INTRODUCTION

I have been working in the CNC field since 1984, and at that time a CNC milling machine was over a million dollars, and you had to hand code each line to produce a simple part.  CAD/CAM was in its infancy, and very costly.  Fast forward to today, and you can purchase all types of CNC machines; Plasma CNC, Laser CNC, CNC Router Tables, 3D Printers, and of course CNC Milling, and CNC Turning Machines.

Also, now you can purchase 2D or 3D CAD, and CAM software for a few hundred dollars. With this software, you can create simple to complex shapes using 2, 3, 4 or even five-axis CNC controls.  Now coding is generated by CAM software, which has tool path simulation, and tool collision avoidance.

The internet has made the world a smaller place, and we have within our hands a smartphone that has more power than mainframe computers of the past decades.

We have laptop computers, smartphones, and just about everything is transforming itself into a personal workspace. We have rapid prototyping (3D printers), desktop waterjet machines, desktop CNC Lasers, Portable CNC Router Machines and small CNC Plasma Cutting Tables.

The focus of this site is “DesktopCNCMachines,” CNC machines with interchangeable heads for Routing, Laser Cutting, and Milling/Drilling Spindles. And, these machines, by their very definition, will fit on top of your desktop or work table.

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    Uses for CNC Machines:

    CNC Routing is ideal for machining MDF, hardwood, plastics and composites. Typical CNC Routing applications are signs, door faces, molding, trim, accent pieces, furniture, picture frames, art, sculpting, just to mention a few. CNC Routing can cut profiles, three-dimensional reliefs, speaker boxes, MDF furniture, wall panels, and mosaics. Also, CNC Routing can cut letters, and shapes into material for signs.

    CNC Routing is extremely accurate, fast and ideal for repetitive or custom jobs, and with “nesting software,” you can optimize sheet usage, reducing material scrap.

    Because routing tables use a vacuum to clamp the sheet to the work table, the part is firmly clamped, and will not slip during the routing operation. This clamping method ensures accuracy, and repeatability of the produced parts.

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    Uses for CNC Machines:

    CNC Routing is ideal for machining MDF, hardwood, plastics and composites. Typical CNC Routing applications are signs, door faces, molding, trim, accent pieces, furniture, picture frames, art, sculpting, just to mention a few. CNC Routing can cut profiles, three-dimensional reliefs, speaker boxes, MDF furniture, wall panels, and mosaics. Also, CNC Routing can cut letters, and shapes into material for signs.

    CNC Routing is extremely accurate, fast and ideal for repetitive or custom jobs, and with “nesting software,” you can optimize sheet usage, reducing material scrap.

    Because routing tables use a vacuum to clamp the sheet to the work table, the part is firmly clamped, and will not slip during the routing operation. This clamping method ensures accuracy, and repeatability of the produced parts.

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    CNC Laser Engraving:

    CNC Engraving can etch plastics, wood, aluminum and steel. CNC Engraving is fast, accurate, and repeatable. CNC engraving is ideal for sign making, labels, memory boxes, game boards, pictures, and numerous other applications.

    CNC Engraving can generate a wood burning effect for the creation of beautiful pictures. If you use CNC Engraving, in conjunction with CNC Routing, you can make game boards, engraved memory boxes, labels, signs, picture frames, art pieces, accent pieces, and much more.

    CNC Engraving can be equipped with vacuum or mechanical clamps, making it easy to engrave any premade part or shape in a wide variety of materials. CNC Laser Engraving is far less worrisome than a traditional engraving. Traditional engraving requires a spinning tool to cut through the engraved material. CNC Laser engraving uses a laser to burn away the material that it is engraving; this burning can produce many different effects on the material.

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    CNC Laser Engraving:

    CNC Engraving can etch plastics, wood, aluminum and steel. CNC Engraving is fast, accurate, and repeatable. CNC engraving is ideal for sign making, labels, memory boxes, game boards, pictures, and numerous other applications.

    CNC Engraving can generate a wood burning effect for the creation of beautiful pictures. If you use CNC Engraving, in conjunction with CNC Routing, you can make game boards, engraved memory boxes, labels, signs, picture frames, art pieces, accent pieces, and much more.

    CNC Engraving can be equipped with vacuum or mechanical clamps, making it easy to engrave any premade part or shape in a wide variety of materials. CNC Laser Engraving is far less worrisome than a traditional engraving. Traditional engraving requires a spinning tool to cut through the engraved material. CNC Laser engraving uses a laser to burn away the material that it is engraving; this burning can produce many different effects on the material.

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    CNC PLASMA:

    A CNC Machine, with a plasma cutting head, is a highly versatile machine. It can cut steel, aluminum, some plastics, and these materials can be cut at extremely high rates of speed, and with good accuracy. Plasma, compared to other cutting technologies, like waterjet, are low cost to operate. Cutting two-dimensional profiles with a plasma CNC saves many hours over traditional methods of metal removal, such as CNC Milling.

    Other benefits of a CNC Plasma Machine is the thickness of materials which it can cut. You can cut from 22 gauge of steel all the way up to 1 foot thick of steel. The main drawback to CNC Plasma is the smoke generated during the cutting cycle.

    CNC Plasma cutting does not require any part clamping, but it does need a water tank below the work material, so if the smoke produced is negative, to you, then you may want to look at one of the alternatives listed here.

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    CNC PLASMA:

    A CNC Machine, with a plasma cutting head, is a highly versatile machine. It can cut steel, aluminum, some plastics, and these materials can be cut at extremely high rates of speed, and with good accuracy. Plasma, compared to other cutting technologies, like waterjet, are low cost to operate. Cutting two-dimensional profiles with a plasma CNC saves many hours over traditional methods of metal removal, such as CNC Milling.

    Other benefits of a CNC Plasma Machine is the thickness of materials which it can cut. You can cut from 22 gauge of steel all the way up to 1 foot thick of steel. The main drawback to CNC Plasma is the smoke generated during the cutting cycle.

    CNC Plasma cutting does not require any part clamping, but it does need a water tank below the work material, so if the smoke produced is negative, to you, then you may want to look at one of the alternatives listed here.

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    CNC MILLING:

    CNC Milling is where it all started. Traditionally multiple spindle heads did the work of what a CNC Milling machine does today. A single CNC Milling machine can do all of the work that multiple station transfer lines did 30 years ago. CNC Milling machines can machine multiple parts, make dimensional part changes, all by changing lines of code. Now, instead of a transfer line, multiple CNC Milling machines, with pallet transfers, do the same work at a fraction of the cost. Companies can bring new products, or product changes, online quickly, at low cost, and prototyping is a breeze.

    CNC Milling machines come in all shapes, and sizes, some have a single head, some have multiple heads, and some even have turret heads. CNC Milling machines come with the option of a tool changer, touch off probes, broken tool sensors, and tool wear sensors. The sophistication, over the past four decades, of CNC Milling machines, has been staggering and has enabled the automotive, valve manufacturers, smartphone manufacturers, and others, to bring new products to market quicker, and at lower costs.

    CNC Milling does require mechanical clamping of the part and does need some tool lubrication. Cutting lubricants, such as flood coolant or mist coolant, are necessary to keep the tool cool during machining. The machine envelope contains the coolant, and a chip drag system will remove the cutting chips from the CNC Milling machine.

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    CNC MILLING:

    CNC Milling is where it all started. Traditionally multiple spindle heads did the work of what a CNC Milling machine does today. A single CNC Milling machine can do all of the work that multiple station transfer lines did 30 years ago. CNC Milling machines can machine multiple parts, make dimensional part changes, all by changing lines of code. Now, instead of a transfer line, multiple CNC Milling machines, with pallet transfers, do the same work at a fraction of the cost. Companies can bring new products, or product changes, online quickly, at low cost, and prototyping is a breeze.

    CNC Milling machines come in all shapes, and sizes, some have a single head, some have multiple heads, and some even have turret heads. CNC Milling machines come with the option of a tool changer, touch off probes, broken tool sensors, and tool wear sensors. The sophistication, over the past four decades, of CNC Milling machines, has been staggering and has enabled the automotive, valve manufacturers, smartphone manufacturers, and others, to bring new products to market quicker, and at lower costs.

    CNC Milling does require mechanical clamping of the part and does need some tool lubrication. Cutting lubricants, such as flood coolant or mist coolant, are necessary to keep the tool cool during machining. The machine envelope contains the coolant, and a chip drag system will remove the cutting chips from the CNC Milling machine.

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    CNC TURNING:

    I have not used or even purchased a CNC Turning machine. However, I have benefited from it as a manufacturing tool. CNC Turning is a massively important process for many industries including valve manufacturers, engine manufacturers, wheel manufacturers, screw manufacturers, furniture manufacturers and much more. Producing round or cylindrical parts is easy, and efficient. Also, a lot of CNC Turning Machines have drilling, parting, bar feeders and even tapping heads, all within a single CNC Turning machine.

    CNC Turning Machines come in all sizes, speeds and horsepower requirements.

    CNC Turning Machines come with automatic 3 or 4 jaw chucking, and bar feeds making a fully automatic operation. Chip drag systems are standard, and tool touch probes and broken tool detection, are a must when in fully automatic mode. Lubricant for the cutting tool is a must, and this coolant is contained within the frame of the machine, making it easy for maintenance.

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    CNC TURNING:

    I have not used or even purchased a CNC Turning machine. However, I have benefited from it as a manufacturing tool. CNC Turning is a massively important process for many industries including valve manufacturers, engine manufacturers, wheel manufacturers, screw manufacturers, furniture manufacturers and much more. Producing round or cylindrical parts is easy, and efficient. Also, a lot of CNC Turning Machines have drilling, parting, bar feeders and even tapping heads, all within a single CNC Turning machine.

    CNC Turning Machines come in all sizes, speeds and horsepower requirements.

    CNC Turning Machines come with automatic 3 or 4 jaw chucking, and bar feeds making a fully automatic operation. Chip drag systems are standard, and tool touch probes and broken tool detection, are a must when in fully automatic mode. Lubricant for the cutting tool is a must, and this coolant is contained within the frame of the machine, making it easy for maintenance.

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    DesktopCNCMachines

    CNC Machine Controls & Software:

    You can easily learn to operate a CNC Machine Controller & Software over a weekend. It is no longer necessary to learn G-Code for a CNC Machine. The software has developed so rapidly and has become user-friendly for the average consumer.

    Besides the software becoming user-friendly it has also come down in price to where it is affordable for the average consumer. No longer are you spending millions, or hundreds of thousands, or thousands to get a CNC Machine Controller & Software. The price has dropped so much that a three-axis machine controller, with drives, and software can cost less than a thousand dollars.

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    DesktopCNCMachines

    CAD/CAM Software:

    When I started in the CAD/CAM industry, in 1982, a single CAD station was about $165,000, and with today’s inflation that would be about $410,000. Today, that same system, with more power, would be less than $3,500. The cost of a workstation to run that same software was $20,000, which would be equivalent to $47,000 in today’s dollars. Now you can purchase a computer which is faster, has more memory, and bigger disk space for less than $2,000.

    CAM back in 1982 was over $50,000 ($124,000 in today’s money) and was nothing more than lines, and lines of code, with a monochromatic feedback of how the tool path would look. Today CAD Software shares its files directly with the CAM software, and the tool path programmer can assign tools, speeds & feeds, offsets, and whatever else is required to complete the part. Also, today’s CAM software comes with tool collision avoidance.

    The learning curve today for CAM software is less than one week, and the learning curve on CAD software is also less than one week. Because of YouTube, there is an unlimited source of free video tutorials, help and tips to get you up and running with your new CAD/CAM software.

Why “DesktopCNCMachines”:

Because of the internet, there is a tremendous opportunity for people to sell products, and services around the world or the corner. “DesktopCNCMachines” permit the prospective user, to embark on a journey of learning, and potential revenue generation. By employing their newly acquired CAD/CAM skills, and using their new  Desktop CNC Machine, they can sell products or sell their time to produce parts for others.

“DesktopCNCMachines” small footprint, are ideal for basements, offices, or garage. They run off of standard 110 volts and do not require the user to purchase or rent space. “DesktopCNCMachines” provide a clear competitive advantage over those with large CNC Machines in a commercial building.

“DesktopCNCMachines” are ideal for hobbyists, prototypers, inventors, entrepreneurs, schools, and colleges too!

Images:

  • V1-01 Design Concept:

  • V1-02 Workpiece Table:

  • V1-03 Replaceable Tool Attachments:

  • V1-04 Igus Bearings:

  • V1-05 Belt Drive Design:

The Purpose of this Site:

This site is dedicated to supporting, selling, training and enhancing the “DesktopCNCMachines” user community.

CNC Machine Resources:

I compiled this list over a two month period, while I was designing the first “DesktopCNCMachine.”  This list is in no way a comprehensive list. However, it is a researched list, that I used for the V1 design.  Please send your links, with descriptions; I will review each link, and publish it, if it is unique.  The link needs to add value to the community, and if posted, I will give you credit!

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