Hobby milling

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According to Roland milling machines manufacturer, retrieved 16:03, 15 February 2012 (CET), “Subtractive Rapid Prototyping (SRP) - starting with a solid object and removing unwanted material - has several advantages over traditional rapid prototyping. Significantly less expensive than rapid prototyping machines with the same resolution, SRP machines mill a wider range of materials that cost less and have no need for chemicals or post finishing work. Plus, they produce a superior finish.”

One probably should distinguish between

  • mills for hobby users (i.e. serious mills that can cut into hard materials). Such machines are available from about $1000.
  • Mills for creating models as alternative to 3D printing. We are interested in the latter, i.e. devices that could be used in an office, a classroom or in the living room. Therefore hobby mill in this article refers to a mill that can carve out soft materials.
  • Many hobby mills are just some kind of carving machine, i.e. can cut down.
  • Routers are similar devices, i.e. rather some kind of cutting machine. They include a larger surface and a smaller z-axis.
  • Lathes rotate the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation (Lathe Wikipedia).

Do not trust this yet. So far, I don't have any experience/knowledge about this technology - Daniel K. Schneider 16:03, 15 February 2012 (CET)

See also:


All the entries concern hobby mills, i.e. not the kind you would use to work with steel and other dangerous materials.

The list is far from being complete, but the listed models should provide an idea about what kind of soft materials mills are available.

Entry level consumer mills

Roland iModula

Roland iModela iM-01 Hobby Mill.

  • Price: About $1000, 600 Euros
  • Cutting area: 4 x 3 inches (1.5 in vertical). This is rather small.
  • Includes the iModela Creator design software
  • Materials: Wax, plastic, light wood, etc.
  • Support site: http://icreate.rolanddg.com
  • As of feb 2012, the EU support site doesn't include a usable list of national redistributors ...

This model has a reputation of milling very slowly, e.g. days for a smaller model.


Entry level desktop mills

Shapeoko 2

http://micro.lumenlab.com/store/cnc-robots CNC Robots

  • Price: Between $300 (partial kit) and $685 (full kit)
  • This product is part of an open source project started by Edward Ford
  • Shapeoko 2 is a simple, low cost, open source CNC milling machine kit that can be built over a weekend.

Lumenlab micRo

CNC Robots

  • Price: This model is either available as kit ($700) or assembled ($1300). Plus a price for
  • This model also can engrave, pint on fabric, draw/plot and 3D printing (with a seringue ?)
  • Materials: Wood, metal (which one ?), PCBs
  • Work area: 32.3cm X 29.8cm X 8.5cm
  • Resolution: +/-.001 inches

Lumenlab m3

This is a larger model of the micRo (above)

  • Price: $1800 assembled or $1000 in a kit.

Zen Toolworks

The Zen Toolworks CNC Machines are CNC carving machines. They can be use for relief carving, letter cutting, inlay, PCB isolation routing.

  • Price for a DIY kit: from $850 (or less if you buy parts in other places).

Desktop mills

Desktop mills are part of the official MIT Fab lab 2.0 specification (see also Equipment (at FabWiki)

Roland Modela MDX series

Roland MDX-15/20 Scanning and Milling Machines

  • accepts IGES, DXF and STL files, i.e. typical CAD/CNC formats
  • include a 3D scanner
  • Materials: Wood, Plaster, Resin (modeling wax, styrenform), Chemical wood, Aluminum (A5052 according to JIS), Brass


  • 9.6 kg
  • 152.4 mm x 101.6 mm x 60.5 mm
  • Price: About $3500


  • 13.7 kg
  • 203.2mm x 152.4mm x 60.5mm
  • Price: About $5000
  • Currently (Feb 2012), this is the suggested model in MIT list


  • Hobby milling, construction and purchasing of CNC milling equipment that is suitable for hobby projects.