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cnc cabinet questions2/19
Hope I can explain what I'm after here. I am researching a mid level cnc for a medium sized shop. Primary function to cut out cabinet parts while faceframes are made. Most of the research and info is about engraving, signmaking etc. Not really valuable in what I am looking at. I would like to get some info. about the basics of a mid-level cnc. I understand feed rate and tool selection make a difference but I would like to see more info. about cnc's speed and function in cabinet shops.
1) what is your sheet time? basic cutting 5/8 and 3/4" material. do you have more or less waste than with a tablesaw?
2) how easy was it to integrate into a regular shop.
5) How do you justify the cost? How long do you think it will recoup the investment.
I am looking at machines under 50k that will be able to cut out parts ready for assembly and finish. Thanks for any help. Message me if you could talk about your experience on the phone.
I sent you a long winded reply, holler if it didn't come through.
We have a Camaster Cobra with 10HP spindle and 10 tool ATC with 20HP vacuum. We took delivery of it a little under a year ago. Machine loaded up with options was $57k delivered. Add another $2k in tooling, $4k in software upgrade, and about $2k in electrical and other misc stuff and we had parts coming off for about $65k investment.
Now to answer your questions....
1) We cut 5/8" melamine mostly. 5/8" or 3/4" makes no difference in time, and plywood or melamine makes no significant difference in time. We average 12 minutes per sheet. We have the CNC engrave all our parts with a cabinet number, part identifier, and edgebanding information. We also have it drill 1/8" pilot holes that we use to screw the cabinets together. These simple tasks eats up a bunch of that 12 minutes.....probably 5 to 6 minutes depending how many parts are nested on the sheet.
If we didnt do the labelling, I would suspect we would average somewhere around 8 minutes per sheet. Without the pilot holes, I would guess about 5 minutes per sheet average. With more vacuum, we could get that time even lower. These are just guesses though since we DO label and drill pilots.
2) Very easy. We already had KCD, so just added their CNC module. We screwed up/played with about 3 sheets, then started cutting our fist kitchen. It took maybe 3 kitchens before we had all the parameters dialed in to where we wanted them.
3) It paid for itself before we even got it. We ordered it with a deposit, then about 12 weeks later we received it. We had a rather unique year with an incredible workload. Had we not bought it, we couldnt have completed the workload we had unless I added probably 2 more employees.
4) Zero problems
5) Justifying the cost was easy. We had so much work in the pipeline, it was a no-brainer. If you currently have 1 guy cutting, banding, and boring panels, you can have that same guy run the CNC and still perform other tasks in the shop while the router is running. If you are trying to decide between another employee or 2 or a CNC, get the CNC. We typically did about $350k per year with 2.5 employees. Last year we did $650k with no additional labour.
One of the key things you need to wrap your head around is the CNC basically runs itself. The guy operating the machine only needs to give it about 1 minute of attention per sheet to unload parts, blow off the bed, load a new sheet, then run the next file. This employee is free to do anything else for a good 45 to 50 minutes of every hour that the machine is running. When my guy is running the CNC, he is edgebanding all the parts that come off, and assembling cabinets. We are about 4 hours to have an average kitchen cut, bored, and banded ready for assembly. And during that 4 hours, he has assembled some cabinets as well.
I bought our machine a little over a year ago, an excellent investment. Here is what I learned in regards to your questions.
1. Sheet time varies greatly, if it's just a bunch of shelves, the machine can finish in 3-4 minutes. If it's closet verticals with hundreds of 32mm system holes, our single drill can take 20+ minutes. In this case, the biggest factor in sheet time is not how fast the machine is, but how many holes you can drill at one time. If you can minimize the holes drilled, then maybe you don't need a drill block. The waste question is a bugaboo, there is definitely less waste but it is also harder to use up. The CNC leaves a lot of odd-shaped pieces that need to be squared off, and it's inconvenient to nest parts to these oddballs. Higher-end software can keep track of the scraps, label them, and include them in a parts run.
2. This all depends on how tech savvy your crew is, and whether your software can run the machine. Could be months before you have fully integrated the system smoothly into your workflow.
3. If you can run the machine all day, every day, then it will pay for itself very quickly.
4. We have had a few minor problems with the machine, and one big one. The minor problems were cleared up with a phone call to the manufacturer, or a message posted to the owner forum. Ask (in writing) if they will send a technician to do warranty service on your machine, most in this price range will not.
5. The cost is really a non-issue. If you have the work, it will give you massive savings on labor costs. If you don't have the work, it becomes a $50,000 workbench.
I don't agree with the assertion that the CNC runs itself. You do need a trustworthy operator, a sloppy one can screw up a lot of materials or damage the machine very quickly. He can do other work while it runs, but he needs to keep one ear on it in case a part moves or a tool breaks, etc. The CNC also shifts some of the labor time from the shop into the office. "One button screen-to-machine" is great in theory, but it's rarely that simple. The machine only cuts what it is told, while a good cabinetmaker can recognize a cutlist mistake before he begins cutting.
Simple answer, what does the lease payment cost per month?
What does the least expensive guy you have cost you per month?
Which would benefit you the most in the future?
Once the machine is paid for what will it cost you?
Will the least expensive guy cost you less or more?
Figure this out on a 3 yr lease not a 5 yr.
Also if you have good credit and can get a cheap bank loan then finance it for a longer time period.
Also figure that we will have a substantial recession starting 2017 or 2018, so you either want to have the machine paid off by then or if it is a bank loan set the money aside to pay off the loan in a separate bank account.
Thanks for the great responses! Does anyone use the cnc for drawer boxes, dovetailed? if so what do you guess time per box? We use a brookman now.