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Entry level CNC router

Discussion in 'CNC Routing & Laser Cutting' started by ChiknNutz, Jul 9, 2004.

  1. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    Is there such a thing as a entry level CNC router or one that I can put together myself, that is not just a hobby engraver, for under $20k? I have inquired to a few companies and one I just spoke to (AXYZ) has a 39" x 39" Millennium (table top size) and it is $23k (supposedly complete). Now, can I build one myself, or at least part of it, that is something worth having for less than this? Understand that I am a part-timer here, but am looking to expand my capabilities. I have used CNC lathes and mills before and also am quite proficient with 3D solid modeling software. I am no machinist, but have done some work as one in the past. So, if anyone has any advice to offer, I'd surely appreciate it. I have not fully decided to get a CNC router at all, but am just looking at the possibility of one.
     
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  2. Jen Goodwin

    Jen Goodwin Active Member

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  3. idsign

    idsign Member

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    Chris,

    There is a place like Jen pointed to - that is located around Detroit and a whole set-up is around $7,000 for 4x4 or 4x8 - but darned if I can find the link. I'll be googling for the link and will follow-up here. Can you make money with a CNC router?

    I think the guys at www.bettersigns.com are.
    (is it ok to put there link in here, Fred?)

    www.torchmate.com
    www.shopsabre.com

    just google with - cnc router signs - as keywords

    Barry
     
  4. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    Yes Barry it is providing it isn't some thing being sold by the poster.
     
  5. Bob Rochon

    Bob Rochon Seasoned Sign Freak

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    Chris,

    I have seen the shopbot work and have talked to a few people that use them and they love them, for around 8K you can't beat it and I think you can get it cheaper if you build your own table.
     
  6. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    Yeah, started looking into the ShopBots. Can get into one for right around $8000. I estimate closer to $10,000 before it's all said and done though.
     
  7. barb

    barb Member

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    Try a search on google for cnc plans, i bought a set from machintoolcamp.com i think about two years ago. Pretty detailed info and it looks like you can build one for about 5k for a 4x8' table. I just haven't had the time to get to it.
     
  8. Bob Rochon

    Bob Rochon Seasoned Sign Freak

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    Just also keep in mind, building it yourself is great but then you are totally responsible for every glich, and do you want ot be fixing and figuring out your cnc or making signs?

    if building it myself for 5 and buying it for 8 I'd do the 8 in a heart beat, that 3K is only a few carved signs difference and I hear shopbot has a superior support system. Not to mention many users and BB's like this for help.

    I'd advise building your market and subbing out your work untill you can swing the nut.

    All depends on what kind of work you want to do or already do with it. I still hand carve for I can't justify spending that kind of dough to do an occasional carved sign.

    I sell the advantages of hand carved signs and get more for it too, if that's the route you are going after, you can learn to hand carve in a short time.

    Just the way I tend to work it.
     
  9. barb

    barb Member

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    Good advice bob but Chris is an engineer by trade (at least thats what I read on another board) I think he would be capable of building one, I also have spoken to the folks at machinetoolscamp and they offer great support.
    Machine Tool
     
  10. Bob Rochon

    Bob Rochon Seasoned Sign Freak

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    Great info Barb, thanks for sharing!
     
  11. ernie

    ernie Member

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    For a good router, you should look at practicalcnc.com The flashcut.com hardware and software they use is fantastic. The router is a little light duty but it is easily fixed by an engineer such as yourself. I added a vacuum table and the router paid for itself within the first 6 months.

    On the other hand, If I had Bob's skill at carving I'd save my money, he can probably carve a sign faster than I can setup the files and rout it.

    ernie
     
  12. MAB SIGNS

    MAB SIGNS Very Active Member

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    I just read about the practical CNC Router, can anyone else provide any feedback for it?

    Mark
     
  13. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    I'd like to get some more feedback on this too, maybe some more specific details. Did this unit (PracticalCNC) come with a router or spindle? How hard was it to make the vacuum table and how big of a vacuum system do you need to make it work effectively? I see you use a different software, but is what comes with it adequate? Will the provided software do true 3D or even v-groove text? Any input is appreciated!
     
  14. ernie

    ernie Member

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    Chris,
    Check your email for a full reply.

    As to the Rams3D software, it works great to generate V-cut tool paths, outlines, real 3D toolpaths and the required G-code.

    ernie
     
  15. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    Thanks for the reply Ernie! Much appreciated. Based on some of your comments (in the email), I still might consider the ShopBot. It appears to be a fairly robust system and seems to be pretty close in price. I also like the fact that they have a pretty large following and the shopbot forum is pretty cool. Still haven't decided on a CNC for sure yet anyway - still trying to decide between this and a VersaCAMM. I like the aspects of both, but it looks like I can get into a CNC a bit cheaper than a good digital printer. Also depends on the market I want to pursue (which I'm leaning more towards the dimensional signage). But, the digital market is coming on strong with better machines at better prices. Again, I appreciate the comments and will of course relay my findings and my decisions as well.
     
  16. ernie

    ernie Member

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    Well, the digital printing equipment will drop in price faster than the cnc hardware. There is a lot of people getting into printing, but it is easier and cleaner and quicker out the door.

    Routing signs makes lots of dust, takes more time than you ever dreamed possible, requires sanding, gluing and painting. Most people just won't put up with the mess. Then there is the shipping or installation problems.

    Being crazy I like routing signs better but I make more money with the Edge printer.

    ernie
     
  17. andy

    andy Active Member

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    Cnc

    Hi,

    What kind of system are you looking for? I looked at the ShopBot system and nearly bought one- was just a bit worried about the quality and reliability.

    For the budget you quote of a maximum $20K US you can get a decent machine.

    I can source you a brand new setup:

    3 axis machine 1200 x 1200mm
    5hp vacuum hold down system
    1.4Kw spindle
    and control software
    for around $17,000

    If you wanted a proper 8ft x 4ft (2400mm x 1200mm) setup the list price is $21.170 with the same spindle and vacuum system- but it might be possible to haggle a bit. There will be a bit of shipping on that but I don't know much about costs and stuff for the US.

    These machines are the good quality bits of kit. I have an arrangement to distribute in the UK and ROI but I can put you intouch with the US guys.

    (the parent company is based just outside San Francisco so US support and installation should be a breeze).

    Hopefully this doesn't break forum rules- if it does I guess it will get deleted (sorry in advance if I've broken the rules).

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  18. ChiknNutz

    ChiknNutz Major Contributor

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    From what I've seen so far, the Shopbot seems to be the best bang for the buck. For around $10k, it looks like I can have a pretty good 4'x8' setup. Granted, this price includes a router and not a spindle and no vacuum table. Since this will be used initially for a part-time setup, I can't yet justify a top-of-the-line system. I'd like a spindle, but don't have access to 3-phase power in my shop (I'd guess not all spndles require 3-phase, but seems like many do), but could run 240V, 1-phase. BTW, who is the maker of this system you speak of? Thanks.
     
  19. SignRover

    SignRover Member

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    Get the Shopbot

    I've been running an early version of the Shopbot for over 5 years. I've put about $300 into replacement parts and it still runs like a top. Not a fancy top, but it runs fine. It's never been down more than a day.

    In that 5 years, my Shopbot has worn the brushes and bearings out on my Porter Cable routers six times. They too have been inexpensive to repair. I simply have a repaired one standing-by when the operating one bites the dust...so to speak.

    My Shopbot was one of the best investments I've ever made, and for roughly the same price, todays model is much more robust. I'll buy another one when I put mine down for good some day.

    And for a good laugh, listen to nutballs on their user forum tell you they can plot vinyl with the $350 aftermarket swivel knife chucked into the collect of their (turned off) router... Right. Don't believe EVERYTHING they tell you.



    If we can't fix it, we won't.
     
  20. MAB SIGNS

    MAB SIGNS Very Active Member

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    I'm only interested in router to cut aluminum shapes and router text out of .125 aluminum, will this Shopbot machine handle production of this type?

    Mark
     
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