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Discussion Starter #1
So... in my ongoing search mode to try to learn more about CNC before I jump (coincidentally delayed by gathering funds), I was thinking that the next thing coming would possibly be an Auto tool change - but they're typically REALLY expensive... and I see this one from Laguna with a 3-tool ATC for about $12k: https://lagunatools.com/cnc/iq-series/laguna-iq-pro-24-x-36-cnc/

This isn't too far off of what a Shopbot Desktop Max would be, but about double what a Probotix Asteroid would cost. Any thoughts on this? Would an auto tool changer be important to consider?

Some people don't think much of Laguna, and I've had some issues with the stuff of theirs that I own (12" Jointer/Planer and 16" bandsaw, both 3 hp), but they've always responded and tried to help...

I would THINK an ATC would be a good thing - you could run programs that would involve a couple of tool changes - maybe even finish a project - in one set of instructions? This isn't so much a question about brands, but about an affordable ATC.

Thanks,

Larry
 

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You can get a Probotix with a Z-puck for 1/2 the price. Changing bits manually takes all of about a minute or less.

I don't even have a Z-Puck. I keep a deck of old playing cards in the bit drawer and use one for my touch off point, as well as doing an "on the spot" leveling job when needed.

If funds are an issue (they weren't in my case but I don't let loose of $$$ easily), why do you keep going after the more expensive ones? Heck, you don't even know if you'll even like doing this or stick with it. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Not at all what I thought it would be like. You can always upgrade down the road a piece, if you want. I can do more with 3 smaller cheaper machines than you can with one of those. And the cost would be about the same.

Don't forget, the Probotix comes with it's own computer already programmed for the machine. Just plug and play! You got to get one for theirs and set it up.

Just my opinion.
 

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Probotix does sell the next best technology. They have a bit touch-off Z calibrator (ATC) that when it detects a tool change it stops, lets you change the bit, then moves over to measure where the bottom of the bit is. Once done it returns to cut the next toolpath.

In my spare time I've been working on the details of a way to change out the whole router (small trim routers) when a tool change is detected in the g-code. I've got the details worked out, but need someone with more engineering skill than I've got to finalize the prototype.

4D
 

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Discussion Starter #4
4D - that reminds me of something on the Laguna IQ Pro video that I thought was, well, missing... The machine went through three tool changes and never once measured the tool length. Perhaps that kind of spindle mount doesn't require it? Video link here:

On my Ready2Route system, which has 4 CNC motors and a controller, one of the greatest things is a plate to let you set the bit height and position relative to the fence. Even on this relatively simple CNC-ish implementation, bit height and location are absolutely critical... I get your points, 4D and HJ... Just thinking it through. (Here's a link to my posts on the Ready2Route system, and a box I built with it: http://www.routerforums.com/tools-woodworking/72426-ready2rout-5.html)
 

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Generally the bottom of all the bits is measured and remembered when installed into the bit chucks/holders. When they are changed out they get measured again before starting up any job. We have a multicam CNC with ATC (8 tools) and that's how it works. Even when the machine is shut down any bit heights that haven't been changed out are still stored in nonvolatile memory.

I'm guessing an ATC like the one Laguna shows would double Probotix' machine prices. They would also need to beef up/increase the height of their gantry.

4D
 

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David
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I couldn't help but notice how slow the rapids are on this machine. Our Laguna 14 SUV bandsaw is amazing but if I was Laguna and going to do a promo video on something called 'Pro' I believe making the machine fly would be beneficial. I'm sure the machine can go much faster than they showed but as slow as it moved you can just about make the tool changes yourself in that timeframe.
 

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Especially for that price!!!! A couple of dedicated box wrenches are cheap in comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I had not seen ANYTHING with any kind of ATC at all at anywhere near this price. The Shopbot ATC for their Alpha-series CNCs (with a 5hp 220v spindle) alone is over $15k, and CNCs with it included are $30-40k. This just got my curiosity going - to wonder if it was the next thing coming in CNCs. I think machines are reaching a level where a lot of manufacturers are offering basically the same thing at different pricepoints, and, like Legacy, are struggling to differentiate themselves. Legacy, with their quasi-5 axis machines, are interesting to me. Laguna's offering of an ATC at this pricepoint (but no rotary axis mentioned? Maybe as an add-on?) got my attention.

4D I think Legacy's software does a touch-off between tool changes automatically, even on their machines without an ATC. And I noticed on Camaster CNCs, they have an option with 3 spindles or 1 spindle and 2 trim routers. Is that what you're talking about? http://camaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/CAMaster-X3.pdf

HJ - I've been into woodworking too long to decide I wouldn't like it... I guess another thing that's making me hold off a little bit is career - at 62 I'm busier than ever, and finding time for woodworking on any level is hard. As a minister, you'd think it would be slowing down, but nope... and getting into video production on a semipro level hasn't helped my time management at all. Just finding time over the past week or two to switch my Dewalt 735 planer over to a helix-type head (really tired of tearout on expensive woods!) has been hard (got it done - yay!).
 

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I noticed on Camaster CNCs, they have an option with 3 spindles or 1 spindle and 2 trim routers. Is that what you're talking about? http://camaster.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/CAMaster-X3.pdf
Camaster has three splindles on the gantry at one time. My prototype idea is intended to only carry one trim router. When a tool number change is encountered it moves to drop off the whole router. It pulls back to leave that router in place, moves over to impale then pick up another one, then continues to cut the next discrete tool path. Power connects when the router is picked up. Variable speed settings on each router let them be "set" for the bit they hold. I can fit 5 routers in a rack across the front rail of my Probotix Meteor. I've created a post processor that "knows" where each one is based on its tool number. I'm only stuck at making the mating plates that grab and release the router during a tool number change. They need to feed 110vAC through tapered pins but have those pins "off" whenever exposed.

A work in progress.
4D
 

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Larry I'm hoping to be a future CNC router owner . I have to say I really like the Laguna products .
Watched a lot of there videos , and they certainly make a nice machine . I like there idea of separating the controller from the bed too.
To bad there priced to high for the average hobbyist
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It appears that they could have fit a cpl more spots for extra tool change no?
Jusrt have a longer tool caddy.
I had a similar thought... why only 3? But I BET that three would do it for many projects... or at least, get you much of the way through it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Camaster has three splindles on the gantry at one time. My prototype idea is intended to only carry one trim router. When a tool number change is encountered it moves to drop off the whole router. It pulls back to leave that router in place, moves over to impale then pick up another one, then continues to cut the next discrete tool path. Power connects when the router is picked up. Variable speed settings on each router let them be "set" for the bit they hold. I can fit 5 routers in a rack across the front rail of my Probotix Meteor. I've created a post processor that "knows" where each one is based on its tool number. I'm only stuck at making the mating plates that grab and release the router during a tool number change. They need to feed 110vAC through tapered pins but have those pins "off" whenever exposed.

A work in progress.
4D
Woof... that sounds ambitions! WAAAY beyond the scope of anything I would have imagined. The Camaster 1 spindle/2 router motors option had my head spinning a bit. You truly DO think in 4D!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Larry I'm hoping to be a future CNC router owner . I have to say I really like the Laguna products .
Watched a lot of there videos , and they certainly make a nice machine . I like there idea of separating the controller from the bed too.
To bad there priced to high for the average hobbyist
I have a couple of Laguna machines (16" bandsaw, capable of handling a 1" carbide-tipped blade, so HD!) and a 12" jointer/planer - not the best-designed j/p... I do think the tool changer is interesting. Regarding the controller - the hand-held controller on the IQ Pro is cool - but what is that huge box on the left of the CNC?

Anyway - as "future CNC owners," it's fun to think about such things and sort out where the products are headed. As I get nearer retirement, I'm thinking less as a hobbyist and more as someone doing it semi-professionally as a retirement business, so spending a bit more isn't out of the question for me. For example... shooting video, I use Canon pro-level cameras and decent lighting, and professional software (Finalcut Pro X and Premiere Pro CC). Prices are dropping on such things, as well as CNC machines. Trying to see where it's going.
 

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Larry I'd love to retire someday and get into signs etc , as a way to supplement my pension . Actually my pension is pretty much getting a job as a Greeter at WalMart , so anything would help . And why not do something you enjoy .
I'm liking the tool change also , and wouldn't three bits cover most jobs?
 

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Definitely do the sign route. Prismatic letters in Corafoam, signfoam etc HDU followed up w/ Gold Leaf, maybe dab into smaltz bkgd. Man, you'd have one hell of a greeting sign at WM. Nope, the more bits at your disposal is better. I like to setup for Acrylic, Alum & foam. My job has a Multicam 3000 w/ 8 tools atc. Rather convenient at best.

Larry I'd love to retire someday and get into signs etc , as a way to supplement my pension . Actually my pension is pretty much getting a job as a Greeter at WalMart , so anything would help . And why not do something you enjoy .
I'm liking the tool change also , and wouldn't three bits cover most jobs?
 

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My frugal compromise on tool changes is to put collars on the tool shank so that they all have a common distance from the router collet. Only couple minutes to change tools and no resetting Z.

Steve.
 
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