A few weeks ago I decided to make bike lights for family and friends for Christmas.
Everybody got to pick the color so it ended up being a nice test of lots of different anodizing dye colors. Turns out having a fixed deadline is good for productivity. I would never had finished this many so quickly otherwise. I just finished them this afternoon, just in the nick of time.
I didn't buy a complete turnkey CNC setup. I started with manual machines that were CNC ready. CNC ready means they have mounts on the machine for the stepper motors, but the motors and electronics to drive the CNC are not included. Here is the package I have for the basic machines. I bought these 10 years ago and used them completely manually for the first 5 years.
Later I pieced together the CNC control system myself. Bought and installed the control stepper motors. Put together the drive electronics using Gecko G201 drivers. http://www.geckodrive.com/ I use EMC as the control software running on a linux based PC. http://linuxcnc.org/
I didn't buy the turnkey Sherline CNC setup because it came out after I bought the mill and lathe. But it's pretty similar to what I have. So if you want a turnkey solution it would be a lot less work to go with this. I did spend less money putting my system together, but it was a ton of work.
In hindsight, it was a really good path to use the machine manually for quite a while before getting into CNC. You have to know how to manually machine to be successful at CNC. CNC just lets you feed the all the machining operations into a computer to make the process repeatable and automated. You still have to know what the proper machining operations are with appropriate feed rates, depths of cut, and spindle speeds. I'm not sure how you'd know that without knowing how to do manual machining.
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