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Forum topic by Dominic25 posted 12-06-2018 08:17 PM 1041 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dominic25

4 posts in 12 days


12-06-2018 08:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bobcnc e4 millwright carve king shapeoko 3 xxl

BobsCNC E4 vs. MillWright Carve King vs. Shapeoko 3 XXL

I am a neophyte to CNC, but I’d like to produce my own products for my e-commerce store. As far as what kind of products I’d like to produce, I’m not exactly sure. Certainly signage type things like house plagues, address numbers, custom carved floating shelves, etc.

I’m a graphic designer and internet marketer with over 25 years of experience, so the thing that will make whatever products I end up producing different, are my designs. That said, I am not a woodworker and no have no firsthand experience with CNC. I just feel like once I decide on a machine, and learn it, a whole new world will open up, my creativity will flourish, and new product ideas will be generated. So I want as many options as possible with the CNC machine I ultimately choose.

I’ve been doing a ton of research, and I think I’ve narrowed it down to the following 3 machines (unless anyone feels compelled to steer me otherwise).
Here are the considerations:
BobCNC E4
MillWright Carve King
Shapeoko 3 XXL

The only thing I can’t seem to find is a comparison of the 3 machines—hence this post.

Thank you in advance for any guidance provided. I really appreciate it, as this is a rather large investment.


15 replies so far

View WillAdams's profile

WillAdams

86 posts in 2201 days


#1 posted 12-07-2018 04:25 AM

I work for Carbide 3D, so will just note that I think the Shapeoko is the best value.

Graphic designers tend to be very successful with using our machine—- SVGs import easily into our software (they’ve become something of a standard since PartKAM/MakerCAM), though some tools such as Vectric Vcarve will take PDFs.

My suggestion would be to download a CAM tool such as Carbide Create, see what’s involved in generating toolpaths for it (selecting endmills, feeds and speeds appropriate for the material, &c.), and then work out how you would do workholding on a suitable piece of stock—- the free program GrblGru will allow you to simulate all this in 3D. That should give you a good idea as to how you’d feel about using the machine.

If you have some specific question about it, I’d be glad to try to help.

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Dominic25

4 posts in 12 days


#2 posted 12-07-2018 01:16 PM

Thanks Will. I actually already downloaded it, and it seems very straightforward and intuitive.

The biggest complaint I see out there from current owners of with Carbide machines, is that customer service and getting parts is a real hassle. This would not be good, if I have customer orders to fill, and have issues. I’m just curious what you take is, on this feedback.

Also, someone on another forum threw these machines into the mix, and said the customer support is second to none. Not sure what you know about them, but would be curious on your take on them as well. https://www.stepcraft.us/?fbclid=IwAR3ghZNIBtoss9tsrs48niqYHOsJsJTMVkbyiJWlPkTdS7BR4k7x1vd4Oxs

Thanks again for your input.

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Dominic25

4 posts in 12 days


#3 posted 12-07-2018 02:09 PM

I just received this information from a guru, and it really took the wind out of my sails…

Personally I wouldn’t consider any of those, especially if the intention is to make money. They are extremely light weight hobby machines and I don’t see them having reasonable performance in substantial wood products. The target market for these machines is people involved in crafts focused on very light materials. From your post it doesn’t sound like this is you!

The problem you run into with these machines is stiffness of the structure. A stiff structure is critical to getting good finish and reasonable accuracy. To be blunt if you are in business you don’t want to be screwing around nursing a wobbly CNC through a project. It can be frustrating to say the least. The ideal is to have the CNC do the work to the highest quality possible reducing secondary operations to a minimal.

Some of the machines you listed are kits, kits can be a positive but you need to be mechanically inclined and in possession of the required tools and equipment to pull of the assembly. Tooling costs can add up if you do not already have some shop equipment. I’m not knocking kits here just trying to point out that people sometimes see a price tag and think that is it expense wise. Frankly there are some good kits out there, often based on extruded Aluminum T-slots.

To be honest I’m not a big fan of T-Slot construction for a machines major structural parts. However in your case a kit might be the right choice if you are tool poor and want something better than a flimsey machine, a T-slot kit is “easy”. In a nut shellthere is a long slope of increasingly better machines before you get to commercial/industrial class machines. As such I’d inch up the budget a bit. You will really need a couple of grand to get a decent beginners machine.

In this forum thread we cover DIY machines. That is machines personally built and most often personally designed. It is hard to tell if you are ready for this level of DIY action. When it comes to DIY, building your own router it is still cost effective as one can get good quality at reasonable prices. If you can scrounge well you can end up with significant savings over a purchased machine. In any event I’m not sure you are up to a ground up DIY machine.

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WillAdams

86 posts in 2201 days


#4 posted 12-07-2018 03:19 PM

We try very hard on customer service, and have done quite well in the annual CNC Cookbook survey:

https://www.cnccookbook.com/cnc-machine-customer-satisfaction-and-reliability/

If anyone has any concerns or issues with customer support, service, or their machines, they should e-mail in to support@carbide3d.com

I’ve seen the Stepcraft machines around and discussed a bit, but no direct experience.

The big things with hobby CNC machines are:

- like most things in life, what you get out of them reflects what you put into them—- our machines are intended to be the best value in desktop CNC machines—- while we have some customers running them in production use, our primary market is hobbyists—- there’s a list of inexpensive CNC machines on the /r/hobbycnc subreddit on reddit.com which you may find of interest

- the principles involved in a hobbyist CNC, and the concepts learned in using it will transfer to larger, more capable machines—- we’ve had a number of customers try out our machines, use them for production for a while, then after proving out the suitability to their work, buy larger, more capable machines

If you haven’t yet, please look over the customer project gallery on Carbide 3D’s site and look at some of the projects on the community forums—- I will note that most of our customers, especially the ones doing work for businesses don’t post on the forums, they just use the machines.

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JAAune

1853 posts in 2523 days


#5 posted 12-07-2018 08:01 PM

I’d agree with the guru that none of those machines will be suited for production. Some of them would be good for prototyping and selling small batches of items. The laser-cut plywood one sounds like more hassle than it’s worth. I can see all sorts of issues with rigidity there.

I opted for DIY for our first CNC (currently for sale but it’s big and much higher-priced than the OP can afford). The main reason was to learn how the machines operate so I could troubleshoot and maintain them myself. That opened up the option of buying old iron and fixing it up so now we’ve got a ungraded AXYZ in the shop.

If you can’t find an affordable used machine and are uncomfortable with buying a Chinese unit like those sold by Automation Technologies (can be good machines but you’re on your own when they break down) there is a fallback option. You can get the small hobby machine so you can develop prototypes and market them. If a product takes off, outsource production to a company with the big equipment. Hiring a company to do prototyping is expensive but if you can provide detailed drawings ready to go, price per unit is often very affordable. We’ve recently taken a client on that did exactly this. He developed his product with his CNC and is now going to order parts from us because volume production is difficult for him.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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oldnovice

7337 posts in 3574 days


#6 posted 12-07-2018 08:05 PM

Just found this one on my news feed from Yeti which they claim to be portable, full 4’ ×8’ capable, horizontal/vertical use capabld, and only $5000.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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WillAdams

86 posts in 2201 days


#7 posted 12-07-2018 09:12 PM

Just to establish a context, what do you feel are the minimum capabilities for a CNC? What is the lowest priced machine you are aware of which is commercially available which meets said specifications? How much would it cost to purchase the parts to build a machine which meets said specifications?

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JAAune

1853 posts in 2523 days


#8 posted 12-07-2018 10:30 PM

Minimum capabilities are complicated as it depends upon a few things.

1. What materials are you cutting? Looks like hardwood based upon your OP.
2. Type of products. How deep are the cuts? Complex 3D geometry?
3. How much money do you need to make per hour?

For starters, I’d only recommend steel or aluminum frame machines using either rack and pinion or ballscrew drive systems. These are more likely to have the rigidity to get 200+ipm cutting speeds. Profile bearings are a big plus.

For anything other than light engraving of hardwood or thin materials, the minimum spindle I’d recommend is a 1 3/4”HP router. It’s unlikely a laminate trimmer will get through 3/4” hardwood in two passes and every additional pass means longer run-times and reduced bit life.

If you do complex 3D geometry a fast Z rapid is critical to avoid long cut times. 400ipm and higher is typical for the CNC machines geared for production work.

The cheapest CNC that I know about which is guaranteed to do the above, ships ready to operate and has lifelong manufacturer support is the Camaster Stinger I. It starts at $7,000. I’m sure there are others less expensive, but I don’t know of any that have those features and a good support system.

The biggest problem with light duty CNC machines is that being inexpensive, a lot of people have them so the market for small signage is saturated and profit potential is low as a result. Just having the machine will not set your business apart from others. You’ll also need a unique product to get a leg up.

But if you can get the needed hourly return, there’s nothing wrong with using one for business. This is especially true if you have that unique product.

To build a machine, check out CNCRouterParts.com and look over their offerings. They sell kits that are easy to use but that comes with a higher price tag. Sourcing parts on your own will save money but you’ll need to know what you’re doing. As mentioned earlier, Automation Technologies sells what look to be serviceable machines and kits for low prices but you’d have to do some homework on them. I’m currently using one of their inexpensive spindles while I learn how to rebuild the Perske that came with my machine.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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Dominic25

4 posts in 12 days


#9 posted 12-10-2018 03:05 PM

This is all great advice and much appreciated.

The Camaster Stinger I looks like the way to go for me personally. I didn’t realize those other machines were hobby machines. The companies tout them otherwise.

A lot of products/markets are saturated, but original designs is what can separate a business from the competition and generate sales. For instance, a t-shirt with a cool design on it (one that makes people say “I have to have that”), can be sold for a lot more than a plain shirt or one with a lame design. That market is probably the most saturated one out there, yet I still sell apparel. The same could be said for signage or anything else.

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oldnovice

7337 posts in 3574 days


#10 posted 12-10-2018 11:41 PM

Which CNCs do you consider hobby machines?
In my opinion there are four distinct categories of CNC machines:
  1. Professional large shop machines, able to cut 5’ x 10’ panels, spindle(s) greater than 5hp
  2. Small shop machines 4’ × 8’ down to 2’ x 4’, not bench size, spindles less than 5hp
  3. Hobbyists machines 2’ × 4’ or smaller, even bench top size, spindles/router less than 3hp
  4. Hobbyist really small, 12” × 18” or smaller, usually bench top, and very limited horsepower.

What do you think of my catergories?

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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JAAune

1853 posts in 2523 days


#11 posted 12-11-2018 03:42 PM

Size alone isn’t an indicator. I’ve seen a specialized CNC for sale (think it was Thermwood) that had somewhere around a 3×3 table but it was built solid and had a high HP spindle with auto tool change.

This is a generalization but usually, the machines marketed towards the hobby market don’t use profile bearings and don’t have a real spindle. Conventional roller and routers need frequent replacement when used 8 hours a day. That being said, the first CNC in my business had a router and it more than paid for itself. But I did upgrade at the soonest opportunity.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View WillAdams's profile

WillAdams

86 posts in 2201 days


#12 posted 12-14-2018 03:23 AM

There are some incredibly expensive and capable machines which have very small working envelopes—- I’d argue that it’s more a function of overall pricepoint, and to a degree, how much one pays for a given volume of working area.

Anyway, the machines in question here are pretty firmly in the “hobby CNC” category and priced accordingly—- the big thing for such machines is to learn their capabilities and limitations and work within them with reasonable expectations. If you find occasion to move up to a more expensive and more capable machine, the concepts learned will transfer over.

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Mike_D_S

496 posts in 2421 days


#13 posted 12-14-2018 04:53 AM

So I’ve got a what I’d call a mid-tier pro-sumer type CNC (Probotix Nebula).

I’d break the decision down into three categories: Size, Power, and Cut Complexity

Size: Do you need/want to make multiple big things a lot?
If you want to crank out cabinet parts all day then a 4×8 or 5×10 is the machine to go. If you’re going to make signs or other mid size pieces where you’re probably going to cut them on demand one by one, or each one will be customized a bit, then laying them out on one big piece versus just investing in some quick clamps and just load a new piece for each sign may not make much difference. Generally speaking the bigger the work space, the more of everything you need in the machine. The frame is heavier, so the motors stronger and drivetrains more robust, so cost goes up with size

Power: What kind of cut depths are you actually going to do?
With my machine I cut cabinet parts from 3/4 BB ply in two passes basically continuously for hours with a 220V 1.8kw spindle at 120-150 ipm. For hardwoods I’d have to dial back the speed and cut depth if I was trying to make the same cuts, but generally for hardwoods, I’m doing detail decorative work or using a V bit or similar for sign work. Those cuts tend to generally be removing less material with a lot of direction changes, so the average speed takes care of itself and I take pretty heavy cuts anyway. The really fine decorative work you can easily break bits, so you slow down and cut light anyway. So once again, if you want to crank out parts in plywood or do heavy work in hardwoods, then a big VFD spindle it is. If you’re going to cut signs then you can probably get away with a router based solution. If you want to do a lot of detailed carving with small bits, then back to the VFD spindle but for accurate speed control now.

Cut Complexity: How many direction changes will you make (X,Y, Z)
Once again cutting cabinet sides, basically a lot of straight lines with almost no Z axis work? Big machine with high max speed and reasonable acceleration. Gantry stiffness important, but the Z axis can be wimpy. Good cost to workspace ratio here.
Cutting signs with some Z elevation changes with lots of coordinated XY work? Stiff gantry with good Z axis mechanics. Generally speaking the cost will vary directly with the machine size, but you won’t get the same effective speeds for a machine like this for 3d detailed work.
Lots of 3D carving with rapid Z changes coordinated with XY changes? You need the stiff gantry and really good Z axis mechanics. Cost goes fairly linearly with the machine size, but even a smaller machine is going to be a bit spendy, so the baseline starts high.

So for me those are the three levers to pull. As you need more in each category, the cost goes up additively.

Want to cut cabinet parts only on a 4×8 machine all day long at a speed fit for a one man shop, there’ll be some sub $10k machines that easily fit the bill.

Want to do a mix of sign making, decorative milling and other generic stuff, but not at a cutting 2 or 3 pieces at once production velocity, then there will be some 3×4 or 4×4 format machines to do what you want for sub $7k.

Want to do a lot of 3d milling at speeds that won’t make you want to poke your eyes out? Then get a higher end 3×3 or smaller format machine and expect to shell out $7k-ish.

Want a machine that can do two or more of the above well, then you’re going to be north of $15k would be my guess.

Based on what you say you want to do and assuming you want to make money doing it, then my next question is how many of these ‘items’ do you think you’ll sell in a day. If it’s 2 or 3 signs, then there are some options in the $5k range or maybe less if you go with a kit that fit the bill. If you think you’re going to need to make 30 items a day, then you’re looking at a bigger $12-$15k rig with auto tool changer, etc to get your production rate where you need it without hiring a helper or spending all day babysitting the machine.

But there is no silver bullet and no $1000 CNC machine that’s going to give you both quality and be economical from a business standpoint.

My buddy has a souped up X carve that he maybe has $1500 invested in and makes beautiful 3D relief carvings that he sells for several hundred each. But each one is a 6 or 7 hour cut on his little machine and he has to pay attention for much of that. I’ve got about $5k in my machine (got it used with tooling) and I can make the same cut in 4 or 5 hours even though my machine is not really optimized for that kind of thing. But my machine is rigid and reliable enough that as long as i don’t have to change bits I can basically ignore it during the cut and do something else. So here I’m 3x the cost and maybe only 35% better.

But if it’s a decorative sign with Vbit letters, I can make a sign in cherry with 40 or 50 characters and some decorative work in maybe 10 minutes on mine where that’s an easy 30-40 minute cut for him as he just can’t make the same cut depth and speed with acceptable quality. In this case I’m easily capable of 3x his production rate.

That’s a lot of loose rambling about CNC stuff, but fundamentally it comes down to figuring out what kind of things you want to make and how many of them you’ll need to make in a day. Once you have this, then your machine choices will start to narrow down and you can run the economics on it.

Hope this helps a little.
Mike

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

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becikeja

953 posts in 3019 days


#14 posted 12-14-2018 12:44 PM

Great information in here. Was curious where you guys think the Axiom Precision machines fall in this discussion?

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

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oldnovice

7337 posts in 3574 days


#15 posted 12-14-2018 09:40 PM

+1 Mike!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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