I want to investigate a low cost Bench size (12" x 18" x 8") CNC mill. I've done allot of searching on google and have only found many websites and arcticles that don't really show much. I figure that some people may have one. Any suggestions on where to look? Is there a good company or on-line catalog anyone could reccomend?
It all depends on what you consider to be "low cost." Pre-built in this size range is anywhere from $2,500 to $6,000. Some people wouldn't consider this low cost, but it's actually very cheap for CNC. I bought a custom-made CNC outfit for several grand for my Budget Robotics business, and I'm still paying it off. You need to consider it a long-term investment.
If you don't mind putting something together yourself, you can check out
You can save some money this way.
There's also a book on building a homemade CNC rig. You can find it on Amazon; the ISN is 0071418288. It's gotten mixed reviews.
Don't forget the software. Most people do, then struggle with a machine that's so hard to use for anything it's not worth it. Basic CNC software costs $200-400, but good CNC software costs $1,000+.
I have the Book CNC robotics, It was intersting reading, but the plans are for a huge machine. I know that it can be made smaller. The Book gave me a good understanding about how they work, however I think you'd actually need a CNC machine to make some of the parts necessary. Ultimately I'm investigating whether to make one myself or purchase one. Actually I stumbled onto MaxNC's page with this "low cost" model:
your right to point out the software is important. This has none. Thanks, Rick-
Well, this is much smaller than the 12x18x8 you originally noted. Cost gets more reasonable with smaller size, because the whole machine can be made with lighter materials. I know several people with the MAX10 and they like it a lot. The MAX10 has G-code software and a spindle head. Personally I would not go with the Dremel tool unless you're only cutting light plastics or wood.
One other note: it's handy to have prior mill/lathe experience before you get into CNC. A CNC lathe is much harder to use than they make out, because of such things as deflection of the material. Using one of these tools manually helps you to know when you need to compensate. You might think about getting a mill that can be retrofit later on.