Advice w/ CNC decision

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Forum topic by LHatteberg posted 03-30-2015 04:08 PM 1125 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 845 days

03-30-2015 04:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource tip carving tool router carving milling shaping cnc laguna camaster rockler apple

hey guys, so I’ve been running back and forth over and over about what to do regarding this CNC decision and I am driving myself crazy and didn’t know if you guys could hep me out. I’ve read TONS of the threads on this question on LJ as well as lots calls to various dealers, but I wanted yall’s help since to me, having never worked with a CNC machine, its all theory.

My wife and I have a small-business which we own and work full-time and we are about to launch a bunch of new products which we’ll need this CNC machine for so here’s our needs and who’s left standing. Let me know what you think:

1. Pretty fine detail as we’ll be putting my wife’s calligraphy on various products.
2. (I think) it’ll need to be a “workhorse” as I’m anticipating needing to cut out 2’x3’ designs into various hardwoods (2-3/day 5days a week during high seasons).
3. “Apple compatible.” We are self-taught and are more familiar with Apple design/interface etc (Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator). and only own Macs. In general we know that a CNC is only as capable as the designer with the software so we want to have something relatively easy to learn without having to buy a new cpu (even if we need to use an “emulator” or “parallel” system where we run Windows 8 on our Mac).

Viable Options:
1. Shark HD3 (54455). Pros: a. Has the work capacity we’d need (2’x3’ using the “tile” operation) b. Would be able to handle the workload (relative to whichever router we’d get) c. We are 10min from a Rockler so any parts, advice, classes, CNC clubs, etc. are all easily available. d. Software seems trustworthy and has lots of tutorials. e. Its the cheapest of the options left (Cost: $4k) Cons: a. Mixed reviews. It does seem sometimes on LJ that its “the cool thing to do” to hate on Rockler, but at the same time they’ve definitely earned it with certain products. I don’t know if I’d call a $4,000 machine a “toy,” but its definitely no Legacy. Is it as “bad” as some people say it is, or is that just relative to the premium stuff. b. Not “Apple compatible.” The Vectric guy I spoke to said that getting a program like Parallel or another emulator “hasn’t worked great for most people” with the software. Is this true or is he just telling me not to go that route in case it doesn’t since its designed for a PC and doesn’t want to deal w/ the hassle. c. Can it handle the detail of fine calligraphy? Or is that just a matter of how fine the bit is? Assessment: a. I think a part of us would like this one to work since its significantly cheaper than the others, but on many (if not most things) you get what you pay for. So I’d rather pay more if it means getting a quality, trustworthy machine I know will do well with what we have now and be able to expand with the business. At the same time, I want to accurately assess what we do actually need without going overboard since it’d cost us $2k-$3k more.

2. Laguna IQ CNC Pros: a. Obviously more quality than the Shark HD3 in every way b. Better workspace (2’x3’ work envelope) c. Spindle made for “high cycle” work d. On the “guitar demo,” ( it would obviously have no problem with anything workload wise we could ever throw at it. e. Liquid-cooling spindles would help for longevity of the tool. f. It is also, “Apple Compatible” as he demos all the design on a Mac. Cons: a. Price is $2k more than the SharkHD3. Usually its $7k, but currently available on sale for $6k. b. Laguna specific spindle. With this, I don’t have the possibility to use or get various router bits or help at the store and am locked in to the spindle world. Am I understanding this correctly or did I miss something? Can I just use normal router bits? c. What’s w/ the “remote control?” I have no idea how to even assess that feature. d. Other than that, much of the industrial CNC world is over my head so I’m not sure how to sift through and analyze some of the specs. Assessment: a. It seems this would/could do anything and everything we’d need. Ever. And meets all the criteria of everything I can think of. Could it do the calligraphy detail? Its just a matter of the spindle vs. router situation. How does that compare/work?

3. CAMaster Stinger 1 Pros: a. Similar to the Laguna as it could handle anything and everything both in workload and size (2’x3’) b. It goes the router route (instead of spindle). Again, not sure I’m understanding the difference correctly. Can it handle “high cycle” work? and/or detail work? Cons: a. It uses Vectric’s CUT 2D program and comes w/ a control computer (vs. an “apple compatible” situation). Neither my bride or I are excited about that. At all. BUT, if we need to learn it we will. b. $500 more expensive than Laguna c. Not sure how to assess the rest. Assessment: a. I feel the same as I do about the Laguna, but not sure about the router vs. spindle pros/cons and the software situation.

Result: I’d like the Shark to work price wise, I lean towards the Laguna, but wanted to consider the CAMaster if I needed to.

Your help is VERY much appreciated as I am totally a noob to this wonderful world. Help!! :-)

3 replies so far

View dannelson's profile


181 posts in 1791 days

#1 posted 03-30-2015 11:27 PM

CAMASTER but windows . the only thing that should be hooked up to the computer is your machine and load your design software thats all .You will love wincnc (controll software for CAMaster )and Vetric most common and great forums along with support. did I mention support. check your last two choices do they even have a forum ? How many active posts? Go for the spindle hands down compared to the router. How many owners of your machine choice live in your area? Do you want a toy or a machine?

-- nelson woodcrafters

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 1621 days

#2 posted 03-31-2015 04:48 PM

I totally agree with Dan, CAMaster would be the way to go. Superb forum and when that fails a phone call will get you back up and running. If you want a hobby machine there are plenty to choose from but once your into getting day in and day out prodction then the list gets real small quick.

Trust me which ever cnc you get you will have problems in the beginning but it is how those issues will be handled that seperates the men from the boys. The forum has some damn good people on there who have been down that road before and are more than willing to help and I have yet had a problem that was not resolved in a timely manner even when I was highly fustrated they stood right there and got it resolved. Some of these guys you can even contact on the weekends, 2am in the morning holidays ect and can usually get you running in no time and that can mean the diffrence in a happy customer or a real upset customer. Vectric is excellent with forum support, educational videos then add that with some of the software guru’s on there you got a darn good support system. Wish you the best in your decision. CNC is a great world to be in and the possibilities with the right machine are endless.

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View Ger21's profile


1047 posts in 2551 days

#3 posted 03-31-2015 05:06 PM

Another vote here for Camaster.

The Shark is a very lightweight machine, and not even close to being in the same class as the Camaster.
Also, I think trying to use “tiling” with fine detail would be very difficult. The slightest misalignment will be very noticable.

If you should decide down the road that you need more power than the router provides, you can buy a spindle on EBay for about $350-$400. But a router will work fine for your application. It just won’t last as long as a spindle. But it’s cheap and fairly easy to replace brushes and bearings in the router, which are the parts that will eventually fail.

-- Gerry,

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