Hello all, I am going to detail the entire process of purchasing a CNC router from an overseas manufacturer. I have a small commercial woodshop in NY. This first post is a copy from what I posted on CNCForums over the past 2 weeks. I will update as I go along. At this point, I hope to have the machine in hand in January, 2023. Feel free to ask me questions about the process and I will help out where I can.
I had talked to a company, StyleCNC, a few times over the past 2 years, as I was considering upgrading the shop with a CNC machine. Prices were certainly lower a few years ago, but the quality of the machines that StyleCNC offers also seems to have improved. For example, I was getting prices in the range of $7-8k shipped CIF to NY back in 2020. Currently I am in the market for a 1325 or 1530 machine with ATC and prices for this better machine are between $15-20k landed in NY CIF. I will post final prices for the machine after the process is complete so I can list things like any taxes or import duties that pop up. I have a shipping broker, and hope to use them for the customs process. If anyone has comments about getting the machine delivered Door to Door DDU (duty unpaid, but all of the fees and trucking included) vs CIF (delivered to port, but duties, port fees, and local transport not included). I am only 60 miles from NY/NJ port and I have picked up one other international crate before which was a pain, but not terrible. The difference in price is significant (3.5k). Shipping was listed at 7-14 days to get produced, 30-45 days in transit. I will take these with a grain of salt.
Looking around, their website seems to be the most professional, with plenty of videos, blog posts, information, etc. I was not impressed with some other companies' web presences receiving 404 errors and such. Obviously a website is not required to make a CNC, but taking the time to have a good English website is a good start. I have looked at Blue Elephant, who is very present here, but I don't see them being better than this.
I have had excellent communication with the sales people so far. Little to no communication issues or broken language - their English is excellent. My emails get returned either late at night or early in the morning, which is to be expected.
The specs for the machine are listed on the website https://www.stylecnc.com/cnc-wood-ro...-machine.html\
Working Area 1500x3000x200mm
Table Size 5' x 10'
Traveling Positioning Accuracy 0.03/300mm
Repositioning Accuracy 0.03mm
Table Surface Vacuum and T-slot Combined (Option: T-slot table)
Frame Welded structure X, Y Structure
Hiwin Linear Rail, Helical Rack & Pinion Drive, Z Structure Hiwin Linear Bearings & Rails, TBI Ball Screw
Max Power Consumption 4.5KW (Without Spindle)
Max Rapid Travel Rate 45000mm/min Max Working Speed 30000mm/min
Spindle Power Air Cooling ATC
Spindle Spindle Speed 0-24000RPM
Drive Motors Leadshine servo motor 1500W + reducer
Working Voltage AC 380V/50/60Hz, 3PH or AC 220V/50/60Hz
Command Language G Code Operating System LNC CNC Controller
Flash Memory 128M
X,Y Resolution <0.03mm
Software Compatibility Type3 and Ucancam software (Option: ArtCAM Software)
Additional specs that I have received are:
#9KW HQD ATC spindle
#Taiwan LNC control system
#Leadshine servo motor 1500W +reducer
#Vacuum table with vacuum pump
#Double bags dust collector 3KW
#Position cylinder 3+2
I would be happy to have anyone comment on these specs. I don't yet have a vacuum pump power rating and I assume it is a Chinese or Taiwan pump. The HQD spindle is air cooled China clone of the HSD spindle. I don't plan on operating it 8 hours a day (or even every day), so there is no need to go overboard on the spindle specs. I would actually be fine with a lower power spindle, but it seems that this is what works with the ATC, so no need to go messing with that. Some things are interesting, like the fact that it comes with a dust collector - I asked for it to be removed and they told me it was free. I already have a fully plumbed shop with a cyclone, so it is not necessary, but I will take it if it is free. Rack and pinion
is not name brand at this time. Is that something I should ask for? 1500w Leadshine Servos seem to be good spec for this type and price of machine. I see 750w servos on Blue Elephant machines.
Their video on the LNC control system seems very nice to work with. It comes with a full computer cabinet and lice large color screen. I find it amazing that some machines are still working with small text only screens with how cheap they should be. Since I don't have prior experience working with Mach3/4 or other legacy controllers, I don'e see any issues learning their system. https://www.stylecnc.com/cnc-router-...ontroller.html
The machine comes complete with full multi-zone vacuum bed with pneumatic positioning pins. These features are not found on many of the US machines that I looked at. For example I was about the buy a ShopBot PRS Alpha at auction (went for $12k used - higher if I had been bidding). This machine was only single spindle, flimsy aluminum extrusion bed and gantry (compared to full welded steel bed), no standalone control computer, no vacuum bed, and still sold for $25k new in 2018. I can't see how that machine could be better than this new China machine.
There is a very nice large rotary option for only $1500 extra. Seems like a no-brainer, but I don't have the room, especially if I upgrade to a 5'x10' size. It sits alongside the router bed on its own frame and handles 2.5m objects (full columns or bedposts). But I also think that it will go mostly un-used and be in the way so I am opting for a $500 small rotary that sits on the CNC bed. It will be harder to setup, but also won't take up any space and can be put on the shelf for all the time it is not used. This only handles 100mmx2000mm.
I have discussed some safety items such as using Alibaba for the purchase with Trade Assurance, a paid inspection of the machine prior to shipping (either through Alibaba or Third-party), and placing our company name on the machine so that we can be assured that the machine that is inspected is the one we receive. All of these request were granted without any pushback. Warranty is 1 year and the spindle does need to be shipped back if defective (manufacturer requirement). Other issues should be able to be resolved without return shipping according to them.
They gave me the name of a customer in NY, so I will be contacting them to see their thoughts and find out any issues they had with the machine or delivery.
All in all, it seems like something worthwhile and I should have a very functional machine here for less than $25k, which I have been unable to find in the used market.
Update 1 - 11/14/2022
I have received several other quotes from OmniCNC, Acctek CNC, and a few much less common brands. The prices are all close in line between $14k-$18k delivered CIF (shipping with insurance to NY port) for a 1530 (5'x10') machine with vacuum table and auto tool changer. The differences seem to be minor and are partially related to components and specs, partially related to quality. I will detail the differences between an Acctek quote and StyleCNC quote.
The differences that I see so far -
Style CNC always has pneumatic pop up pins in their vacuum tables. It is an option for Acctek. These do seem to be necessary.
Acctek has a 7.5kw vacuum pump
while StyleCNC sends two 2.5kw vac pumps with an option for another 1 or 2 at $400 each. The table has 6 zones, so pumps can be plumbed into individual zones.
StyleCNC is offeringTaiwan LNC is standard while Acctek is using Syntec 60W-e standard. I like the look of the LNC controller better, but I know Syntec is more common.
StyleCNC has 12 tool changer, while Acctek has 8 tool changer (upgradable).
StyleCNC is quoting 1500w Leadshine servos and Acctek is quoting 750w Delta servos. Delta may be better, but Leadshine are larger - thoughts?
Warrranty on Acctek is 1.5/3 year Warranty on StyleCNC is 1 year.
Acctek machine is a brand new design for their company, so perhaps it has some bugs to work out.
StyleCNC has many more and better videos of their machines including a nice video on Controller setup for the LNC controller.
I talked to a customer in CT, USA that bought a StyleCNC machine in 2017 and visited their factory (because his bank told him not to purchase in case it was a scam). He said that they had good support to help him get setup and work out the issues. It has been 5 years and his machine is still running and has good things to say about it.
Price with everything similar is within $2000 or less for both companies when you work out all the different parts and options. StyleCNC is open to me increasing the specs on any of these components, but also not recommending that I do that as they feel the standard machine is good enough for most people. I am probably "most people" as I have not seen the perfect precision of a $200k machine. Is it worth it to upgrade to Yaskawa servos, try to specify a German rack, and go with a more expensive HSD spindle? Probably not for most applications since I would otherwise be purchasing a basic CNC machine from someone in the US with basic Nema 34 steppers, no vacuum table, a 3kw spindle, no ATC, and no stand alone control system for the same price. Any of these specs are certainly better than that option.
Any thoughts on vacuum pump
size? I know that I should have at least 7.5kw of capacity, and for production that is not high volume, it may be nice to have separate pumps that I can turn on and off f I am just using a small area of the bed at a time.
So unless anyone can talk me out if it in the next few days, I will place an order with StyleCNC for a STM1530C machine and see how it goes. It was good talking to a local customer that bought from them, and being 5 years further in the future is probably a good ting as I can't see their quality or service getting worse over that time. I will use Alibaba Trade Assurance, Alibaba inspection Service, try to get a good contract written with them and include a few specifics such as that the machine is clean, oiled, greased, and rust protected, a measurement report of machine (anyone have a list of things to have them measure?), - what else? I have a shipping broker that I use for LTL and they can certainly help handle the customs and shipping for me. I am close tot he port, so I will borrow a 20' trailer and go pick it up. Then it is just a matter of getting it off the trailer and into the shop.
I have two North American Rotary 20hp phase converters, but the voltages are not perfectly balanced on the different legs. I am hoping that they can help send new capacitors to help with that.
I have moved forward and am now working on finalizing the Proforma Invoice with StyleCNC.
They changed the machine from 240v three phase to 240v single phase to better fit my shop power. My road is a dead-end road and we only have 600v single phase wires running down the poles. I could pay to have 3 phase lines run, but I am also 400' from the pole and already have a 200 amp underground service run to the shop, so I don't want to have to trench again or put up new overhead poles. Not as easy and hanging another transformer and stringing a wire. I have rotary phase converters (2x-20hp) but they are just barely enough to run the entire package with enough space capacity to keep the voltages balanced under load (with some tweaking to the capacitors and wiring, per North American Rotary instructions - shout out to Matt there who walked me through the process of changing things to get better voltage balance).
I was upgraded from Fuling Inverter to Delta Inverter at no charger and it may be to facilitate the single phase voltage input. I am guessing that I can always use 3 phase power in the future with the machine as well as I have never seen an inverter that only accepts single phase input.
The Proforma Invoice seems standard and initially just listed the basic machine features. I have been slowly getting them to spell out every specific item that we have talked about. No pushback on any of it, but more details to begin with would have been nice. It's some big stuff, like specifications for the base metal thickness (6mm base, 8mm gantry steel), size of the Hiwin linear rails (30mm). Also including the specifications of the machine that are listed on their website like Traveling Positioning Accuracy 0.03/300mm, Repositioning Accuracy 0.03mm, Max Rapid Travel Rate 45000mm/min, Max Working Speed 30000mm/min, Collet ER32, X,Y Resolution <0.03mm. These specifications will allow the inspector to verify the accuracy of the machine. They have also stated that this request of mine would be added to the Alibaba order process so it is part of the trade Assurance contract "When the machine shipping, the machine is clean, oiled, greased, and rust-protected. And the measurement report of the machine is provided with the machine." I won't post it here at this time, but will consider adding it after the process is complete for others to use in the future.
I have a Freight Broker that has a team to handle the Customs process, so hopefully that goes well. There are too many different fee line items to tell what exactly I will pay, but they don't look exorbitant. Just a lot of $95 line items, some of which apply, some don't.
So I decided to complete the purchase of the STM1530C machine. I upgraded at the last minute to Yaskawa servos for $1000 extra, but asked for a slight discount to the upgrade price, which was approved. Interestingly the original Leadshine servos are 1500w and the Yaskawa servos are 850w, but looking around at every other machine spec, it seems like 850w Yaskawa servos are the largest that are commonly used. It must be that they have higher torque that other servos so the power rating is lower than others. Was it a good decision? Time will tell, but I will likely never know unless I see a machine is the original 1500w Leadshine units.
The Alibaba purchase was easy and the Proforma Invoice that we agree upon was included as well as an option for a third-party inspection for $120 by TUV Sud. They contacted me right away and StyleCNC was quick to respond in setting up the required inspection requirement with them. I requested relatively basic requirements, mostly that the machine is cleaned, a functional test, check of all the components and specifications to match the invoice, a check of the machine measurement accuracy. I don't know how much they will actually be able to check as you can't reliably expect anyone other than a machinist to check repeatability to 0.3mm.
The machine is supposed to be on a boat within 20 days.
My sales person was Therese and so far she continues to give me good service, providing some wiring info, video manuals (not the best, but hopefully enough). You can request her, if you choose to purchase your own CNC.
If anyone wants to contact me for a review after Feb 2023, just send me message or look up my company Clean Air Woodworks in New Paltz, NY. I will be happy to tell you about my experience and how this purchase turns out. I appreciated the previous client that I got to talk to lst week, who was also enjoying his machine from 2017.
Hopefully I'll post pictures of the machine taken during the inspection in a few weeks and then the waiting game until it shows up in NJ at the port.
I decided that it was silly to turn down the offer of pneumatic hold down rollers for $400. Just one job and they would pay for themselves if it was required. They remove with just a few bolts and are controlled by the CNC panel. I am sure they will come in handy for jobs cutting crappy box store plywood to make dinosaurs for my son and other things like that. And if I wanted to get them installed after the fact, I would probably be looking at $4000.
I was hoping that they would also have a catalog of CNC tooling available, so I could choose some insert cutters and spiral bits to have on hand right away, but that is easy to get here. Would be nice to save the money if I could get them for a lot less than retail however.
Still waiting on the CNC, about 2 weeks to go until it is ready according to Therese. I have received several helpful answers to my questions so far. Most importantly is that I received the LNC WM2200 manuals and a set of post processor files for Vectric and Fusion 360 so that I don't have to go around guessing if the generic G-code post processors will work.
I am getting my shop ready, selling a giant 36" bandsaw that I rarely use and takes up space that I could put to better use and moving a giant old wood lathe 20"x108" swing back a few inches to get some more clearance. I figure that anything that I would need the 36" bandsaw for is large enough that I also don't want to be lifting as I get older and I have a perfectly good 17" Grizzly that I use more often for resawing and general cutting. . I luckily built an overhead I-beam trolley hoist into my shop at the outset and it will run directly over the CNC from a large door/dock. So I can use that hoist to lift large wood slabs onto the CNC bed, or purchase a vacuum lifting system to move full sheets on the CNC as well.
I am running power cables to the CNC in flex conduit under the floor (planning on running either 6ga or oversized 4ga copper wires) and planning on where the vacuum pumps will be installed (likely just through the wall in an attached barn about 10' away). Dust collection piping (8" main pipe) runs over the CNC area, and very close to the collector itself, so suction should be great with very little static pressure loss. I will Wye off the main line with a 8"x6" Wye and hope to be able to maintain a 6" flex pipe as close as I can to the CNC piping before dropping to 4". Still figuring out how to mount accessible blast gates since the piping is all overhead. I will also Wye off another 4" line to have a hand vacuum line for cleaning up after the cut.
I connected with a user on Reddit who has a Chinese machine running LNC and has some helpful tips if I get in a bind after the machine arrives. Hopefully that will not be needed, but some local knowledge can be really great.
I am trying to decide on what set of bits to bet, but will probably get some cheap ones to begin as I am sure I will break them while learning the software. Something like Spetools which also have their tool profiles already created for downloading into Vectric. After I know what I am doing, I will graduate to better mils like Vortex or Harvey.