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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am probably at where many of you started - looking for my 1st CNC router. My problem is that my judgment may be a bit clouded because I have fallen in love with the big Powermatic PM-2X4SPK CNC MACHINE. I can't even look at other CNC routers without feeling guilty.

At first, I hated that Powermatic gold but the lines of the design kept calling to me. I have fallen in love with the heavy-duty welded steel frame, the extruded aluminum table, the beautiful MDF spoil board, the heavy-duty gantry supports are made of gravity cast aluminum, the precision ball screws with recirculating ball bearings, the 3hp liquid cooled electro-spindle, the linear guideways with recirculating ball bearings, the handheld controller, and the high-torque stepper motors.

What I don't love is the $8,500 price tag. I'm afraid there is no hope for me....:grin:

Are there any other Powermatic users here? If so, are you too in love? What are your likes and dislikes?
 

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We have several Powermatic tools in our fabrication lab, and love them for the same reasons you've discovered. They are heavy. Our lathes sit still despite the starting off-balance shake rough logs of wood make before they've been turned to a cylinder. Our table saw doesn't balk at 5" thick slabs being ripped, and will throw a misbehaving board back with authority and keep straight and running despite the blood. :)

For a CNC though I'd need to know what support is behind it. What software does it run and does it come with it? Are any accessories available for it? Dust collection? Touch-off plates? Tool length sensor? Tool changer? Will you be happy when confined to 3-axis flat work?

I'm not sure just how heavy a CNC has to be. I've come to think that "stiff" is more important. Weight just costs you more when it is time to move the thing. Of the small CNCs I've played with the CNC Shark is heavy enough to not slide off the bench it sits on, but not stiff enough to trust cutting aluminum or very hard woods with accuracy. The Probotix CNCs I have and also use at work are far stiffer than the Shark, and surprisingly light. The company making them is young and creative, having improved their design and added features/accessories over the years. Taller and stiffer are the latest improvements. A tool changer is in the works. They are prototyping an enclosure for their CNCs.

4D
 

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It seems to be a very well made machine reading the specs linear guide rails and ball screws welded frame. I really wonder what type controller it uses? The other thing that stood out was a 5 year warranty I don't thing any other CNC router gives a warranty nearly that long.

Weight is your friend in machine tools they dampen vibration and you get better cuts You can make heavier cuts and get smoother results that is why heavy cabinet saws are made other wise everyone would just run an aluminum contractor saw in their wood shop. You can cut cabinets with a contractor saw you just need to do a little more sanding.

Mike
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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I am a big fan of PM but not their CNC line, which I believe is just rebranded (Chinese, maybe?). To be fair, though, I have never seen one but I know that price tag for a 2x4 is awfully high. I'd rather buy one of the Saturn line from FLA and build my own over paying that kind of price. Or the popular Probotix line if you want a turnkey solution.

Here's a long discussion on SMC about it and there's probably one over at CNC Zone, as well, but I didn't look.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
One of my customers has the AXIOM AR8 Pro+ and it is a nice machine. I do think they are the same machine. The PowerMatic machine came out after the Axiom so they probably contracted Axiom to produce their machine.
I'm not so sure as you. Kaber Technologies designed the new CNC Router for Powermatic Woodworking Tools. There are a lot of similarities and I am wondering if Kaber could have OEMed parts or the design from AXIOM for Powematic? It is a complicated world we live in today.:grin:

Kaber Technologies
 

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One limitation of CNCs design like the powermatic/axiom is that the gantry has a beam running under the bed. Same flaw as my CNC shark.
My probotix meteor, on the other hand uses 2 Y motors to push/pull the gantry and that leaves a bed with nothing running under it. Advantage? You can open up the bed to do vertical and angled cutting. We take great advantage of that "feature" for cutting furniture joinery and solving many furniture design construction challenges.

If you plan on sticking to flat work then don't sweat it. If you want to make furniture then you'll appreciate a CNC with vertical/angled/bulky part clamping potential.

My CNC: 4D Furniture Thoughts: Advanced Compound Angle CNC Clamping Fixture.

4D
 

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My wisdom wasn't instant. It came simply by adding time to a beginning. I had no clue what knowledge would be needed when I ordered my first CNC. Curiosity and some spare cash was all. The CNC in the link is my second, needed simply for its larger cut area. Opening it up for vertical cuts was an accidental discovery. The jig in the link is version 2.5. I may look clever but that is because I don't show you versions 1 through 2.4. I'll confess to a willingness to iterate. Jig one worked, but had considerable room for improvements.

In a couple of years you'll have new users wishing they lived closer to you. :) Welcome to the adventure!

4D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Certainly looks well built. Gary, are you wanting to keep the size of the machine to a cutting are that small?
The type of woodworking I am doing should work well with a 24"x48" format. If I ever need a larger format CNC router then I can go to my local Makerplace where they have a large format (48"x96") CNC router available for member's use. They even have a CNC embroidery machine!

MakerPlace - Home
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
After a lot of research and inquiries sent, I have to say I am not sure: "Who is who in the zoo?" anymore.

The similarities between the AXIOM and the Powermatic are pretty evident but now I notice that the Laguna IQ is starting to like a lot like those two. Does anyone know if they are all the same machine and what the differences are, if any?

I got a quote from Laguna and they will include the VCarve Pro software with their unit which is a good saving. When I asked if they could upgrade that to Aspire, they replied back that they could discount it from $1,999 to $720 and include a 5% discount on the package. If they all are the same machine then Laguna has the best price out the door.
 

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When I saw the original tease for the Powermatic CNC I was intrigued as well. However, I do believe there is better value elsewhere be it Fine Line Automation, Probotix or CNCRouterParts. Love is fickle beast so be careful :)
 
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