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Advice for custom shops new CNC purchase9/17
Our current router, a Shopbot 4'x8' running a Porter Cable router, is over 10 years old now. It was a great machine to learn the ropes, and to open up our design possibilities, but we are now ready to step up to a better router.
It seems like a lot of options and companies to weigh up. Obviously we would love to get the best router out there, but we also don't want to pay for more machine than we will ever really need (though I'm hoping the router will open up new avenues for our business).
So I guess a few of our questions are: do any of you have experience with some of the above machinery, good or bad, or would you recommend something else? Pros and cons of varying spindles and components? Size of spindle and frame necessary to produce deep, clean cuts in hardwood (currently looking at 5-12hp)? Best table and vacuum configuration for medium to large parts. And any other input on all the other areas I'm sure I have missed would be much appreciated.
Bite the bullet and buy something like an Anderson CabMaxx you will not regret it in the least in years to come. Great heavy duty machine, great support and will make more quality parts than you know what to do with. Experience has taught me that heavy cuts require a heavy machine if you want a lot of quality parts. Buy cheap, buy often.
Seems like you don't turn cnc jobs very fast, so you are able to get by with a light spindle, but for 8/4 + solids, I think you want to stay in the 12-18hp range. Since you have already showed good skills with the one you have now I would push the limits on your budget. You know how to program, so don't let a low end machine hold you back. Heavier iron will turn jobs faster and the increased power and Z axis working range will let you take on jobs lower end machines cannot do. Another thing to consider with doors is a C axis coupled with an aggregate will allow for machining lock sets and hinge machining. For door beveling, I use Vortex 3.5° bevel tooling. 3/4" shank and handles up to 2.5" thick stock. Good luck with your final decision.
I have two CAMaster Cobras, a 508 and a 510. I have had no limitations of any kind from panel production to custom carving. I agree if you are gona do a lot of thicker hardwood work then the 7.5 or 10 HP spindle may be a blessing. My 5hp HSD ATC on the 508 is now 4 years old and has seen some heavy use and shows no sign of being any where near a rebuild. I have owned six CAMasters as I stepped up to the machines I have Now...
as always I encourage visiting shops with machines. feel free to call My Number is on the Website...
I recently bought an older Biesse Arrow.
It took me about a month of setup, learning and a few early mornings on the phone to Italy to get it all sorted.
The result is that for less than the lower end of your budget I have a 5X10 machine that has 2 spindles, a A (or C) axis, a 12 position tool changer and drill block.
I use Sheetcam to create the G code. It won't look ahead to the next tool and it won't drill multiple holes at a time like the Mastercam etc., but for $200 I don't care.
Add to that my $1500 used 30 HP rotary screw vacuum pump and there's not much I can't handle.
At the end of the process I know more about this machine than the local tech so I will never be held up waiting for service.
To be fair, I'm a mechanical guy and have some great resources - for instance getting my PC to talk to the machine was supposedly not possible but a computer genius friend of mine got it done.
Anyway, just another option to consider.
Thanks everyone for the responses. It is all very helpful information and really opens our eyes to some other possibilities and avenues we can take. James, that is an amazing carving you did there! We'd love to talk to you more about your CAMaster machines. I'll look up your contact info on your site, thanks! We definitely have our work cut out for us researching this big decision.
BIG CARVINGS !! I have had some fun with this, I looked at your Site ,, We have a lot in common