Stainless Steel 316L

This is basically the end all see all question for me. My finger is on the “ready to buy” button but it all hangs on the answer to this question. Can the Nomad 883 cut SS 316L?

I need some examples and tips / stories from the community if it can. My wife and I are expanding our Jewelry business and I need to know this will do the job. Only hang up on buying this clean looking machine is that I have seen little to no references on cutting SS 316L.

Is this machine capable of taking our business to the next level?

Thanks in advance.

Unless it’s very small, you will want a more powerful and larger machine for cutting stainless.

Thank you for your reply. We will be cutting small lockets and other small jewelry parts. looking at cutting around 3/4" to 1 1/2" wide by 1/4" thick disks into lockets.

If this machine is not the best one for this kinda job does anyone know an alternative that I can look into?

What features about the Nomad 883 make it not the right machine for this job?
Can I upgrade any parts on it to handle SS? Can I order these parts from Carbide3d to make it “to spec” for me?

I was also looking at this one: .
I’ve seen some YouTube videos of stainless steel cutting with them.

316 is a very corrosion-resistant stainless alloy, but also very tough to machine, even on full-size CNC equipment. It tends to work-harden if the cutter is rubbing rather than cutting, which means you must keep up a steady feedrate. I had a CNC Sherline mill for years but only machined the more common 304 stainless with it. Even there, shallow cuts to be able to maintain feedrate were necessary. You may be able to use a Nomad, but IMHO very small depth of cut (.002" maybe) with small cutters–.03" or so.

The Nomad is well accurate enough and the axis drives are up to the job. The limitation is the spindle torque, and that is to this point at least fixed by the spindle motor and electronics. I would be more comfortable machining stainless using my Tormach.

I put a couple of photos of a nickel-silver workpiece I machined over the weekend in the thread Nomad and Bronze? The Nomad machined the nickel silver very well. The machining time was about 3-1/2 hours. Do you really need 316L or would something like nickel silver be adequate for your jewelry?


Nice job on the rails btw!

We need to use 316L to compete in the current market / rising trend of hypoallergenic aroma therapy jewelry. We currently offer this locket that is made over seas and has (in my opinion) less than my standards in quality. We are designing a new line focusing on SS 316L and I need to find a machine that can help. Nothing we make will be more than 2" wide or 1/2 thick with SS. I am wanting to move past SS to gold and other more precious metals with this machine as well but it has to be able to handle it.

@smartboy00, that is a good reason for 316L. :grinning: But have you considered anything else like titanium or a machinable ceramic (Macor etc.)? I worked in the biotechnology instrumentation field for years, and we moved past even 316 by the late 80’s, in favor of titanium and later ceramics and inert plastics. For that matter, PEEK is a nicely machinable and bio-inert plastic. It’s used widely in chromatography systems becuase it doesn’t absorb organic molecules. And thank you for the compliment on the frogs. :grinning:

Now that is a great idea. We haven’t thought of Titanium, isn’t that a harder metal than 316 and therefor harder to mill?
I think we will avoid the ceramics because we are looking for more of a fashion / metallic / jewelry style. (unfortunately because your idea sounds better / easier to me).

It’s been many years since I machined any commercially-pure titanium, but I don’t remember it being all that horrible to machine. The 6Al-4V aerospace grade is tougher for sure. I don’t have samples of either the titanium or 316L, or I’d be happy to try whittling away with the Nomad.

eek … $$$PEEK$$$ lol

Hey at least I didn’t suggest $$$$TORLON$$$$$. :grimacing: Where I work we have a customer who specifies gold-plated Torlon for a certain component. PEEK isn’t that bad, all things considered.

1 Like

Ok, So I’m thinking I am stuck with Stainless steel 316L for now. I don’t think I can sell the wife on Titanium yet and everything else talked about doesn’t fit with our brand. I have the opportunity to maybe get a Smithy 1240 CNC Mill. Would the general public here recommend that, or a High end Sherline 6200/6210 combo for the SS 316L?

I’m just looking for the best fit for cutting the 316L. If I need to take smaller cuts that’s fine, I just need something that will not break or wear out to fast.

I sold my CNC Sherline mill ( ) when I realized I was doing more work tweaking it than making things with it. People are obviously doing good work with Sherlines, but they do take fiddling with if you want to do high-accuracy CNC work with them. The Smithy I don’t have any knowledge of. I am impressed with the Nomad, which has linear bearings and inherently non-backlash belt drive on the axes. The belts do have some compliance (i.e. they stretch a miniscule amount with load) but in use I’ve discovered that the belt flex isn’t really a factor given the light cuts needed to not bog down the spindle. that’s not a criticism at all, but to me points out the Nomad’s well-balanced design.

So in your opinion If I were to use the Nomad for my SS 316L cuts and If I took it in small cuts can it handle the load? If I sent you a rod of Stainless steel that I’m thinking of using would you be willing to give it a try and see if it will work out? Maybe give a sort of review? I’m ready to drop the money on this (Boss / Wife approval), I just want to make sure its going to work for what I need it to.

I honestly don’t think you’re going to do anything to 316L with the Nomad except burnish and work harden the metal and probably break end mills. I cut about 60 small parts out of 6061 aluminum on my Nomad and that was really pushing the limits of the machine. Carbide3D has always said wood, plastic and non-ferrous metal. You just don’t have the torque or rigidity for anything else.

1 Like

@smartboy00, I’d suggest contacting @ApolloCrowe and asking if he’s tried any 316L during the Nomad testing. He could probably give an opinion before you spend money on materials. I’m happy to try some test cutting but a sanity check first never hurts. And Apollo probably has more cutting time than all of us put together at this point, judging from his posts…

@smartboy00, if you go to and search “Prodec 316” they list it as

Also known as Prodec, this 316/316L stainless steel can be machined faster with less wear on cutting tools than standard 316. It also offers better weldability because of its low carbon content.

Lets entertain this challenge, I have a couple questions to help you move in a direction.

  1. Design files, how do you plan on creating designs to send to a CNC machine?
    If you have a file to share, we can go through a work flow.
    I think one of the biggest benefits of the Nomad is the software and hardware integration.

  2. Work area, are you prepared to cut steel?
    Coolant is definitely needed.

  3. How many parts do you plan to make per month?
    The Nomad isnt a production machine, the value of having a Nomad is being able to develop and refine an idea, and then sending your files to a production shop that can make the parts quickly in large quantities. the Nomad lets you scale up by proving the concept or design without spending money on outsourced development.


Apollo can the nomad do any production run? Like mold making for small shops from wax or brass. I ask becausethat’s one of the things I would need to do with mine

I’ve done plenty of small production runs of wooden tethers and rattles. It’s fully capable in my opinion. The only limitations are size of stock and speed with which the machine can cut.

What is machinable ceramic? What’s it made of?