CNC machines at a glance
Machines type High-Z / Our bestseller
Our XL and XXL CNC machines T-REX and RaptorX-SL
Other machines in our assortment
Save 1500 Euro – Up to the end of June 2021 (CAD/CAM) Software ConstruCAM-3D ECO version with postprocessor for KinetiC-NC, WinPCNC und Mach3
+ ESTLCAM full version* included in the purchase price of the CNC milling machine (*except model High-Z S-400)
Machine construction specialist from passion
As a German machine construction specialist, we know the challenge to buy an accurately working CNC machine when you don’t need a machining centre of hundred thousand Euros for your application.
Right from the beginning, our motivation was to manufacture CNC machines which are also affordable for hobbyists taking that little space to put them into a hobby room, the garage or the basement. At the same time, the machines were meant to meet the highest demands in matters of precision, quality and ease of operation. Our bestselling machine High-Z meets these demands. The sales figures among hobbyists as well as businesspeople in the industry speak a clear language with worldwide more than 8000 sold machines of the High-Z series.
Practical use of CNC machines
In the area of metal and wood processing CNC controlled machines have long become indispensable. Even in the leisure sector smaller hobby CNC machines are on the rise and allow their owners a simpler and faster implementation of new ideas. The first question that arises is: What makes a CNC machine become a popular tool?
How do CNC machines work?
CNC machines are computerized machine tools that are capable to produce precise and extensive workpieces fully automatic! This requires a modern control technology.
Often, a so-called CAM system is used. It is able to convert the data of a CAD program, which usually designes the components using a postprocessor, in a CNC program. Of course, certain factors must be considered, such as:
CNC machines are equipped with one of these three control types:
- Link control
- Path control
The latest CNC machines may have more than six processing axes: the main axes X, Y and Z and the auxiliary axes A, B and C each represent a rotation around the main axes. Three-dimensional workpieces can be realized in a very short time.
Programming CNC machines
Nowadays on most CNC machines little or no programming is required. However, manual programming of a CNC machine can be beneficial in correcting small errors.
The conventional textual programming requires manual entry of path conditions, the G functions and the additional functions, called M functions. These were standardized as ISO 66025 for all CNC machines and are commonly used with the G-code name according to DIN / ISO.
This manual input or programming is completely unnecessary today. Modern CAD / CAM systems replace the textual programming by a graphical, workshop-oriented CNC programming. So, the designer simply draws the desired workpieces within the CAD program that converts this drawing into a finished CNC file. Subsequently, the computer-controlled CNC machine moves as programmed processing the workpiece.
Since it is now even possible to integrate a quality control in the manufacturing process, is no more need for constant supervision of CNC machines. The tool wear is monitored fully automatically.
Two ways of measuring the travelled distance
Any conventional machine can be extended by using standardized components to a CNC machine. It is important to keep in mind that with conventional milling machines, the backlash between the machine spindle and the spindle nut is compensated by the operator and by climb milling. Modern CNC machines are equipped with drive systems with ball screws or linear drives, which are virtually free of backlash. This also makes synchronous milling possible.
CNC machines measure the distance travelled in two ways :
- The direct travel measuring system – A glass scale measures the position directly on the moving axis.
- The indirect travel measuring system – The rotation angle of the ball screw is measured this implies the linear axis position.
A so-called PLCA functions as a link between the physical machine and the movement control. A program is stored by the manufacturer that guarantees the function, of example, operating modes, safety door, coolant, lubrication and other aggregates. It serves as a linker and primarily determines the machine’s capabilities. Therefore, it remains unchanged even after the delivery of the machine.
Which fields make use of CNC machinery?
- Automotive Industry
- Aircraft industry
- Mobile communications
- Toy industry
- Metalworking industry e.g. for the production of washing machines bicycles machine parts
- Wood Processing Industry e.g. wooden toys, candle arches, Crests
- For dosing e.g. applying adhesive
- For placing
- Processing of granite, marble for producing busts, figures, monuments, grave stones, plaques
- Jewellery industry
- Plastics Processing Industry
- Dentistry for implants and inlays
- Orthopedics for reproductions of intervertebral discs
- and much more
Buying a machine, what is important
Basics for buying a CNC machine
If you are interested in more details of such a machine, one question always comes up: “What do CNC machines cost?”
Here one could give a simple answer: The price range goes from about five hundred Euros to several hundred thousand Euros. But it is not that simple.
Check first the requirements of the CNC machine
Much more important than the question of the price should be the point of wishes and requirements. The more precisely you know what demands a machine has to fulfil to satisfy you, the more precisely a corresponding offer will be designed.
The most important criteria when buying CNC machines:
- Locate an authorized dealer – A milling machine should always be purchased from an authorized dealer. Only a fully-trained sales staff can suggest an appropriate model meet your requirements.
- List your requirements – As individual as your wishes can be, as individual should the given advice be, because the more precisely your milling machine is tuned to the key points, such as size, performance and workpiece to be machined, the better milling results you will achieve later.
- Ensure not only the price is good but also the service is unbeatable – A dealer should offer you free support even after purchasing a machine so that the entry is easier and cheaper. He should also advise you adequate and understandable as a CNC beginner and maybe even offer a free demonstration to facilitate the entry and the purchase decision.
- Attention with DIY hobby homemade CNC milling machines – With reasonable price attracted customers buy unusable CNC machines sold without any warranty and important securities such as valid CE declaration and current EMC testing. Please refer to our article about “Rip-off when buying a CNC machine.”
If you take the above criteria into account, you will purchase a CNC machine much better prepared. Do not buy an overpriced machine according to your applications, but also do not buy a milling machine that is unsuitable for your application from the start due to unqualified advice or inferior workmanship. After all, the purchase of CNC machines is a long-term investment and primarily a matter of trust.
Inexpensive repairs and maintenance?
You should always choose a manufacturer or seller who can carry out repairs, maintenance and, if necessary, extensions on your milling machine. You may subsequently want to machine more rigid materials than initially intended. In this case, adjustments to the machine may be necessary. Repair work, maintenance work and extensions with CNC accessories are often cheaper than buying a new machine. You should always take these considerations into account before making a purchase.
HOW MUCH DOES A CNC MACHINE COST ME?
The application is the basis
The final cost of a CNC machine depends largely on the purpose for which you will use it. Is it industrial, commercial or private? For example, in the automotive industry, precise parts’ mechanical mass production often involves tolerances of less than one or two-hundredths of a millimetre. Unfortunately, we must pass with our range of machines. To reliably meet these tolerances, machines in the range of 200,000 euros upwards are required with a traverse size of approx. 1000x600mm.
Are you looking for a small, inexpensive CNC milling machine or CNC machine?
Suppose you are looking for a small, inexpensive, but solid CNC machine that can process mostly small-format workpieces with the utmost precision and within the lowest tolerance range of +/-0.02 mm and must be capable of 2D or 3D milling. In that case, regardless of the application, you should not lose sight of the following:
how fast can the milling machine process the workpieces?
Here you must create a clear dividing line because it usually has to be a high-precision CNC machine in the highly complex metalworking field. That might have a heavy grey cast iron bed to efficiently dissipate vibrations during the work process, which inevitably occur during a roughing process of steel or cast aluminium with a 30 mm milling cutter, regardless of the quality of the milling cutter.
How accurate or precise can you mill?
The simple answer is as accurate as the machine mechanics within your mechanical components allow and with what run-out accuracy your milling spindle is specified.
So, it is of little use to you to operate a high-precision CNC machine if the spindle is defective and has a run-out accuracy of perhaps 0.05 mm or worse. Then you still won’t get a fit milled in metals in the result because the play in the head of the spindle is far too large, and this source of error will then mercilessly strike there.
So which CNC machine should I buy?
Another simple answer to “which CNC milling machine you should buy?” is: the one that fits your very personal requirements. To this end, we will advise you in detail, considering all criteria, regardless of whether it is a question of machining times, accuracies or maintenance costs, etc.
Underestimated capabilities of small CNC machines – The market has evolved
Often the CNC milling machines produced by us are still underestimated by experts in the industry. Especially in the mentioned industrial sector, their potential is still unjustly not recognised. (Years ago, a customer commented as follows: “Surely I can’t set up the mini-machine next to my presses that have cost millions. How does that look in a walk-in?”) Well, if prestige trumps extreme cost savings, perhaps one should think about the real point of the business after all.
Trend reversal noticeable
However, a somewhat contrary trend has slowly but steadily emerged in recent years. While in 2006, we sold 70% of our machines to the private sector, today we sell almost 80% to various trades and industry!
Steady market development of CNC machines
Besides, the market for small CNC milling machines has developed considerably. Today, quite a few manufacturers on the market produce machines that cost only a fraction of the large ones. But these are just as capable of carrying out precise work in metals such as aluminium, brass or plastic and wood in the long term.
Our development department continually strives for technical optimisation and innovations to make our products even better and more efficient.
At this point, we would like to thank the entire CNC-STEP team!
Away from the MC – towards the small CNC machine
Countless entrepreneurs and industries such as Miele, Airbus, Apple, Lufthansa, Dove, ABUS and many more of our customers have already understood this and use our small, precise CNC milling machines for their mass production, even in long-term shift operation.
We then hear sentences like these from customers: “If the Suhner milling motor packs up after a year, we buy a new one—ridiculously cheap spare part. The important thing is that the machine does its job reliably, and that is guaranteed.”
For a Mazak or Mori, I get 50 small High-Z machines or 10 larger ones from the T-Rex series.
Quote from the customer: “It is better for me to buy 3 of these small machines and put a machine operator on them than a huge MC, which does the same work with maybe 30%-time savings, but costs 50 times as much and the maintenance costs already eat up the price of a small CNC machine from you”.