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I am thinking of getting a small CNC miller, but have no experience of them at all - although I do have experience of machine tools in general.

What I want it for is milling carbon fibre sheet for quadcopter parts - just for myself, not professionally. The one that gets talked about a lot is the Sainsmart 3018 Pro or Prover, it is big enough for my needs.

If anyone can help, my questions are these:
1. Seems the only significant difference between the two is the offline controller (useful, do not want direct PC connection). I am not bothered about endstops (I'll be careful), or side plates, nor about the time to assemble Pro vs Prover. Is there any point therefore in spending extra on the Prover, as opposed to Pro plus offline controller (which appears cheaper)?
2. Is it up to carbon fibre sheet as it comes? (Was thinking of 1.8mm endmills). I read the 10,000rpm motor might be too slow, but there is a 20,000rpm replacement - but that has power issues, might need bigger PSU, and still could burn out mainboard driver due to ramp up current, though there is a gcode means of slowing ramp up. On the other hand, I don't care if it is slow, so can I just use very slow feedrates with a 10,000rpm motor and get the same results in the end?
3. Is the Z assembly stiff enough, or is the alloy upgrade a necessity?
4. Am I really expecting too much of an entry level machine? (A bigger one would be too expensive and kill the project stone dead).

(I am aware of the need to be very careful of carbon fibre dust).
 

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Mike
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I think the PROver is the newer version. If it fits your needs I would get the newest version of the machine. I see no reason no buy the older version then buy the handheld control pad you say you want anyway. I'm not sure what changes have been made between the two versions but supposedly they upgraded the old model.
 
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Ross
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Welcome to the forum.
 

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Sorry I so late to this.

The 3018, no matter the version, is not a very sturdy CNC router. The spindle is pretty wimpy and the mechanism has a fair amount of flex. If you are only going to cut CF, it might be ok but I keep finding things to use my CNC router for, including metal (al, copper). Just keep that in mind. Also, the 300x180mm work area is actually smaller than that. You will need to have room for hold downs which further constrain your working area. My first CNC router was 300x300mm and I outgrew that real fast. I bought a 3018 from a frustrated user for $100 and was shocked at how much flex it has (I use it for a diode laser). Currently I run a 48"x48" Avid Pro and even that cramps my style. Personally, I would recommend something in the 500mmx500mm bed range for a starter. Frankly, I see two outcomes from buying a 3018: either you like CNCing and upgrade to something better and the 3018 sits unused. Or, you get frustrated with the limitations and hate CNCing so it sits unused. Either way, the outcome seems the same.

A CNC machine is pretty simple so if you have used other machine tools, you should be fine. The computer adds a bit of a twist but it's not that complex.

Probably the biggest issue I see is the dust from CF. It is nasty stuff - a known carcinogen, not just to the state of California... And the tiny CF dust particles linger. I suggest you think about investing in good dust extraction. Maybe even with a HEPA filter. The 3018 may not be convenient for adding a dust boot for the spindle so consider that before buying.
 
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