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So I got a new CNC router as a christmas present. Well I havent got it yet but was told it's on the way. Without having it in hand I dont know what to expect other than reviews are good.

I know it comes with basic grbl control software but no drafting software. YouTube recommends easel from inventibles. Any other suggestions?

The model is the 3018 pro upgrade. Its undoubtedly made in China and appears to be a smartview genitmatsu (sp?) Knockoff. But hey for $200, can't be horrible to learn on.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Suggestions in upgrades or consumables (like bits) would be very welcomed.

Happy New Years guys and cheers!

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Congrats. It's a fairly small machine - cutting area is about 12 x 7. What are you hoping to do with it? It probably can cut wood and plastic. I would be surprised if it handles metal at all.

Even though the literature says it doesn't need a computer, you probably should plan on hooking it up to one. The little remote controller is really limited.

Probably the first things you should get is software - CAD and CAM packages. Which ones depend on what you want to do with the machine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Congrats. It's a fairly small machine - cutting area is about 12 x 7. What are you hoping to do with it? It probably can cut wood and plastic. I would be surprised if it handles metal at all.

Even though the literature says it doesn't need a computer, you probably should plan on hooking it up to one. The little remote controller is really limited.

Probably the first things you should get is software - CAD and CAM packages. Which ones depend on what you want to do with the machine.
Thanks! For starters I'll probably mess around making signs and stuff. Theres a fairly big market up here as all the units like to give plaques as going away gifts for soldiers and the only place in town that you can get them custom made charges 180 for a picture and some words. The wife says if I can make 200 bucks off the machine and figure out what features I like and dont like she will upgrade it for me

I already bought a small laptop to run solely CAD/CAM software. Nothing fancy but it will be dedicated to this. But speaking if software, I want to start out with free open source software. This way I can play and get the feel for the features I want and need before I commit to purchase. Any suggestions? Mainly do signs and and small gifts like picture frames and the such. One thing I do plan on tackling is making a plaque for my shoulder mount from this falls deer hunt so I will need to learn how to tile in order to make it big enough. Do you know if easel by inventibles will handle that?

Sorry for the rant. I'm just super excited!!!

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check out F-Engrave. It's free and is good for signs and simple v carving. I use it quite a bit for doing both images and text. Photos of a couple of box lids done with F-Engrave are attached. Basically those were black and white line drawing images created with a drawing app (Affinity Design, $50) but Inkscape would work fine and it's free. Even Microsoft Paint could be used. You can also get F-Engrave to directly use TrueType fonts of which there are thousands available for free. Those box lids were made with a 90 degree V Bit - 1/4" shank. Does your machine take 1/4" bits? I couldn't see anything on the amazon page that said if it did.

I should warn you, that machine is not likely to be able to make deep cuts without flexing so you will have to take multiple shallow cuts. Not the end of the world, it will just take longer.

By the way, you will probably want to dump the PC software that comes with it. The router runs GRBL and there are lots of free "control" programs that work with it. GRBL Panel, bCNC, UGS and several others work pretty well.

If you want to really crank out plaques, you will probably want to look at investing $2K or more. If you can get $100 for a plaque and crank out 10 a day, it would pay for itself pretty fast. The more rigid the machine, the faster it can run. But there is also the question of how long will the machine last. Your little chinese machine probably isn't that reliable. Frankly, I would want to have something like an Avid Pro4824 ($6-9K depending on how much you do yourself) for that kind of business. And, maybe two of them for more reliability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
check out F-Engrave. It's free and is good for signs and simple v carving. I use it quite a bit for doing both images and text. Photos of a couple of box lids done with F-Engrave are attached. Basically those were black and white line drawing images created with a drawing app (Affinity Design, $50) but Inkscape would work fine and it's free. Even Microsoft Paint could be used. You can also get F-Engrave to directly use TrueType fonts of which there are thousands available for free. Those box lids were made with a 90 degree V Bit - 1/4" shank. Does your machine take 1/4" bits? I couldn't see anything on the amazon page that said if it did.

I should warn you, that machine is not likely to be able to make deep cuts without flexing so you will have to take multiple shallow cuts. Not the end of the world, it will just take longer.

By the way, you will probably want to dump the PC software that comes with it. The router runs GRBL and there are lots of free "control" programs that work with it. GRBL Panel, bCNC, UGS and several others work pretty well.

If you want to really crank out plaques, you will probably want to look at investing $2K or more. If you can get $100 for a plaque and crank out 10 a day, it would pay for itself pretty fast. The more rigid the machine, the faster it can run. But there is also the question of how long will the machine last. Your little chinese machine probably isn't that reliable. Frankly, I would want to have something like an Avid Pro4824 ($6-9K depending on how much you do yourself) for that kind of business. And, maybe two of them for more reliability.
Appreciate the advice! I dont have super high hopes of this machine having any sort of longevity. If I can do some things to make it pay for itself I will be happy...If I can do some things that will help me save for a bigger better unit...perfect. In the end it's more if a learning experience than anything. I used to run a shop sabre at my old job but that was years ago and never really got into the programming side of it oher than loading a program and running it.

The machine takes 1/8" bits so I'm already planning on multiple passes and slow feed rates. Once I get her up and running and play with her a bit I will probably want to do something that the machine cant and the motivation to upgrade will increase. That's also where you guys will come in. I'll be on here another asking things like "I want to do A B and C" and you guys can be like "well to do that you need a machine or software that has this..."



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Welcome to the Router Forums Sarah.

Right now Easel should get you started but I do suggest you look into Vectric software. You can start with Cut 2D and upgrade to other programs for just the difference in cots between the two softwares. When you get to Vcarve Desktop you will be able to cut 3D projects and it comes with several 3D models to get you started.

Good luck with the new CNC.
 
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Sarah let us guys with not much money how well it works will need pictures. That would help making simple signs. When is it coming?
Probably the biggest limitation for making signs is it doesn't take 1/4" shank bits. A 60 or 90 degree V bit is standard for simple signs. a 1/8" shank V bit will take a lot more carving to get a similar effect. A ball nose 1/8" bit might be a better choice if you can't use 1/4" shank bits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Probably the biggest limitation for making signs is it doesn't take 1/4" shank bits. A 60 or 90 degree V bit is standard for simple signs. a 1/8" shank V bit will take a lot more carving to get a similar effect. A ball nose 1/8" bit might be a better choice if you can't use 1/4" shank bits.
I did a little perusing of Amazon for 1/8" end mills and bits and see theres a huge array. I will definitely be playing a bit. Pun intended.

I get the unit Thursday. Barring any unforseen issues I should have it up and running by the weekend. Hopefully have a few test runs done by then too!

Pics to follow

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just arrived today. Havent put it together yet but I was looking through the manual and it says the spindle is 775ER. I'm assuming the ER refers to the collet type. I tried googling specs but have seen everything from 150W to 500W.

Anyone have any idea?

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I dont know if I should start a new thread for this but we will start here.

So I got the new unit built and set up. It seems to be pretty sturdy and was super easy to assemble. I then went to install the candle.exe software that came with it and I dont think my computer likes to read things from the disc. So my question is, for the control software, do I have to use the program that came with it or can I download any generic grbl control program? If so, which is a good free one? If not, is candle a proprietary program or is it open sourced?

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There are couple of control programs for GRBL machines out there. UGS, GRBL Panel, bCNC sping to mind. I use GRBL Panel and like it a lot but it's not being supported by the author anymore. Lots of people swear by bCNC and it can be run on a RasPi. UGS is kind of the old man of the bunch and is rock solid. I think you can find Candle for download somewhere but I've heard a lot of complaints about it. Not sure if it's FOSS.

[edit] mike beat me to it. he's got a faster feed rate! [/edit]
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks y'all. I got it figured out. I downloaded F Engrave as my G Code software. Havent gotten a chance to play with it yet but that's on the agenda for this weekend!

I do have one quick question though. When I installed the spindle it didnt have a hard positioning point. I set it so that with a bit installed (used the largest end mill that came with it installed approximately half the entire length in the collet) the end was just barely above the table when z-axis was in f uh ll down position. Now that I'm thinking of it this leaves no room for scab board. Any suggestions? Manual had no reference.


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