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IndustryArena Forum > Events, Product Announcements Etc > Want To Buy...Need help! > Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs
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  1. #1

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    Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    Hi everybody, I am totally new to the CNC world and am hoping to lean on the vast knowledge of the users here to help me limit my initial mistakes and save some potential headaches. My goal is to prototype some small items I have designed which I plan on using the 6040 to create from foam and then casting them in 7075 or 6061 Aluminum. I am going to try to be thorough and explain my thought process and concerns and hope you guys are able to help me out.

    My initial budget is around $1000-$1200 US for the base 4-axis 6040 CNC.
    I understand there are potential issues with the base electronic components and would plan on upgrading them to ensure higher accuracy/speed and no lost steps, but I would like something that works to some degree out of the box to get familiar before I begin tearing things open and upgrading.
    From my research the G540 is highly touted, as well as adding a smoothstepper. I would likely purchase a USB model 6040 to meet my out of the box needs, but believe I would want to go to ethernet controlled as part of my upgrades in the future.
    I understand mach3 comes with many of these 6040s and have downloaded the trial and watched videos to familiarize myself with it, but have found a lot of other options such as UCCNC that people have spoken highly of.
    I understand the 4th axis which comes with these 6040 is typically on the small/weak size but am hoping it would suffice for foam, at least initially so I could work on learning with it.
    My designs are currently done in blender3d which has an option to export to .stl, but I would be open to learning a new CAD software if it were inexpensive and reduced headaches.
    I have no experience with CAM software but would like one which was inexpensive but capable of doing what I need from it.

    So my questions:

    #1. Which 6040 should I buy? I have seen some reports that the tan painted machines and the unpainted ones may differ some? I am looking at a 1.5kw spindle version and would like the heavier model. I would also like at least the supported rail version as it seems the linear rail models are much spendier and out of my current budget. I am looking for as much rigidity as possible to start as accuracy is more important than speed for me.

    #2. What is my best CAM/CAD/Controller route? As I said I would like something which will handle 4 axis work, which will be able to work with a USB (initially) and ethernet (eventually) inputs. I would like to do my designs in blender and export them to a CAM rather than learn a new CAD application, but would be open to learning one but not willing to paying many hundreds of dollars (or more) for a CAD app.

    I am creating a 6 sided cube like object with 2 sides (top and bottom) requiring more accuracy than the other 4. My initial plan is to start with a foam cube and mill out the top side which has some holes bored in it. I would mill a rig from aluminum which had cylinders which matched the bored holes from the top side so I could flip the foam cube over to mill the bottom side. Then I wanted to make another rig which could be mounted into the 4 axis chuck to do the other 4 sides in one process. That could be done with 4 different runs each done after a 90 degree rotation or in one, I guess that doesnt matter as much to me. But I liked the idea of using the 4th axis for this more than having to re-position each side manually. Once the foam is milled I will cast it and would then like to use the 6040 again for cleanup/finishing on the aluminum.

    I have tried to read all I could here and have learned a lot, so I appreciate all the information put out here and apologize if my questions have been answered many times over (probably have). But trying to navigate through all the threads and pull out the valid bits was a bit overwhelming so I decided to specifically talk about my needs. Hopefully I have provided a clear enough view of what I am trying to accomplish that you can give helpful input! I am very open to whatever questions you may have as you guys likely have questions I dont even know to ask yet. Thanks for taking the time to read, any help is greatly appreciated! I am planning on making my purchase in about 3 weeks so I will continue digging until then.

  2. #2
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    Can't tell you which machine to buy, but I'll answer #2.

    For CAD and CAM, download Fusion 360. It's free for hobbysits.
    If you can use Blender, you shouldn't have too much trouble learning Fusion 360.
    Machining .stl models is the least efficient way to make your parts, so you should avoid that option if possibly.
    Fusion 360 is a parametric solid modeler, and can create toolpaths directly from features in the model, as opposed to the surface of a triangle mesh.

    Controller is often a personal choice.
    Personally, I feel that Mach3 is obsolete, and there are several better options.

    Here are a few good choices.
    Centroid Acorn
    LinuxCNC
    UCCNC
    EdingCNC
    Mach4
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  3. #3

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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    Thanks for the response!

    So Fusion360 allows for modeling and also can make the toolpaths? Would it then export Gcode or is there another application between that and the controller that I am missing? (again very new to this).

    I looked into UCCNC a bit and liked the price in comparison to mach3, I will research a bit more on that. But from the sounds of it Fusion360/UCCNC would be a workable combo for what I need?

    I am a bit unclear on the relationship between the different hardwares and their exact roles. Like I said I have heard a lot of people speak highly of the G540, if I wanted to go that route and switch to ethernet control what all would be needed? I guess to clarify, if I bought a 6040 and wanted to run a G540 with ethernet control eventually, what would I need to purchase and would that work fine with a Fusion360/UCCNC combo?

    Thanks again for the response!

  4. #4
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    Fusion 360 will do everything CAD/CAM, from modelling to g-code.

    I use UCCNC. It's a very good, low cost option.

    To run a G540 with an ethernet connection to UCCNC, you'd want a UC400ETH controller.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  5. #5

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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    I looked into Fusion360 and appears it is a $60 a month $500 a year license. I saw it being free potentially for students or educators but did not see it for hobbyists. It may be a bit more than what I need but I will keep digging into it. Are there any other similar options which may not be quite as pro quality which can be purchased for a reasonable one time fee? I will keep looking into it and see if I can find one that suits me. I do like the idea of an application which can handle not only the modeling but the toolpathing as well.

    Will UCCNC work with an out of the box 6040 or would it require a piece of hardware to work properly? If it will work out of the box or with a cheap piece of hardware then I would probably not spend any time with mach3 at all and try to configure my 6040 to work with UCCNC right away. *edit I just looked at the uccnc page again and says it works with a UC400eth, which is about $150. Not bad considering mach3 is like $175 on its own, so UCCNC and the controller is in the same ballpark. I think thats the route I would be looking to go, immediately installing the UC400eth and running UCCNC. Let me know if my thinking is incorrect!

    PS - Would it make sense to buy a low cost smoothstepper at the same time and set it all up as one, or would a smoothstepper no longer be needed with this config?

    Thanks again for your help!

  6. #6
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiralRC View Post
    I looked into Fusion360 and appears it is a $60 a month $500 a year license. I saw it being free potentially for students or educators but did not see it for hobbyists. It may be a bit more than what I need but I will keep digging into it. Are there any other similar options which may not be quite as pro quality which can be purchased for a reasonable one time fee? I will keep looking into it and see if I can find one that suits me. I do like the idea of an application which can handle not only the modeling but the toolpathing as well.

    Will UCCNC work with an out of the box 6040 or would it require a piece of hardware to work properly? If it will work out of the box or with a cheap piece of hardware then I would probably not spend any time with mach3 at all and try to configure my 6040 to work with UCCNC right away. *edit I just looked at the uccnc page again and says it works with a UC400eth, which is about $150. Not bad considering mach3 is like $175 on its own, so UCCNC and the controller is in the same ballpark. I think thats the route I would be looking to go, immediately installing the UC400eth and running UCCNC. Let me know if my thinking is incorrect!

    PS - Would it make sense to buy a low cost smoothstepper at the same time and set it all up as one, or would a smoothstepper no longer be needed with this config?

    Thanks again for your help!
    You need a UC100 or UC400ETH or UC300ETH or AXBB controller and a UCCNC license key.
    You do not need a Smoothstepper for this setup.
    It will work out of the box: forum.cncdrive.com • View topic - 6040 Chinese CNC settings

    Mach3 is $175, but you only get a software key for that and then you can use the antient LPT port or buy a motion controller for extra. BTW the UC controllers work with Mach3 also.
    With the UCCNC you get an ethernet motion controller plus the software for about the same price as the mach3 license key cost.

  7. #7
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    What you do is download the 30 day trial of Fusion 360. At the end of the 30 days, Autodesk will give you the option to subscribe as a hobbyists, for free. I think that every year you just renew the hobbbyist license.

    Yes, all you need is a UC400ETH and UCCNC license. Note that the license is tied to the UC400ETH.
    You do also need the G540, which will plug directly into yhe UC400ETH.

    The Smooth Stepper only works with Mach3. And there is no "low cost" smoothstepper. Just the $190 ESS. There are a LOT of cheap chinese controllers, but like the ESS, they only work with Mach3.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  8. #8

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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    Quote Originally Posted by OlfCNC View Post
    You need a UC100 or UC400ETH or UC300ETH or AXBB controller and a UCCNC license key.
    You do not need a Smoothstepper for this setup.
    It will work out of the box: forum.cncdrive.com • View topic - 6040 Chinese CNC settings

    Mach3 is $175, but you only get a software key for that and then you can use the antient LPT port or buy a motion controller for extra. BTW the UC controllers work with Mach3 also.
    With the UCCNC you get an ethernet motion controller plus the software for about the same price as the mach3 license key cost.
    Thanks! This helped clear up a lot of things for me. My loose plan right now is to buy the 3 axis 6040 for now along with a G540 and a UC400eth or UC300eth along with a copy of UCCNC.

    I downloaded Fusion 360 last night and watch some videos and messed around with it, GREAT suggestion! It is a much better choice for this type of modeling than Blender. Despite being an experienced blender user/modeler I can already see Fusion 360 is much more intuitive for this type of work. I am going to start working on recreating my models in it right away so I have them ready before getting my machine.

    What is the difference between a UC300eth and a UC400eth? Are there any significant benefits or drawbacks to one?

    As I said in my initial post I was planning on going with the 4th axis machine for foam, but didnt expect to need it immediately. I need time to get familiar with basic 3 axis work and configuration before I worry about getting a 4th axis working. I also have plenty of stuff that only needs the 3 axis to do to keep me busy and learning. After looking around it seems like for a little more I could buy a small 5th axis table for a little more than the 4 axis setup. Has anybody played around with anything like this?

    https://www.ebay.com/i/183533611217?chn=ps

    I figure if I was going to spend a couple hundred on a cheaper 4th axis for doing foam work, might as well just get the 5 axis one. Would the Fusion360/G540/UCCNC/UCX00eth setup work with a 5th axis as well?

    Thanks for the help guys, you are helping me out a lot!

  9. #9
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    The UC300ETH has more I/Os and analog I/Os also. The 400 only has digitals.
    Analog inputs you could use to control the feedrate and spindle over ride with potentiometers.
    Analog outputs are fine for analog 0-10V control of spindle speed with VFD.

    UCCNC can control up to 6 axis.

  10. #10

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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    I took a look at them and found the UC400eth for around $150 US, which appears to be one piece. When I looked for the UC300eth it appears to come in 2 pieces, the motherboard and the motion controller? with MC being around $160 and motherboard being around $30.

    What is the actual benefit to being able to control feedrate and spindle override with a potentiometer? What is a potentiometer?! =D

    Its not a huge difference in price, just wondering if it is something I would actually need or if it would just be extra bells and whistles which I didnt actually utilize.

  11. #11
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    What is the actual benefit to being able to control feedrate and spindle override with a potentiometer? What is a potentiometer?! =D
    A pot is just a rotary dial that you turn to adjust the speed.

    You can also adjust the overrides on the screen with a slider control or up/down buttons.
    I would not buy the UC300ETH just to get the analog inputs.
    With the G540, you're really only using 20% of it's inputs and outputs.
    Gerry

    UCCNC 2017 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2017.html

    Mach3 2010 Screenset
    http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/2010.html

    JointCAM - CNC Dovetails & Box Joints
    http://www.g-forcecnc.com/jointcam.html

    (Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)

  12. #12
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    Re: Purchasing 6040 CNC in a month, need help making the right choice for my needs

    I have the UC400ETH but when i bought it then the UC300ETH was not available yet. I'm not sure which one to buy if I had to buy one now, maybe non of them, but the AXBB-E. Just to confuse you a bit more
    The AXBB-E also has analog I/Os.

    A potentiometer is a rotary knob with changing resistance. You rotate it and the voltage changes. You rotate it to 0° changes the feedrate over ride 0% and you rotate it to maximum makes the feedrate over ride 300% or whatever your setting is.
    You can adjust the feedrate and spindle over ride without pushing buttons or adjusting virtual sliders on the screen, it is more comfortable.

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