowledge of CNC.

    I cannot even think that you could draw up something and then subcontract it to someone who's expertise is not known and then cost it to sell to the buyer.

    Back in the mid 80's I invented something and spent 16 hours a day making it along with my day time job.....that was 7 days a week for 52 weeks over 4 years....don't ask me how old I felt.

    Best of luck, washing cars can pay good...….ask Mr White.
    Ian.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    5

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Thank you to everyone for the replies, I would not be modifying any guns, just offering certain parts for the gun that I buy in a pretty raw state and do custom work from there. If I were to find a shop would it be best to write my own programming or just give them a print and let them handle it from there? With my schedule only days I could work would be Fridays and the weekends, so its will be hard to get a company to hire for any type of machine work. Now for fast food, I can say I will not be going for that, mainly because I like more physical work- power washing Semis for Blue Beacon is the back up. Just want to apply my education and learn some real life lessons in machining/engineering field.

  8. #8
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Posts
    1729

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Hi AJ - If you give a company a program and something goes wrong they will claim its your programs fault. What if you supply a code and the machine crashes? Who is responsible? (crashes do happen) The best way for contract work is to supply a CAD model as reference and a correct detailed manufacturing drawing. Its then up to the company to produce something that meets the drawing. If there is an error it can be determined via the dwg. Unless you know alot about a machine and how companies set them up and the tooling available it would be near impossible to supply a code that works anyway. Peter

  9. #9
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Posts
    4437

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    You might take a look at this thread https://www.cnczone.com/forums/newly...79796-cnc.html
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Posts
    5

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Thanks I messaged the guy!

  11. #11
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6449

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Wow.....on that link I see the Z axis is converted to linear rails.....that has to be A + on any retrofit.....even at full at $3K I think it's bottom dollar with all the work done.

    One thing you must remember.....if you don't have any tooling like...…. a vice, chucks, cutters or a place to install it in with power you will spend a lot more than $3K.

    The main obstacle is.....if you've been exposed to an industrial environment with industrial machinery, going to a benchtop mill with a DIY set-up will seem like it's never going to work to make money and you will run out of time and patience trying to get there.

    You are in reality trying to compete against people with already set up conditions for money projects with amateur equipment in the end, and you need the infrastructure of a machine shop even if it is on a mini scale to be competitive.
    Ian.

  12. #12
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Posts
    2
    Such a great read!! I'm planning on doing some projects on my own. My dad and I used to do some projects when I was young and I still have some of his machines. But also thinking of upgrading. I'll take into consideration some of the mills that were mentioned here.

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2020
    Posts
    1

    Re: Budget CNC Mill under $2000?

    Very interesting topic. I'm thinking now to make an investment I guess that this information will help me a lot

Similar Threads

  1. Budget 2000 to 3000 watt laser?
    By kreb in forum Commercial Laser
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 04-26-2016, 03:41 PM
  2. $2000 Budget for Milling Machine and CNC Conversion
    By zagitazz in forum Benchtop Machines
    Replies: 44
    Last Post: 06-26-2012, 11:34 PM
  3. PC Build (~2000$ Budget)
    By c.fehringer in forum Controller & Computer Solutions
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 05-03-2012, 05:26 AM
  4. Mini Mill on a budget?
    By rigo430 in forum Benchtop Machines
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-02-2007, 03:49 AM
  5. $6k budget for cnc mill, please help!
    By touser in forum Uncategorised MetalWorking Machines
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-30-2004, 03:14 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •