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Old 09-24-2016, 01:11 PM   #36
Rustybarge's Avatar
City: I need a bigger boat!
Country: Ireland
Vessel Model: Cheetah 25' Powercat.
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 925
Originally Posted by henryvt View Post
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.
Thanks very much for your input, its very useful to hear real diy experience from someone who has actually tried out the tech. I'm glad you agree with my son re. 3d development; its a very complex process which would be possible for an amateur to achieve,but would take an inordinate amount of time for a one off project.

So we are left with plans that come with cutting files that cost an extra $2-3k plus the $3-4k for the plasma cutting, or the old fashioned ' offer up & fit ' templates ....
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