Buying an Older Model Used CNC Device

CNC pros advise against buying outdated machines from the 1980s. March 1, 2006

We are a small 2-3 person shop looking to expand and we are thinking about a CNC, probably used. We do a mix of residential and have started some commercial work as well. We have an opportunity to get a mid 80s Biesse Rover 20. I am looking for input on the Rover or other CNC equipment that would fit our application.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor A:
One word of caution on early European machines - they may have some limitations in regard to outside programming software and the ability to download from a PC.

From contributor B:
From my experience firing up old machines, stay away from any mid 80s European machines. The tech support in the US and Canada is extremely poor. Itís not the fault of the resellers, but the software changes rapidly and so does the equipment. That means that spare parts are not plentiful or cheap. Software and support are a nightmare. I would not buy anything that is older than late 90s. If the native OS is DOS or Unix, run away.

From contributor C:
I agree with the other comments here. I would look for a mid 90s or newer. The difference in price probably won't be that much different and in the long run you will be a lot happier with a lot fewer headaches. One contrasting thought too is that if you are looking at a low budget, for what you would pay for the used 80s machine you could spend a few dollars more and get a new Shopbot or Shop Sabre.

From contributor D:
I agree with many of the posters here. Buying a mid 80s model machine is going to be more trouble than it is worth. Think back to the computers from the mid 80s. They were not very good and you certainly would not buy one today. Routers are similar in that they are a computer based technology. Your best bet is to look for a mid to late 90s used router. There are some great deals out there.

From contributor E:
There are some options for brand new as well. I don't know your anticipated volume but you can get into a Shopbot for under $20,000 brand new. It's a good place to start and you don't mortgage the house to get started. I'd take a brand new Shopbot PRT Alpha over any 80s CNC router table.