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Thread: Desktop CNC -opinion

  1. #11
    Insider ElPanda's Avatar
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    never china
    ABET accredited level II machinist - CNC Programmer - Mechanical Engineering Technologist
    Rio Grande Inc.

  2. #12
    Insider TierOneJeff's Avatar
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    Never china, but no real alternatives

  3. #13
    Insider ElPanda's Avatar
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    is it really that hard to find a shop now?
    ABET accredited level II machinist - CNC Programmer - Mechanical Engineering Technologist
    Rio Grande Inc.

  4. #14
    Insider TierOneJeff's Avatar
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    I've tried 3-4 reputable sources, yes. Anyone that had a reputation for it has either stopped to do more 'paying' stuff, or is too busy and won't even entertain new projects or has literally a 3+ year back log.

  5. #15
    Insider HipboyScott's Avatar
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    You can have a lot of fun with something like a Sherline or Seig or Taig or other little desktop mill. You'll spend weeks if not months trying to figure out how it works. And then weeks if not months on a specific project. But then you'll be able to do other stuff.

    If you only wanna take existing bodies and mod them to look cool, these machines are perfectly able. You will not have luck machining a body from billet however.

    I'd budget $2000-3000 for a CNC'd desktop mill and all the related equipment/tooling you'd need, unless you find some good deals.

    Ultimately, you can also sometimes find a good knee mill for that price: but it won't be CNC.

    You can also look at some DIY gantry mills, something with some rigidity but otherwise simple enough to fabricate, and with enough time you can shave away a body to look nice.
    Last edited by HipboyScott; 11-12-2014 at 05:50 PM.

  6. #16
    Insider
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    I have a Sherline Mill and Lathe. The Mill is adequate for quite a bit of the parts you would be doing for paintball, but I find the Lathe to be undersized by a good bit, mostly due to the size of the chuck.

    The Taig might be big enough. To do a gun body the Sherline would be just big enough. It is rigid enough and has really decent power. I have built lots of parts on them, but anything over a bolt in OD on the lathe is a pain in my backside.

  7. #17
    Everything to do with CNC is expensive (he says looking at a quote for a new CNC mill that is nearly $100,000!)

    Back in 2000 (so 14 years ago) I did a one off CNC gun body for a friend that costed out at around $3,000 of work. That included the CAD and programming, but not the machine time. It was run on an X-Mag blank on AGDE's machine so they didn't charge the machine time as they were selling the gun, and the guy buying it was a good customer of theirs and friend of mine.

    The going rate for CAD for a paintball gun body design goes from anywhere from $500-$15,000 depending on who it is doing the work and who they are charging. That's just the CAD. Back in the early 2000's when I was doing Intimidators I would charge $2,000-$3,000 for a new cosmetic gun design.

    Any time I have used someone else's CAD (no disrespect meant) it's been an issue and I have had to fix things. Typically if you aren't doing the checking until the first one is cut you have wasted your programming time and your machine time if something is wrong, and your first body. Maybe a fixture too. So you check it up front the best you can, but that takes hours of work. It's a trade off.

    A small custom shop that is good enough to do what you need on a one off body is going to be $125+ an hour. Maybe significantly more. Not unusual for a great shop with advanced equipment to want significantly more. I personally would never touch a project on a one off body that I couldn't replace.

    Any time I have cut even a custom engraved body, it's never taken me less than 4-5 hours. That's programming, set up, toolpath verification in air, running on a scrap body (if possible) running slow on the actual body with offsets so to not fuck it up, and then adjusting depth to cut it nicely, sometimes running the engraving 3-4 times to get it perfect. On several occasions with 4th axis or even 5 axis engraving I have screwed up slightly, and enough that it scrapped a body

    That's on gun bodies I designed, I made, and I have fixtures for.

    I can't charge for that as it's just too expensive, so I only ever do it for friends or as a gift, and I pretty much regret it every time I take on such a project. It's always more of an issue than it should be.

    And then there is the opportunity cost of not working on a production item, and since the mill is running non stop right now (hence why I have quotes for more machines) the cost of lost production as I am taking the time to make a one off.

    Obviously the point of the machines, and the software etc. is to run a viable business from them.

    I have many people ask me to run "one off's" or something custom or to "just go wild and do whatever you want" on a single body, and the reality is after costing it out and working out the value to the company, if I am not charging around $15,000 for such a project it simply doesn't make sense to take it on, and I should be working on my other production items instead.

    That sounds like an insane number, and it is, but then I look around at the $500,000 I have invested in what I am doing here, and the importance of keeping it all going, the insane costs of having a business and overheads, and that is the reality of a choice to do a one off instead of to run production, and to work on more products that I can realistically sell 100+ of.

    There are people that will charge you far less, and do a great job, but they are typically doing it for fun, on someone else's equipment and not running it as their full time job/business.

    As much as I would love to run more one off jobs or individual custom jobs, I know that I couldn't survive as a business based upon what the market would pay for the work.

    And that is why you can't/don't find many companies willing to take on the jobs.

  8. #18
    Insider PBSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Simon View Post
    And that is why you can't/don't find many companies willing to take on the jobs.
    Great post.

    I would love to see more mcgyvered solutions for the diy'er, things not necessarily up to the standard of professional machinists but enough to get the job done for a hobbyist. I know they exist, even if they might be multiple year projects.

    It'd be a bummer if we weren't capable of thinking in terms of "It's not ideal but we can figure out how to make it work".


    Side note: if you go china, don't trust them with your body. Model the extrusion and let them do it from the start, that way when they mess up you're not out of your extrusion.
    Last edited by PBSteve; 11-13-2014 at 03:47 PM.
    A Radiant Purple Sky Ribbon That Defies Explanation
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  9. #19
    Wayne
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    There is pretty much every level of DIY CNC option out there. With places like Techshop, you could learn and use theirs, or use theirs to make the solid components for your own. I don't do electronics very heavily, but with Arduino and Pi controllers out there, you have that portion covered too.

    Then there is the hobby sized stuff. You can start with an X2 manual machine and CNC that out. I bought a MAXNC machine that has less Z than an X2, but more Y, which is what I needed. It is small and very low on power, so things take forever compared to big boy machines. But, I have time most days when I get home and on the weekends to get the machine going and then I can pretty much walk away. I did a 9 hour cut over two weekday evenings, no sweat. Would have taken a HAAS under an hour probably, but I don't have one of those. The MAXNC is in my garage and always available to me.

    No matter what, you have to learn how to use them. That was the hardest part for me. I know CAD, and do that professionally, and I also know manual machining. Learning the CAM/CNC side was frustrating for a little while because I had to configure the machine and the only way I knew it was right was to cut a part, which I couldn't do yet because I wasn't there with the CAM yet. Learned the CAM, and then learned that the settings I was using for speeds/feeds were way too high. Moving is not the same as cutting.

    Now, I'm cutting things, but very slow. Doesn't really matter though because it is personal stuff and has no deadline. Learning was half the frustration, but also half the reason why I got the stuff instead of trying to find somebody who could make it for me.



    EDIT: And holy ish! For $2400, there are many used options that are better. I got my little MAXNC and an XP machine to run MACH3 for $1000 shipped on ebay. I've also seen small-ish CNC mills on craigslist, but the timing wasn't right. Do searches on ebay 'by distance' and just type "CNC mill"
    Last edited by desertT1; 11-13-2014 at 03:03 PM.

  10. #20
    Insider PBSteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by desertT1 View Post
    See, I had no idea this existed. THIS IS AWESOME.

    Do you have any suggestions for learning CAM/g-code? Are there resources out there you've heard good things about or had good experience with?

    How about things to look out for when buying equipment? Any recommendations for smaller CNC machines?

    Googling around I found this resource:

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/teache...machining.html
    Last edited by PBSteve; 11-13-2014 at 03:39 PM.
    A Radiant Purple Sky Ribbon That Defies Explanation
    I work for the company building the Paragon...once we figure out a name

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