Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby Palamedes » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:24 pm

Okay I know that's a wildly overly simple question... So let me clarify;

I currently own one of the original Shapeoko's. It's a fun small bed desktop CNC that is good for tinkering and learning, but not good for anything more than just hobby work. It's honestly taught me a lot and I like it, but I'm ready to move up.

I don't own any of the Vectric software but am going to buy either Aspire or VCarve Pro (I can't decide if I need Aspire or not yet, but that's for a different thread..) and I want to get a machine that will complement the power of the software. (Great job Vectric, holy crap.. )

Things I'd like;
- I want a larger machine. Right now my bed is roughly 14 by 12 with the cutting area being 8 by 10 or so. I want something that's a lot bigger.
- I want something that knows where it's cutter is relative to the table. This may seem silly and if you think its a bad idea, I'm all ears.. but one of my main complaints with the Shapeoko is changing bits from one cut to the next on the same piece and having the system "know" where the cutter head is relative to the work piece. All too often I don't quite get the zero point back to the right spot or the bit cutting head isn't exactly the right height..etc.. This is a failure of ME as much as the machine.. I just need some kind of help here and I have seen videos were they obviously have that figured out.

What else do I want? I'm still learning, but I want to make professional inlays and other items that I can sell at the local market.. (My father and I sell Peppermills, bowls, etc.. at the market and I want to get into more flat work. I do scroll saw work now but this CNC thing is amazing and beats the hell out of a scroll saw! hah)

So with that.. What machine should I be looking at? What features should I be considering?

I want something reasonably priced that is full featured but wont break the bank.. I mean I still have to get this approved by "she who makes decisions" :D Two or Three thousand dollars would likely be my limit.

Thanks for your input guys.. I do appreciate it.
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby ElevationCreations » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:03 pm

First, identity your work space requirements in X,Y,& Z, then start looking at machines that meet that capability.

Most of what you are looking for is available with the Shapeoko 3, workspace up tp 33”x33”x3” with different options. You will need to learn WCS in GRBL, and touch probe support is available.
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby Mobius » Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:54 pm

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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby 4DThinker » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:02 pm

www.Probotix.com has several sizes to choose from. I personally own their Meteor (25" x 50") and oversee a Meteor and a Nebula (38" x 50") from them where I work. They come ready to plug and play for the most part. I've gotten great support from the owner, even long after any warranty has expired.

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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby gkas » Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:17 pm

I love my Axiom AR8 Pro+ https://www.axiomprecision.com/
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby JMD » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:02 pm

Like 4D Thinker said. Probotix seems to make a very good machine.
I have been thinking of getting one for a long time. Just need the money.
I would suggest getting the 4th axis. I think it will add a lot to the things I make. But it dose run the price up.
Good luck with what ever you get. :D
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby woody53 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:15 pm

I too have a Probotix Meteor. Mine is over 4 years old and cuts anything and everything I need it to. 25 x 50 is a good size for me and like was already said their support is great. Oh yeah, mine was $4000 then.

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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby Rcnewcomb » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:50 pm

I want something that knows where it's cutter is relative to the table.

Look at how the FTC (Fast Tool Change) system works on the CAMasters. This same method using hardware and software could be applied to your current machine. That, along wiht the Vectric software, might be enough to take you to the next level.
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby Palamedes » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:01 am

Wow.. Great replies everyone! Thanks so very much.

Looks like the Probotix machine is right up my ally.

What is the "Jog Pendant"? Or the "ATLaS Automatic Tool Length Sensor"?
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby ozymax » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:18 am

When I was designing my machine, I went with Probotix equipment.
Other than a PC issue early on in it's life, the machine has run faultlessly for many years.
Probotix support team was fantastic to deal with when I was setting up in the early days.
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby Uncle Bob » Sun Feb 04, 2018 11:00 am

Check out Legacy machines with Smart Tool. Lwmcnc.com.
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby 4DThinker » Sun Feb 04, 2018 2:12 pm

Palamedes wrote:Wow.. Great replies everyone! Thanks so very much.

Looks like the Probotix machine is right up my ally.

What is the "Jog Pendant"? Or the "ATLaS Automatic Tool Length Sensor"?

Both are options you don't necessarily need. If you have a project that will require more than one router bit (rare for me) then the ATLaS option will automatically set where the bottom (Z) is of each bit that it encounters in your tool path file. You still have to change the bit, but then the spindle will travel over to a sensor and use it to figure out where the bit bottom is.

The jog pendant is simply a handheld device you can use to move the spindle around with. I use the keyboard myself and haven't tried the jog pendant.

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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby martin54 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:22 pm

Before rushing out & purchasing a new machine my advice would be to think not only about the work that a new machine would allow you to do now but also what sort of work you would like to do or may be asked to do in the future. You don't want to be in a position where 6 months after you have bought your new machine you need to upgrade again because you hadn't thought ahead & the machine you purchased is to limiting :lol: :lol:
Might be that some of what has been mentioned will do all you want, I don't know anything about the machines mentioned so can't comment :lol:

Meant to add that if you are already selling bowls then a rotary axis as someone has suggested would probably be a good option to consider :lol:
Have a look at some of the bowls created using a rotary axis in one of the galleries, sorry can't remember which one but do remember they are stunning :lol: :lol:

Found one of them but there are others

viewtopic.php?f=29&t=26445&p=192540&hilit=bowls#p192540
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Re: Ready to move up, what machine should I get?

Postby Leo » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:32 pm

SHORT ANSWER - the machine you are looking for does not exist.

NOW -- What do you want?

Bigger? There are machines available that will most likely NOT fit into the area you want.
I like my 4' x 4' machine with 10" "Z" but wish I ordered 12"
A machine that is 4' x 4' takes up about 6' x 10'
What space do you have available for the machine of your dreams?

Reasonably priced? Sure - Donald Trump may think $350,000 is a reasonable price.
My machine was $7200 installed in my shop - I imported from China. I know full well that the same machine build locally by a reputable builder would be 4-6 times more money. CNC Routerparts has some great kits, as well as probotix
What sort of a budget can you afford for a machine? Don't forget shipping and installation costs. At 2,000 - 3,000 dollars you may be able to import from China a small machine, or find something on EBAY. I don't know how much a SHARK costs.

Have the machine "know" where the tool tip is? Sure - NO - not really. I work with industrial metal cutting machines for a living. They cost as much as a half million dollars. None of they know that. They ALL need to be taught in some way or another. On the low end - the operator (me) touches off the tool. On th eupper end there are automatic tool touch probes. The better the automatic - the more money you spend.
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