FoxAlien buying guide – CNC machines over $1000
- James Dean Designs
- September 22, 2023
- CL-4X4, CL-6560, CL4X4, CL6560, Vasto, Vasto XL, Vasto XXL, XE-PRO
- 0 Comments
With so many FoxAlien machines to choose from, how do you pick the right one for you? Well lets start with a key rule in the CNC world – buy the best you can afford.
If you have a budget in mind, I would always suggest getting as close to that as possible or perhaps even going a little over as long as it doesn’t put you in debt.
If you’re still struggling to decide, then the information below may help and there is a full comparison chart at the end. I have broken this down to machines over $1000 and there is a second article for machine under $1000.
Which is best for you?
The Vasto is generally viewed as the best FoxAlien CNC machine but may not be right for everyone as it is the most expensive in their entire range and comes in 3 different sizes – Vasto, Vasto XL and Vasto XXL. The standard Vasto also has an upgrade kit for closed loop stepper motors, making it faster and more powerful. However, a Vasto XXL will set you back over $3,500 for a machine that cuts 1000mm x 1000mm which is why the CL-6560, CL-4×4 or XE-PRO maybe an ideal alternative for you. The cheapest option, the XE-PRO also has an upgrade available so lets talk about them all in more detail.
Work area and beds
The XE-PRO and the standard Vasto come in at 400mm x 400mm with similar Z height travel of 95mm and 100mm. Next is the Vasto XL with a work area of 600mm x 600mm whilst the CL-6560 comes is at 600mm x 650mm with the highest Z travel of 110mm. The Vasto XXL is 1000mm x 1000mm and the largest machine in their collection is the CL-4×4 taking 1220mm x 1220mm and allowing it to take your sheet material. At the time of writing this, none of these machines have extension kits available although one is expected for the XE-PRO (probably a 400 x 800 extension kit).
Both the Vasto and CL ranges have hybrid aluminium/MDF bed with an integrated T track system whilst the XE-PRO has an MDF bed with threaded inserts which is not as strong but equally this is the cheapest in this comparison.
Frame work and rails
The standard XE-PRO and CL-6560 utilise large, hollow section aluminium for the main parts of the frame and run with inverted V wheels. Unlike most of the machines under $1000 where the wheels sit into the aluminium extrusion, these are the opposite with the aluminium protruding into the the wheel. So far I have only tested this on the CL-6560 and whilst I was initially apprehensive about them they do seem to work well. All the other machines, including the XE-PRO with the upgrade use linear rails which are considered superior.
Stepper motors, power and drive
All of these machines use Nema 23 stepper motors so pack at least 2.0N.m of torque but the CL-4X4 has an impressive 3.5N.m of torque to help drive the largest FoxAlien machine currently available. Whilst the Vasto range is generally considered the best machine, they actually have the lowest powered stepper motors although the Vasto does currently have an upgrade to faster, more powerful closed loop steppers. Whilst I like that this option is available, it is another $600 which is quite a hit because it also has an inbuilt offline controller and ultimately you end up with 4 spare motors and as well as a control box. The upgrade kit is essentially what is already built into the CL-6560, closed loop 3.1N.m rated steppers.
The machines using the closed loop steppers also benefit from high travelling speeds of 5000mm/min vs normal steppers of 2000mm/min (both default values). Not only does this mean you can potentially machine faster, the travelling between cuts is faster as well minimising your overall job time.
All the FoxAlien machines above $1000 use a ball screw drive system which are superior to both belt driven and lead screw driven machines.
There is not much to compare for this section. All of these machines come with a 400w spindle (52mm diameter holder) but all can take 65mm or 69mm holders allowing you to upgrade to either trim routers or VFD spindles (max. 1.5kw) and because they all run Nema 23 motors they can comfortably handle them. All machines come with the 52mm, 65mm and 69mm holders.
Other factors to consider
Because the price range and sizes change quite considerably between all these machines, it is quite difficult to view through “comparison” eyes so you have to ask yourself what are you hoping to cut or make? If you plan to use large, sheet material then the CL-4X4 is ultimately the one you want, but do remember that with bigger machines, often comes more flex so if your plan was to do smaller, more intricate items, perhaps in metal then why buy a machine bigger than you really need.
Offline controllers – these are not for everyone but the machines that have the closed loop steppers do have an offline controller in built which can be useful.
The bigger and stronger the machines get, the heavier they also get and even the smaller machines I would argue should take two people to move them.
FoxAlien comparison chart
For the purpose of the chart below I have only shown the standard size Vasto as all other details are the same other than the work areas.
|Work area|| 15.8″ x 15.8″ x 3.74″|
(400 x 400 x 95mm)
| 15.75” x 15.75” x 3.94” |
(400 x 400 x 100mm)
| 23.62” x 26” x 4.72”|
(600 x 650 x 110mm)
| 48” x 48” x 3.94”|
(1220 x 1220 x 100mm)
|Drive||Ball Screw||Ball Screw||Ball Screw||Ball Screw|
|Frame||All metal||All metal||All metal||All metal|
|Spindle holder||52mm, 65mm, 69mm included||52mm, 65mm, 69mm included||52mm, 65mm, 69mm included||52mm, 65mm, 69mm included|
|Stepper motor||Nema 23 – 2.2 N.m||Nema 23 – 2.0 N.m||Nema 23 – 3.1 N.m||Nema 23 – 3.5 N.m|
|Stepper type||Closed||Open (closed upgrade available)||Closed||Closed|
|Linear rails||Z axis (Upgrade coming soon)||All axis||Z axis||All axis|
|Default travel rate*||5000 mm/min||2000 mm/min||5000 mm/min||5000 mm/min|
|Control board||8 bit||8 bit||8 bit||8 bit|