CNC Machining for Beginners: What You Need to Know Before Buying a Machine

Published On: July 4, 20211 Comment on CNC Machining for Beginners: What You Need to Know Before Buying a MachineTags: Last Updated: February 5, 20245 min read

CNC machining is an industry that can be tricky to enter. There are many factors to take into consideration when looking for a good machine, and it can be difficult to know what you’re getting yourself into. That’s why we’ve decided to put together this guide! We’ll give you the basics of CNC machines, teach you how CNC programming works, and help make your decision easier in terms of which type of machine will work best for your needs. Let’s get started!

CNC Machining for Beginners

This article has been created by ensuring the best quality information about CNC machining to make it helpful for you. Experts from Artmachining and CNC Now, well-known CNC service companies in China, helped us to ensure the quality of this article.

Idea of CNC machining

Every CNC machining machine is controlled by a computer. That computer will receive information from a CAD program, and then turn it into instructions for the machine to follow. The job of that software (known as the “CAM”) is often to take an image drawn in CAD and break it down mathematically so that when translated into G-code, those movements can be executed using motors on your CNC milling machines.

The CNC Software Stack

There are many different products that fall under the category of CAD and CAM software, but they all work together as a “stack” to make your CNC project successful. Start with CAD/CAM software for designing or drawing an object in two dimensions. With it, you can create drawings either freehand on screen without any knowledge about drafting or engineering – or by using a range of specific functions like line tooling, radius corners, etc., which will produce complex shapes automatically. For making things three-dimensional these programs also have rendering options so that when looking at what you’re working on from one angle it will show depth; this is known as ‘solid modeling’.

DIY CNC Machine Basics

The DIY CNC machine basics are that it is made up of four main components; the power supply, a controller board, and motors to control the movement of the cutting tool. The fourth component is called an end mill – which will be attached to the motor and rotates at high speed as you cut or engrave into your material on either side.

The two most popular types of mills for hobbyists are micro-mills and mini- mills. Both come in many configurations like round nose, flat nose, ball nose, etc., but what they also have in common is their size (mini-mill’s range from about 40mm x 60 mm upwards). What this means when comparing them with other machines such as full-sized industrial versions, is that they are much easier and cheaper to use. A common misconception is that industrial machines take a longer time when in reality it just depends on the material thickness, complexity of design, etc., so before you order your machine make sure you do your research on its capabilities and limitations.

CNC Machining for Beginners - CNC milling machine

What kind of CNC machine should you get?

The idea is to find the one that best suits your needs. There are many types and sizes, so it’s important to know what work you plan on doing with this investment before deciding which type would be better for you. For example, if productivity is more important than quality then a mini-mill might be an option whereas if precision matters less but product quantity is key, then maybe a larger industrial version will suit better. So there’s no exact answer when asking  “what” or “how” because it really depends on your particular situation. But as always there are two main things that can help: reading reviews and talking to other users who have tried out various types of CNC milling machines.

What is the best machine for my needs? Old one or a New one?

It’s important to understand that there are different types of CNC machines out there and each has various advantages and disadvantages. So when it comes to deciding what type is the best for you, take a look at your available budget, desired quality/precision level, and product quantity needs –  and then analyze which machine seems like the most fitting choice.

What about used CNC machines?

The problem with buying a used CNC machine is that there’s way too much uncertainty as to what you’re actually getting.  It might be perfect, or it could need some major repairs – and the seller isn’t going to tell you until after they’ve made their sale…

How can I afford a new pro CNC machine?

There are many different options when it comes to finding ways of financing your next purchase: from loans, leasing (some companies offer this option) and even taking out personal loans. It all depends on how risky an investment you think a CNC machining project will be for your business. One thing that would help in the decision-making process is conducting thorough market research about who has been investing in similar projects.

How does CNC programming work?

Investing in a new machine means getting to grips with the software that comes bundled with it. It might be perfect, or it could need some major repairs – and the seller isn’t going to tell you until after they’ve made their sale… There are also a lot of other things to consider when investing in your first CNC machining project: what kind of an operator do I want to be (tool holder, programmer) and how much money can I invest at one time? There is no such thing as too many questions when making any purchase!


CNC machining for beginners is a challenge. It can be very frustrating and time-consuming to invest in the wrong machine or software system, not to mention expensive!  However, if you plan well and ask all the right questions when purchasing your machine or software system, then hopefully make a wise investment that will be worthwhile for years to come.

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Leave A Comment

  1. Shammy Peterson July 9, 2021 at 11:34 pm

    You made a good point when you said that you must take a look at your available budget so you could decide what type of machine is the best for you. This is something that could be considered by business owners who are looking to find a custom machine shop for their needs. I could imagine how important it is for them to purchase a machine that would make their company’s productivity better. Since they could have a restricted budget, your tips will surely be beneficial.

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