We are getting into cabinets. Is it worth the additional $10K for a digital readout/CNC controlled slider versus a manual?
We manufacture solid wood architectural doors with, currently, all manual equipment -jointers, planers, shapers, bandsaws, etc. When we made the switch from a manual planer to a digital readout/self positioning planer, it was all the difference in the world from speed to quality or from a manual shaper to a digital readout electronic controlled, and same for the widebelt. But we have a limited amount of money and are trying to stretch it. I could get a cheap used edgebander instead, or a nice line bore, face frame and pocket screw tub, etc. From a dollar and cents and return-on-time point of view, how much faster per sheet will it go?
We will be doing framed, frameless, and flush framed cabinets. We have enough to get started on a manual slider, line bore, face frame, pocket screw tub and hinge bore press and edgebander. We are considering crossing out the edgebander and using the extra money for an Atlendorf Elmo-4 or similar 2000 or newer SCM or Martin. Either we do what little edgebanding there is by hand, or if a modern job comes along, we take it to a friend's shop and use his until we have enough for an edgebander.
So what would be the better payoff? Assuming after the first edgebanded job, we would be able to afford one, we would have to do one job without? My guys are saying get a manual slider and no edgebander, but they don't have to pay the bills. For what stuff is going for now... I'd enjoy the use for years to come, until the CNC.
From contributor M:
Honestly, your questions do not seem to be in line with your experience. If you can't decide these issues on your own based on your current production needs, you don't need faster machines.
The advantage of digital positioning on a planer is nothing compared to what it offers on a panel saw. I do not consider digital positioning on a planer a time saver. If you are doing architectural work, I assume you reposition the thickness once every 300 to 1000 linear feet. Then turning a wheel a few cranks is not an issue.
CNC positioning on a panel saw can increase a single operator's production 20%. If it is linking to your design software (as CNC controllers are meant to). A single operator can approach the speed of a beam saw (assuming there is no panel stacking in the beam saw). But unless you are processing 30 to 50 sheets a day, you will never realize the advantage of a CNC controlled saw.
I can easily process 20 sheets a shift on my manual panel saw. Not easily, but we do it all the time. 20 sheets of material represent a large kitchen or two smaller ones. Are you even making cabinets? Sounds like you aren't now.
If you are running a small shop and processing less than 20 sheets a day, you should consider an entry level CNC. For a little more or the same price as the Elmo, you can get a pretty decent CNC that will nest your work.
Being able to quickly and accurately switch between settings, then just punch in a number and get a matched cut is a serious time saver. Cross cutting long stock for doors and face frames is a simple matter of following the cut list, and it is simple and easy to cut matching parts from one piece even if they are different lengths.