Spindles: Nomad vs China

I’m thinking of buying a Nomad and one of the alternatives is to buy a Shapeoko with a “Chinese Spindle”.

I’m quite prepared to believe that the Nomad’s spindle is perfectly splendid, but it would be nice to make a more objective comparison. Has anyone done this ?

If you’re talking about one of the China spindles that takes a VFD, I think one of those would probably be pretty good. If you’re talking about one of the DC motors with an ER-11 collet adapter on the shaft, I think they’d be more of a mixed bag. They generally seem fairly low quality but there are some good ones out there.

I think you should really look at the machines in general more than the spindles alone. What are you looking to make?


@mjo, the Nomad spindle is excellent for its size. For a 10krpm spindle it is almost silent, and with the brushless circuitry monitoring the RPM it is neat to hear the spindle compensate for load during a cut.

If you go to CNCZone and search “Chinese spindle” you’ll read that even the VFD spindles are of varying quality, Most are also water-cooled so you’d need to take that into account when planning your machine. The VFD spindles are, though, many times the wattage of the Nomad spindle so if you are planning to really hog material that would be a plus, but that capability does come at a cost of weight and infrastructure as well as monetary cost.

There are a lot of other added bonuses of using the Nomad compared to the Shapeoko, that have to do with the machine-design themselves, so as Rob asked, what are you trying to make?

  1. All of the control design and implementation has already been worked
    out with the Nomad and it’s current spindle—so a custom spindle on a
    Shapeoko is going to require you to do some homework to implement it, and you have to make sure your solution is relatively comparable in weight/constraint as @Randy pointed out so that it works with the existing Z-axis mechanics.

  2. The Nomad is carefully aligned and assembled with a rigid frame, so you can count on the precision much more “right out of the box” than the Shapeoko, which is going to depend in part on your assembly and alignment process. If you need that precision, that’s definitely something to consider as it’s much easier to be precise with the Nomad.

  3. The Shapeoko has a larger working foot-print, at 16x16x3" than the Nomad’s 8x8x3" working area, so weigh that into your decision too—how much cutting space do you need, and how much shop table-top do you have available for it to live on?

  4. Lastly, in each batch of the Nomads that get built, several of the spindles get tested to ensure that run-out is kept within a tight tolerance. If you’re implementing your own spindle setup, you’re going to be on the hook for your own craftsmanship and alignment in your mounting-bracket, etc… to ensure that your spindle is square and that your run-out is acceptable to whatever level of precision you want to hold yourself to :wink:

Hope that helps make your decision criteria clearer for which machine fits your needs!

Belated thanks to you all for your comments, they were most helpful.