Nomad or Shapeoko for brass?

Hello all

I want to do engraving on brass (40x40mm max) and with only 0.03-0.1mm depth.
Which machine would you suggest for me?


I have an SO3 and it is quite capable of engraving brass. The Nomad is certainly capable and a lot of jewelers use the Nomad. The factor to consider is the size. Obviously the smallest standard Shapeoko has more cutting room than a Nomad. The selling point of a Nomad is the precision but has limited working room compared to a Shapeoko. So it depends on your shop environment and how much room you have. The nomad has the same controller as many of the Shapeoko machines. The newer SO5 has an updated controller but is still very similar to the other Shapeoko machines.

There is an old adage that says about bigger/smaller “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”

The older Nomads only used an 1/8" collet. I believe the newer Nomad’s have a 1/4" capacity but you would need to verify that. The Shapeoko uses a trim router and/or spindle over the smaller spindle on the Nomad. So it depends on your usage case.

The other factor is the Nomad has a 2000-10000 spindle speed so that is considerably slower than the trim routers. Again you need to investigate your usage. The C3D router rpm is 12000-30000 so you need to determine your needs for the use. The 3rd party spindles for a Shapeoko have lower rpm than the trim routers and also faster rpm so they have a wider range of speed over the trim routers.

You can download Carbide Create free and make some projects for you usage and see what the recommended speeds and feeds would be for brass. Some people use the diamond drag bits for engraving or you can use a router bit for engraving. The diamond drag the spindle/router is not rotating where the engraving bits the router is rotating to engrave.

Thank you for the quick response! I guess Nomad would be a better option for me as you said it’s more precise.

I saw that the website is showing Spindle RPM for Nomad is 9000 - 24000 RPM however you said it’s only 2000-10000, so does it, in fact, can only run from 2000-10000 or I was mistaken?
And also I will use 3mm shaft diameter tooling, so in this case what should I do about the collet?

The Nomad 883 Pro spindle ran up to 10,000 RPM — the Nomad 3 goes up to 24,000 RPM.

Both machines can cut brass well — the choice should depend on scale of the pieces you will be making, and to a lesser degree setting:

  • smaller parts benefit from the precision of the Nomad’s screws
  • the Nomad’s enclosure is better fitted to use indoors on a desk

A small project I did in brass a while back:

which would have been better modeled in 3D and cut w/ ball-nosed tooling, but I’m stubborn.

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To cover another point, the Nomad, if you have the correct collet, CAN handle 1/4" bits. The spindle isn’t powerful enough to use it for removing lots of material at a time. I use it with a normal 3/4" router bit for surfacing my spoil board, taking only 0.002" off at a time. If you have 1/4" shank bits with small diameter cutting flutes that you want to use, the 1/4" collet also works.

You are correct. Not sure where I got those RPM numbers. Thought that I was on the current Nomad specifications but the 9000-24000 is correct.

The Nomad is on maybe the 3rd generation.

My nomad 3 can do decent material removal with .25in endmills, provided they are single flute. that is definitely key from all my research & testing.

6061 aluminum facing and adaptive clearing i ran a .2mm DOC / 1.5mm WOC / 22k RPM / 1016mm/min

from my understanding you run brass slightly less hard than aluminum, so it should be achievable on the nomad 3 if you need precision over size.

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