So I'm thinking (haven't actually decided yet) about getting into CNC machining in a very hobbyist, fun-to-learn sort of way sometime in the next year. I'm trying to use this as an opportunity for some discussion around the current state of entry-level hobbyist CNC's. I have wanted to have a small CNC and the ability to use it for small parts for more than 5 years now. I think learning CAM would be very challenging but useful also. I wanted to ask if anyone is aware of any desktop CNC's that are priced reasonably (ideally in the $3,000 or less range) that are somewhat similar to Prusa. In being similar to Prusa, I mean built with good quality parts but also with a sizable community for support and the ability to repair it yourself for long-term use. I would only really be machining wood & aluminum, although if small and very simple steel parts could be occasionally machined at a slow feed rate that would be freakin' awesome.
So with all of that said, what is my background and experience?
- Not an engineer, biology/healthcare background. But am generally good with computers and technology. No programming experience at all.
- Have been 3D printing for about 5 years
- Comfortable with modeling in Fusion 360
- Do not have a workshop of tools. No table saw, no drill press, no lathe, etc. Just 3D printers and some handheld power tools. I have no desire to have a workshop with large tools like that, either.
- Generally only make small functional parts. The ability to CNC small aluminum parts to add significant strength to larger 3D printed parts would be useful. Also, would be useful to copy small aluminum/steel parts of things that break around the house like, for example, a small metal part in my washer that broke off recently.
- I also do not have a laser cutter, and am open to input that that might be the better thing to get before a small CNC.
Thanks for any feedback!