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Help! So confused. Need recommendation for CNC Router / Table

Discussion in 'CNC Routers & Engravers' started by Faith Sign Co, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Faith Sign Co

    Faith Sign Co New Member

    Aug 26, 2020
    Wentzville, MO
    I need some very serious recommendations for cnc equipment. I would like a 4 x 8 table with the CNC Router. Seeing prices from 5k to 100k. Smaller shop but wanting to get into building my own channel letters and sign cabinets. Budget cap is 15k to 20k. Would love to hear what experienced shops would recommend. Purchasing very soon. Thank you.
  2. Jester1167

    Jester1167 Premium Subscriber

    Been a while since I ran a router, but the beefier router the better the cuts, the faster you can run, and the longer your bits will last. Get the beefiest router you can and you will save time and money in the long run.

    I used a couple of Multicam routers the 3000 being the last and latest. They worked well, but the price was more than triple your cap with the vacuum hold-down. If your willing to waste some time, mask and spray adhesive you can skip the vacuum hold-down but I don't recommend it. You can save some money on the chip collector and buy your own dust collector. You will have to buy a mister since you will be cutting aluminum.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Faith Sign Co

    Faith Sign Co New Member

    Aug 26, 2020
    Wentzville, MO
    Is there a more cost efficient way to cut polycarbonate letters and backings?
  4. Jester1167

    Jester1167 Premium Subscriber

    You can get a router, probably a shopbot, in your price range, but it won't be near as efficient in a high production environment. Your other option is to buy used. I have no experience with a shopbot, but it may be a perfect fit for you. I don't know you, your business, or your area so I can't offer advice on which is the best solution for you.

    I mentioned beefier because the more weight in the router, the more the vibrations get dampened, which leads to better cut quality, shorter run times, and your bits will last longer. There are other benefits to the more expensive routers, but it doesn't mean you have to spend $75,000 on a CNC. I am just trying to help you understand what you will get at different price ranges so you can weigh your options and pick the best solution for your needs, future needs, and budget.

    Also, once you get comfortable with a CNC, You will sell and find more work for it. Your market will determine if or how quickly you will outgrow a less expensive router.

    The old skool option is to buy 2" pink foam from the hardware store. Just put the material you want to cut on top of the foam and use a jigsaw to cut it out. This method is cheap but labor-intensive.
  5. Faith Sign Co

    Faith Sign Co New Member

    Aug 26, 2020
    Wentzville, MO
    I appreciate the advise. Yah, probably too labor intensive for the old school method.
  6. synergy_jim

    synergy_jim Very Active Member

    When I first started my shop, I bit the bullet and bought a $60,000 Multicam 1000 series 5x10 with 8 tool changer. Lease payments were roughly $1200.00 per month for 5 years with $0.00 buyout. I have never regretted the purchase even though we sold the machine after 7 years and upgraded to a 3000 model.

    Points to consider.

    1) lots of budget machines are very quirky and require you to know at least a little G code to run them. Multicam has the easiest controller in the business. No g code.
    2) you 100% get what you pay for. Do you want to have to monkey with the machine every day to get the output the way you want it.
    3) Once we bought our machine, we started machining parts for other shops as well. I'd be surprised if our income from the router wasn't 5 to 10X the cost of the lease every month.
    4) No matter what you buy. find someone who uses that router on a daily basis and pick their brain. A little mentorship goes a long way.

    I hope that helps. If you have questions regarding specific manufacturers or anything else. drop me a PM.
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Souldar

    Souldar New Member

    May 22, 2020
  8. Christian @ 2CT Media

    Christian @ 2CT Media Major Contributor

    Jun 15, 2009
    Mesa, Arizona
    Why polycarb?

    There are low cost outsource services for faces and back plates if you are doing the side returns yourself.
  9. John Miller

    John Miller Member

    Dec 10, 2005
    Branford, Connecticut
    The advice you're getting is about spot on. You really do get what you pay for. If you asked me "new shopbot or used main stream brand" I'd go with used.
    There are people who specialize in used equipment and know what to look for and what to avoid. With the limited knowledge you have on CNC you need to align yourself with a trusted company. Two things that you should definitely get on your CNC are vacuum hold down and automatic tool changer. The time they will save is worth much more than their cost. PM me if you like and I can give you advice.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. The equipment is important, sure.
    What hasn't been mentioned is the operator, or physical plant, so I'll touch on that.
    I ran a Gerber 4'x8' table for years...good solid machine, rather overpriced, like all Gerber stuff!
    some points......

    space: you don't just need room to walk around it, you need good access to feed sheets on and off in both directions.

    noise: the router screams, and the vacuum, coolant, compressor, dust collection all add up to a lot of decibels, and vibration. Pretty sure I have hearing loss, even though I wore earplugs and muffs overtop. If it's running for hours each day, you can drive the other people in the building crazy!

    operator: all these devices have their learning curve, and quirks. The operator(s) who become proficient need to be compensated. You end up saving money in training, ruined jobs, and equipment damage. It's best if the router operator is involved, or actually 'sets up' the job in the cut program, so they can use, select & adapt, for the bits and toolpath that work best for each material.

    dust/waste etc: the area needs to be well ventilated. Materials cut best in certain temps, and create fumes that may be objectionable if circulated thru the HVAC system.

    Table: we did not have vacuum hold-down. It works with adhesive etc, but obviously that adds time, material, cost to the job. For cutting small letters and shapes, I'm not sure that vacuum alone is adequate.
    We did a few jobs over 12'+ long by moving and re-setting the second panel of the job. Not impossible, but requires the operator and designer have their heads in the game....lots of time planning and designing to address all the possible problems.

    good luck in your new adventure!
  11. fixtureman

    fixtureman Member

    May 16, 2012
    Medina Ohio
    I have an older Shopbot and it does everything that comes my way for acrylic I have a laser cutter gives me a better edge even then the 100K Bessie I ran at the shop I worked for. In fact I did cut stuff that for that shop would nod try on the Bessie as it was more cost efficient. I could make my file and cut it before they could make the file.
  12. Greg Kelm

    Greg Kelm Member

    Aug 20, 2019
    Rancho Cucamonga
    I just bought a CNC plasma table from ShopSabre and the thing is very well built. They're US made and their Router tables run 17k for entry level 4x8' table. The support is great and the Facebook user groups are extremely helpful too. If I were you, I would spend a little more money on a better model because it will pay off in the long run. A lot of people speak highly of Geneva Capital on this site, so I decided to use them. The process was extremely easy and I couldn't be more happy.

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