4 axis mills come in a wide price range, with one of the main
differences being in accuracy, meaning how closely the mill will come
back to exactly the same point over and over and over again, it’s
called REPEATABILITY, and this is one of the main criteria you will
want to keep in mind when assessing mills.
Taking mills from the lowest priced…
MaxNC, though most experienced machinists consider this mill a
doorstop, I had the opportunity to try one today at the University of
Iowa where I was giving a two day seminar to the Metal Arts Dept. on
jewelry making technology. I have been helping the students there to
learn Rhino for 3D jewelry design for the past few weeks, and today
we milled one of their models on the MaxNC. I was pleasantly
surprised to see a well cut model, and I didn’t expect it! This model
of the MaxNC has stepper motors set up with encoders for positional
feedback, and it works fairly well. Point is, don’t rule out the
MaxNC if you are very short on funds.
MicroProto (the Taig mill) is a little like a MaxNC on steroids. The
4 axis version can be had complete for under $3000! The specs it
boasts are formidable which is interesting as this mill (and the
MaxNC) both use dovetail ways instead of slides. The Microproto uses
adjustable gibs, and I’m unsure if the MaxNC has adjustable gibs, but
I haven’t seen a Sherline yet nor heard any feedback, so I won’t
comment on it.
There is now a jump in price up toward $10,000 for mills with highly
precise slides, both linear (more expensive, and standard (I forget
what to call them…)
ModelMaster mills boast phenomenal repeatability, better than .01 mm
and range in price from about $10,000 up to about $20,000. This is
the mill I recommended the University purchase when they requested I
There are quite a few tabletop mills, and I suggest you visit the
site http://www.desktopcnc.com/mill_table.htm for a rather complete
listing of price and capabilities.
Come to think of it, I should of just directed you there to begin
with, so I’ll stop at this point!
By the way, I’m still using the same 3 axis mill I bought 10 years
ago, the Roland CAMM3 PNC-3000. It’s a very well made little mill,
but I’m in the market for a new 4 axis mill myself. I need better
precision now (with 4th axis) that my models are becoming
ridiculously complicated and detailed…