ATLANTA - A growing number of computer numeric controlled wood machining systems now focus on a single function - including dedicated cabinet making, acoustic panel processing, even sanding. Some examples to watch for at IWF 2016: 
 
A new CNC machine from AXYZ International specifically designed for cabinetmaking applications will debut at IWF 2016. Optimus includes software, dedicated machinery, and a range of specially designed options.
 

TABLE

Stiles to show 50 machines at IWF 2016

Stiles Machinery will show more than 50 floor machines at IWF 2016, reported to be the largest display of technology at the show.


 

"It is more than just a machine," says Greg Jenkins, VP Sales for AXYZ International. "It's a complete solution including software, dedicated machine and a range of specially designed options."

Holz-Her Evolution vertical CNC
 
It also is part of a developing trend: CNC wood and panel processing systems that instead of being a jack of all trades, bring dramatic efficiencies to a specific function. The machines are also easier to operate, with controlling software built in. 
 
In the case of its Optimus, which will be unveiled in Booth 8329 during the IWF 2016, AXYZ is partnering with Cabinet Vision to provide integrated software tuned to the machine's cabinetmaking functions. 
 
Thermwood pioneered this approach on its flatbed Cut Center pre-programmed CNC, but more recently allowed the machine to run as a conventional CNC as well. 
 
Vertical CNCs, a category launched by Homag (distributed by Stiles Machinery) are dedicated to smaller panel processing, and also highly simplify and automate operation, usually with software built in. Holz-Her and Biesse brought new models to the market beginning with IWF 2014, and even more of these compact, vertical CNCs will be seen at IWF 2016. 
 
Vitap's Point Acoustic compact CNC drilling machine was designed specifically for applications in the manufacturing of acoustic and sound absorbing panels, for which there seems to be growing demand. It features 55 spindles, positioning controlled by CNC, that rapidly drill sound absorbing holes in panel. Several Point Acoustic models are already in operation at U.S. panel manufacturers.
 
Bacci and Biesse are each showing CNC-controlled sanding systems. Bacci, which developed several custom versions of its sander-shaper for Decore-ative Specialties, will bring a model for general distribution to IWF 2016. The system has applications in sanding and shaping cabinet doors.
 
Biesse's Viet Opera R robotic sanding machine sands panels in any direction and on different planes, as well as on the inside of profiles and shaped edges. Opera R works like a human would, picking up different hand sanders to get at corners or larger surfaces. Panels can be machined following the grain of the wood. This control is made possible by a patented "control force" system that regulates the intensity of the abrasive action on the panel, and the simulation of human operators controlling hand-held power sanders.
 

Customized CNC Routers 

Another route that meets the needs of some larger concerns is adaptable and customized CNCs, wherein manufacturers will tailor systems to specific recurring processes. 
 
CNC Factory says its latest router technology, the XPR series, includes a patent pending robotic CNC innovation, which was entered in the IWF 2016 Challengers Award program. 
 
The robotics allow XPR-enabled models to complete jobs much faster, according to Chris Corrales, CNC Factory CEO. XPRs, available in Sidewinder or Viper versions of the CNCs, are also upgradeable as the business grows. 
 
“A big challenge for companies prospecting a new CNC machine purchase is the ability to adapt the machine to grow with their business,” says Corrales. “Customers struggle to plan their current and future production growth with their machine investment and many times are overwhelmed with the right machine features to get with the budget at hand.”
 
Corrales cites an installation of XPR for Brett Campbell at Campbell Creek Construction, in Springville, California, on a Sidewinder CNC.  "With the upgrade capabilities," says Campbell, "I see my production increasing 300 percent over the next year and wanted a CNC machine that could grow with us."
 
CNC Factory's Corrales says the machine itself is giving the entire CNC technology industry space a wake-up call by taking a forward-thinking approach to investing. A robotic technology that comes with "Plug and Play" upgrades better serves woodworking businesses and enables machine planning years ahead, he says.

"The expanding capabilities of customized routers offer new options to evaluate," AXYZ International president Jim Heenan said in a thought-piece published in March 2016. [See Customized Machines: Are they worth the investment?]  "These will run the gamut from low-end off-the-shelf CNC routers that can be purchased through the Internet, to highly customized, industrial CNC routers with multiple spindles, drill banks, and automatic material handling," Heenan says. "Then there is the rise of nested-based machining, a form of customization in which a CNC router eliminates the need for panel saws by cutting out completed components in an optimized nest repeatedly and efficiently."

 
At IWF, Komo is launching its Independent Progammable Technology, a system by which CNC spindles can be programmed to operate with flexibility with says CNC manufacturer Komo - allowing customization on the floor. These can be slaved together, to cut multiple parts; or they can be split up to cut dissimilar parts on separate tables simultaneously.
 
IWFAtlanta.com, the website for the 2016 International Woodworking Fair, lists 92 companies selling CNCs and related products. We'll continue to explore them before during the show and report further.