Hey, it’s John Schachter for Testedcom. I just unboxed the brand new bantam tools, desktop CNC milling machine. You might be familiar with the other mill, their PCB milling machine. This is a newer offering from bantam tools with a work area of nine by seven by three and a half inches and a footprint of about 19 by 20 This is a bit bigger than the other mill, but also quite a lot more powerful. The desktop CNC machine packs a 250 watt quarter horsepower spindle with a max speed of 28 000 rpm, which puts this in an entirely different class of milling machine, whereas the other mill was designed for two and a half D parts like circuit boards and small prototyping. The desktop CNC is capable of machining, fully three-dimensional parts in materials like aluminum, brass, hardwoods and plastics. I am personally really excited about this. Because it represents sort of the final frontier for me in digital manufacturing, I think a lot of makers can probably relate to this. You dabbled with 3d printing and laser cutting, but you may feel intimidated by CNC just because of the cost and infrastructure associated with investing in a CNC machine, but also the very real challenges of learning the Catacam pipeline phantom tools has positioned this machine as a professional level tool That’s also streamlined and more accessible for new users Like myself, so I’m eager to see how easy it is to ramp up. As soon as you open the box, the machine is already set up with a piece of aluminum stock fixtured in place to run your first job. It uses a right angle bracket and a set of adjustable toe clamps to attach the stock to a 9×7 inch t-slot bed inside the machine looks and feels pretty substantial. The frame is constructed of solid 5 8 aluminum and 20 millimeter steel shafts. It comes with all the power and connection cables, a set of wrenches, a quarter inch ER, 11 collet quarter inch probe and a single flat endmill. The setup is pretty seamless as soon as you install the software and connect to your computer via USB. You’re ready to run the first sample project. There’s a step-by-step guide on the Bantam tools site that walks you through the entire process to make a tool holder for some of the machine tools and a few end mills. You just load the g-code file, install the probe and run the automatic conductive probing sequence that uses the conductivity of the bed and the work piece to locate your stock by touching off a face on each axis. You then change out the probe for your end mill and run the job. You’ve got your first aluminum part within 20 minutes. I was actually surprised at how aggressively this cut through the aluminum and with the quality surface finish for such a rough pass first impressions using the bantum tools software. So far are this feels pretty intuitive? As compared to other CNC control software I’ve used the interface is extremely streamlined. I’m not digging around all over the map looking for input fields. The menus are arranged Pretty much chronologically. So you go through them in the order that you actually need the steps. The setup in general is pretty seamless, so you install the software Connect to your computer using a USB and load the g-code for your first job within the space of the first project or two. I felt mostly comfortable knowing where everything was located. I opted to customize the tool holder, so I added some extra pockets on the bottom for the probe and Collets and also etch the tested logo on the face, using a metal engraving bit and the SVG auto cam function, which is built into the bantam tools software. This is a really neat feature because you don’t need to know Cam or even 3d modeling to create parts in two and a half D. You can design your own vector graphics in a 2d design program and then import them directly into the bantam tools software. And it does all the cam setup for you. In this case, I use an engraving bit and the preset feeds and speeds in the tool library to set this up. You just load your tool position. The plan where you want on the face of the part and start cutting another really useful feature here is the ability to see a live preview of where your stock is located. And where your tool paths are in relation to that. You can check to make sure all the paths go where you’re expecting and that you’re not going to run into the bed or any fixtures. This preview also follows along during the job. So you can actually see the spindle moving in real time so exciting. My first piece that I made out of metal, practically in the middle of my apartment That was actually a lot easier and less intimidating than I thought it would be. Banta made it really easy by having the material already fixtured and measured in the machine and the tool paths and feeds and speeds were dialed in ahead of time, so not too much guesswork there. It came out pretty cool. This was a simple operation, just milling out shapes onto the surface of the material, And then I went back into the second pass with an engraving bit to add the tested logo here to the bottom. I do want to try some more complicated files. Having multiple tools, so you’d have to change in between operations and also different fixturing setups, so you’d position the stock one way and then turn it to another position, so you can sort of attack from a different angle. I’m going to take things one step at a time, though, and try their next tutorial after the first successful milling operations and a few tests within graves. I was still ramping up to learn Cam, so I wanted to see just how far I could get with the Built-in SVG functions. I measured a small magnifying lens that I had and designed a simple two-sided graphic in illustrator to mill in solid quarter inch brass setting up the file in bantam was pretty easy. The basic SVG function allows you to differentiate between cut and engrave for different paths using color coding much the way it would on a laser cutter, you can choose multiple tools for the job and set the depth and position of the file now for software subscribers, you have a little more control in terms of designating inner and outer cut paths within the same file, you can still achieve the same finished product with the basic software features, but you have to import the files in separate steps, so just a little bit more involved. I first engraved The top side of the brass, then flipped and re-probed the piece to cut a recessed channel for the magnifier and a full through cut of the contour on the reverse side again that automatic stack probing makes this pretty simple. Although in this case, I had to bridge the connection between the stock and the bed because I was going for a full through cut. I set up a plywood waste board underneath held in place with the toe clamps and then attached the brass with some high strength double sided tape. I was still a bit nervous flying solo with my first original design, but the probing sequence is able to locate the exact location of your stock and position your job at the right height on the material again. That live preview was indispensable for making sure everything was in the right place because I ran this job using the Built-in cam and the factory settings for feeds and speeds. This was a pretty aggressive cut. It’s also a fairly ambitious design because of all the curves and sharp corners. But I wanted to see what it could handle. I was able to cut this full depth in quarter inch brass and the bantam didn’t skip a beat. Obviously, if I was setting this up in Cam myself, I could dial back the settings and depth per pass and get much cleaner edge results, but overall I’m very impressed with what I was able to get using Zero Cam knowledge and just the Built-in SVG settings. I’m also thinking bantam will continue to dial in these default settings for different tools and materials while were on the subject of software, A note about the different tiers. Each machine purchase comes with the latest bantam tools control software. The basic software package includes all major functionality, automatic conductive probing a built-in feeds and speeds, library, live job preview and basic SVG handling for an additional cost. You can become a software subscriber and that gets you access to some premium features like that advanced SVG handling, full feeds and speeds override and advanced probing sequences, which allow you to locate the stock using a boss bore or outer rectangular feature. I don’t have any major gripes with the software. As of now, although there are a few things on my wish list, it would be great if there was a way to organize the tool library by favorites or frequently used, I’d also love to see an elapsed time or time remaining clock in the job. Progress window Phantom says that software subscribers will get monthly updates, so hopefully we’ll see more useful features and improvements over time, basic users will still get bug fixes and general updates, but those major features will be reserved for subscribers. You do get a 30 day trial of the pro license with your machine purchase. If you do want to try that out before deciding it’s worth, noting that for both software packages, you can generate your cam and an external CAD program like fusion 360 and have full control over the speeds and feeds there, which are then embedded in your g-code when you bring them into the Bantum software, Bantum will also be providing templates for fusion specific to this machine at both software tiers. So after the first few projects went pretty smoothly, I decided to dive into some fully three-dimensional design’s. I started off with wood because I figured that would be softest and most forgiving. I created a base design to hold a small piece. I had laser cut out of plywood and got some help with the cam setup for this piece. Fixturing was a bit tricky because of the way the angled faces dipped down so low to the bottom, but I was able to get creative with some plywood spacers and get it set up securely. In this case. I had to use manual probing to locate the stock since the wood isn’t conductive, So you just jog the spindle in increments until you touch the face of each side of the stock and then zero it out. I ran a test cut first in soft pine and then a finished piece in heart pine, which turned out fantastic. The tolerance of the slots for the laser cut parts was spot on and after a finishing parallel pass with a ball end mill. This needed barely any cleanup out of the machine. I just hit it with some 220 sandpaper and a bit of oil and it looks like a finish part to get this narrow pocket. I did have to switch to a 16 inch. Flat end, which is not included with the machine, but Bantam has a whole arsenal of end mills and other accessories for purchase on their site. This machine can accept a tool up to a quarter inch diameter shank and that’s the size that fits in the included collet. You can also upgrade to a precision collet for smaller tools like the 16th inch end mill with an eighth inch shank. There are all types of engraving bits and chamfer bits as well and you can get some pretty small tooling for fine detail work on the subject of accessories. At review time, there is currently no air assist or chip collection built into the system. But I did notice there’s a port on the back of the machine where that could be added later, Phantom has mentioned there may be upgrades in the future along. The lines of an air blast attachment or chip collection accessory, so that’s definitely a possibility even without dust collection. I was actually surprised at how well the chips stayed contained inside the enclosure. There was a tiny bit of sawdust, just below the door, but I felt fully comfortable, running the machine about 10 feet from my dining room, and I just used a shop Vac to clean out around the bed after each cut with virtually no mess outside the machine. Also, if you’re running this in your house, well, I won’t say it’s quiet, but it’s not as loud as you might expect. I’m not sure of the actual decibel level and that will certainly vary based on the material and how aggressive your cuts are, but it’s not much louder than a vacuum cleaner. I would definitely still wear ear and eye protection as you would with any CNC machine by review time, I had designed a few other pieces for milling and delrin and aluminum, but I’m still just at the threshold of my cam knowledge to machine them. BANTAM has a handful of sample projects in the works to practice more advanced operations with multiple tool changes and flips that walk you through each process step by step. In addition to the right angle bracket and toe clamps, you can also use high strength, double sided tape in combination with a parallel to square the stock and offset it against the right angle bracket. This allows you to mill closer to the bed without running into fixtures. Neither parallels or neato tape are included in the base package with your machine, but both are available for purchase on the bantam store for any setup using tape. Keep in mind, you’ll have to use a wrench on the edge of the piece to complete the circuit between the tool and the machine bed in order to use the automatic conductive probing again. This feature is super handy for locating the stock based on what I’ve seen from the machine Performance So far, the power it can shoot through material and the finish and part tolerances of the final product. This is a very capable machine that I’m confident could handle just about any project. I can dream up for it Within the range of soft metals and hardwoods, of course, all right, so some final thoughts. Overall, I really enjoyed working with the Bantum desktop milling machine and was pretty surprised with how far I was able to get with my limited cam knowledge using the simple control interface and the Built-in SVG functions. I was able to make a couple pretty cool projects with not a lot of experience between the high spindle speed, super solid construction, all of those different probing sequences and flexible fixturing options. I think this machine is capable of producing parts with the power and precision of a much higher caliber piece of equipment for more experienced CNC users. I think they’ll find the workflow to be super intuitive and also be pleased with the quality of the parts they’re able to produce for me. I will say the limitations of my own cam. Knowledge are still the biggest barrier in making 3d metal parts. That’s more commentary on the state of CNC than I feel like it is about this machine. If there was ever a CNC email, I felt comfortable. Learning on this machine, is it? Bantomtool’s has really created an entire ecosystem around this machine from the easy user interface. The software tutorials, Step-by-step Project Guides and I anticipate a pretty active user community based on this being their sophomore release, Also while you’re learning fusion and all of the cam setups, you’re also building fluency in a tool that the professionals use which will translate to other workflows. If you’d graduate to a more advanced machine in the future. The bantam desktop milling machine is available for a promo price of 3 599 at that price point. And with this whole package. I can see this being a tool that maker spaces and educators will want to add to their arsenal. I can also see it closing the gap for individual makers who are looking to get more serious about subtractive manufacturing. In addition, I think more experienced CNC users who are looking for a professional level tool with the footprint and the price tag of something. A little more manageable will find this machine pretty appealing. I am super excited about having this in the office that tested diving deeper into cam knowledge and setups and working on some more complicated projects. If you’re working on CNC projects at home, we’d love to see what you’re making, so please share with us. That’s all for me for now. I’ll see you next time.