Reply by DS

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Posted on CNC Routers

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2917 posts in 2420 days

#1 posted 10-19-2012 04:39 PM

Jordan, congrats on getting funding to teach students on cnc tools. This is a technology that was slow to come into woodworking, but is here for the long haul.

$30k isn’t a lot of money to spend for an “industrial” machine. It will get you a really nice hobbyist machine fairly readily. Due to the recent downturn in the economy, though, there are several industrial cnc routers on the used market that can provide a good value, but even $30k is a low price for those. $60k to $125k is more in the range of most I’ve seen.

If I were in your shoes, I’d be looking for a moving gantry machine (versus a moving table) since the footprint is smaller for the same size materials. That said, a moving gantry requires a more robust construction to be stable. I’d definately want an automatic tool changer, though it needn’t be a very sophisticatied one. An agreggate head for line boring might be nice, but not absolutely necessary. The ability to nest parts would be great, but simple programming in a point-to-point style machine might be enough to teach students basic programming skills.

Since this is for education, I might contact a manufacturer like C.R. Onsrud, or a distributer like Stiles Machinery and see if they will donate the balance of the machine and the rigging/setup for a tax writeoff. This has the benefit to them of making thier machines familar to the up-and-coming generation of woodworkers who will be buying thier machines in the future. They may have a demo machine (technically used) that they wouldn’t mind parting with for a deep discount.

Don’t overlook the electrical, air supply, vacuum supply and dust collection required for an industrial machine. This could add $10k to $15k to your costs. Even if you have most of the infrastructure, it may be inadequate to handle the increased demand.

My old high school shop teacher used to come study our cnc setup and eventually got a real nice machine installed in the district. They pooled resources from several schools to create a vocational tech center where shop students were sent for part of the day.

Hopefully, anything I said might be useful to you. Best of luck.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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