Parts of this blog are from an article written by Bill Esler for Woodworking Network, here.
KC Woodwork & Fixture added its first CNC router in January 2014, a Multicam 5000 with extended gantry and a 12-tool rotary automated tool changer – among numerous other options. Producing projects mostly for commercial customers, the six-employee Tulsa, OK, firm was at work simultaneously on projects for a library, school, and a church when we talked
“It’s much more efficient and timesaving,” says shop manager Kyle King, just returned to his shop from an installation site when we spoke. “Our productivity has gone up, and we will show a tremendous profit for it.” For a first-time buyer of CNCs, a deal takes lots of research, education, and guidance from suppliers and peers. The path isn’t always straightforward, and it can be long.
“It’s a process that has been going on for 10 years,” says King. “And sure, the cost is a big investment. But it’s definitely something that was needed. I wish we would have done it 10 years ago.”
King and his father vetted a number of suppliers, doing all their analysis right in the shop through a series of sales presentations. “The reason we chose Multicam is because they were out of Dallas – 3½ hours means we could get parts the next day.”
As Kyle King said, although no shop owner likes to consider the times when their shop isn’t operational, it’s important to choose a CNC supplier that can source you parts locally and quickly, and can send service technicians when needed. A wide selection of router bits, replacement parts, and even cutting materials should all be readily available from your CNC distributor, so that in times of need there aren’t any last minute scrambles. Being down is stressful enough!
Another important fact is to not only consider the needs of your woodshop now, but any future expansions you make down the road. How scalable is the machine? Will your shop always be dealing exclusively with routers, or could you see yourself incorporating waterjet, laser, or plasma? Choosing a CNC cutting system that comes in a variety of sizes and platforms is important if you want to make sure your shop have the flexibility to shift with market demands.
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