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Thread: Need To Buy a Decent Benchtop CNC Under $1000. Suggestions?

  1. #1

    Need To Buy a Decent Benchtop CNC Under $1000. Suggestions?

    Hi, All, love this forum and all your knowledge.

    I need to add a benchtop CNC to my small shop here in Los Angeles before the end of the year. If I can get a decent, clean used one for under $500, that's ideal.

    I'm cutting plastic, not wood, and the largest piece I need to cut for now is 12" x 12".

    Features Needed:

    Three axis
    Small bed for small shop
    Prefer American made
    Easy software (never done this before)

    Thanks,
    Scott
    Last edited by Scott Memmer; 11-21-2020 at 2:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    What are you looking to get out of it? "Need to add"? You have a production need? A need to burn money for tax reasons? I know some will throw out options but the "need to add" doesnt seem to stack with your price point. Its not to say a $50k machine but perhaps a bit more on what your hoping for with regards to output.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  3. #3
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    You might want to ask in the CNC machines section

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Coers View Post
    You might want to ask in the CNC machines section
    The mod bandaid will soon take care of that lol
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  5. #5
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    You may be able to find a used machine like an older Shapeoko or Inventables within your price range, but you're not going to find something "made in USA" for even several multiples of your budget. There are only a few actual US manufacturers who build machines here in North America, and those include Camaster (Georgia) and ShopSabre. (North Carolina) The smallest machines from them are about 2x3 and even used will be quite a few thousand dollars as they hold their value.

    Cutting 12x12 plastic isn't a difficult task. There is going to be a learning curve with the CAD/CAM software if you have not experience with vector drawing, etc.

    If you can double your budget, you could get a brand new Shapeoko in the smaller size which includes usable software, equip it with a common router motor and buy some tooling. Remember, it's not just the cost of the machine, but also the other stuff you need to get to work.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
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    What type of plastic are you cutting. Maybe a laser would be a better choice. I have a CNC router and a laser and I cut acrylic on the laser much better cuts.

  7. #7
    I don't think that you can get a "decent" one for $1000 let alone under $500. Maybe one of the tiny light weight toy ones you see on Amazon but those are going to be a waste of money. Take that $500 and add another 0 to the end of it and you will have plenty of choices but not really American made. American assembled maybe. You can get a cheap laser under the $500 (Chinese) but it won't do 12x12.

  8. #8
    Mark, thanks for your response.

    I "need" to add it for a number of reasons.

    The main reason is, for years I've been jobbing out my work to local machine shops. The work is good quality, but the lead times with the best vendors (I've learned to use only the best shops, which are also the busiest shops) can run 4-6 weeks. That's killer for a small online retailer with quick turns. Worse, on CNC work in particular, they charge $500-600 for setup, and the only way that makes sense is to run a couple hundred units at a time. Then I have far too much inventory and far too much capital tied up in that inventory.

    I bought a very nice Epilog laser last year, which cuts most of our materials just great. However, several others get far too much char with laser and do much better machined. Thus CNC.

    I do not have a lot of physical space, so I need something small.

    Thank You,
    Scott
    Last edited by Scott Memmer; 11-21-2020 at 11:26 PM.

  9. #9
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    Have you looked at the Shaper Origin?
    $2500 but does a lot and not limited to certain size work.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    You may be able to find a used machine like an older Shapeoko or Inventables within your price range, but you're not going to find something "made in USA" for even several multiples of your budget. There are only a few actual US manufacturers who build machines here in North America, and those include Camaster (Georgia) and ShopSabre. (North Carolina) The smallest machines from them are about 2x3 and even used will be quite a few thousand dollars as they hold their value.

    Cutting 12x12 plastic isn't a difficult task. There is going to be a learning curve with the CAD/CAM software if you have not experience with vector drawing, etc.

    If you can double your budget, you could get a brand new Shapeoko in the smaller size which includes usable software, equip it with a common router motor and buy some tooling. Remember, it's not just the cost of the machine, but also the other stuff you need to get to work.
    Jim, thank you. I'm new to this, so I don't mind bumping myself up a bit. The Shapeoko 3 looks like it might do the job. Does this company have good support after the sale? Is the software learnable for the average user?

    https://shop.carbide3d.com/products/...31527638401085

    I can get through the year and do this in January, if necessary. The Inventables unit looks good too. Appreciate you taking the time to be specific as to machines.

    We expect to have a strong holiday selling season and expect to have strong reserves after the New Year.

    For anyone interested, there's a clean, used Shapeoko in Seattle on eBay, but it's local pickup only.

    Thanks Again,
    Scott
    Last edited by Scott Memmer; 11-21-2020 at 11:39 PM.

  11. #11
    Jerome, we cut really expensive plastics. Have you heard of PEEK? That is one of main materials. Too much char for our application. We've been making it work, but the after-care of deburring, sanding, etc., takes far too much time and effort. As mentioned above, another material we use cuts beautifully on our Epilog laser.

    thank you.

  12. #12
    Bruce, that would be out of our budget at this time, unless I could find a used one for about half that. I've built our company for five years on sweat equity and lots of handwork, but I refuse to dip into my retirement for anything like this. The company must pay for it out of pocket, or I don't buy it. And I also refuse to take out a loan or finance it. I paid $5000 straight up for the Epilog laser. We're in a good liquid state right now, but need to get to the next level (which will happen in the next six months) to make this acquisition, along with some other basic tools.

    Appreciate the tip. Will seek out that name. Eventually a machine will fall into our lap if I remain patient and vigilant.

    Thanks Again,
    Scott

  13. #13
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    Around the 2009 recession home inspectors were going out of business or taking 2nd jobs right and left. I was worried also but dipped into my pocket and paid $3500 for an Infrared camera and training. I was one of the only inspectors getting work and ended up getting work for years just because I included a scan which found lots of problems even on new homes. Don’t hold back if there is an upside on the horizon.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Memmer View Post
    Bruce, that would be out of our budget at this time, unless I could find a used one for about half that. I've built our company for five years on sweat equity and lots of handwork, but I refuse to dip into my retirement for anything like this. The company must pay for it out of pocket, or I don't buy it. And I also refuse to take out a loan or finance it. I paid $5000 straight up for the Epilog laser. We're in a good liquid state right now, but need to get to the next level (which will happen in the next six months) to make this acquisition, along with some other basic tools.

    Appreciate the tip. Will seek out that name. Eventually a machine will fall into our lap if I remain patient and vigilant.

    Thanks Again,
    Scott
    Have you checked the classifieds here? Lots of times good machine set for months unsold and I have not a clue why. Local Craigslist, same thing. Bruce has some good advice above, and don't limit yourself with too small a machine.
    Last edited by Bill George; Yesterday at 8:58 AM.
    Retired Guy- Central Iowa. , LightObject 40w CO2 Laser and Chiller , WorkBee 1000x750 CNC Router - Mach4 - Windows 10

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Memmer View Post
    Jim, thank you. I'm new to this, so I don't mind bumping myself up a bit. The Shapeoko 3 looks like it might do the job. Does this company have good support after the sale? Is the software learnable for the average user?

    https://shop.carbide3d.com/products/...31527638401085

    I can get through the year and do this in January, if necessary. The Inventables unit looks good too. Appreciate you taking the time to be specific as to machines.

    We expect to have a strong holiday selling season and expect to have strong reserves after the New Year.

    For anyone interested, there's a clean, used Shapeoko in Seattle on eBay, but it's local pickup only.

    Thanks Again,
    Scott
    Shapeoko has a good reputation and AFAIK, good support. One of the best YouTuber makers, Winston Moy, is now part of their development team, too. Their base software is easy to use and learn. It doesn't do truly sophisticated design work, but if your needs are 2D type cutting, it should work fine.

    Now your most recent post that mentioned you've been subing the work out to a local shop leads me to ask the important question: What kind of volume do you expect to be cutting on the machine? These less expensive hobby focused CNCs are not "speedy swift" devices. It will be great for made to order and very low number inventory stocking, but they are NOT production machines. For what you describe, of the choice between Shapeoko and Inventables, I'd pick the former for sure and the heavier version if possible.

    On other thing...you have a business. Talk with your accountant about tax implications and benefits of equipping your business with new equipment before the end of the year. It may help you with the cost of buying a better machine with a warranty.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

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