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IndustryArena Forum > Events, Product Announcements Etc > Want To Buy...Need help! > Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis
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  1. #1
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    Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    Hi,

    I am new to this forum and want everyone say hello and thank you for wonderful place! I am a software engineer from Germany and during my part time I am running my still quite small business to develop robots and autonomous vehicles. Currently we are working on developing a fully autonomous drone to delivering stuff.

    For developing our prototypes we are currently relaying on 3D printing. We started out with the usual home systems like Makerbot but now advanced to the Hyrel Hydra 640 printer, a solid FDM printer with a quite big heated building chamber. In addition we have a Glowforge Pro laser cutter mainly used to cut some carbon sheets.

    While the printer only can produce plastic parts and the laser cutter can only cut in 2D I think we should invest in a decent CNC router to add the possibility for sharping wood and metal in 3D as well. This would complete our set of machinery and will allow us to fabricate our prototypes in a very effective and diverse way. However, as my business is still very small I have to make sure the investment doesn't break the bank. Of course the router has to be a solid and robust maschine with very good quality. As we only manufacture prototypes we don't need a machine with a high output. Professional Routers with a five digit price tag a out of our budget. I may be willing to buy a solid router for the start and add more capabilities and options later on. The bed size doesn't have to be very large as most of our parts are not that big anyway and the space we currently have is limited as well. Something as around 20 x 40 inches would be plenty of space for our jobs.

    As mentioned before I would need a model which can handle aluminum on a regular basis and when milling steel with some compromises in speed it would be possible it would be perfect. I would love to have a automatically tool changing system and a vacuum bed for holding the stock material in place easily.

    One of my biggest challenges is my wish to have the option to extend the router to a five axes maschine. I fully understand that this is not an easy task and it will add substantial costs, but I have many projects which would require such a set of freedom. The building room would be significant smaller milling in 5 axes but that is okay for me...

    I have searched for my a machine matching my requirements and found the PDJ Pilot Pro CNC Router. Does anybody know the company and the device? On the pictures it seems quite solid but I am not sure if the machine has some shortcoming as well... Feel free to check out the website and tell me your options. If you have any other maschine in mind which may match my criteria as well I would be very happy to hear from you as well!

    Looking forward for your options and suggestions and thank you for any help and support!

  2. #2
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    No router is going to be able to cut steel. Sure, you can find people doing it on YouTube, but forget about it.

    And forget about converting a machine to 5 axis. Adding two axis will make the machine much less rigid, when you need much more rigidity. A 5 axis machine needs to be designed as a 5 axis machine from the ground up.

    Imo, the pilot Pro is a mid level hobby machine. Not the worst, and not the best.
    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: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    It sounds like a vertical mill would suit your needs better than a router. The dimensions are within the range you'll find on a fair-sized milling machine, and they can cut steel as well as aluminum. This Milltronics Partner mill http://www.directindustry.com/prod/m...48-420191.html fits the bill; you can also search for 5-axis machines on that site (I hope you're rich...)
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  4. #4
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    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    Thanks for all of your replays!

    @Gerry
    So you think the 5axis add on of the Pilot Pro is joke and shouldn't be considered to be useful in daily practice, am I right? You think it is an average hobby machine and you suggest there are better options out there for the bug. I would be very happy if you can name out one or two alternatives you think are better for my overall task.

    I am wondering quite a bit how you are classifying the Pilot Pro in the hobby machine class. Putting all things together it will cost a higher four digit number and this is definitely more than a normal hobby person will spend on this... At least when I talk to my friends and colleagues they would think I am mad spending such a sum for a hobby without further background in using the machine in some wider context. For the hobbyist I thought a Stepcraft machine or similar which cost perhaps not much more than a grand would be a natural fit. But I am willing to learn from you and get a better understanding of the differences of performance of these machines in different price points.

    @Andrew
    Thank you for suggesting the Milltronics Partner mill. Unfortunately I am not very rich and cannot afford a very expensive machine at this time. I assume that the 5axis offer of Milltronics Partner is out of my budget by far means... Why do you suggest to use a mill over a router? What advantages do you think the Milltronics Partner mill would offer me in comparison to let's say the Pilot Pro?


    @all
    Perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that I am considering milling steel as well... I fully understand that this is a very demanding task and out of the very expensive professional league not possible without big compromises. As I have mentioned I plan to mill in aluminum for the very most parts or even softer materials and only in very special occasions I would consider to try milling small objects in steel... If the machine can do that it would be very nice but if it is an crucial job there is always the option to do the job outside with special equipment. So, please don't assume that milling steel is the application I am looking for and therefore there aren't any solutions in the a few thousand dollar league I am looking forward.

    The same I can say about the five axis request I made before. Yes, I want to mill with five axes as some of my applications have a geometry which demands the use of more than three axes. However, I mentioned to use the 5 axis system milling steel ;-). I fully understand that I have to make some compromises within my budget here as well. Perhaps I will have to need using softer materials for the 5 axis milling, have to take some shortbacks in quality or speed or whatever it is... Nevertheless, I would really love to have the option to add a five axis system to a very solid three axis router and have the chance to use it to my favor even when there are some compromises to be made... Without the option I definitely won't have access to a 5 axes mill for sure in the time to come as I definitely didn't have the budget to spend several ten thousands of dollar for a machine in the upcoming future...

  5. #5
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    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    If you don't have the money for a new mill, you might consider a used one. Even an older knee mill, if it's in working condition, can do a much better job on metal parts than a router; they are a lot more massive and rigid, and their spindles are intended for cutting hard metals, not wood and plastics. Even if it doesn't work, it's much less expensive to retrofit new controls on an older mill that's basically in good shape than to buy a new one. If you look around, you can often find good deals on used machinery. Here's one from my local Craigslist, for instance: https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/tls...499964788.html (You might want to check around your location, as it can be expensive to ship these huge machines around the country). Of course, buying a used CNC machine is like buying a used car - there's lots of things that can be wrong with one, and naive buyers can end up with expensive boat anchors. You definitely want to check it out first, preferably bringing along someone who knows about these things.

    Unless you're restricting yourself to foam and wax parts, don't expect a 5th axis added to a router to do everything you're dreaming of. And the machinery isn't the only cost involved. Have you priced 5-axis CAM software lately?
    Andrew Werby
    Website

  6. #6

    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    The one nice thing about buying a metal milling machine is that you can build your own 4th and 5th axis for it. But as Andrew said, 5 axis CAM software is expensive.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

  7. #7
    Community Moderator ger21's Avatar
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    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    Good quality CNC machines are not cheap.

    There are plenty of hobby users that spend $5000-$8000 ( or more) on machines, and $2000-$3000 more on software.
    Yes, some people would consider $1000 expensive for a hobby, and some would have no issues spending $10,000 or more.

    I would not consider converting any 3 axis machine into a 5 axis, unless it was a trunnion table.
    Normal 3 axis routers are just not designed for a 5 axis head. You need a very large, very rigid gantry beam, with a lot of clearance.

    I don't know what's available in Germany, but in the US, I'd prefer one of the following over the Pilot Pro.

    https://www.finelineautomation.com/p...-4?taxon_id=54

    PRO4824 4' x 2' CNC Router Kit | CNCRouterParts

    Stinger Series | CNC Routers | CAMaster

    https://www.shopsabre.com/cnc/router/shopsabre-23/
    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: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    If you want to actually cut metal and not spend months d!cking around trying to coax a machine (i.e. hobby router) into doing more than it was designed for (cutting wood/plastic) get a small Tormach mill. It’s the best deal if you’re not building your own machine, but will still cost at least $10k. Only other option is buy a used mill or build your own.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    Clearly you have no understanding of CNCs. Just because you WANT a 5-axis (capable) machine for <$1,000 does not mean that such a machine will ever exist. Yes, you can get cheap little Chinese routers which might or might not work for <$1k, but they are toys, not machines.

    Cheers
    Roger

  10. #10
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    Re: Solid CNC Router for milling aluminum with the option to upgrade to 5 axis

    Figure out WHAT you want to do first,
    then use a job shop to produce the FIRST prototypes....
    Then only for production buy a suitable machine.

    The first of anything always costs more.
    its the tooling amortization costs.
    (how do i know this? 50 years of building the firsts)

  11. #11
    When in Germany there's Isel, and in Österiech there's Emco.
    Just saying.
    Alex

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