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got the go ahead to purchase a cnc for work. we are primarily hardwoods. will be looking at machining mortises, maybe some signs, and some 3 dimensional stuff. been reading forums (incl this one) for a few months now, and still have many unanswered questions.

seems every time I read of a different software package, acronym I don't understand, or cnc feature - it adds another decision on the purchase.

looking to buy a turn-key operation. (I will build my own for home when I get the time) budget is $20k or so. thinking around 15 for the machine, and the rest for options and training. sticking to 4x4 and under for table size. I have a technical back ground. power no issue.

other than forum lurking, what is the next best source for learning the ins and outs of cnc's? I only want to buy one. I suspect visiting someone who has one, if they were willing to talk and share?? visit a factory??

appreciate any recommendations for equipment.

thanks in advance.
 

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If you are considering software from Vectric, there are a lot of videos on You Tube by their people and many others. Aspire would be the top tier, followed by VCarve Pro. Either of those applications should keep you busy. You can download the trial versions from their website. That is what I did about a month ago. I have no experience with the software or CNC operations, but I do now, and getting better every day. :smile:

Oh, I just got my machine and fired it up for the first time last night. Just a hobby machine from Probotics.

There are some good folks on her with a lot of knowledge that can offer suggestions and help.

Good luck.
Mike
 

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Hi and welcome to these forums! 20k is a good budget and you are wise to earmark a good portion for things other than the machine itself.

There are a number of manufacturers that build machines in that price range and size. In your position I would look at Camaster, Shopbot, Legacy, Probotix. Others might be Axiom or Laguna (made by Axiom). Some of these have pretty active support forums as well as technical support people you can contact.

I would contact each and ask them if they could put you in contact with an owner in your area. An actual owner nearby would a great resource and be able to give feedback on the machine and factory support.

I do not own any of these machines personally (mine is a DIY - Do It Yourself design). I do know quite a few owners of Legacy machines. Legacy does provide every buyer with 2 days of free training at their facility (Salt Lake Utah area), and then ongoing monthly webinars. I believe some of the other manufacturers have similar programs.

You might also check out if any local college or other school has a woodworking program. I'm in the Denver area and Red Rocks Community College has an extensive woodworking program including a CNC class.

For software, Vectric's Aspire ($2000) seems to be very well regarded. You can also easily spend $500 on a selection of bits.

The most important thing to think about is what you want to DO with the machine. Do you make production quantities of a few items, or mostly one-offs? Are you trying to speed up a particular slow operation or add capabilities (the signs)?
Chris Schwartz in his book on making workbenches says a bench should be designed so you can work on the face, edge or ends of boards. I would look at the various machines and ask the same - can I attach the boards in multiple ways? Do you need to?
 

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Hi Mike ,
Which machine did you purchase from Probotix, I am about to get the Asteroid

Terry
Asteroid. So far I like it. I already had a pair of Bosch 1617 routers so I ordered my machine with the mount that accepts the Bosch/Dewalt (3.5 inch diameter) routers.
 

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@nikonwalker

For not much more I recommend you get the Meteor with an addition foot of room and a short gantry that will show less flex if you are doing deep cuts in hardwoods. Even if you never use that extra foot for flat work you can open up part of the bed for vertical/angled joinery cuts and still have 3' of flat cut area. The key reason we have two probotix CNCs in our college furniture design shop is that open frame design and the potential it leaves for the unexpected.

I have my personal meteor bed sectioned so I can remove the front foot or so for just this reason. Their frame needs no more than 4 posts to support it, and a little more to hold those 4 posts upright. You can have them include a 60mm x 60mm cross bar when you order yours if you like.

4D
 

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Welcome to the forum Tim.

Before people can suggest a machine package for you they will need to know some more information. For example:

1. How large is the biggest project/product you plan to make?
2. How thick is the material you plan to routinely cut?
3. Is a vacuum table something you want or just a luxury?
5. Do you want need to change tools automatically?
6. Do you plan to machine aluminum?
7. How much space do you have available?
8. Do you have 220V electricity available in your shop?
9. Do you like to design your own projects or buy ready made projects.
10. Decide now if this is a business venture or a hobby and structure accordingly.

I know that some of these questions seem general in nature but until you nail the answers down you will not be able to make an intelligent choice. If you need any help I would be glad to assist.

Once again, welcome to the group.

Bill
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Welcome to the forum Tim.

Before people can suggest a machine package for you they will need to know some more information. For example:

1. How large is the biggest project/product you plan to make? 36"
2. How thick is the material you plan to routinely cut? 1-6"
3. Is a vacuum table something you want or just a luxury? maybe in the future
5. Do you want need to change tools automatically? yes
6. Do you plan to machine aluminum? no
7. How much space do you have available? 8' x 8'
8. Do you have 220V electricity available in your shop? yes, and 3 phase 230vac
9. Do you like to design your own projects or buy ready made projects. own design
10. Decide now if this is a business venture or a hobby and structure accordingly. business

I know that some of these questions seem general in nature but until you nail the answers down you will not be able to make an intelligent choice. If you need any help I would be glad to assist.

Once again, welcome to the group.

Bill
thanks for the welcome Bill. I hope these answers help. tim
 
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