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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I am new to this forum and would like some suggestions on equipment and software.

I am also new to CNC routers and am looking at getting into the sign business as an extra source of income for my printing and mailing business. We recently opened a second location for our printing and mailing business and we have had may requests for HDU CNC signs. I have also been contacted by the person that I leased the building from to do all the signs for all of his properties. This could be a pretty substantial amount of work, (that we are currently outsourcing).

And outsourcing has its own headaches.

I have narrowed the software down to two, Enroute Pro or Artcam Pro. I would appreciate any feedback on the softwares pros and cons. And I think I have narrowed down the equipment to Mulitcam or Techno. I am think right now the Multicam 3000.

I will be going to the Show in Las Vegas later this month to get a better idea about the software and equipment first hand but would appreciate you experience and suggestions on what to look for and the right questions to ask.

As you all know this is a sizable investment and I would appreciate any help!

Thanks in advance for any help.

Respectfully
 

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I'm glad to see you're investing in industrial equipment, i had to start smaller with my old router. I don't however have an opinion on the options you've listed i don't have experience with the software or equipment. Have you checked out ShopBot for equipment along with Vectric Software? I'm actually in the process of securing financing for one of their machines currently and hope to be up and running in approx six weeks. I'll be getting a ShopBot PRS Standard BT48 with accessories making it a 4x4 machine with digital probe and router. Total shipped is just under $12,000. It is a stepper machine but just a little more you can go with an alpha series which uses closed loop steppers and spindles are available. Their machines even come with almost $1000 worth of vectric software. They call it PartWorks but it's actually Vectric's Vcarve Pro and Cut 3D software. For you application i would say look into Aspire. The nice thing about the machine i'm going to order. The footprint size is based on the length of material you are milling. You can actually adapt the machine to mill at 144" long with the right accessories. After you're done you can switch it back to 48 x 24, 48 or 96" cutting area on the x axis.

I don't work for them but i'm already impressed with their machines, customer service and cost. This is just a suggestion to put another option in there for you.

Regards
Randy
 

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Thank for the information. I did look at the Shopbot. I think we are looking at doing different size work. I understand that the machines have sizes suitable for different work but I am looking at this as an investment that I won't have to upgrade later. I am looking at a 4 x 8 machine with a 7.5hp spindle. I think that will do all the work that I could image doing now and the sum. I always like to overbuy because you always push the maximum of any machine that you install sooner or later, and most of the time it is sooner. All of the signs we are contracting out are under 4 x 8 with the largest length being 7'.

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Thank for the information. I did look at the Shopbot. I think we are looking at doing different size work. I understand that the machines have sizes suitable for different work but I am looking at this as an investment that I won't have to upgrade later. I am looking at a 4 x 8 machine with a 7.5hp spindle. I think that will do all the work that I could image doing now and the sum. I always like to overbuy because you always push the maximum of any machine that you install sooner or later, and most of the time it is sooner. All of the signs we are contracting out are under 4 x 8 with the largest length being 7'.

Respectfully
I completely understand the concept of overbuying but unfortunately my investment is quite the risk first off. Second it's actually smaller then what i really do need, and a little over budget but can expand on it at least. With my old machine's x axis only at 26" i got very very good at indexing. Signs over 48" are common but not as much as the smaller. indexing a sign or sheet of material just once in my new machine is cake work compared to precut, mount to a sled, run a program, index, run, index, run, index run.....index.... heh.

Good luck with your purchase i'm sure it'll be well worth it.

Regards
Randy
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Randy, Thank for the information. The sled idea is great. I hope I can use it in the future, no I know I will use it in the future.

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Rick
 

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Used EnRoute for the last 12 years with their new upgrades you can't beat it. I purchased Multi Cam for our FLA location and will be for or Boston in the near future. I have spent many hours researching routers and Multicam is the best bang for the dollar
 

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EnRoute 4 Pro is the choice of sign making professionals. If you want to see what the software is capable of doing, read Dan Sawatzky's blog "EnRoute Adventures". He goes through his sign making projects step by step from design to finished product and offers lots of good tips.
 

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CNC Routers

In this day and age there is no shortage of cnc router vendors. They are all over the place and offer lines that will fit anyone's budget.

You can get into a 4 X 8 router for as lows as $12-15,000 and they go up from there.

Companies you may not know about.

EZ-router
Vortex
APE
Camaster


Things you would want to know when buying.

1) Servo or Stepper
2) PC based control does it work with G-code
3) Spindle motor, Low cost bolt on or high end spindle
4) Tool changer option
5) Hold downs vs vacuum table
6) Blowers / pumps
7) Dust system

For the kind of work you are doing a 4 X 8 machine with out a tool changer and a t-slot table using a spoil board would be just fine. You could get in under $30,000 let say for the machine and software. This would be a good investment and would allow you to grow you business with out dropping too much cash.

The show in Vegas will be good to meet different vendors and learn about them face to face. But in the end it's going to come down to how much can you get for the money.

If you are spending over $50,000 I think you would be over buying.

Al
 
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