Nomad 883 vs Nomad 3 for milling aluminum

I have the opportunity to buy a used (like new) Nomad 883 (original version, not PRO) for only $1K. I will be using it mainly for milling small aluminum pieces.

I understand the original 883 uses timing belts and is limited to 10k rpm.

Is it worth paying the extra $1.8k and going for a new Nomad 3 due to these two factors? Can anyone that have used both machines make a recommendation?

Thank you very much!!

P.S. I’m an absolute beginner with CNC so most likely I will be breaking things

I don’t have either machine but for small pieces and if you don’t need to make a large number of them quickly, $1K for a lightly used Nomad883 sounds like a great deal.

Check out this video from Winston about cutting parameters for the Nomad Pro cutting aluminum:

Now, the Nomad 3 does comes with the significant advantage of being able to run the spindle twice faster, which matters if optimizing cutting time (“material removal rate”) matters for you. Plus other perks that might not be immediately apparent like the integrated lighting, easy access to the sides of the working area, etc…

I haven’t used the Nomad 3 but I’ve used the 883 Pro a ton.

Get the Nomad 3.

I wanted to machine small aluminium parts and I was just starting CNC when I bought my Nomad 883 Pro, so I was in a position very similar to yours. Knowing what I do now, I would not have bought the 883 Pro.

The Nomad 883 Pro is barely sufficient for machining Aluminium. The Nomad 3 has twice the spindle speed (so twice the MRR), a much more powerful spindle motor and a better construction (so you can actually use that spindle power).

Machine shown in that video is the pro, so I would maybe start out at about %80 of suggested speeds/feeds and move up from there.
I can do a comparison to pro vs the 3, but can’t help you much on the 883 standard vs the 3.
The machine at its core is pretty good. Pretty easy to use, newbie friendly and support is fantastic.

Got confused between the 883, Pro and 3. Two edits later hopefully that’s correct now.

Hah, yeah it’s pretty easy to get mixed up with them.

Related to topic. It’s always easy to spend other peoples money. I don’t know if I’d go as far as to say the machine is barely sufficient. It’s capable of aluminium, and you wont have the tinkering cycle some of the shapeoko users find them selves in where they need to tram/square the machine to get the machine to do parts reliably. Out of box nomad can do aluminium. 883, 883 pro, or 3 are all solid machines. The three can be pushed quite a bit faster, and has quite a few Quality of life upgrades that I’ve quite enjoyed (probe/lighting/interlock switch/ability to mount dust collection). But I’m borrowing on a semi permanent basis the Nomad 3 (I run parts for a friend on his machine in my shop), and I got a pretty sweat deal on the Nomad 883 pro I have, so in both respects my valuation of the machines are skewed. Parts run quite a bit faster on the 3, but if you aren’t running production and are content with learning on a machine that’s a bit slower then you’ll be super blown away by any upgrade later.


I might be a little unfair saying it’s barely sufficient but for me, it’s the truth.

If you’re making really small stuff where you don’t need to remove much material at all, the 883 Pro might be okay.

But I’ve found for most of my projects, I need to remove a bunch of material.

The recommended MRR from Carbide 3D is 0.16cm^3/min:

And here, I was able to get the MRR to ~0.8cm^3/min.

What does that mean?

It means that a 5cm x 5cm x 1cm pocket (25cm^3) takes over 2 and a half hours to finish with Carbide 3D’s recommended settings (the “out-of-the-box experience”) or half an hour when you tinker and push the machine to the edge of failing.

If you buy the Nomad 3, you can cut both of those numbers at least in half.

And that’s without including the time for rapid moves and whatnot, that’s just cutting time.

If you’re making really small parts or just engraving, maybe these numbers are okay to you but I found that it was just too much when I wanted to make useful mechanical parts.

@luisce89 I’d recommend you estimate how much material you’d typically want to remove to make a part and use my MRR numbers above to get an estimate of how long your jobs would take.

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