Where here comes the noobie questions, sorry but I need to ask
To begin with a little about me and what I want to do. I am a glass and stone carver, something that started as a hobby (with a bit of profit) but due to life it is now going to have to be my main source of income.
On the glass side of things I generally use sandblasting equipment to carve in to glass and 'frost' designs on to glass I will probably have to continue this way for the glass unless I can be very inventive with cnc lol. I also use hand held engraver on smaller pieces of glass as well (think a cnc may be able to do this)
I also carve stone signs and plaques and have been asked several times for wooden signs. The process of carving in to stone and wood is time consuming and expensive to the purchaser. Some people will still want the hand carved items but if I am to make this my living I will also have to offer the cheaper cnc routed option as well as being able to ramp up production.
I have no experience of using a CNC machine at all but I am quite mechanically minded and have spent many years in IT so I hope I shall be able to adapt.
Now on to what I think I need.
A work area of about 1200 x 1200 would be ideal. may get away with smaller but I do not want to restrict myself too much.
I will be carving both 2D and 3D in both stone (mainly marble) and wood I may also need to cut small aluminium parts for bases for awards etc.
The z height does not need to be over generous but 100mm would be handy.
I would love to be able to build my own machine but looking at some of the builds on the forum there seems to be quite a bit of fabrication of parts required (now if they came in kit form lol) that may be impractical for me.
I have been looking at machines from china that 'seem' to offer great value for money but I have read both good and bad reports on people buying Chinese machines plus the cost of tax and duties has to be taken in to account.
So any advice on a manufacturer of a pre built machine and a specification that would suit my needs would be most helpful, I think that I may require 2 machines as cutting stone and wood will not be able to be done on a single machine, or am I wrong on that point.
As for the software I will need it looks like Mach 3 and a couple of the packages from vectric are what I shall need.
The specs of the machine such as spindle type, machine to PC interface, controllers, steppers v servos, ball screws et al I am just getting more confused
Budget is of course important but I cannot really afford to make a mistake with my choices if this machine is going to provide me with the means to make a living.
I Look forward to hearing your replies.
Thanks in advance
Hello, I'm relatively new to CNC myself but I've been looking at these people which you might not have come across.
cnc router | eBay
Mantech Machinery - CNC Routers
Prototools Prototype in House - Home
Maxicam - Compact Series CNC Router
Welcome To EXEL CNC AUTOMATION
CNC Router Machine | Computer Numerical Control Retrofit Systems
I can't recommend any myself but it may be some help to you. In any event I'm sure you will get replies from others in the forum.
Edit: (Due to previous brain situation courtesy of Murphy's Stout) When I said, "I can't recommend any myself", what I meant was, because I've had no experience with them, not because I knew there was something wrong with them.
Last edited by EddyCurrent; 05-09-2013 at 08:07 AM.
I too am a self build noob, with no track record so bear that in mind :-)
I do have quite a bit of experience with CNC in the glass industry though, both operating and programming.
Glass CNC is BIG stuff, you are talking 6 ton+ for grooving (brilliant cutting) and edgework (table tops, balustrades etc)
Stone machines are essentially glass machines with the word glass crossed out and stone written below
You will probably be ok with very light engraving on typical self built CNC machines, but as far as glass/stone goes that's about it.
The sandblasting we do is computer cut masking material stuck on glass and then Sandblasted in a cabinet. Other than cutting the mask i doubt CNC will help.
Wooden signs is absolutely bang in the zone for self built/low end commercial CNC routers.
They can produce some outstanding designs.
Many self built routers far exceed the quality of low end commercial ones. Of course some don't. lol (Prob mine)
As to build or buy. If you have the time then definately build your own.
You need to read and read and eventually it will fall into place.
You will understand the machine FAR more than if you bought it and be able to service and fix it yourself.
The cost both financially and timewise of relying on a service company to maintain and fix a CNC can be VERY high.
Of course if you don't have the time/confidence/inclination to build then you will have to buy.
If so be sure to ask about maintenance & ongoing costs.
Hopefully more experienced folk will be able to give more detailed advice.
Last edited by Greeny; 04-09-2013 at 08:29 PM. Reason: clarification
Thanks for taking the time to reply.
I have seen the glass equipment and yes, it is major engineering, saw a fantastic machine that did brilliant cutting at a Glassex show, a huge beast and at a very reasonable price of 120,000 Euros lol.
The way you do your sandblasting is identical to mine except i also do deep carving on glass as well. Same principle though and I use a plotter/cutter for the mask (which I suppose is a small CNC).
I would love to build my own but I think time will be against me there, mind you I don't know how long it takes???
Most of the stone carving machines I have seen are pretty much the same format as a wood carving machine but with a recirculating water supply and filter for the coolant spray where needed.
The Bottero is a great machine, but you pay for quality.
I know your looking for a smaller machine and I don't mean to be negative, but water cooling and very abrasive swarf/grit take a big toll on the machines, I imagine stone carving will be very similar. Even though granite and marble are slightly softer than glass, the grit gets everywhere and seems to wear everything prematurely. Be very careful any machine you look at will go the distance. If poss ask to visit someone who's had one for a while. Also ask about tooling costs. Diamond tooling is darn expensive.
On the plus side I imagine there's decent money in custom stone carving though
No I hadn't seen that one and i spent ages looking on ebay yesterday lol. It seems a bit light at 20kg but I have come across the type that you can move around and place on top of larger slabs. I have emailed the seller. Will let you know.
Received email from the seller, unwilling to state the manufacturer, other than saying he bought it from Slovakia. price gone up to £2000 as he says he upgraded the machine by making it wider, now 1000mm wide as opposed to 570 before
why would you go to the expense of making the machine twice as wide while you have it up for auction?
Also like pulling teeth trying to get answers to all my questions.
Sounds weird that he's selling something different to his auction price and description.
If you wanted something similar I'm sure it would not take a lot of building (thanks to the info and members on this forum) but they would not let you build it like that
Last edited by EddyCurrent; 08-09-2013 at 11:46 AM.