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How Do I Choose the Best Small Milling Machine?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A small milling machine can be used by a hobbyist or a professional who will only need certain capabilities to complete projects. These machines are used to cut or otherwise remove material from a solid mass; this process is sometimes called machining. Very large machines are often used in professional settings, but a hobbyist or professional with limited space will benefit from a small milling machine instead. Before choosing the model that is right for you, consider how you will be using the machine on a regular basis, as well as how much space you can dedicate to the machine and how much you are willing to pay for it.

Some machines feature computer numeric control, or CNC, capabilities that allow you to program a series of cuts. If you intend to make duplicates of the same cutting pattern on more than one piece of material, a CNC small milling machine may be appropriate, but you need to keep in mind that the cost of such a machine is likely to be a fair amount higher than other models. You will also need to train yourself to use the machine, which can be tricky for the beginner. CNC machines will take up more space in a workshop as well, so be sure your space will be suitable for the machine you choose.

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Consider the materials you are likely to be altering with your small milling machine. Some machines are built primarily to cut away at wood, while others may be designed to cut metals. Still others can cut a variety of materials depending on which type of bit is being used. A less expensive model may not have the capabilities to cut metal, so if you will be working with various metals while using the small milling machine, you may need to invest a bit more money into the purchase. Milling plastic, however, may not require a very expensive machine with various features and advanced capabilities.

It is usually a good idea to buy a machine from a well-known and reputable manufacturer. While you may end up paying more for the small milling machine by doing so, purchasing from a reputable manufacturer helps ensure you will be able to get replacement parts and accessories easily, and in many cases, the machine may be sold with a warranty that will cover manufacturer's defects. Buying an off-brand is not necessarily a bad decision, but you will need to do a bit more research to find out if the unit is high quality, and whether you will be able to get replacement parts and accessories when necessary.

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