Lesson: Why Small CNC Mills Are Popular With DIY Entrepreneurs
The CNC has transitioned from a piece of commercial equipment to a DIY power tool capable of almost anything. As the cost of the average CNC machine continues to decline there are more and more hobbyists bringing them home. And as more creative thinkers invest in CNC machines we see more and more unique products on the market. It's easier than ever to start a creative business from the confines of your own home and be able to manufacture your own products.
A home CNC machine can vary in size from mini to the size of an entire room. There are clearly some advantages to owning a very large CNC, but they are considerably more expensive. The average person interested in stretching their creative muscles and making some extra income at home might find a smaller CNC to be a better investment. They can still be used to produce a variety of items like furniture and stairs to engravings and jewelry. They come with a few unique benefits, and their lower costs increase the likelihood of a higher ROI.
What Types Of Small CNC Machines Exist?
Many of the standard CNC machines exist in a more compact format. However, some types are much more popular than others. One of the most common small CNC machine types is the classical CNC router. It moves a small router bit along the axis to carve through the wood. The small CNC mill is a somewhat similar option with less speed and more power. They aren't quite as common for at-home installations but may be required for more heavy-duty projects.
We've also seen the rise of the miniature laser CNC machine over the last few years. The smallest of these can fit in a drawer, but they wouldn't be recommended for serious projects. A slightly larger desktop model is ideal. They can deliver power and accuracy comparable to large CNC machines without costing nearly as much or taking up as much space.
There are no miniature plasma CNC machines for the home so don't expect to be melting through steel or brass anytime soon. Otherwise, you're capable of carving, molding, shaping, and engraving a variety of materials depending entirely on the type of machine you choose.
How Much Do Smaller CNC Machines Cost?
A small CNC mill is only going to cost a fraction of what its larger counterpart does. The exact figures are going to vary according to its size, type, brand, and quality level. If you're investing in a CNC as a business opportunity, then we suggest avoiding the cheapest models on the market. It's entirely possible to find a miniature laser CNC for $300, but it's not going to powerful or precise. Luckily, even the more costly, high-end machines are still affordable because of their smaller size.
Here are a few estimated price ranges based on current high-quality CNC machines that are popular.
-Desktop Laser CNC: $2,000 - $4,000
-Desktop Router CNC: $1,400 - $3,000
-Small CNC Mill: $2,000 - $6,000
These prices will obviously fluctuate with time. A good bargain shopper may even be able to hunt down a good deal online.
Does A Small Machine Provide The Same Precision As A Regular-Sized CNC?
Every good CNC machine requires a high degree of accuracy and repeatability. This means it should be able to hit its marks precisely and do so every time that it runs. These are important requirements regardless of the size of the machine. Unfortunately, there are some large machines and some small machines that suffer in these areas.
Precision and repeatability become less important when you are buying a machine solely for entertainment. But if this is an investment and a potential source of income, then precision becomes very important. The best way to keep customers is to deliver precise, high-quality products every time.
It's entirely possible to find a small CNC machine with the dependable precision and repeatability of a larger machine. The key is performing in-depth research before you make any purchase. Every brand and every machine is going to be different. Don't only take the company's word for it. Dig into any online reviews that you can find. Read what previous customers have to say regarding the machine's precision.
You very well may have to pay more money to get the most precise machine on the market. But it's a worthy cost if want to see a return on that investment in the future.
What Kind Of ROI Can You Expect?
A number of factors are going to influence the potential ROI on your CNC investment. Assuming you invested in the best machine available you can expect it to take longer for than ROI to appear but for it to be greater when it does. The low-cost and lower maintenance fees of a smaller CNC make increasing the ROI much easier.
The real potential of your ROI is limited by your creativity and business sense. What can you bring to the market that nobody else can? Do you already have a target market or an idea of what you want to manufacture? Some people choose to reproduce niche building components that aren't sold anymore. Others use their CNC to create art and sell it on websites like Etsy. There are a lot of possibilities.
A Small CNC Machine Is All That You Need
One of the key qualities of a successful business owner is knowing when to spend money and when to save money. A smaller CNC is a smaller investment with the potential for a big return. The only businesses that need larger models are those making very specific products that demand more room or more power. Those types of businesses aren't usually run from home.
These machines are so affordable that you don't even need to be a business owner to invest in one. Most of the people who purchase a desktop router or laser CNC are doing so for their own enjoyment. They are crafting cases for their DIY electronics or are designing unique wooden trim for their living room. Because not only is a small CNC mill a smart investment it's also a lot of fun.
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