Asking for some advice and assistance…
Finally taking the plunge and buying a CNC. I have several uses for a CNC, but my primary use would be deep engraving (0.003-0.005”) of stainless, aluminum and carbon fiber.
That said, I “could” also use a CNC to cut foam, wood, plastic, etc on a larger scale which would be helpful to my small business, but isn’t necessarily required.
I’m a complete noob to CNC, so the Nomad seems more appealing and would achieve my primary needs…but is the accuracy of the Nomad that much better than the Shapeoko Pro XXL that it would prevent me from doing some fine engraving AND allow me to do other tasks that are in my nice to have category? BTW…by fine engraving think 12 font, 0.003-0.005 deep, so a diamond drag won’t work.
Time to cut is sort of irrelevant to me, if the engraving takes an hour to do 30 letters or a small, it would be totally fine. Just trying to make a decision that I’ll be happy with in the end.
A lot of jewelers use the Nomad. That said the pro models have very good precision. The versatility of a larger machine is hard to beat. The Nomad is a great machine but is very limited in size projects. Take a look on the forum there are many that use Shapeoko 3, 4, Pro and HDM to do engraving as well as the Nomad. If the only job is engraving small items then the Nomad because of space constraints. If you have the room for a larger machine you can just do more. The Nomad is about $2800.00 and the Shapeoko Pro goes from $2400-$2800.
Now those prices are the machine alone and you have to buy bits and maybe other accessories. Plus the Carbide Create software is free but they have a pro version that is more. Then there is Vetric that starts around $350.00 to $4000.00. There is Carveco, Fusion 360 and many many more but they all cost. Truthfully the free Carbide Create can do a lot of things but it depends what you are trying to accomplish.
Bottom line is the machines are just the start.
Thanks so much for the response! Yeah, I know I’m diving down the money pit with all the other accessories I’m sure I’ll end up with, totally get that. But it sounds like to start with at least I can do what I need!
Usually folks who want to put a machine on a desk in an office or other interior space get a Nomad, while folks who want to put a machine on a workbench in a shop or garage get a Shapeoko — that said, if you need faster material removal rates, or want to use larger tooling, get a Shapeoko, if you want to work w/ smaller things in a more precise fashion, get a Nomad.
If you have the money and space, go for both — they’re wonderfully complementary.
Thanks Will, man I’d love to go with both. And maybe someday I will…right now only one is in the cards for me so I’m just trying to get the most bang for my buck (but still accomplish my primary need of engraving metals). Really appreciate all the responses from you guys!
If you are on the fence AND you have shop floor to accomodate a Shapeoko Pro AND you are not primarily engraving jewellery-sized items, I would say go with the Shapeoko, for the versatility.
There are many examples in the gallery of relatively small/detailed engraving done on Shapeokos, as long as they are probable tuned (tight belts etc…). Here’s a random engraving example I did a long time ago on a Shapeoko3 (non-Pro) on a 4"x4" tile:
This was a test run and is unremarkable, but zoom in on the picture and you can clearly tell the individual lines, the spacing between those must be a quarter of a mm or so (I can check), and adjacent lines still do not mix or wiggle.
Thanks Julien! Yes, that looks great! I do have room for the Shapeoko Pro XXL, my only real concern was the ability to engrave lettering (~3mm tall & 0.1mm deep) into stainless. Which, seems very doable as long as I go slowly…
Really appreciate your input!
Last year I was in the same boat as you, interested in a cnc primarily for small scale jewelery making and engraving and kept going back an forth between the nomad and shapeko. I ended up with the pro xl and don’t regret my decision. The pro is more then capable of small scale jewlery work with the added bonus of having the larger work area which makes it a far more versatile machine. I can almost guarantee you will start making this with the shapeoko that you never thought of once you get your hands on the machine and you see what it can do. If you have the space for it, i think its definitely the way to go. Hope that helps