I want to build a CNC Fabric cutter to be used for rapid prototyping and small scale production. The machine will be used to cut various technical textiles from 4-way stretch to Corduras and light sailcloth. It also needs to be able to cut shapes from foams up to 12 mm or so. To complicate things the machine is going in my spare bedroom so a laser with it's fumes and fire risks does not feel to tempting, also some foams contain vinyl. Fabric comes in 150 cm wide rolls, so I am aiming for a 1500x1000 mm work space.

I am considering the following set up but would really need some advice. Please note that I am fairly handy but I am not an engineer, to me this is a tool to get a job done more than something I would enjoy building. Therefore I am looking for build kits.

* Openbuild Workbee table
* Ecocam EOT Oscillating tangential knife
* Vacuum table

Here comes a barrage of questions:
* Would the above set up do the job?
* Are there other CNC tables I should consider? There is neither money or space for a industrial machine, so it needs to be something from the same segment as the Workbee.
* Are there any decent alternatives to the Ecocam EOT cutter? It is bleedingly expensive...
* The vacuum table is something of an headache. The only ready made tables I have only found super expensive ones in metal. Is there someone who sells these in wood? If not I suppose I could get a shop somewhere nearby to build one for me. If so I would need a really good build instruction to hand them. Has anyone seen anything good that you care to share?
* Would also like to ad a pen to the system. Ideally this would be something that just pops down when needed. If it is spring mounted it only needs a setting for up or down.

One of my main concerns is that this will not be the time saver I am hoping for. Cutting will of course be much faster. But I am worried that it will be very time consuming to get everything set up properly. I have some friends with CNC experience that can help me get up and running, but they have families so I don't want to burden them to much. I do my designs in Rhino 3D and Illustrator so I feel comfortable with that part of the process, but CAM is completely new to me. I am guessing that what I want to do is fairly simple? Once the knife height is set it should really only be about tracing the pattern at a reasonable speed?

* Should I expect to spend a lot of time setting up the cutting commands for each job?
* What CAM software would you recommend to a newbie that only wants to cut in 2D? Please note that it needs to handle the tangential movement of the knife.

Thanks in advance for any advice! It is a big investment and I am quite bewildered.

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