This machine was reviewed as part of our 2017 Desktop Fabrication Shootout. See more machines in our 3D Printer Guide and non-3D printer reviews here.


Make less of a mess with this highly capable carver. The Nomad 883 Pro’s sleek design houses a powerful desktop CNC mill with a great software suite that can handle amazing projects.

A Clean Machine

Carbide 3D (@carbide3d) has continued to put their best foot forward by offering a sleekly-designed, self-contained mill that would look just at home on any countertop as it would in a workshop. There are a few minor cosmetic changes this year, but for the most part the real added sizzle is under the hood and in the software. This is a rock-solid mill that can tackle the projects you throw at it.

Out-of-the-box setup was simple, and within 15 minutes we had the machine humming along and a new wrench in hand. The machine whirs to life quietly enough that we could carry on a conversation while it was running, and has a variety of automated bells and whistles to make it easy to get started. A clear hood allows you to see your work in progress and keep the mess at bay. The machine ships with a MDF wasteboard and everything you need to get started in the box.

Software for All Skill Levels

The Nomad 883 Pro also comes with a license for MeshCAM, a great piece of software for taking your designs and bringing them to life. It was built to help the average user get off the ground easily with their current 3D knowledge, but higher end users will also feel at home with plenty of settings to tweak to their heart’s content. The one feature we found most helpful was the Automated Toolpath Generation Wizard, which erased the usual hours of frustration fretting over settings and generated amazing job results. Advanced users can also just send G-code straight to the machine and bypass the provided software entirely if they wish.

Carbide 3D listened to customer feedback and realized the need for an even simpler design suite; so they launched Carbide Create this year. It allows you to design your object from scratch with basic shapes or bring in a CAD file you have already created. It handles all of your speed and feed calculations using its built in library of mills and materials, and even includes the functionality for V-Carving. We used it to get around some of the usual headaches with projects like PCBs and found it provides an even easier entry point for beginners.

Like many machines in the desktop CNC market, more plentiful documentation and tutorials for the Nomad 883 Pro would be helpful, but Carbide 3D has a few “Getting Started” email channels that should be required reading for any new user. Be sure to sign up! Those looking to keep their space as clean as possible should place a sheet under the machine to catch what little residual mess there is. All in all, the improvements made to this year’s Nomad have combatted a lot of the concerns from last year’s machine.

Final Verdict

We threw a variety of projects at the Nomad 883 Pro and were left consistently with a surprisingly clean work area and great results. We milled through foam, wax, wood, plastics and even a little metal by the end of our testing and reaffirmed that the Nomad 883 Pro is a highly capable machine packaged in a way that makes it right at home in your home (and not just the garage). Its bed size is on the smaller side however, and a self-zeroing Z-probe would be a nice addition on top of its ability to sense tool-length.

Photo is courtesy of Carbide 3D

Details

Manufacturer: Carbide 3D

Base Price: $2,699

Price as Tested: $3,100+

Accessories Included at Base Price: MeshCAM 3D CAM software, Carbide Create 2D CAD/CAM software, MDF wasteboard, ⅛” ER-11 collet and wrenches, ⅛” ball mill, ⅛” end mill

Additional Accessories Provided for Testing: Flip jig, threaded work surface, low profile vise, various .125 bits (ball and straight), various materials

Build Volume: 203×203×76mm

Materials Handled: Wood, plastic (ABS, acrylic, Delrin, HDPE), PCBs, soft metals up to ¼ (aluminum, brass, etc.)

Work Untethered?  No

Onboard Controls? Power switch/stop

Design Software: Carbide Create for beginners/easy design; MeshCAM for advanced design/3D capabilities

Cutting Software: Carbide Motion

OS: Mac OS X, Windows

Firmware: GRBL board, GRBL is open, customized version for them

Open Software? No

Open Hardware? Yes

Pro Tips

Mesh CAM can be a bit daunting — but the Carbide Auto Toolpath is your easy button to great projects.

Always remember to set your zero! All that jogging with no pay-off makes us sad.

You can do more than you think with SVG! While many paths to success are available when you hit a wall taking a step back and thinking in layers can make complex things like PCBs much easier.

Sign up for the email blasts! Regular mini-courses and trainings help get you up to speed!

Getting Started with CNC is an essential read!

Why to Buy

Sleek design that fits into a modern desktop gives way to a powerful desktop CNC mill that is capable enough to handle amazing projects, but clean enough to not get it banished to the garage!