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Old 09-24-2016, 07:10 AM   #35
henryvt
Newbie
 
City: westport, ma
Country: usa
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 3
I have a 4' x 8' ShotBot CNC in my (amateur) shop/barn. This lives between the 'hobby' category and a true industrial machine. Pricewise, think BMW motorcycle.

In terms of getting up to speed, 2 and 2.5 dimension design and toolpathing is pretty straightforward. ShopBot packages Vectric software which for a reasonably computer/engineering savvy person is fairly intuitive. I went and took ShopBot's intro course before purchasing the machine which was worthwhile and helpful in terms of getting a jump start. When I went, it was mostly cabinet shop staff in the course and it becomes obvious that computer/CAD skills are more relevant than traditional woodworking skills. There are some pretty interesting niche businesses using this technology.

I use the machine quite a bit. On one-off projects (most of what I do) it is not really a productivity tool but it does a much better job with complex joinery, inlays, etc than you could by hand. I would like to put it into more of a production mode where it would really 'pay-off'. The next project is a batch of 20 chairs which we are prototyping that should be interesting. The downside to production type runs is you basically are demoting yourself to assembler/sander/finisher once you dial it in.

Aside from the CAD/CAM side, the complexity is mostly around working through hold-downs and jigs, optimizing layouts and materials and figuring out bit speeds.

3D is easy to cut, but very complex to actually design. I have done some 3d from third party CAD files and a couple simple parts in OnShape (cloud based 3d CAD). I doubt 3d is worthwhile unless there is a high degree of re-use in most cases.

From a boat building perspective I would see the benefits in cutting frames. It is great for scarf joints in ply (did both of these a pram for the kids). The ShopBot founder was a Duke professor who was building dinghies.

Hope this context helps.
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