Build or Buy?

Many people find themselves asking this question when they decide to enter the world of CNC. Do I build a CNC machine or do I buy one?

Most people who are attracted to CNC are engineers, or well versed DIY’ers and in general people with a good knowledge of tools and materials. So it can be a tough decision; why buy something that I can build? Well here’s some pros and cons of building vs. buying.

Building

Pros

  • Being able to build the CNC to suit you and your own individual needs.
  • Given you have a workshop and a fair amount of tools, building is much cheaper than buying.
  • By building you’ll have a much more intimate knowledge of your CNC machine, and therefore be able to more easily fix or upgrade it.
  • You will be able to ensure quality yourself with lots of care and attention to detail during the build.
  • Going hand’s on building a CNC machine yourself will teach you more about CNC than a book or a website ever could.

Cons

  • Building can be an extremely time-consuming process and require lots of patience and many hours of hard work.
  • Sourcing materials and components can be made difficult by your location in the world (Shipping costs, tax, limits on what you can import).
  • Lot’s of learning involved. Mistakes with materials or components during the learning process can be costly.
  • Cost’s can exceed your initial budget given various unforeseen events that arise during the building process.
  • You will need a suitable workshop and good tools to produce a CNC machine that works well.

Buying

Pros

  • Professionally built machines..
  • Exact cost known straight up from the beginning.
  • Able to pay for extra premiums or machine addons should you want them.
  • Warranty or other associated guarantee of quality.
  • Help in the form of a manual or over the phone/internet contact.

Cons

  • Shipping the machine depending on size and location can be expensive, difficult and time-consuming process.
  • When buying a machine that you cannot inspect beforehand, you may find defects upon delivery and issues with quality assurance.
  • Getting the machine you want can end up being very expensive, especially for hobbyists who don’t intend to use the machine for business.
  • Machines may need additional work done on them to bring them up to par with your needs/expectations.
  • Should something go wrong with the machine or if it should require a replacement part it may be difficult to get it back working again.

Conclusion

For every person there will be a different answer. Perhaps you don’t have the time to build a machine and need it sooner than later, or perhaps the opposite; you don’t have enough money but do have the time and patience to learn and build your own CNC machine.

I feel that it is a good idea to always look at what’s out there; look at CNC machines on sale and their prices. Even if you don’t decide to buy you could copy the design of the CNC you liked the most, and build your own CNC that is similar.