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new or old?12/9
I run a small high end custom shop, am interested in adding a router into the tool mix
Does the same analogy hold true for routers? Are the older machines out dated and more difficult to use?, software obsolete??
Being a beginner, I do not want to spend a ton of money, and can see the wisdom of the older iron that would likely hold calibration better,give more accurate cuts etc....
Anyone been down this road?
That mindset holds well with non electronic equipment like shapers, saws, and other "old iron", but IMHO, not well in a CNC arena. The problem is parts, and old obsolete software. non-cnc old iron is simple...You'll always be able to find an on-off switch you can wire on, or a new bearing, etc. It's not so easy when you get into electronic and pnuematic parts. It's also not easy to find some of the older software, or a computer that can run it (many times,old software won't run on new computers).
If I was looking at CNC's on a budget, I would only go used on one condition- I had personally used an Identical machine make and model before, and knew it inside and out, AND was content with how it could be programmed. Definitely wouldn't recommend going old for a first time CnC purchaser.
I am not one of those believers that I can lose my panel saw (just bringing in a new one) and do everything with a router, we are a shop that has a niche for doing complex projects that most others would not be able to do for one reason or another.
CNC routing seems like the next tool to master, and I do not mean cutting nested melamine, integral toe kick lower cabinet parts......no disrespect to those who do that, it just would not be my application
Can you post a few pictures of the type of work you are looking to do with it ?
We too are a small custom shop , not just kitchens or cabinets . We do a lot of solid wood radius work and architectural mouldings and doors and windows .
You need to start thinking about your budget , if you are able to share that you may be able to get better responses . Software like alphacam can run about 40k and if your doing the kind of work that we are you need a machine with a decent amount of z height . You could be looking at another 100,000. Knowing what I know about cnc routers now I WOULD NOT BUY AN OLD ONE , support is key with a cnc router and if no one can help you your frustration will make you regret the machine . Our biesse skill has been a great machine , we had hiccups in the beginning but biesse offered great on site support/warranty through the whole process
My my understanding from talking to people with them is that techno is a very light duty machine , cheaper components . That is how they hit a low price point . But that being said if we know what kind of work you need to do , it might work fine . I cut 3" solid red oak with my machine with ease . But not everyone has the need to do that.
Best of luck ! Buy the right machine and you won't regret moving into the world of cnc
I have an old iron Northwood purchased new in 2003. Little older than what you are looking at, but we can use mine as an example. The Fanuc software interface works as well as it did new. The control itself has been solid, no issues there, but if there were issues, all parts are available for purchase. Recently we changed a spindle cartridge and tool touch probe. Parts were in stock for us to install immediately. Not sure how to address "difficult to use". I am pretty experienced, so no. Most machines from this era have most of the features that the new ones have with touch probes and easy to understand offset registries. In my own opinion, I would buy a high end used machine over a brand new entry level light weight model. I wouldn't even consider it for more than a second. I have purchased both new and used over the years. Made a few mistakes along the way and hopefully learned from it. As far as training goes, that can be purchased. Lots of contractors out there that can take care of you. Right now, you have the exact same experience with an old machine as you do a new one. Good luck.
Ditto for old.
Learn how to fix it. The difference between new and old comes from profit. I'd rather that profit stays in my pocket than goes anywhere else.
I'd stay away from stuff that uses proprietary languages and look for something that uses G code. Fanuc is a good control. Parts and service everywhere. I'd bet that for every cnc router with a Fanuc control there are 50 or 100 metalworking machine tools that use it.
There are some excellent software programs out there that can talk to anything G code.
I've had 3 routers both new & used. Two with Fanuc contols, motors etc. Bullet proof. I'm not a fan of the cheaper, light duty machines, if you plan on making your living by relying on it for day to day production. Most mechanical things can be fixed easily. Electronics go obsolete. I think you would be better off buying a new middle range machine than the other choices. Machine cost $70K+-, + software, electrical, dust collection, learning curve. I know what happened here was that our entire production system very quickly became reliant on the routers. If they go down the production drops drastically. Everything has been designed around their use.
I just saw this one listed. Thermwood makes OK machines. This is their bottom of the line model. I think they are asking too much but everything is negociable. A major draw back is the lack of a boring block.
A shop up the road from me bought a used komo about a year ago. To my understanding it's still not up and running. I bought a new Biesse Klever at the same time. We managed to get a lemon of a machine. Under warranty we had techs in the shop for 25 days I think and they shipped in what would have cost me nearly $90k worth of parts. Biesse stepped up and replaced the machine and upgraded me at the same time. If I had bought a used machine I would have had real problems. Anyway I would not buy used and find out if the warranty covers travel time if a tech needs to come to your facility.
Something else to think about. If there is someone nearby you who has a larger capacity router they might be able to cut what you need and you pay for the time you use on their machine as opposed to a machine that you can't keep busy.
Lastly software is expensive and slow to learn. You will spend much more time designing than you ever thought you would. The router will only cut what you told it to cut, not what you thought you told it to cut.
Jason brings up a good point that happens all too often. When buying used, there are things to check out before writing a check. Does it run? If not under power, how long has it been idle, and for what reason. Has it been inspected by the buyer, or someone the buyer trusts? Some buyers buy used at an auction with not idea what the history of the machine has been or what running condition it may be in. Others pick up a machine after making zero preparations at the shop. Electrical service, dust extraction, and proper space requirements come to mind. So, I guess the take away is that if you have done the homework and have most of pieces in place at the shop, there is no reason not to be in production within a few weeks or months. The result of all this work will hopefully be a machine that will run circles around the light weight entry level machines for the same money or less.
I'd have no problem purchasing a used mid-price range/duty CNC router. I would think twice about purchasing a used heavy iron machine unless I knew exactly what its history of use had been.
Quality mid-range machines are reliable and cut just as cleanly and fast (for the most part) as the heavy iron routers. They are much less expensive to repair and are usually run by PCs which means hardware and software upgrades are easy.
I'd rather deal with machine components that have to move around a few hundred pounds of hardware than a 1000 lbs or more. The linear components for those heavy machines are large and costly.
Small two man shop. First router I bought was used. The tech support was very poor. I ended up buying a new router. I under estimated how much the shop became dependent on this machine and I simply didn't have the skill set and time to work on the used machine. Learned from this and been happy with the new machine.
Question for anyone:
I will admit a bias, but I believe it's really important to have comprehensive training and especially with your first machine. Your CNC company should, of course, teach you machine operation. But complete training should include tooling theory and selection, fixturing parameters and use of bleed board fixturing, gasketed fixtures, mechanical fixturing, and the very importat topic of programming. The faster you become competent in these areas the faster the machine pays for itself...and more!
It is, no doubt, possible to learn to run a CNC through independent study, but it's not the fastest way to reach your end goal. Running a CNC as a profit center of your business. Everyone's time is limited. Is your time best spent running and growing your business, or trying to figure out how to get your Cad/Cam software to communicate to the CNC machine.
Buy a used machine for your second machine, use the support services with a new machine for your all important first purchase.
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