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Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions


We bought a Chinese import, collet spindle 4x8 machine within a few months of starting our company.

Itís actually been a solid performer for us and has exceeded our expectations, but itís time to get our first real machine.

At the moment weíre mostly looking at a Camaster Cobra, ShopSabre Pro or an FMT.

All three seem to be well regarded and I think weíd be happy with any of them. Iím looking for some feedback on some of the technical differences.

The biggest difference between the machines is ball screw vs rack and pinion. The ball screw machines have a bit slower rapid speed (1200ipm) bs the rack and pinion (2000ipm) but I donít know that this will ever matter to us. Anything I read from ShopSabre makes ball screws seem far superior.

Iíd also like some feedback on what vacuum pumps youíve run, and what has worked well. One company is recommending a 15hp regen blower and another is recommending a 15hp Becker rotary vein.

I know the regen will flow more air at a lower vacuum, but the Becker seems to be the superior option.

ShopSabre says I can run a 10hp spindle off of 40 amps single phase, this seems optimistic.

CamMaster says I need 70 Amps of three phase to run a 12hp spindle, this seems like overkill. They suggest de rating the spindle to 5hp with a VFD and running it off single phase.

ShopSabre seems to be using a better VFD to run the spindle, is the Mitsubishi VFD magic and letting a similar spindle run off significantly less amperage?

Drill Block yes or no? Weíre leaning towards no.

5/28/20       #2: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...
MarkB Member

10hp on 40a single phase here so they are right. Drill block absolutely if you do a lot of drilling. Shopsabre owner here (4yrs) with zero issues other than operator error. Support is absolutely phenomenal.

5/28/20       #3: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...
Tom Gardiner

I have had a FMT 4 x 8 with manual spindle for 9 years with no issues period. I have a 40 kVa transformer to run the 5hp spindle and 7 1/2" hp Buusch vacuum pump. Running 220 3ph.
Check the decibels of the various pumps. My understanding is regens are uncomfortably loud. Mine is an oil lubricated pump and is fairly quiet.
If you want to pump out sheet goods then you might want to consider another step up to a more robust group of machines that can truly handle 800 in/min cutting and light speed rapids.

5/28/20       #4: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...

We wonít be pumping out sheets nonstop, we will most likely run the machine 10 hrs a week or less. We havenít quite outgrown our current machine, but weíre getting close. Weíre mostly looking to simplify our current process and eliminate some of the mistakes that happen from running our machine that isnít very intuitive and canít be networked to other shop computers.

Any of these machines will be more than enough for us for quite a while.

5/28/20       #5: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...

Another ShopSabre owner here. Pro 408 model, had it for 3 years. It's been a very solid machine for me, no issues except for some occasional operator (me) errors. Customer support has always been great when I do have an issue. I've never broken anything or needed replacement parts. I didn't get a drill block because having use of the entire 5 x 8 table was more important to me than saving 5 minutes per sheet to cut cabinet parts. If all I did was cut cabinet parts, yes, I would have got a drill block. But I do more furniture and architectural woodwork than cabinets, so I like having the entire table to work with. I cut a 5 x 7 oval walnut dining table top today, as well as 5 sheets of melamine for an entertainment center. My 10 hp spindle and VFD have worked flawlessly.

5/29/20       #6: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...

I have a Camaster Cobra with 20HP Blower vacuum, and 10 HP spindle. It has been pretty much flawless. We have replaced the pinion gears on the racks which I would consider a normal wear part. Cost about $100 total I think and a couple hours of time. Other than that, just usual lubrication and cleaning. We run the machine quite hard.

You're going to be limited to about 500ipm cutting speeds with the motors and vacuum that are on these machines. In my opinion, for any cabinet operations, 5HP spindle is more than enough at these speeds. Just get the biggest one your power supply can handle and dont worry about it.

Now for vacuum, get more....did I mention you should get more. You cant have too much vacuum, you should get more haha, really though, get as much as your power supply can handle. The Bosch pumps are great. I would put an emphasis on vacuum over spindle HP. You will run out of vacuum long before you run out of spindle HP.

5/29/20       #7: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...
james e mcgrew  Member


You have picked 3 good performers, yet one with free lifetime tech support and others you pay for. With all the info available build your self an excell type spread sheet With the three machines across three columns then all the info features you need and want down the side. make sure you put resale value and how many years it holds, ease of upgrading (I had to step up 3 machines yet never lost a dime)

As you go thru this process you will develop the info you need , Due diligence is everything to sucess.

If i can show you mine I will. after a wild step up i bought my current CAmaster Cobra (ATC 5x8 No drill bank) in 2012. it has led us to compete to levels we never expected, the machine is working today with no shutdowns in 8 years.

loof for forums and ease of those using them. on CAMheads (Camaster machine forum the Slogan is "When We elevate others, We elevate ourselves"

Am I biased Yes, I have a great machine, world class free support and a no glitch cnc operation with 3-6 guys.

I also Admin the CAMheads forum. My info is well published so feel free to call.

Once done Lets Go make some Money, One is only as limited as Thier fear

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5/29/20       #8: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...
MarkB Member

If your only going to be running your machine that little I would think your vacuum needs would be drastically reduced. The people who starve for more and more vacuum are typically wanting to run their machine wide open for everything from a full side to a small 6"x6" part with not a mile of optimization or lost parts.

If your only talking 10 hours a week the wasted time for return onion skins and other hold down strategies may save you a good bit of money up front on the vac, a bit more in power, and a ton in noise/heat in the shop when you dont want it.

I personally dont have any issue holding small parts with less than stellar vac but it requires surfacing the spoil board a bit more often, tending to zoning a bit more often, and so on. If I had a need for a machine that would run a sheet with 6 parts or a sheet with 46 parts, wide open, unattended, for sure, I'd buy all the vac I could run (hopefully the work would pay for it).

We cut at 600ipm single pass on large parts regularly and often times push 150% feeds and get way up in the 800's but for small parts or for clean table work I often run return onion skin. For me personally, when you factor in the cleanup on unloading the table often times the return onion skin will leave very little packed in the kerf to clean up. Even if I can hold the parts for a single pass cleaning up and blowing down the table takes more time than the onion skin and the entire shop is 5 miles cleaner.

I agree that 10HP may be overkill for a machine in this class processing sheetgoods but we also to a lot of solid surfacing and other odd work with large insert tools and when you get up above 2.5" diameter the HP is nice to have.

Lots of factors.

5/31/20       #9: Cnc Purchase, Technical Questions ...

I canít comment on any of those machines as I have only ever used weeke and Scm, but I can comment on vacuum. My favourite vacuum pump is the Becker. The 15hp you are looking at is way more vacuum than you will ever need. I only have a 10hp Becker and it is way more than I need on most days. Like MarkB said you need to onion skin and use other hold down techniques and jigs when you need to do small parts. Something as simple as a piece of 6 mm poly or the plastic sheets that they use for making signs can be laid on your spoil board in areas that are not being used. If you can isolate different zones of the machine with the machines you are looking at that is ideal. Or you can use plugs on a lot of machines if you want to isolate your table.
A huge vacuum pump or multiple pumps is just a huge waste of money , both in initial investment and monthly power bills.
Vacuum is like a delivery truck, would you buy an 18 wheeler to deliver 10 cabinets to a site on a regular basis, not likely.

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