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CNC Machine Basics - The Beginner's Guide

CNC Machine

Are you looking forward to build DIY CNC machine plans or coming up with an idea to buy 2021 best CNC machine kits at lower prices than used CNC machine tools for wood, metal, foam, stone, plastic, acrylic, leather, fabric, textile, glass with small business, home use, school education, hobbyists or industrial manufacturing in USA, UK, UAE, Canada, Australia, Russia, South Africa, China, India or other countries from Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania? Review the 2021 new CNC machine buying guide for CNC machinists, CNC machine operators, beginners, wood fabricators, metal fabricators, stone fabricators, foam fabricators, woodworkers, metalworkers, and stoneworkers, we'll offer you the best CNC machines of 2021 with expert customer CNC machining service to meet your custom CNC projects, ideas, and plans within your budget.

What Is A CNC Machine? - Definition

A CNC machine is a type of automatic Computer Numerical Controlled machine tool with multifunctions of cutting, carving, engraving, milling, drilling, grooving, turning for hobbyists, small business, small shop, home business, home shop, school education, and industrial manufacturing. A CNC machine is composed of machine frame, CNC controller, spindles, gantry, CNC operating system, CNC software, motor, driver, T-slot table or vacuum table, ball screw, guide rail, power supply, collet, vacuum pump, limit switch, rack, and pinion. CNC refers to an idea of controlling a machine tool via computer instead of manually controlled by a machinist. New machine tools in CNC programming have enabled the industry to consistently produce parts to accuracies undreamed of only a few years ago. The same part can be reproduced to the same degree of accuracy any number of times if the CNC program has been properly prepared and the computer properly programmed. The operating commands which control the machine tool are executed automatically with high speed, high accuracy, high efficiency, and repeatability. A CNC machine is also known as CNC machinery, computer numerical controlled machine, computer-controlled machine tool, C and C machine, CNC machining tool, CNC kit, CNC maskiner, CNC equipment, CNC power tool, CNC cutter, digital machine, CNC cutting machine.

How Does A CNC Machine Work? - Working Principle

CAD is refer to Computer Aided Design, that is, computer-aided design, which is used for 2D or 3D workpiece or stereo design.

CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacture, that is, computer-aided manufacturing, which is used to generate G-Code.

The full form of CNC is Computerized Numerical Control, a CNC controller is used to read G-Code to start machining.

In modern computer numerical control systems, the design of workpieces highly depends on software such as computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM). The computer-aided manufacturing software analyzes the design model and calculates the movement instructions during the processing. The movement instructions and other auxiliary instructions required during the processing are converted into a format that can be read by the numerical control system through the post-processor. The generated file is loaded into the computer numerical control machine tool for workpiece processing.

After inputting the program instructions into the memory of the CNC system, the computer compiles and calculates, and through the displacement control system, the information is transmitted to the driver to drive the motor to cut the designed parts.

Step 1, Design a 2D or 3D drawing via CAD software.

Step 2, Convert the CAD file into G-code via CAM software.

Step 3, Setup CNC kits.

Step 4, Start CNC programming.

Step 5, Start machining.

How Many Types of CNC Machines? - DIY Guide

By type, there are 6 most common types of CNC machines that can be found in manufacturing: CNC milling machine, CNC router machine, CNC laser machine (laser cutting machine, laser engraving machine, laser etching machine, laser marking machine, laser welding machine), CNC digital cutting machine, CNC lathe machine, CNC plasma cutting machine.

By end-use, there are 3 basic types: home CNC machines, hobby CNC machines (mini series, small series, benchtop series, desktop series, tabletop series, portable series), and industrial CNC machines (wood, stone, metal, foam, plastic).

By function, there are 10 common types: CNC cutting machine, CNC milling machine, CNC routing machine, CNC carving machine, CNC engraving machine, CNC turning machine, CNC drilling machine, CNC grooving machine, CNC sanding machine, and CNC nesting machine.

By material, there are many types: wood CNC machine, metal CNC machine, foam CNC machine, stone CNC machine, and so on.

How Much Does A CNC Machine Cost?

According to different machine configurations, you will get the CNC machine price range from $2,000.00 to $260,000.00. If you want to buy a new or used CNC machine overseas, the fee of shipping costs, tax, and customs clearance should be included in the final price. CNC router machine cost is from $2,580.00 to $150,000.00, CNC milling machine cost is from $3,000.00 to $120,000.00, CNC laser engraving cutting machine cost is from $2,400.00 to $260,000.00, CNC lathe machine cost is from $2,800.00 to $11,180.00, CNC plasma cutting machine cost is from $4,000.00 to $30,000.00.

Pick Up Your Budget - Pricing Guide


Minimum PriceMaximum PriceAverage Price
CNC Router$2,580.00$150,000.00$6,580.00
CNC Laser$2,400.00$260,000.00$5,120.00
CNC Plasma$4,000.00$30,000.00$6,260.00
CNC Mill$3,000.00$120,000.00$8,210.00
CNC Lathe$2,800.00$11,180.00$5,680.00

What Are CNC Machines Used For? - Applications

Computer numerical control is a technology that uses digital information to control mechanical movements and working processes. Numerical control equipment is a mechatronics product formed by the penetration of new technologies represented by numerical control technology into traditional manufacturing industries and emerging manufacturing industries. Computer numerical control technology and equipment are the enabling technology and the most basic equipment for the development of emerging high-tech industries and cutting-edge industries. National defense industries such as the information industry, the biological industry, aviation, and aerospace in various countries around the world have widely adopted numerical control technology to improve manufacturing capabilities and levels and to improve their adaptability and competitiveness to the market. Industrialized countries have also listed numerical control technology and numerical control equipment as national strategic materials. While developing their own CNC technology and industry, they imposed blockades and restrictions on "highly complex" key numerical control technologies and equipment. Therefore, the vigorous development of advanced manufacturing technology with CNC technology as the core has become an important way for the developed countries of the world to accelerate economic development and improve their overall national strength and national status.

CNC machines are mechatronics products that integrate mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, microelectronics, and information technologies. It is a working machine with the advantages of high precision, high efficiency, high automation, and high flexibility, stable and reliable processing quality in mechanical manufacturing equipment. The technical level and its percentage in the output and total ownership of CNC machine is one of the important indicators for measuring a country's national economic development and the overall level of industrial manufacturing.

Technical Parameters - Specification Guide

Table Sizes2' x 2', 2' x 3', 2' x 4', 4' x 4', 4' x 6', 4' x 8', 5' x 10', 6' x 12'
TypesCNC Router, CNC Laser, CNC Mill, CNC Plasma, CNC Lathe
FunctionsCarving, Engraving, Marking, Cutting, Turning, Drilling, Milling, Grooving
ApplicationsHobbyists, Small Business, Small Shop, Home Business, Home Shop, School Education, Industrial Manufacturing
Capability2D Machining, 2.5D Machining, 3D Machining
StylesMini, Small, Benchtop, Tabletop, Desktop, Handheld, Portable, Large Format
Price Range$2,000.00 - $260,000.00

Features & Advantages - Benefits Guide

The operation and monitoring are all completed in the CNC system, which is the brain of the CNC machinery. Compared with ordinary machine tools, CNC machine kits have the following features:

1. Strong adaptability to the machining object and the characteristics of single-piece production of molds and other products, providing a suitable machining method for mold making.

2. High precision and stable quality.

3. It can run multiple coordinates linkage and can make parts with complex shapes.

4. When the machining parts change, generally only need to change the CNC program, which can save production preparation time.

5. The machine itself has high precision and high rigidity, and can choose a favorable processing amount and high productivity (generally 3 to 5 times that of ordinary machine tools).

6. The automatic machine tool will reduce the labor intensity.

7. Conducive to the modernization of production management. They use digital information and standard codes to process and transmit information, and use computer control methods, laying a foundation for the integration of computer-aided design, manufacturing and management.

8. Higher requirements for the quality of the operating personnel and higher technical requirements for the maintenance personnel.

9. High reliability.

Compared with traditional machine tools, CNC machine kits have the following advantages.

1. Highly flexible.

The CNC machining parts depend on the CNC program. It is different from ordinary machine tools. It does not need to be manufactured. Many molds and fixtures need to be replaced. It is not necessary to readjust the machine tool frequently. Therefore, it is suitable for the manufacturing of single workpiece, new products, and small batch products, so as to shorten the production preparation cycle and save a lot of costs.

2. High machining accuracy.

The machining accuracy is generally up to 0.05-0.1MM. They are controlled in the form of digital signals. When the machine outputs a pulse signal, the moving parts of the machine tool move a pulse equivalent (generally 0.001MM) The reverse error of the transmission chain and the average error of the screw pitch can be compensated by the machine, so the positioning accuracy is relatively high.

3. The machining quality is stable and reliable.

Machining the same batch of parts, using the same tool and program under the same conditions, the tool path of the tool is exactly the same, the consistency of the parts is good, and the quality is stable.

4. High productivity.

CNC machine kits can effectively reduce the processing time and auxiliary time of the parts. The spindle sound speed and feed range are wide, allowing the machine to perform powerful cutting with a large cutting amount. They are entering the era of high-speed machining. Fast movement and positioning of the moving part and the high-speed machining greatly increase productivity. In addition, it can be used in conjunction with the tool magazine of the machining center to realize the continuous processing of multiple processes on one machine tool, reducing the inter-process turnaround time of semi-finished products and improving productivity.

5. Improve working conditions.

CNC machine is adjusted before processing, enter the program and start, the machine tool can automatically and continuously process until the end of the process. All the operator needs to do is input, edit, load and unload parts, prepare tools, observe the machining status, and inspect parts. The labor intensity is greatly reduced, and the labor of machine tool operators tends to be intellectual. In addition, the machine tools are generally combined to be both clean and safe.

6. Take advantage of the modernization of production management.

CNC machine tools can accurately estimate the machining time in advance, the tools and fixtures used can be standardized, modernized management, and it is easy to standardize the processing information. It has been organically combined with computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM). It is the basis of modern integrated manufacturing technology.

How To Use A CNC Machine? - Basic Operation Guide For Beginners

Nine basic steps to operate a CNC machine:

Step 1. Edit and input a CNC file.

Before machining, you should analyze and compile the CNC file of the project. If the CNC file is more complicated, do not program on the CNC machine, but use the programming machine or computer programming, and then back up to the CNC control system through the U disk or communication interface. This can avoid increasing the auxiliary time of machining when using the machine.

Step 2. Turn on machine.

Generally, the main power is turned on first, so that the machine has the power-on conditions. Start a CNC system with a key button and the machine is powered on at the same time. Information is displayed on the CRT of the CNC control system. At the same time, check the hydraulic, pneumatic, and input Give the connection status of the shaft and other auxiliary equipment.

Step 3. Solid reference point.

Establish the movement datum of each coordinate of the machine before machining. For machines with control systems, this step should be performed first.

Step 4. Input and call of CNC program.

According to the program medium (U disk), it can be input by computer, programming machine or serial communication. If it is a simple program, it can be input directly on the CNC control panel with the keyboard, or input section by section in MDI mode, and process in sections. Before machining, the project origin, tool parameters, offset amount and various compensation values in the machining program must also be input.

Step 5. CNC program editing.

If the input program needs to be modified, the working mode selection switch should be placed in the editing position. Use the edit key to add, delete, and change.

Step 6. CNC program inspection and debugging.

First lock the machine and only run the system. This step is to check the program, if there is an error, you need to edit it again.

Step 7. Project installation and alignment.

Install and align the lower parts to be processed and establish benchmarks. The method adopts manual incremental movement, continuous movement or hand wheel to move the machine. Align the starting point to the beginning of the program, and set the tool benchmark.

Step 8. Start the coordinate axis for continuous machining.

Continuous machining generally adopts the program machining in the memory. The feed speed in CNC machining can be adjusted by the feedrate override switch, and the feed hold button can be pressed during machining to pause the feed movement to observe the machining conditions or perform manual measurement. Press the cycle start button again to resume machining. In order to ensure that the program is correct, you should review it again before machining. In the milling process, for the plane curve project, a pencil can be used instead of the tool to draw the project outline on the paper. This is more intuitive. If the system has a tool path, the simulation function can be used to check the correctness of the program.

Step 9. Shut down machine.

After machining and before turning off the power, pay attention to check the status of the CNC machine and the position of the machine parts. Turn off the power of the device first, then turn off the power of the system, and finally turn off the main power.

How To Buy A CNC Machine? - Buying Guide

There are so many varieties of CNC machines on the market now, and there are also many brands and manufacturers. This phenomenon has advantages and disadvantages for buyers of CNC machines. The advantage is that consumers have more choices and can compare and buy more cost-effective machines. The bad thing is that after seeing more, they have no choice and don't know which one to buy. When you go to see the machine tool, it is possible that one family is cheaper than one family, and the price of the previous one is more tempting. At this time, under the promotion of the salesperson, I bought the machine on impulse. But when I used it later, I discovered that the cheaply bought machine was not easy to use, the accuracy was not high, the operation was unstable, and it was often repaired. If you encounter a seller with better service, it is okay to encounter some poor service awareness. That's a headache. Any problem during the warranty period is said to be caused by man-made. You have to collect money, then you have to collect money. It will be troublesome if you encounter this kind of seller. As the saying goes, cheap goods are not good goods, and good goods are not cheap. If you encounter a machine tool that is much lower than the market price, it is best for those who do not know how to do it. The so-called layman looks at the excitement and the insider looks at the door. The price of the machine is too cheap. Having said that, what factors should we pay attention to when we buy CNC machines?

1. Clarify the nature of processed products.

Let us not think that a CNC machine can do all the work. Why do manufacturers divide CNC machines into so many types, in order to be able to process different materials professionally. If you buy a CNC mill to carve bakelite, or buy a certain large industrial CNC machine to cut small crafts, it will not only waste a lot of money but also have a bad effect. Similarly, if you buy a desktop CNC machine for home door making, it may not work properly at all. So before you buy, you must communicate clearly with the salesperson to let him know your purpose, including the size of the workpiece, the material of the workpiece, the machining effect and so on.

2. Choose types and models according to your needs.

For example: the first purchase of an advertising sign shop, which is mainly used to produce three-dimensional character light plates, crystal characters, two-color plates, badges and more, you should choose professional hobby CNC machines for advertising with custom configurations. If the two-color board is processed, it is necessary to configure a floating cutter head, so as to ensure the consistency of the lettering depth when carving on the large-format two-color board. If you need turning on wood, you should choose a CNC lathe machine for woodturning. If you are mainly used for mold making, you must choose a CNC milling machine, and then determine the model of the CNC mill according to the size of your milling. If the material to be processed is mainly graphite, you must buy a CNC mill dedicated to graphite, because the protection level of ordinary CNC machines is not enough, which will cause damage or even paralysis of the machine. Therefore, you must choose professional CNC machines according to your own CNC machining plans and projects.

3. Proofing test before purchase.

After you select the model, before buying, in order to ensure the reliability of the machine tool and measure the return on investment, you must let the salesperson or you do it yourself to conduct on-site proofing and calculation of the products you most frequently do. The advantage of this is that you can intuitively see the effect of the machine processing, as well as the timeliness of the output. A comprehensive understanding of the performance of the machine really makes you know.

4. The signing of contract.

After the above three points are completed, the signing of the procurement contract must be carried out. A complete contract is the best guarantee to guarantee one's legal rights. First of all, the contract should clearly indicate the purchased model, configuration, price, delivery time and delivery method, training method, warranty terms, and specific payment methods. After the contract is signed, the corresponding deposit shall generally be paid according to the contract. For the signed contract, we must abide by its content agreement to avoid unnecessary conflicts with the seller in the future.

5. Delivery and training.

After the CNC machine is delivered on time, the manufacturer's technicians usually open the box and inspect the machine on site (if the manufacturer's technicians arrive at random at the same time, they may only have simple packaging). After the machine is powered on, you should carefully check the appearance for damage and whether it is damaged by impact during transportation. If no abnormality is found, check the machine configuration and the attached accessories according to the packing list and the terms of the contract. Next, let the manufacturer's technicians install the machine (including the hardware installation of the machine body, placing the machine, turning on the power supply, software installation, whether to configure the computer, and installing the optional processing software). After installation, use the processing program provided by the manufacturer to make a sample test on the machine tool. If there is no abnormality in the finished product, the delivery inspection can be completed. According to the contract, the user shall pay off the balance. Machine tool operators are required to have a strong sense of safety responsibility, and they must have proficient machine tool operation skills before starting their jobs. In the training process, you should be proficient in choosing different engraving speeds and using different tools for different materials. This aspect often requires the accumulation of experience. A good mastery is good for prolonging the life of the machine and tools.

6. Problems that may arise during use and after-sales service guarantee.

When you encounter problems during use, you must first get in touch with the seller, communicate clearly to understand the problem, and do not deal with it yourself. This may cause the manufacturer to not give the warranty, and it may also cause an accident without knowing the machine tool. In terms of after-sales service, we can require the manufacturer to strictly follow the contractual agreement. If you encounter deliberate delay or have a bad attitude, you can complain to the person in charge.

The above 6 aspects are the precautions for the purchase of CNC machines summarized by STYLECNC for you. We hope to help you purchase the right machine, and we wish you get a good machine that you want to buy. If you have more questions about CNC machines, don't hesitate to ask for help, and let us know if you need any further assistance.

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