Accurate Soft Metal Parts?


New to the forum. I’m in the market for a desktop CNC machine with the ability to mill relatively small finishing fixtures as well as masters for reproduction parts. I’d prefer part accuracy and finish over speed. Are there any pictures of high accuracy / fine surface finish parts output from a Nomad?

I have a fair amount of experience in design, surfacing and simulation so I will need to brush up on learning CAM and optimization strategies to begin to round out the process, but I’d like to make mistakes and learn on an appropriate beginner platform. Thanks.

Need to be a little more specific than “soft metal” - aluminum, brass, sure… go look in the gallery :

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I’m thinking about ATP-5 (or maybe K100-S) for the fixtures for its dimensional stability and low porosity. Apparently it is quite machinable as well.

Guessing you’ve seen this already?

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Since you posted in the Nomad section, I guess you are interested in the Nomad. If you have not already done so, you may want to check the videos from Winston Moy @wmoy on his YouTube channel and the Carbide channel. He shows how to mill different metal with the Nomad. You do not mention the level of accuracy you require for these parts but maybe the more customizable Shapeoko would meet your needs for precision too but it is faster and more powerful than the Nomad.

@Vince.Fab is also getting a Nomad and I can’t wait to see what he’ll be able to produce with that little guy. As mentioned above, Vince has been able to get a very high level of precision for larger parts on the Shapeoko after the machine was highly tuned but thinks he can do even better…

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I’d be happy with ±.005" and, if possible, tighter. Does anyone have an idea what tolerance Nomad can realistically hold?

I’ve checked out the videos from Vince and Winston and am hoping that the Nomad can fit the bill for my initial application. I’m certainly able to redesign and optimize without a problem, will slow down initially with CAM and hope that I will keep crashes to a minimum.

This early project demonstrates excellent accuracy and precision:


.005" is WELL within what the nomad can do (and actually, a well calibrated Shapeoko 3 could do so too).



I took a look at the parts I need to make and I’d be even happier with ± .001". I’m evaluating CAM packages currently, trying to find a workflow that makes sense and run some test toolpaths on the fixtures. I’ve designed parts for years, It’ll be interesting to perform another step or two in the process.

On a different note has the 883 Pro been out for a while or is it a relatively new revision of the Nomad? I’d hate to purchase and have an improved model show up shortly thereafter.

Thank you for all of your assistance, I appreciate it.

Also see this link:

The transition from the Nomad Classic to the Pro happened in late 2015 as described here:

I can’t imagine that we’ll be able to work up something better given the constraints:

  • machine needs to ship in a box which shippers will not charge extra to deliver
  • machine needs to be self-contained / self-sufficient / enclosed
  • machine needs to run on 110V house current and not need a special outlet
  • machine needs to hit a price point which folks can justify

It’s a nice example of “Wonderful One Hoss Shay” engineering.

but I’m not privy to development, so you’d need to check w/ @robgrz or @edwardrford or @Jorge


Thank you for the additional information, I’d rather have a bit more information to get through than less. Refinements are possible, especially in UX, it sounds like at this point it’s a solid starter platform from a hardware perspective.

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