Do you really plan to teach programming? To teach them how to do it from scratch may have some merit, but a skill seldom used today. An operator may have to change a few lines of code, but they sure don't need to know full programming. What is your background with CNC? I'd guess they might do more 3D carving compared to "turning" with a 4th axis. But I imagine 3D printing would be a better use of funds.
Both CAMaster and Shopbot have long term experience in providing machines and software to school programs from public programs to major institutions, i would not pass up on listening to their experience in this area,
When considering a CNC supplier, I think your prime considerations are user friendly control and customer support. There are a number of good machine builders out there. I have a FMT Patriot the has worked flawlessly for seven years.
If space allows I would think a 4 x 8 is a best choice. Cutting sheet goods will yield cabinets that students will be proud to own and provide skills that are in demand.
I will also give a plug for V-carve Pro for cad/cam software. It is versatile and easy to learn with excellent support and user forum.
Why would you train them to program? It sure won't help them get an industry job. I can't imagine any shop wanting to pay someone for all the labor to program from scratch. You didn't mention your CNC or industry experience.
Rich - our area is known as the orthopedic capital of the world. The industry is starving for employees and will pay high dollar for kids with some CNC experience. This is not metal machining but I don't care. I will teach them that on manual equipment for now. If I can get them thinking in code, they can use it. The shops I have talked with move their people into "engineering" positions that model parts, set up equipment and adjust code at the machine. Anyone who shows capability can move into a number of positions.
Why would you say it isn't relevant for these kids?
As far as industry experience I most recently ran my own shop for ten years. Not much CNC experience but getting training now.
It's not relevant to write code since the software can do it in seconds. I didn't write a single line of code in 12 years running a Motionmaster 5 axis CNC as lead modelmaker in an industrial design group. I can't imagine a CNC machine operator, cutting orthopedic parts, that would adjust code at the machine. There is nothing to adjust without altering the profile of the part. There could be 150,000 + lines of code to machine a small 3D part on a 5 axis machine. And if you really want to supply people to that industry, talk to the industry about sponsoring your CNC machine and get something that would give the kids real experience. See if one of the companies has something they are about to update. It would be sad to train someone to hand write code on a small 3 axis Shopbot making signs and mdf parts, and then send them out to try and get a job using high end software on a 5 axis Haas that is machining titanium.
Aaron, what you are considering teaching would have been relevant 15 years ago, but the other contributors to this post are correct: knowing how to program in Gcode is no longer a skill that businesses need. In fact, plenty of CNCs currently on the market don't even speak Gcode. A more worthwhile endeavor would be to teach CAM with a number of different applications: AlphaCAM, Enroute, CimTech, whatever, just find the most commonly used apps that businesses in your area use: Solidworks with Sigmanest, Autocad with RouterCIM, whatever the businesses are using, teach that.
In school we had a 2x4 CNC Shark. It was simple, came with safety glass, and worked as we would have expected. It had pretty decent software for beginners as well, easy to understand but you could get it to do what you want.
3d and 5-axis machining you definately need cad/cam software. However, there is nothing wrong with teaching students G and M code structure and how its used. I work at one company full time where its all driven by cad/cam software but we still need to know a little bit of code. I also work for a company part time where i use cad/cam for some items and straight G, M code programming for other parts. When i learned cnc in the late 1990's we started with coding.
I believe you would want to provide your students with experience that would translate to a job after they graduate. My sister has taught at the high school career center level as well as currently at the college level so I'm familiar with some of the challenges you might face. There are pros and cons to a small machine like a shopbot but I view them as a hobby type machine. You'll find them in low production facilities but those aren't the type of shops that will offer a career in CNC machining.
I also agree with what another poster stated. You really won't write G and M code programs for production work but being able to edit those programs is necessary. There are a lot of considerations when selecting a proper machine and cam program for your school environment. Feel free to give me a call or email me. My phone and email are on my website. I may or may not be able to give you a quote based on your location but I'm more then happy to offer some guidance.
Rich is wrong, . Yes software does create code with one click, but there are many times when it is very handy to be able to read the code and edit in modifications. This is what separates a programmer from a button pusher. You a button pusher Rich?
Like I said earlier in this post. I was the lead model maker for Caterpillar Industrial Design. I ran a MotionMaster 5 axis router with a Fagor controller for 12 years using Surfcam. All the 3D files were generated by Industrial Designers or Engineers. I made the parts in rigid urethane foam to create full size construction machine cabs that were sent to the virtual reality cave, and/or installed on machines for operator evaluation. Never wrote one line of code in that 12 years. Button pusher? Don't think so. I had a 30 year career at Caterpillar, starting as a draftsman, then designer. I left Caterpillar for 11 years to operate a custom woodworking business and got my CNC feet wet on a 4x8 Digital Tool CNC kit. Did that for 8 years, then closed that down to be the project designer and builder for Woodworker's Journal Magazine. I'll stand by my comment about operators making orthopedic parts on 5 axis machines. Very unlikely the piece designers would like the operator changing code at the machine. I know the Caterpillar designers would not have appreciated me changing their designs with random lines of code changed.
I don't have the experience with CNC that you guys do. I did spend a day the first week of this year training at a local Orthopedic company. They had me bring our Haas simulator and we went through code most of the time. This shop at least would like people who can look at a program and have an idea what is going to happen.
The trainer told me that there are some designers he trusts more than others. The designers are at different levels in their careers and some are better than others.
FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards(return to top)
WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
A valid email return address must be included with each message.
Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
"Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.
You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.
WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.
Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).
Libel: Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.
Improper Decorum: Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).
Advertising: The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).
Repeated Forum Abuse:
Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.
There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).
The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)
Forum Posting Form Guidelines
The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines
Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Thread Related File Uploads
Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .FLV .MP4 (Image Upload Tips) If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.