Flat Table Versus Pod and Rail CNC Machines

How to choose the right CNC setup for making furniture parts. February 20, 2011

I've gotten an offer for a CNC nesting machine, with pods that can be inserted on the top for solid wood machining. Has anyone used this setup for chair parts and/or solid wood machining? Are there any limitations? We produce sofas and small production runs of chairs.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor J:
Our nesting machine came with pods. We nest 90% of the parts we require for cabinet making. However, when we need to do small parts, machine full edges (bullnose edges of tops), solid wood, etc., the pods are invaluable. On our machine (Weeke) the change over time is minimal - I would guess 10 minutes. However, if you have little or no need to nest, I would go with a P2P machine (pod and rail).

From contributor W:
For some, you're better off to build your own jig (pod). A lot cheaper to make them out of MDF. That way they are the exact shape over your part.

From the original questioner:
Well, what we are looking at is a machine with nesting capabilities for sofas and with solid wood machining (5 axis?) for chair parts (is it possible?). The machine with the pods has a z axis height of 300mm. What do you think of 5-Axis Panel Pro (G-Series) from Onsrud?

From contributor K:
I am not sure if there is a 5 axis flat table machine. If you're running solid wood, then you will want a pod and rail machine.

From contributor B:
If you want a machine that can interchange quickly between nested base flat work processing and solid wood parts, you might want to look at a twin table 4 x 8 or 5 x 10 machine. One table could be set up for nested base, the other with a matrix layout for pods or special fixturing.

The nested base table could run continuously while you set up the solid wood table, then they could process together. One table of nested base, then a table of solid wood. You could also run either process on both tables, eliminating down time for load/unload. The machine could be 3 or 5 axis depending on the requirements of your solid wood parts.

Our parent company, Diversified Machine Systems, builds some beautiful twin table machines in 3 or 5 axis configurations.

From contributor D:
If you're looking at an Onsrud Panel Pro, I'm assuming it includes a NEMI grid table? That's what would typically be used for vacuum pod fixturing. If the table is big enough you can spoilboard part of it, leaving a portion of the grid exposed for fixture work. Speaking as an Onsrud owner, I think this is one of the premiere makes on the market (I'm somewhat biased). These are heavy-duty machines, built for performance and accuracy. Their customer service is outstanding; Onsrud's techs know their machines from the inside out.

From contributor W:
I'm with contributor K on this one. If you're running solid wood, a pod and rail machine is the way to go for several reasons. All the off cuts can just fall into the machine bed and out of the way, compared to a flat bed where they could potentially cause a crash, since they lay on top of the table.

I would try to talk to different owners in your area and then build your opinion on what works best for you.