don't for get about the cost of pc,software and tooling
I run a small business in the mobile audio world. Aside from composites, we make spacers, adapters, and rings out of MDF ranging from 3" up to 15" in size. MDF is the material used, primarily 3/4"
I dont have the need for a full blown machine capable of mass production however we do have room to grow.
As is now we go through anywhere between 4-6 4'x8' sheets of MDF per month.
Method of production now is rough in with jig, then finish it off with a template and pattern bit.
I am thinking of a machine such as the one here www.pdjinc.com (The Pilot)
Just want some objective opinioins on how a machine like that would hold up ripping through MDF daily.
In addition to decreasing production time and allowing me to build a small inventory, it would also allow me the opportunity to explore other product options, however I would not invest in it for that alone.
Opinions are welcomed and appreciated.
don't for get about the cost of pc,software and tooling
The pictures they have on the site are pretty crappy, but I would say there are people out here how have designed better. Check out JGRO's plans in the download section, then check out Joes modifications for his 2006 machine and Andy's (lionpaw) modifications also. Do a search here under "joe 2006" or "lionpaw" to find their threads.
Joes would lend itself to a machine bigger than what your looking for, but Andy's can be scaled down to your needs. For the size rig your talking the JGRO machine may be perfect for you. Think about what the largest part you plan to make will be and scale the machine accordingly. I make stringed instruments, my machine needs to have a 45in X 30 in cutting area. Larger than a lot of them out here. My girlfriend makes custom motorcycle parts and recently asked me to make her an machine with a 9in X 12in cutting area. Evaluate your needs carefully before you start.
Any of those three designs would give you a better machine probably for less money (but a little more work).
Check out the free software thread here, there is some stuff there you could use to get started. Looking through the web you can find free or nearly free cad and cam systems. Granted, their not mastercam or solidworks, but ther a place to start. Mach3 has a free download, but your limited to 1000 lines of gcode. But at least it's a place to start.
With the american trend that everyone has to have the newest and best of everything, a 1ghz PC shouldn't be to hard to scrounge up (the minimum speed recomended to run Mach3). I did a little creative scrounging and I just picked up 2 - 1Ghz and 2 - 1.7Ghz machines a few weeks ago.
If your good with electronics check out pminmo.com for driver boards. Most of the more expensive chips can be obtained from the manufacturers as free samples. My 4 PicStep boards cost me a total of $25 dollars (including shipping) for resistors and caps and the stuff people won't send you as free samples. If your not good with electronics xylotek makes a nice little driver board.
Power supplies are a pain in the ass to find, but they can be made pretty easily. see simpleps on pminmo
Then upgrade to the full versions of the software as you find the need (and with Mach3 you will find you need the full version pretty quickly because 1000 lines of gcode isn't as much as it sounds like).
Do your research. Don't jump into it until you have some idea of what you really need and what your really doing. There are really good people to talk to out here. Gerry (Ger21 or something like that) is one who can and will answer most of your questions. Phil (pminmo) is another great resource.
Thanks for the input so far guys, I really appreciate it.
I am more interested in buying a turn-key system mainly to get up and running faster rather than the mess and boggle associated with building one.
I am actually in electronics (avionics) by trade, so soldering PCB and even complex schematics would not be a problem....nor would welding a small table, or any of the other associated fabrication required to put something together.
I am still researching the above suggestions....thanks for those sdantonio.
My MAIN concern is how well a smaller setup will do with 3/4" MDF. I have a 3/4hp router and with a carbide bit it has a rough time cutting through MDF...which is why I use a jig-saw and template.
Also, how many 6.5" outer, 5.5" inner diameter rings could I expect to get out of ONE bit and where is a good place to look for a bit to rip through MDF?
go to ebay, look up these guys, cpotools-bosch, and look at the 2.25hp bosch router (2.25 HP, 12 Amps, 8,000-25,000 RPM). It will have more than enough power to cut what you need. Run it at about 20,000 (you don't need to run at the 25,000 top speed). Some folks out here favour porter-cable (my first router was a porter cable and it's still going strong after 23 years). Don't skimp on the router.
For what you want to cut and in this price range either bosch or porter cable will work spectacularly.
I have several reconditioned bosch tools and they all work as well as the new out of the box ones (at half the price). Granted, it's still expensive at $140, but worth every penny.
And don't skimp on the bits, even carbide wears out.
Being in audio you will appreciate this analogy. A friend of mine, the former luxman district rep for the northeast (back when the luxman name actually ment something), once told me the two most important parts of a sound system was the needle that touches the record, and the speakers. Everything else inbetween was just there to support those two things. well, your needle, in this case is the router and bit. Not a place to skimp on power or sharpness. Also, a metalurgist friend of mine at work told me once that High Speed Steel actually takes a sharper edge than carbide. But the carbide lasts much longer. I don't think the difference in sharpness would be noticable with a good strong router on MDF. Your not cutting anything where extreme sharpness is an issue like curly maple of anything that has grain that easily tears out.
Don't ask what the speakers are in this analogy... I haven't thought it through that far yet.
Use that router to replace what I have now or on a machine?
Isin't that router much too heavy to use on any of the lower end table top machines (or even the plans you linked me to)
Well surgical....certainly not that machine...looks like it's made of MDF itself.....
Yeah, I took another look at the machine specs you picked out and the bosch router may be a bit heafty. Porter cable makes a router called the colt. It's a 1hp laminate trim router. Probably a bit more powerful than your 3/4hp router. It's hard to tell from the pick, but it looks like the router in the pictures is the colt. You'll just have to make smaller and slower cuts with a small router. You may not get the full 90ipm they claim with a small router.
Also, a word of caution about cutting rings. I don't mean this to sound pedantic or stupid, but I have heard a lot of the letter and sign cutting people complain about this. Be careful of the order of your cuts. Cut out the inside of the ring first. Don't just assume your CAM program will make the most logical choices. If you cut the outside, then what you going to do to hold it down.
The router with that kit is the 7310, and with my quick search it looks like it IS the "colt" you suggested. Good deal.
Let me just say that when I first entertained the idea of getting a machine, I had it in my head that I would be in the $6-7k range, and was OK with that.
I was surprised to find the cheaper machines after a bit of searching. If this or one like it will not do the job properly, I can increase the budget.
I have done my fair share of improvising, (be it in a pinch or other) make-shift tools, jigs, and so on but I dont want to go into it planning on improvising, if that makes sense.
Also if the people who voted "no" and "maybe" would chime in as to why I would appreciate it.
IMO....no, for a production machine it needs to be a tad stronger. 200oz at 12 volts would be ok for hobby type stuff but not for something that you will need to rely on for your business. Once you have a setup you will find more and more things to do with it and in turn depend on it. For the amount of your stated budget I would spend half on a turnkey system and the other half on tooling and software. Keep the machine running and it will pay for itself soon enough. My homemade machine has been running for about a year now and cost about 1400.00 for everything. It hasn't paid for itself but I'm not far off. And cutting MDF makes one hell of a mess as I'm sure you are aware of....a good vac system should be included in your budget as well. But thats only my opinion...good luck!
Aspire, VCPro, PhotoVCarve, Cut3D, Mach3, Home built CnC.
geeze. dont order anything from that website! That router seems to break every rule of good machine design(unless tht brown stuff is metal... and even then).
...." desktop CNC router made from Baltic Birch, MDF, steel, PVC, and aluminum."...
should insert [home] between router and made...
Pretty much avoid most any system that looks homemade, but is billed as 'new system'. This isnt a concrete rule, but I sure dont want to buy somebody's experiment!
Design & Development
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I'm looking now at going with Joe's kit. Thanks to some offline help from sdantonio it looks like an option that is much better, more reliable, and better suited for my application. Running a 2.25hp router should speed things up a bit too
Again thanks for all the input and keep it coming!