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Brian

CNC Router questions

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Looking at getting a router.   Will use to cut acrylic and carve HDU.    What are the features I should look for?    Looking at some used ones and very confused.   


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

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What mfg's have you been looking at?  Most decent CNC's will do that no problem.  Big thing is software and learning how use it.  Hold down Vac can make things easier to have (240v), Dust collector is a must (240v), Collumbo spindle is best (240v), air filter hanging above is also nice to have for the fine particles.  

 

The key, buy more than what you really think you'll need.  Most regret not buying a larger size router table than they thought they would use.


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I guess it depends on use, as in hours a day.   Our 1st machine has a 4 HP spindle  non tool changer. the other 3 all have tool changer set up.  #3&4 have water cooled spindles. 4 HP is the min IMO, Router heads are very LOUD!!!!! ALL have vacuum hold down and are set up in sections.  2 have dust collector set up with a pneumatic controlled foot. All have misters for bit coolant.  If you are doing HDU stuff you need dust collection as it gets everywhere. Also look at a gantry with more clearance.  All are run remotely. Our small machines are 5x10 and biggest is 7x12.  I think anything smaller than a 4x8 is a hobby machine.  Our machines are running 8+ hours a day everyday and are not pushing them hard at all.  Our older machines are stepper motor movement but the two new are servo.  The servo machine cuts the 20% faster then the stepper using the exact same material and router bit.  Lastly these do breakdown ever so often. Think about spare parts and god forbid you need to have a service guy come to the shop if you cant fix it. All of our machines are Multicam and in 15+ years we have only paid for 6 or 8 service calls and maybe less than that for warranty.  Multicam service guys are good but I have heard horror stories from other companies service guys burning thru buckets O cash to fix a problem.  As far as costs goes our last machine was a tad over 100k.  I have never heard anyone complain that the had to much horsepower. Meaning if you buy a machine that is not duty rated eventually it will wear out, replaced by a machine that is capable.  That said if you are only doing a couple jobs every now and then I think a Shopbot or similar would fit the bill.   On a different note we route stuff for other shops all the time. They cant justify even the cheapest machine.

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Sorry I forgot to mention, we bought a very high end older machine ( multicam) used.  That particular machine had a lot of parts that were not available along with operating system that went obsolete.  We ended up with a ton of money wasted in service and parts when we finally sent it to Multicam for a complete rebuild. Between original cost, service, parts and our time along with multicams rebuild it was above the cost of new.  We have had issues with other used equipment as well. We will NEVER buy another used smart machine ever again. 

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At first just a few jobs now and then so want to get a 4x8 with just what we need no fluff.   


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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Looking at one from industrial CNC

 


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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Also a used shopbot PRT.   


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

express%20neon%20sig.jpg

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Forget the 4 x 8  Cry once and smile for the next 20 years
Pay the price only one time and  Buy a 5 x 10 MultiCam and never look back or worry.  
My MultiCam is 15 plus years old and only 2 service calls were required.

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Oh I totally understand what you are saying paul, but I just simply can't swing that price tag.   


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

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dont you have someone local that you can sub the router work out to? doesnt sound like to have the volume to justify one yet

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No one that I trust not to poach my clients.   That's why I want to go bare bones at the beginning.  I thought there were shopbot users one here.  


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

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You don't need to go to sign shops for CNC work, in fact their more expensive.  I'll sub project out to metal and acrylic fabricators, they usually charge by the hour and most of the time they have not only Rotary CNC's but also Plasma, and Water Jet. 

 

A shopbot CNC is a great entry level router, perfect for acrylic and HDU and light alum. 


You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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Lol. Guys I'm not shitting when I say nothing like that here.   Small community.   Looking for input on shopbot vs industrial CNC.     Not buying a 50-100k machine not interested in that at all.   


Installation & Maintenance Services

Brian Phillips | expresssignandneon@sbcglobal.net | P. 812-882-3278

Express Sign & Neon | 119 S. 15th Street - Vincennes - IN 47591

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Ii bought a slightly used techno lc 5 by 10 in 2010. came with computer, enroute, dust collector & bunch of bits. paid 21 grand.  1 service call (my fault) & its still banging out the work. Techno was a partner w/ isel automation who makes the vast majority of the components for all the other routers. in other words... very repairable. i also like the fact that the rails are underslung so no debris lands on the drive track (shopbot). there are plenty of 4 by 8 techno lc's for short $$$. i like the 5 by 10 because other shops send me the oversize stuff.  i have cut 1/2" aluminum plate with mine. find a slightly used machine, i saved 40 grand.

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Look to see if you have a local "Makers Group". Our local one has a ShopBot 4x8 and they will teach you how to use it and let you make projects. I purchased a 4x8 BlackFoot CNC that was a kit. I love it and use to make wood signs and cut letters out of MaxMetal. It's a steep learning curve if you're doing it alone but well worth the effort. Also, a great resource for quick information is a Facebook group for "CNC for Beginners".

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I replaced my old 4 x 8 last fall.  With a new 5 x 10 Accu Cut from Computerized Cutters in Plano, TX.   Since I'm 5 miles from them, I worked a pretty sweet deal.  I upgraded the spindle to a 5hp.   Then they actually ended up upgrading, my upgraded spindle, to a 7hp. (I guess it's what they had on hand)  Man this sucker is quiet.  We were able to pick it up on our trailer.  I have a fork lift at the shop, so it was easy peazy getting it in place.  I didn't get the vacuum table.  I Had a newer one on the old machine, and it's ridiculously loud as well.

 

Take your time, and work them down in pricing.  Time is your friend.  I scored mine for $22,700.00

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