I have been looking at new CNC machines, with prices from 70K to 165K. My price range is at approximately 80K. This will be my first CNC. I will need to also purchase a new dust collector and bring in about 200 amps of power. Does anyone have any comments on any machines?
I have considered Onsrud, Multicam, Anderson, Weeke, and Morbidelli. Pricing on these machines varies quite a bit. Bells and whistles vary also.
From contributor A:
What do you plan on using for software? That can cost $20K.
You also want to look at support. How broad is their base? How many technicians are available to serve the machines they have out there? What is the cost for support? Is there a person available 24/7, and is there an additional charge for after hours calls? There are three kinds of tech support: Mechanical/Technical, Software, and Application. Mechanical/technical guys use hand tools and multimeters. Software techs help you communicate with your machine. Application people help you solve problems when you need to cut something out of the ordinary. A good manufacturer will be well represented in all three areas, not some guys who can do all three. As a new router owner/operator I cannot stress how important support is.
When I bought my router, I considered how the machine was manufactured, the support, and finally the price. I realized that this is not a shaper or a bandsaw. This machine is capable of very precise machining, and is a long-term investment. I could easily save some money or overspend. Know that when companies lay out huge amounts of capital to manufacture these machines, there is a great deal of marketing and posturing that goes on. The Kias and Hyundais compare themselves to the Toyota and BMW. The Mercedes tack on more because of their name. And then there are those that are well made by engineering standards and premium parts, offer outstanding support technical, software, and application, and have a solid price both now and when it comes time for resale. You need to identify these solid values.
You can buy a car with 20" wheels, power accessories, and even GPS, but those things are not key elements of a good, solid car. When you shop for price, some salesmen will try to get you into a router buy cutting corners - small vacuum pump (if one at all), smaller spindles, features that you can add later, or a value-engineered machine that is compared to the solid buys. BEWARE. Money is only a small part when you invest in a router. The way that you operate it, construction methods, machining styles, and material handling will determine what kind of payback you get. These things over 5 years should put more than $60K in your pocket (an additional $1,000 per month in payments). Once you get a router, you will see how this thing pays, not costs you each month.
Comment from contributor H:
I am a CNC Dealer and for 15 years was a CNC owner and operator. I have used several different brands and styles of machines. One thing I can tell you right up front is that not all routers are created equal. With only one notable exception, the machines built in the far east are very problematic. Their quality is not where it needs to be, their tech support is lacking, and they tend to use lower quality components. All imports are suffering right now but the European machines are especially due to the exchange rate, so be aware that because of the disparity in the exchange rate between the Euro and the US Dollar, you are immediately taking a 30% hit in the actual value of the machine over a domestically built one. It stands to reason that a US manufacturer can either offer a machine that is comparable in spec for 30% less than a European manufacturer or offer you more machine for the same money. Make sure that you are always comparing apples to apples and don’t buy into the sales rhetoric.
Things to always consider: Industrial Numeric Control is superior in performance, durability, accuracy, and reliability. A PC based controller is cheaper - not better! Rigidity is the key to cut quality and speed. Moving table models are typically the most rigid, therefore they are faster and typically the longest lasting machines. Moving closed gantry is the next best followed by an open cantilevered gantry as a distant third.
Again, don’t buy into the sales rhetoric, open gantry is cheaper to build not better! Get at least a 5’X10’ table and make certain that you will have full coverage by all tools. I know of at least one manufacture who sells a 60” wide machine but you can only cut 54” wide. Ask the question and make them prove it! Open architecture is much better then proprietary design. Your design software will post code much better, with fewer problems and less setup on a standard open architecture machine.
Many proprietary machines require their own proprietary software. This is never good because you have much less control and flexibility. Parts availability - are replacement parts available through companies like Granger and McMaster Carr? Or do you have to purchase all of your replacement parts through the manufacturer? You may not think that is a big deal when you buy your machine but believe me, when you have to pay the manufactures 5000% markup for a simple solenoid switch, you’ll think different. How many technicians do they have? These machines are built by man and therefore, they break. How long are you going to be down when a breakdown occurs? Budget is one thing, but price should not be your primary deciding factor. The difference in hourly cost between a $75,000 machine and a $150,000 machine is insignificant when you consider the improved efficiency, longer usable life, higher quality components, better tech support, features, and etc. that come with the higher priced machines.