Five important tips before purchasing a CNC router, or any woodworking machinery:
1 Get a first-hand user review
Before investing in a CNC router, or any woodworking machinery, for that matter: visit an existing user and get a firsthand account of the machine from someone who has actually lived through using it. Try to visit on your own, without a salesman around. You'll hear pretty quickly how effective it has been for them.
2 See it complete a job from start to finish
If you can't find a shop running the CNC that you want to look at, another way to gain insight about the machine is by receiving a demonstration either in-person or online - using something like Skype. This is the best way to understand how the machine works, and you can see it complete a job from start to finish.
3 Plan for the adoption process
Getting the right training is pivotal. Having someone who is trained to operate the machinery and who is actually able to articulate the process of using it to complete a job, is really critical. People who overlook this fundamental can end up with a machine that is under-used. This can lead to buyer's remorse, if the CNC isn't paying its bills - because you aren't using it to its fullest capability.
CNC Machining 101
4 Access to technical and mechanical support is really important.
This support has to be part of the package regarding any problems or questions that arise after buying the machine. Finding out where that support will be coming from in advance is key.
5 What about spare parts?
Before spending any amount of money, know how much spare parts will cost: it’s almost guaranteed that something, ultimately, can breakdown on complex mechanical systems like CNC routers.
More stuff to know:
CNC Router vs. Machining Center: Understanding the differences between these two machines is crucial depending on the type of job that is desired. A CNC router is designed to handle jobs that require smaller depth of cuts. This machine cuts with higher RPM’s and can be used on wood, plastic composite, and aluminum. In contrast, a machine center handles heavy-duty jobs that require deeper cuts. A machine center has a rigid frame that can withstand the pressures of cutting thicker materials, and they can cut ferrous and non-ferrous metals, and metal castings. Lastly, it’s important to note that machine centers require more pre-processing than CNC routers.
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