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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Hervey Bay, Queensland

    Default Advice needed for new user re 3020 CNC Router

    We are a self funded, all volunteer Historical Village & Museum in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia. We occasionally have a need to have plastic signs made for our outside displays.
    A recent donation of $1000 has prompted us to consider buying a machine to do this and also to create name badges in plastic.
    We would be only carving script, probably using a V cutter and shallow depth of cut.
    With this money in mind we have been looking at the 3020 CNC router advertised on the Internet. ($698 + $127 P&P)
    We appreciate it is not going to be a heavy duty machine and would purchase a better cutter for use with the plastic.
    Has anyone any experience with this machine?
    It comes with Mach3 software but I am told that we also need to purchase Cut2D to use with the machine.
    Does the Mach3 software control the machine while the Cut2D is used for designing the sign and sending the instructions to Mach3?
    Any help or comments most appreciated.
    Brian Taylor

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Up North


    Hi Brian
    I am sorry if you misunderstood my reply to you on the Vectric forum.
    It has nothing to do with whether the machine is professional enough but more to do with this forum knowing more about what works here and possibly the members know more about Asian machines than the Vectric forum does.
    Remember USA has 110 volts and we have 240 volts.
    We do not have the "made in Australia" choice here unlike the USA where they have a lot of homegrown machines.
    Every day is better than yesterday


  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    With a chinese made machine, be prepared for a solution that doesn't work 'out of the box'. (I think the ones that will work out of the box also have a factory provided technician and they require a house sized mortgage to buy)

    Not just in common problems such as the controller often being ...errrrr... rubbish, but a bit of fettling to overcome chinese assembly shortcomings, chinglish instructions and old, free (or cracked) versions of software.

    You also have to learn to use it, which I'd guess for someone with no experience would be at least one to two full weeks of effort, assuming a reasonable amount of computer literacy. This is compounded by the need to troubleshoot and set up your CNC and software so it works together and you find what settings make your machine run well.

    Think of it as being somewhat like trying to restore an old chinese train!!!

    As for software - you may be able to drive Mach 3 with a simpler way of producing files than proper carving software, but that is one of those 'depends on your software knowledge' questions.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Midland WA


    I would think that someone with a genuine interest in cnc would be able to belong to a forum and contribute a bit here and there and that some of the nice people on the forum might help out with a few bits of acrylic signage for an interest group at below market prices. You did say you would only need a bit here and there?
    You might be able to learn from some of the wonderful people here and train up on their machines, or watch over their shoulders.

    I would definitely recommend getting a Chinese machine, they're awesome, just check out how I've been going with my 6090. No different than a 3020 or 6040, I've owned it for well over 6months and it still hasn't cut a job, mainly through my own stubborness to try and get the Chinese #^*@$%^ controller to work and have finally given up and thrown it in the bin and bought a Gecko G540 controller, just check out the couple of threads I've posted. That being said I'm sure I'll be happy once it's running, with maybe a few thousand dollars worth of therapy.

    The wonderful people in this forum have saved my sanity on more than one occasion. My idea of buying the cnc machine first and then trying to figure out the how and why's just didn't work, if I had've come onto the forum first and learned all about the machines I could've purchased everything I needed to make it a complete package and had it running in a short space of time with knowing all of the costs involved especially the hidden ones.


  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Hi Brian, welcome to the forum...

    Given that my opinion may be considered as biased because my business is engraving the sort of thing you're wanting to do, I'll give my 2 cents worth as well.

    I have never purchased one of these machines, but from reading on these forums a few people purchase them as an alternative to buying all the separate components to build their own machines, because of the low cost for the unit, as opposed to the total cost of bearings, rails, ball screws, etc etc... That makes sense to me and is a good idea.
    I can also see that most also (eventually) rip out the electronics and replace it with a decent Gecko drive, usually the 540, which is a fantastic little package for the price. I have one, and there has never been any issues with it.
    For me, I would probably go down that path and buy one as a cheap source of the materials needed to build one, or even with the aim to improve on what comes.

    To answer one of your questions; The Vectric software is where you design what you want, then have it all converted/saved to G-code. When that's done, load the file with Mach3, and that controls the machine.

    I'm sure a lot here would agree that the machine is only the start of it. Add together the cost of software (I have no idea how much Cut2d costs) and it easily adds onto the total.
    The other big thing to consider is the learning curve involved in these things. First, you'll have 2 sets of software to get your mind around - Vectric (or whatever you choose), plus the Mach3 software as well. Mach3 is a good system, but there's a few quirky things that leave you scratching your head, although, once it's set up, you never really need to do anything on it again apart from resetting zero's and a little bit of manual driving.

    Designing what you need, setting parameters for the job, producing the G-code, sending to the machine - There's a fair bit involved in it, so if you're just looking for the occasional engravings, you might find there's a few people here on the forums that could help out for reasonable costs.

    As I say, maybe it's a biased view but you're welcome to take it on board if you would like

    Hope it helps

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Oxley, Brisbane


    Hi Brian

    I assume that you are only wanting to cut out a few name badges etc at this stage.

    If so, then all you may need is Mach3. Incorporated with in Mach3 are wizards that will allow you to do a small amount of text engraving.

    I suggest that you download Mach3 and play with it for a while. If it suits you then you may purchase it and remove the 500 lines restriction.
    Bob Willson
    The term 'grammar nazi' was invented to make people, who don't know their grammar, feel OK about being uneducated.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012


    I have one of these machines and used it often. But I use a linux based system; EMC2, and I would not suggest it for the non computer geek. One thing it is definitely not is a plug in a go system, you need to be a more than a little dedicated to it.

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