OK Ive got my design done and funding approved by the CEO(wife). I want to Build/Buy the equivalent of a Shopbot PRSAlpha60. My best estimate for building vary nice machine is about $10K and the equivalent Shopbot is $16K. My question is what am I going to miss out on by building my own? Software, support, capability. How much are those worth? I figure about 2 months for assembly/testing . Is the 6k that i will save a false economy? I'm ready to place my order one way or the other Any thoughts ideas would be appreciated
You will probably end up spending as much to build a shopbot equivalent as you would just buying a shopbot, + alot more time.
But, one thing you dont get from buying is the experience you gain building a machine, if you are capable, have the time to spend (possibly several months/years), and the desire to learn every component of your machine and how it works, then building a machine is very rewarding.
Like hereinCS I thought I could build a better machine if I just made it myself. Turns out that wasnt true, I didnt do enough research or spend enough time planning, funds were short and I ended up making compromises just to get the machine done. (total time spent learning, building, tweaking/adjusting almost 2 years for me)
But I can fix anything that goes wrong with my machine, I know its quirks and I know what it can do and what it cant do. Only the experience of building the machine will teach you that.
I learned and continue to learn about CNC's everyday and love every minute of it, Ive already started imagining and designing version 2.
My next machine will be much better!!
I built shopbot like plasma table. Electronic and mechanical you can buy easily, the only problem when building it are alignment and squaring, must be carefully done. Shopbot use U beam. When you use U beam, you must be careful. Some U beam are not really angle (90 deg) on ea side because of the process when making them. When you want to use this U beam to put your linear rail make sure they are really flat. I use H beam on my second machine, work better. Just input to think it.
if you have the time and knowledge to built the base table(x) and y and z axis, do what i did and buy the control box and motors from shopbot and mount onto your design. You can build a much heavier design and make it what ever size. Ebay is a great place to buy linear rail and blocks which will make the machine a lot better.(my opinion).
good luck in your whatever direction you go. the best part about it, you will have fun either way.
Since my CEO (wife) always wanted me to work on her horse barn, riding arena, paddocks and related stuff.....I convinced her that I would have far more time if I bought a turn key entry level cnc plasma. PlasmaCam it was.....absolutely awesome machine, easy to learn and use, very nice cut quality, Cad/Cam software, full featured torch height control system (with a Hypertherm plasma) and I did not have to design and fab the machine. About $10k. Assembled in 2 hours, cutting in 3! Torchmate and other brands produce similar packages as well.
Sorry, the time when I built mine was 4 years ago. Now, as I saw on their website, they use aluminum extrusion. With this one you can build easier, since they are perfectly angle and a lot easier to adjust using bolt and groove, not hole and bolt like mine.
The first machine took long time to built, about 6 mo's. Now I can do it in 3-4 weeks after all stuff's there. I have more xeperience, I can get to know what I need and make it available faster, but depend on $.
I built my Datacut machine for about 1/2 to 2/3rds of what a similar machine would cost new. However, I am capable at machining, computers and electronics. I have done a lot of large projects, so building a CNC router was not a big deal. I don't need much support, other than Mach software and the Gecko drives, which I get both from the vendor.
If you like biulding things, then DIY is fine. If you want to get going now, then go and purchase one. Do you really need to learn all the internals? not really. You can operate one fine without knowing the nitty gritty of controllers, RS232, drives, blah de blah. Its just like a car, you only have to know the basics to operate it. You dont need to know how to rebuild the engine.