affordable pcb milling machine

Hi all
PCB milling machines have been around for a long time. there are so many choices in a Huge price range.
I would like to buy a bench top PCB milling machine. to produce simple 2 layer pcb boards. milling area around 150mm by 150mm is sufficient.

I have looked into machines like Bantam and Prometheus. they seem to be great products but too expensive. there are much affordable machines in china sites like aliexpress /CNC-2417-DIY-CNC-Engraving-Machine
I would like to have your opinion on these china pcb milling machines. Any machine that you have experince with and recommend would be a huge help.

I have an old old CAM tool that I have used for milling double sided PCBs.
I used AutoCAD to create the files.
It really is not worth the time or effort to do this and the quality is not great.

I some times use the photo sensitive method to make boards.
Okay when you want a board immediately.

However, recommend you use a board house to get PCBs made as they are very inexpensive today.

I was thinking of milling a very small PCB for an SOIC Attiny 1634 so I did some tests with my Proxxon minidrill and an XY table. I came to the conclusion that it would be very difficult to get repeatable usable results at that scale. And I would not have had plated-through holes.

Separately I realized that the small PCB (even if made professionally) was not going to save me any significant amount of time so I gave up the whole idea.


don't bother.

milling requires a very sturdy machine as you are trying to take off just the copper and not dig into the board.
a high quantity carbide cutter will dull quickly when cutting through the fiberglass of the board.

you will need one new cutter for every 2 or 3 boards and the cost will get pretty high pretty quickly.

the dust of fiberglass is a health risk so you need a HEPA vacuum to extract it.
lots of home vacuums have HEPA filters, so that is good, but they can be expensive and the dust is so fine, it will clog them up too.

also, unless you have a very flat sturdy board, you will have a hard time getting traces thinner than about .02 inches and you will not get traces to pass between pads.

consider the iron on method to etch boards. the quality can be high as you get better.

but, if you were to build (or buy) a simple x/y table with some sort of drilling head you can make perfect holes for through hole work. the driller does great things for DIP chips and such. I do recommend an X/Y drilling machine to compliment your etched boards.

double sided is not that hard as you can have reference marks on your transfers and line them up when you do the heat transfer.

I am on my second T-Tech Quick Circuit and I send out my boards as it is cheaper and easier and you get plated holes and silk screen for little more money than a make-at-home board. the spindle on mine blew apart and I did not want to spend $1,000 for a new spindle from T-Tech. I made up a simple DC motor spindle and it mills and drills acceptably.

The flatness of the hold down and control of the depth of cut cannot be understated for prolonging the life of the cutter. even that $2,000 machine burns them up.

My first machine was in better shape, and I loved the ramp up of speed for milling and drilling. it changed speed to accommodate the cutter and drill sizes.

But, I honestly I like etched boards much better. I don't like leaving 99% of the copper on the board because all the miller does is make an outline.

and I cannot underrate the value of solder resist applied professionally.

On the pro side, I do like being able to make a board and not wait for shipping.

I suspect the price of a Chinese unit delivered to the USA has gone up 20-25 percent in the last couple of weeks.


I suspect the price of a Chinese unit delivered to the USA has gone up 20-25 percent in the last couple of weeks.


From dirt cheap to embarrassingly so much cheaper than you make in the USA ?
for the $240 of the link, with shipping, it is still half price of a USA part before shipping.

I believe that was a 'tarrif/tax' comment.. :slight_smile:

I would also say 'dont bother'.. we have a couple at our local makerspace.. and while they MAY get used once in a while.. they are really only for quick and dirty prototyping..

silkscreen, colors, through-hole plating..etc... can all be had for roughly 10 pcb for $10.00 (not including shipping) for the smallest sized PCB's... (5cm x5cm?).. and go up a few dollars more for each 'size'..

Once I started used fab house for such cheap prices.. I have never looked back!!!

Amen - making PCBs at home is a waste of space and time and needless exposure to health and safety hazards to produce an inferior board.

I made PCBs at home a few years back, but once I realized how cheaply I could get boards made, and how much better the quality was, I wouldn't ever dream of making them myself anymore (if I did, I'd call that a nightmare not a dream).