40mm Stepper Motor for CNC Machine or 3D Printer

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40mm Stepper Motor for CNC Machine or 3D Printer

 

If I want to make and fix my own stuff, would a 3D printer or a desktop CNC machine be better?

Go for the CNC if the budget will stretch. You can then make a 3D printer just by removing the spindle and adding a print head (and a heated bed maybe.) And a laser cutter just by adding a laser. And a water jet just by… etc. With the strength of a CNC router available, you can mount two or three print heads on it and print in several colors at the same time if you know your software. And so on.

The thing about using the CNC is the strength of the frame. A 3D printer frame is peanuts; just some hollow aluminum rods and some plastic connectors. A CNC machine has a beefier frame to support the cutting loads.

If you’re going to make it yourself, you might even want to start with a benchtop milling machine with enough footprint to do your biggest project. They’re hella strong, compared to the others. The strength limit of the frame is the limit of what you can do with the machine. If you have a mill capable of cutting steels, you can do anything softer. If you start with a 3D printer, you’ll never do anything but print because the frame can’t support cutting loads. A CNC router is a good compromise for capability versus money; you could cut anything up to hard aluminum and free cutting brass, plus still do the print head or laser or whatever.

But also look at your requirements. If you just want to do rough prototypes, a printer may be enough for you. If you have to have better finish quality, you’ll probably have to buy a (very expensive) print head one day, that will do much higher temperatures. If you’re making production parts— bushings, bearings, PEEK insulators, whatever— you need a better machine.

The thing about CNC is, once you have one and if you put in the effort to get good at it, you’ll use it for everything. If that’s you, “buy once, cry once” is a good idea.

 

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