Looking for a 3-axis CNC aluminum machine to cut precise aluminum parts? We’ve got you covered!

Precision is key when working with aluminum. Accurate, well-finished parts can make or break your project. At TMC Technologies, we know the importance of quality and precision in machining. Whether you are crafting parts for aerospace, medical devices, or industrial machinery, having the right CNC machine is crucial.

We’ll dive into the best 3-axis CNC machines for aluminum, covering their costs, capabilities, and limitations. Let’s find the perfect machine to meet your needs!

3-axis CNC features infographic - 3 axis cnc aluminum infographic pillar-5-steps

Top 5 3-Axis CNC Machines for Aluminum

Shapeoko HDM

The Shapeoko HDM is a robust option for those looking to mill aluminum with precision. It features a powerful 2.2kw spindle, which is more than adequate for cutting through soft metals. One of the standout features of the Shapeoko HDM is its rigidity, which is essential for maintaining accuracy when working with aluminum.

However, it’s important to note that the Shapeoko HDM is currently US-only. This means international users might face challenges with shipping and support. Despite this limitation, the machine’s assembled delivery on a pallet ensures you can start working almost immediately without the hassle of self-assembly.


If you’re open to a self-build option, the PrintNC is worth considering. This machine stands out due to its rigidity and the use of large box section steel for its frame, which significantly enhances its stability. The PrintNC community is also incredibly supportive, with a Discord channel offering real-time help and advice.

The PrintNC allows for customization, including the choice of spindle power. While this means you can opt for a powerful spindle, the initial setup and assembly might be daunting for beginners. However, the flexibility and support from the community can make this a rewarding project.

Nomad 3

For those in the hobby range, the Nomad 3 by Carbide 3D is a solid choice. This machine is designed for light metal cutting and is particularly user-friendly for beginners. The Nomad 3 comes pre-assembled and is ready to use out of the box, making it a convenient option.

While it may not have the same power as the Shapeoko HDM or the rigidity of the PrintNC, the Nomad 3 excels in ease of use and support. It’s perfect for smaller projects and those who are just starting with CNC machining.


The G0704 is a popular choice for those looking to convert a vertical mill into a CNC machine. Manufactured by Grizzly, this mill is known for its sturdiness and reliability. The conversion process involves adding CNC components to the manual mill, which can be a fun and educational project for enthusiasts.

One of the main advantages of the G0704 is its cost-effectiveness. With a budget of around $5,000, you can have a capable machine that performs well for aluminum milling. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to invest time and effort into the conversion process.


Similar to the G0704, the PM25 by Precision Matthews is another vertical mill that can be converted into a CNC machine. This mill is slightly more robust than the G0704, offering better precision and durability. The PM25 is ideal for those who need a more heavy-duty machine without breaking the bank.

Converting the PM25 involves a similar process to the G0704, requiring additional components and some technical know-how. Once converted, the PM25 can handle aluminum milling with ease, making it a great option for serious hobbyists and small-scale production.

These top 3-axis CNC machines for aluminum each have their own strengths and limitations. Whether you prefer a ready-to-use option like the Shapeoko HDM and Nomad 3, or you’re up for the challenge of a self-build or conversion with the PrintNC, G0704, or PM25, there’s a machine to suit your needs and budget.

Key Features to Look for in a 3-Axis CNC Machine

When choosing a 3-axis CNC aluminum machine, consider several key features that will impact performance and precision. Here are the four main aspects to focus on:

Spindle Power

The spindle is the heart of your CNC machine, dictating its cutting power and speed. For cutting aluminum, you’ll need a robust spindle. A popular choice is the Makita router, but for more demanding tasks, a 2.2kw spindle offers higher torque and better speed control.

2.2kw spindle - 3 axis cnc aluminum


Rigidity is crucial for precision and durability. A sturdy frame minimizes vibrations and deflections, ensuring accurate cuts.

Work Area

The work area determines the size of the parts you can produce. Balancing a small footprint with a large enough work area is key.

Work Area - 3 axis cnc aluminum


Precision is non-negotiable when working with aluminum. High-quality components and meticulous design contribute to achieving tight tolerances.

By focusing on these key features—spindle power, rigidity, work area, and precision—you can select a 3-axis CNC machine that meets your needs for cutting aluminum with accuracy and efficiency.

Next, let’s address some common questions about 3-axis CNC machines.

Frequently Asked Questions about 3-Axis CNC Machines

What are the limitations of 3-axis CNC machines?

Linear Movements: A 3-axis CNC machine can only move the cutting tool along the X, Y, and Z axes. This means it can’t perform complex tasks that require rotation around these axes, such as cutting intricate geometries or undercuts.

Multiple Setups: Because of their limited range of motion, 3-axis machines often require multiple setups to complete a part. This can be time-consuming and may introduce errors if the part is not realigned perfectly.

Part Complexity: With only three axes, there’s a limit to the complexity of parts you can produce. While great for simpler tasks, more intricate parts may need a machine with additional axes.

Can a 3-axis CNC machine cut aluminum?

Absolutely, a 3-axis CNC machine can cut aluminum, but certain factors need to be considered:

Proper Setup: Ensuring the machine is properly set up is crucial. This includes using the right cutting tools and feed rates to avoid damaging the machine or the material.

Spindle Power: The spindle needs to be powerful enough to handle aluminum. For example, the Shapeoko HDM’s 2.2kw spindle is ideal for this type of work.

Rigidity: The machine’s frame must be rigid to handle the forces involved in cutting aluminum. A robust frame design, like those made from steel tubing or aluminum extrusion, can make a big difference.

How much does a 3-axis CNC machine cost?

The cost of a 3-axis CNC machine can vary significantly based on features and capabilities:

High-End Options: Machines designed for industrial use can range from $50,000 to $125,000. These machines offer high precision, advanced features, and robust build quality.

Budget Options: For hobbyists or small workshops, more affordable options like the Nomad 3 or the Shapeoko HDM are available. These can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, offering a good balance between cost and capability.

By understanding these factors—limitations, cutting aluminum, and cost—you can make an informed decision when choosing a 3-axis CNC machine.


In summary, choosing the right 3-axis CNC machine for aluminum can significantly impact your machining projects. From spindle power to rigidity, work area, and precision, every feature plays a crucial role in determining the machine’s capability to handle aluminum effectively.

TMC Technologies stands out as a leader in precision machining, offering a range of services that cater to various industries, including aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors. With our state-of-the-art facility and experienced machinists, we ensure the highest quality workmanship and exceptional service.

Whether you’re a hobbyist looking for a reliable machine like the Nomad 3 or a professional seeking industrial-grade equipment, there are options available to suit every need and budget. By considering the key features and understanding the limitations, you can make an informed decision that meets your specific requirements.

For more information about our CNC machining capabilities or to get started on your project, visit our capabilities overview page. We look forward to helping you achieve precision in your machining endeavors.

Feel free to explore our other resources and services to enhance your machining projects. With TMC Technologies, you’re not just getting a service; you’re partnering with experts dedicated to pushing the boundaries of precision and innovation.