Morning all, from David Browne, founder of Wolfram Slides.
My company is about two years old, and we make very high-end guitar slides and picks from solid tungsten carbide.
I'm starting to expand the kinds of products we make, and also have a need to design and manufacture bespoke packaging for our growing bespoke tungsten carbide products business, so am starting to explore digital prototyping and have already made use of professional SLS 3D printing.
I've been doing a lot of research recently on desktop CNC machines, with a view to purchasing one to bring some physical prototyping capability in-house, and also to directly manufacture bespoke foam and cardboard packaging (which is REALLY expensive to buy in in small/single quantities). I need to work with wood and plastic (eventually with a fourth axis), and perhaps some cutting of thin aluminium, use a drag knife on cardboard and ideally a hot wire cutter on Plastazote high density foam.
Usage will be very light - I estimate less than four hours per week on average, so I'm looking for a reasonably capable machine but it does not have to be capable of production workloads.
From my research, the new upgraded German Stepcraft 2 840 machine with their 500 watt HF spindle seems to offer everything I need, and is a significant improvement over the current models (faster feed rates, stiffer construction). Are there any other machines I should be considering in this kind of price range? (under EUR2,000 for the machine and spindle, leaving me with some budget for other accessories and software).
Many thanks, and great to meet you all. There's a wealth of information and advice here on the forum, and I look forward to participating.
These people sell stepcraft and others, http://stoneycnc.co.uk/Spelling mistakes are not intentional, I only seem to see them some time after I've posted
Yes, I've been talking with Rory for a few months now, and he's been very helpful and given some excellent insight.
Before I take the plunge, I'd be interested to hear any other experience or views on these machines, and whether there is any credible competition at this price point.
Hi David did you ever get the stepcraft and if yes what are your thoughts on it now that you have had it for a while ?
Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk
Yes, I've had it for about a year now.
And I've been using it a lot more than I expected, though almost all in cutting foam, paper and card (I use the Donek D4 dragknife and a Stepcraft vinyl cutter).
I have also cut wood and MDF (using Stepcraft's 500 watt HF spindle and the Kress 1050 FME-1). I have not tried cutting aluminium with it, but have no reason to think it wouldn't work, within its limits of course.
For the money, I feel it was a good option. It is supplied in kit form, and while the build largely went smoothly, even though I am quite experienced at building stuff there were a few glitches. Support from Rory of StoneyCNC was superb, and utterly invaluable throughout the process - if you're buying in the UK or EU I would buy from them without question. Nothing too major, though, and the machine has been up and running nicely since then.
The only thing I've found is that some play does work its way in over time, and it needs periodic maintenance (probably every 30-40 hours of operation) to tighten things up to correct it. Once you're used to it, not too much of a problem. But in general the Stepcraft has performed well - it's reasonably accurate, easy to use and maintain, and has done the job I bought it for brilliantly. However, it really is for light use - it would not perform as a production machine, working continuously all day every day...
I would say that, as a previous CNC beginner, it has been taught me some good lessons:
1. Be prepared to pay for good software - probably as much, or more, as you paid for the machine. It will save you hours of frustration and get you better results much more quickly. I use SheetCam, UCCNC and various CAD or 2D artwork design software software depending on the task at hand.
2. The things I thought were exclusively important (programmable resolution, backlash) are not the be-all and end-all. IMO the most important thing would be that the machine is absolutely square, and the bed is absolutely flat (obviously this ideal is never actually achieved, but I spend much more time worrying about this than the backlash or resolution).
3. Think about workholding. I very quickly got a basic vacuum clamping system going, which again saved me huge amount of time. Again, budget this in when thinking about your machine.
Hope that helps.
Last edited by Wolfram Slides; 23-02-2016 at 12:41 PM.
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