Noomad 3 vs Pro?

Hey there!

I’ve watched all the videos, I’ve spoken to sales, I’ve poured over the specs. But I just can’t wrap my head around the accuracy differences IN THE REAL WORLD between the Nomad 3 and the Pro for my use cases.

  1. Cutting aluminum brackets and plates for prototype camera mounting systems
  2. Cutting aluminum and plastic gears for motion control systems
  3. Prototyping knife shapes
  4. Prototyping challenge style coins

Of those, I think #4 is where the differences would stand out the most? Does anyone have any examples of a detailed part that the nomad can do that the pro would just utterly fail at? Can I see the difference in any comparison videos?


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So you must have seen all of @wmoy’s videos ?

Here’s the one I think exemplifies the Nomad3’s accuracy for tiny parts,

I think (but have no evidence) that the Pro would struggle to achieve this.

That said if I consider ALL your usecases, then I would say “go for a Pro” because of 1 and 3.

The Nomad3 is a great machine but it does have a limited work area, so depending on the size of the brackets/plates you will need to make, you may find yourself limited. Same for knive shapes (if you make Rambo-style knives :slight_smile: ).

You also won’t be able to hog lots of aluminium at large material removal rates on a Nomad (that’s not the point of that machine), but this relates to the time you have for your machining / the productivity you are after.

#2 might be the case that’s better suited for a Nomad, depending on the gear size and precision required.

For #4, what coin size are you aiming for ?

While it’s not directly applicable, here’s a part I did a long time ago on my Shapeoko, with diamond drag bit,

It’s about 7" wide (and while this is a low-res pic and you can’t quite see it, the fine details do come out nicely)


The most coin-like thing I did on my Nomad 883 Pro was a small badge:

which I’m sure the Nomad 3 would turn out better and/or more quickly.

The Nomad should certainly do coins better than a Shapeoko. I’ve done a couple of small ~10mm diameter coins with it and it did a great job. The Shapeoko doesn’t have the same resolution. You’ll also want a spindle with low runout for small endmills/engraving bits, not just a $100 router.

For the gears, it’ll depend on the size. If you’re talking really small, the Shapeoko may not do a great job, while the Nomad should do pretty well. However, the Shapeoko can potentially use a more torquey spindle, so it might be possible to hack together something that allows you to properly hob gears. I don’t think that would be possible on the Nomad.

For brackets, depends what your criteria are. How big are they? How much accuracy do they need?

For knives, are we talking Aluminium or steel? If it’s steel, I think you have better chances with the Shapeoko. Winston has done some knives on the Nomad but the Shapeoko with a high-torque spindle should be able to handle steel better.

You might also want to look at the Shapeoko HDM. Accuracy of the Nomad plus the power and work area of a Shapeoko.


Hey there!

For the brackets, they are mostly camera-related gear or small robotics. So all the plates easily fit inside the 8x8x3 volume of the Nomad with room to spare as do EDC knife blanks as well as electronics cases and so on.

A typical plate would be about 3x5 inches, in 1/4" aluminum with an outer contour, 2 weight reduction pockets, and 4 holes drill so I can hand tap for 1/4 / 20. I have absolutely no frame of reference for what an operation like that might take on a nomad, time-wise. Another part example is int he JPG’s, that one is about 1.5 x 2.5 inches.

Your point about the HDM is a good one. I really have two environments I operate in. The first is a “lab” space with my electronics bench, 3d printers, desktop laser cutter. Temperature controlled, in my house and I work there doing prototypes of internet of things and small robotics projects for myself and a small but growing client base.

The other is going to be in my garage. That’s where the miter saw, welder, drill press, and so on live. That is also where a large CNC with an enclosure will no doubt wind up.

The thing is, I really care about precision. So after this thread, I really evaluated the idea of an HDM, and think it is the right answer for a large machine for me. There is no point in getting a pro at the moment - it just won’t hit the accuracy I want for the parts I am doing a lot of the time for the next 3-5 months.

So my (5 minute old) plan is… pick up the Nomad 3. Take the speed/power hit assuming it CAN make the parts I need at all but get myself up the learning curve with CNC from 3d printing. Make use of the speed/accuracy a real spindle can hit and turn out some parts - then, when the time comes to expand, put an HDM out in the “shop” and be able to retain the accuracy and RPM control I am used to.

Even with the HDM, I will never regret having the Nomad 3 to hand in the lab space, I am just not always going to want to be out in the garage at 3am with no Air conditioner in TX to work on a part that can easily fit in the Nomad!



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Yeah, that’s totally doable on the Nomad. I’d recommend boring with a 1/8" endmill rather than trying to drill the hole though. You may also be able to mill the threads directly and save yourself some tapping.

As far as time, I’d estimate somewhere between 1 and 2 hours but it’s been a while since I used a normal Nomad. Since it sounds like you have a saw, you can cut down on time substantially by cutting out blanks of approximately the right size. It takes a long time to cut out the part from the sheet and it’s rough on the tools since it’s 100% slotting. If you can cut out the blanks to within say 2mm of the right size, the Nomad won’t have to cut the part out, it’ll just have to polish the edges.

Sounds like a decent plan to me.

Especially given that. However note that the Nomad is quite loud. Tolerable with say noise cancelling headphones but maybe not the thing to be using at 3am if there are other people in the house.

Last point on this: I’d say the Nomad can hold tolerances of ~1 thou (0.025mm) without a great deal of handholding (e.g. you should measure your tool diameters). If you want more than that, you might have to go elsewhere (e.g. jump straight to the ballscrew-driven HDM).

Also, if you’re after precision, I highly recommend the Saunders Machine Works fixture plate, mod vise and fixturing pins. I’d also pick up a 6mm reamer (but make sure it can run at an RPM the Nomad supports). I’m not affiliated with SMW at all but the ability to accurately and repeatedly locate a part at arbitrary points on your plate is worth every cent.

Alternatively, if you buy the Carbide 3D low-profile vise, buy some 6mm dowel pins too. They allow you to precisely square the vise using corresponding bores in the Nomad’s bed.


Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to reply. Do you happen to know how that time estimate would be different on a Pro (router) or an HDM when the time comes? I am just curious if the nomad is orders of magnitude slower.

Right now the black Friday sale of the nomad includes the “threaded table”, if that helps - though the SMW plate system is likely a better choice, looking at it!


Can’t say exactly but I’d expect the HDM to finish a part like that in a matter of minutes rather than hours. The HDM should be a whole other beast in terms of rigidity and power. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me at all if it could finish the same part in 5 minutes.

I’d expect the Pro with a router to be faster but I can’t say how much.

Though I must say I have zero experience with the Nomad 3. I’m basing my estimates on my experience of the Nomad 883 Pro and assuming the Nomad 3 will be roughly twice as fast (since its spindle is roughly twice the RPM).

The Carbide 3D threaded table is cosmetically similar but the big difference between the two in my opinion is that when combined with the SMW fixture pins, the SMW threaded table can be used to locate parts. The fixture pins have a small taper above the thread that references against a small countersink on the threaded table. Those features allow the pins to be accurately and repeatably mated with the holes on the bed (which isn’t a normal feature of threaded holes). If your part (or vise) has 6mm bores, you can mate it with the pins to locate it in on the bed. It takes a matter of seconds to get a vise or part precisely located on your bed and square with the machine.


I’ve pretty much decided on a HDM class machine. As there is a 4 month led time from the date of order for the machines (just emailed with sales) I will be thinking about possibilities if I move outside the Carbide3d family with that budget and see what else is available.


I think there’s only really one other machine in the HDM’s class in the US and that’s the Avid Benchtop Pro.

Given your interests though, I’d consider giving up the Nomad + Shapeoko and spending the ~$10k total on something like a Tormach P440 or something from Syil instead. It’ll give you a substantially more capable machine and tons of room for upgrades should you decide you want an ATC for example.

Or if you enjoy tinkering a bit you could go DIY. Nothing teaches you how the machine works like building one, though I can’t imagine doing it without a way to fabricate parts for the new machine.

Or there are CNC conversions.

FWIW though, Shapeoko is made to be very easy to use, has a nice community and many folks have had great experiences with Carbide 3D support. You may not get those things from the alternatives so if they’re important, it might be worth waiting.

Have you looked into whether there are any local maker spaces or community machine shops you can use? Or any courses? Maybe it’d be worth getting a bit of a feel for machining before you decide which machine to buy. I certainly wish I had.

I know there are folks around here who might be happy to have you visit to see their Shapeokos or Nomads as well if you’re near anyone.


If the Nomad doesn’t seem up to par and they HDM is too much you might want to look at the MakerDreams EVO ONE. It’s what I’d consider a bigger brother to the Nomad. More workspace, more spindle power, more rigid, but also more money. I upgraded to one from a Nomad 883 Pro and was very happy in every way. I’m now waiting on my HDM to upgrade from it.

Thanks for taking the time.

I have been using Shopbot’s and baby Tormachs at maker spaces for a while, in NJ it was no problem but here in TX my closest real space is about an hour away and it just isn’t practical for me. I could build something (I’ve built 3d printers and laser engravers etc) but honestly, I just want to get on with making parts at the moment :slight_smile:

If they were shipping the HDM’s in 1-3 weeks? This wouldn’t even be a conversation… it would already be on the way LOL. Still, I think the HDM is the right answer in all likelihood, I’ll just have to decide if tying up the $$$ makes sense or if I will just wait till the lead times come down.


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