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Greetings...

I would like to get some advice or direction on where best to research and identify the top five or so 24 x 36 Desk Top CNC routers… … I have zero knowledge with respect to type of equipment.. I have a budget of about 14 K..I am intending to use the CNC Router for commercial purposes.. medium duty not day to day manufacturing.. needed to support my startup business for making high-end bas-relief art, reproduction antique signs in wood as well as pattern making for cast products....


I am also interested in a digitizer will allow me to digitally map any bass relief artwork that I produce from there I will be able to scale up or down and re output it to a CNC router… the digitizer is pivotal to my application…

Regards & Thanks
 

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Welcome, Ed.

I'm a big fan of the CNCs that Probotix.com make and sell. For under 5k you can buy their Asteroid 25" x 37" version, or their Meteor 25" x 49" version. You can get them with a router clamp and you provide the router, or for a little more with a spindle designed to run longer before breaking down. They come completely assembled including the PC running Linux/LinuxCNC to control them. Plug in the cables.

Their frame design permits opening up the bed to clamp boards vertically or at any angle to the router. They have a tool sensor that automatically sets the Z value any time you change bits during a cut.

I own a Meteor, and oversee the use of another Meteor and a Nebula from them at the university where I teach. Our uses are primarily for furniture parts and joinery. Others here can advise on using them for sign creation.

I can't advise on a digitiser as I don't use or have one.

Any questions on using LinuxCNC or the CNCs from Probotix just let me know. I don't work for them but as I said am a big fan.

4D
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Greetings 4D & Thank you responding…


Great recommendation.. I had run across Probotix before but did not assess for removable bed, so thanks for pointing that out… as that could come in very handy… the price point is also very reasonable. I was looking at a LARKEN CAMTOOL 24/24 which is made here in Canada with no 4th axis for way more… I might go for the NEBULA CNC ROUTER 37” x 50” x 5” Machine Travel… comparatively the Larkin has 8” of Travel on the Z Axis which I liked… Re: some of the pieces that I want to do have dynamic perspective… I am not sure yet but I could be constrained by the 5” of depth… However I really like the removable bed and the length coming in at 50” will keep Probotix at the top of my list..


Have not used Linux before… or G code… not worried about the Linux… but what, since you’re a teacher … do you estimate the learning curve to be time wise for G Code for basic competency for learning how to use this piece of equipment ? I am trying to project ROI for budgetary purposes… the learning curve is something that I have to factor in…



Again.. Thank you for some very good advice…
 

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What Perfesser 4D said. He's good!!! He swung me over to Probotix and I haven't regretted getting the Nebula yet. It comes with it's own dedicated computer with Linux already installed. If you use a program from Vectric such as Aspire or Vcarve all you have to do is select the right box and it loads your design on a firestick in G code. Then you just plug it in the USB port and touch it off. If an old school retired truck driver like me can do it, you sure as heck can. Besides, you got a wealth of knowledge on this site to pick brains from.

HJ
 
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I was wondering about a digitizing probe too. I talked to Len at Probotics via email and he said that it's all ready to go as shipped with the necessary ports. Just plug it in and go, so to speak. I've been pretty impressed with his several timely responses to my inquiries and I'm buying a Probotics when I buy, I'm saving for it now.
 

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How curved the learning will be varies with each person I've encountered. I started with PC experience, Drafting then CAD experience, a design/problem solving education, several decades teaching furniture design using all sorts of tools, and access to several web search engines. My first CNC was an early CNC Shark Pro from Rockler. It came with VCarve from Vectric, and somehow made perfect obvious sense to me after watching all the tutorial videos they have.

Linux/LinuxCNC was new to me, but looks a lot like Windows and already had an icon I could double click on to run LinuxCNC for my Meteor. I could cut the same files I'd created for my Shark by just selecting a different post processor (print driver). I have edited config files for my Meteor to gain cutting access to the real hard limits of the bed, roughly 26" wide and 52.5" long. I'm even working on an automatic tool (router) changer for my Meteor.

The dual Y motor open frame design of my Meteor lets me mount jigs inside to hold work at any angle beneath the bit. Their 5" travel may be your biggest negative as with the bed on top of the frame you get barely 2" to use/cut. The router WILL move through 5" of travel, but only if you've opened up the bed does it have a place for all of it to go. When fully down (I had mine cut a hole in the table below it) there is more troublesome flex/play.

4D
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Honest John,

Found your comments interesting particularly about your transition to a second career… good for you!… as I am also in the similar position…

I have been a buyer for 20+ years … I am now doing tier one and tier two automotive purchasing… which is a bit stressful at this stage.. I have always had a creative streak and have made a couple of attempts over the years to start something… usually revolving around Sculpting and Casting… I am pretty good with Corel and starting to learn Google sketch up .. I have an interest in Bas Relief art and would like to combine that with decorative sign making my goal is to produce aviation, transportation, nautical and commemorative bass relief art in a variety of mediums in different sizes and price points .... for private, business and institutional applications…. I need the router and the digitizer to pull it all together…

Thank you for your encouragement…


Hi Scott:


I figured / assumed that the digitizer would be compatible with their system... but thanks for confirming it for me, I would like to identify and get a recommendation on one.. I have only seen one other one out there...



4D

Learning is a bit harder now… but I have learned to be strategic …

Hitting the saw …. That must have made some noise … thanks for sharing that…

Depth issues .. Hmmm…Thanks for pointing that out …..I use to buy a lot of metal work / cabinets etc. the company that I worked for made Radiation detection equipment for Nuclear power stations, anyway I have an Engineer friend that can design a reinforcement table /structure for the frame to register and sit on… if there are cross braces and they can be removed then I might get the full depth and minimize the flex at the same time… Reason….I would like to attempt doing some Half Hull’s… I need the depth… given your experience with Probotix do you think my idea for the reinforcement table /structure will work? I would need a picture of the table without the bed with the frame exposed to show my friend..


Honestly…Your insight is invaluable and much appreciated… I would like to factor this in now in advance and have a plan to address..

Regards, Ed Zac
 

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Ed Zac.

I have two CNC's, a small 24" x 24" Shark HD. Great machine and I have carved 3 d signs up to 78" in diameter on it. This also came with a digital probe ( small adder of about $150). that allows me to scan anything that fits on the table.) this is a very slow process but works. This little machine sells for under $4000, comes with great easy to use software.

I also have a CNCRouter Parts 48 96. Great, larger Machine ( I had to ship it to Alaska, so buying it in a kit form saved me thousands in shipping, I love it.. Amazing support company..

It is my opinion that where you really want to spend some time is with the 3 D software. I suggest taking a free ride with ASPIRE. they allow you to down load the software and try it for free. the only limit being that you can not turn any designs in to software.

there are two elements of Aspire that you might find interesting.

1. Tiling. Tiling allows you to take a large carving and use a single button to turn it into a series of smaller tiles that can be carved independantly on your smaller machine. So a 96 " x 12 " carving can be slide through the CNC and carved in qty 4 24 " x 12" tiles.

2. Look at the tool in Aspire that allows you to slice you model depth. that means you can take a 18 " deep model and Aspire will turn that into qty 6, 3" thick slices that stack on top of each other. Some of the limits on Z Depth and table size can be over come with the software.

lots of great machines out there. I was looking at an attachment for an IPAD that can digitally scan items as well for about $1000 and was wondering how accurate it would be.

The 3d software controls what you can make. CNC machines do three things. They go up ( Z), they go back (X), and the go left and right (Y). there operating software is just an interface that accepts vectors that come from a 3 D software program. Most Operating systems are pretty user friendly. 1. Load tool path, 2. Set Zero. GO.

Keep us informed as you take the journey...
 

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Hi Scott,

I checked out your stuff … Must say..really excellent work..

I also checked out the CNC Router Parts website … and will definitely consider the offerings … really great flexibility and value for the DYI …

Agreed the software is key, Aspire looks great and should cover all of the basic requirements … Thanks for pointing out the tiling feature ..I was totally unaware. At this point I am looking to provide some basic offerings while I develop the upper end stuff … I am assuming that you have seen Art Cam … I was looking at the Art Cam Insignia software which is roughly $2,500..


Have to say that 3D Systems iSense 3D Scanner for iPad Air blew me away …. When I last professionally sculpted I did everything by hand … this is going back 18 years ago a lot of this technology was not around or not as accessible.

Sometime back I was looking at the Next engine 3D Scanner the one Jay Leno endorses .. as I am planning a series of large scale Bas Reliefs 4 ft. x 6 ft. one of them being the De Havilland Beaver which I wanted to produce full size (4 ft. x 6 ft) after I produced a series of large format pieces I would then scan and re output to smaller sizes.. I was then planning to mold and then cast in either Bronze epoxy or FGR Plaster…. Basically Different Sizes, mediums and price points… all from one piece of art..

Thanks for taking the time to provide your insight… I will make better decisions for it… Since I decided to get back into this area again it’s been a large technological learning curve ..


All…
I have to say the response from this forum has exceeded expectations… many thanks to everyone for their support…I have gotten lots of very valuable input.. I will keep everyone posted and I am sure that there will be more questions… I am hoping to get something going in Q-1 of 2016 but I need to get a good grasp of the essentials first… That’s why I am here..seeking your input... hopefully I will be able to pay that back by contributing in some way shape or form ..

Regards,

Ed Zac
 
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