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What features on a router can't you do without

Discussion in 'CNC Routers & Engravers' started by Rocco G, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Rocco G

    Rocco G Member

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    Hi

    I'm starting to shop for a CNC router, planning on getting it this fall . I'm tired of either turning down work or having to outsource it to someone else. I've gotten the sales pitch on several "add-on" bits/pieces to various systems. I'm doubtful of their usefulness. For example, one company is really pushing a mister attachment. The mister seems to be useful if I were cutting steel but I am sure I'd outsource that if that were ever needed. I'm planning on cutting: HDU, Acrylic, PVC, aluminum, ACM etc. The thickest aluminum sheet I'd ever cut would be .125" for pierced faces. Along that same line I'd say we'd go to 3/4" acrylic for push-thru lettering. We do mainly electric signs BTW. Another company wants to sell me a high power vacuum system to get rid of the cutting spoils, but again I'm doubtful.

    My basic configuration would be a 4x8 table (would go bigger but don't have the room), spindle motor (single phase), vac hold-down (single phase), Aspire software (instead of V Carve Pro).

    So, what extra features can't you do without?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. letterman7

    letterman7 Very Active Member

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    I run a very basic ShotBot with VCarve software. It's served me well for years. I have, however, set up a vacuum collection system for the spoils (more off than on, but it works). I would like eventually to have a spindle (more accurate than a basic router) and ShotBot's upgraded servo motors and associated software. That said, since you don't have a specific company in mind, at a bare minimum your system should have (and this is only my opinion):

    vacuum hold-down
    vacuum collection
    spindle - 1.5hp or higher
    misting system if you intend to do aluminum
    Aspire is great software; VCarve will get you started with no issues

    A lot of guys will cut aluminum without a misting system. It can be done but I feel it shortens the life of the bit(s). If I'm doing aluminum, I'll sit there with a pump/pressure wand sprayer and hit the bit every few seconds. Not effective, but it makes the cut (for me) cleaner. Cleaning up afterwards is a mess, but it always is.
     
  3. Kottwitz-Graphics

    Kottwitz-Graphics Very Active Member

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    +1
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. DerbyCitySignGuy

    DerbyCitySignGuy Very Active Member

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    In addition to the above, a drag knife is huge.
     
  5. Eric H

    Eric H Member

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    If your doing alot of aluminum a mister would be good. Not sure you could cut steel with a router in this range with or without it.Vacuum hold down for sure but I don’t think your getting one for a 4x8 table in single phase. Same with spindle probably 3hp+ not sure about single phase for that either.
     
  6. Martin Denton

    Martin Denton Member

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    A nose rider is a great help, prevents the tool going beyond a given depth, very useful if folding acm trays...
     
  7. CL Visual

    CL Visual Member

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    I would find a way to make room for a bigger table. The day you get a 4x8 table you'll get asked about a contract for 50" x 100" cutouts
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. cgsigns_jamie

    cgsigns_jamie Very Active Member

    You'll absolutely want the mister if you're cutting aluminum. Not only improves cut quality but greatly increases tool life. You can also use it when cutting acrylic to help blow the chips away.

    And don't undervalue a good dust/chip collection system! We spend almost as much time cleaning up after cutting a job, then actually cutting a job. I just ordered a new router table, and one of the main reasons was I like the new dust collection on the newer machine so much.

    I'm not sure if a tool changer is on your options list, but if it's not at least go with a quick release spindle. That way you can have your commonly used tools pre-loaded in tool holders ready to insert into the spindle. Otherwise, you'll have to manually change the tool in the collet and re-zero the tool during each tool change. Not a huge deal, but a big time saver.

    It won't be long before you think that 4' x 8' is too small. We mainly manufacture electric signs and my current router table is 7' x 12', and there have been times where I've had to panel projects because it wasn't big enough. If you're fabricating larger signs, not just channel letters, go for the largest machine you can afford. Typically doesn't cost that much more to get a larger size, but it comes in handy later on.
     
  9. Superior_Adam

    Superior_Adam Member

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    If you plan on doing any aluminum I would go with some type of lubrication system. We have it on out Zund and love it. If you do not lubricate the bit you will burn through the bits like crazy and mess up a lot of material.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. DerbyCitySignGuy

    DerbyCitySignGuy Very Active Member

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    100%. Get the biggest table you can fit/afford. It'll pay off.
     
  11. Rocco G

    Rocco G Member

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    Thanks folks. I am leaning towards Shopbot, though they never even mentioned a mister. At least I don't recall them mentioning a mister. I've looked at so many options that I could be forgetting things. They did have a single phase version for both the vac and spindle BTW. I'll ask about a quick release spindle and extra tool holders. That seems like a great idea.

    I completely understand that the second I turn on the power to a 4x8 I'll get called for larger things. It's like a sign crane, no matter how much stick you have, you wish you had a bigger one. If I had my ultimate machine it would be at least 8 x 12, all three phase, tool changer, etc. We did some 7 x 13 metal faces last year and i had a friend cut it in two pieces. However, unless I hit the lottery (in which case I wouldn't be buying a router table anyway) it will have to be the 4 x 8. It's a matter of space and budget.

    I'll look more into a mister attachment. Anything else to add on to the shopping list?
     
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