CNC Efficiency Versus Other Machinery

Will a CNC speed up your operation? That depends in part on what you're producing. July 8, 2014

I am planning on getting a CNC for nesting production. We do a lot of standard euro cabinets, some reception desks and other specialty items. I have always understood (from a demo I saw and other things I've read and learned) that CNC nesting of standard cabinet parts is a lot faster than cutitng on a saw, line boring, etc. The other day I was told that nesting production of standard cabinet parts on the CNC is slower than using a standard saw and a point to point. Which is it?

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From Contributor U:
I hate to say but both are correct in regards to the answers. The efficiency really depends upon what you are producing and the quantity. This answer varies from shop to shop, just like not every shop can use the exact same identical router. There are other factors. If you run large runs of the same product, let's say closets, it's not always a time saver. If you run a kitchen at a time and smaller jobs you can nest those jobs together to cut out of the same material. This can be more efficient and quicker but when you try running different material for each job it's not always the best.

From the original questioner:
For a machine similar to a Weeke BHP 200 how many sheets per eight hour nested standard euro cabinet parts can it produce?

From contributor Y:
We run a Weeke and nest on CV. We use an Aerotech on our 1/2" compression to extract the dust so we only run at 20m/min. The machine can go faster no problem but we like to get clean parts. Blind dado construction averages six-eight minutes for cut time on approximately 10-12 minutes per sheet, including clean off and load. We have been working on a large school job the last few weeks and cut 40 sheets one day. This is rare for us as most jobs typically need around 20 sheets. Another benefit is my operator was also banding while cutting the 40 sheets.

From contributor N:
Nested base routers can take all the thinking that's required for the job and put it all in the hands of the person who is drawing the kitchen. Less thinking on the shop floor equals more production every time. However, for the amount of custom work we do, I'd go with a slider and point to point because it seems like when you start to re-engineer too many aspects of a particular cabinet in the design software, I could have scribbled it on a napkin and had someone build it.

Although I contradict myself by not having a nested router, it's only because I would prefer not to have the payments, mostly for the software, etc. and it's not the kind of thing you plug in this week and get full production of right away. There are always a lot of bugs while you're learning how to make it work how you do, and changing the way you work to the way it does. Also, I like having knowledgeable people in the back. It saves a lot of headaches with unnecessary mistakes.

From contributor C:
Here is my input and I have a slider, a ptp and a router. Go with the router if you have the cash. Either way, you will only make money if you have the engineering done and the prep of materials has to be meticulous. If you are running a ptp and slider (or beam saw) you have to have the info at the controller for each part for the operation to be effective, or you operator has to have it together. A beam saw, ptp and doweller will scream through a lot of parts very fast, especially if they are similar. It costs just as much if not more to post to a beam saw and ptp as it does to a CNC router.

A CNC router with the software properly set up to your methods will make your life a lot easier. We have cut and assembled a lot of jobs in our shop off the router in a controlled batch method. Other times we have sorted parts for an entire two day period, another pain I might add. We get the most out of 5x8 sheets of melamine. Nesting is a heck of a lot easier, whether 4x8, 4x12 or 5x8, or 5x12. Just remember the part come off ready to band then assembly, unless it needs a secondary operation. There are always these discussions and as the owner, my opinion is this, you draw it in the software, you see it and it cuts it. No sick day, no staying out all night and forgetting to cut the adjustable shelves. Yes, we run the reception desks, walls, tops and casework all on the router. Our next router will be self-load and push off. Make sure to get a boring block. We use CV Ultimate and it does truly go from screen to machine.

From contributor S:
It all depends on what you are doing. If you are doing curved work, shaped graphics, letters and etc. use a CNC. If you are cutting 12x96 and 12x34 1/2 rectangles all day for book cases, a beam saw or CNC saw would win. If the rectangles have dados, shelf pin and hinge holes and a wire hole then it shifts back again. Also consider with a CNC that you may be able to batch process a cabinet at a time while you keep cutting more. With the saw method you might need to wait till the first piece of the last piece you need is cut to start putting the first cabinet together.

From Contributor A:
Two years ago we had a tablesaw, slider, double miter saw, pin router, drill press, router table and an edgebander. We bought a CNC router and we were able to sell everything but the edgebander. The CNC replaced all of those machines and secondary operations (besides edgebanding). Now the parts go from the CNC table directly to the pallet that the parts are being shipped on. If you're cutting a lot of the same size parts a saw might be better. However, if that's the case, you have no need for nesting. The purpose of nesting is to get the best yield with many different sized parts.

From contributor D:
I have done both and I am a firm believer in nested base. A beam saw can cut a lot of parts fast if they are all the same size and you can stack multiple sheets. I can cut a single sheet into squares on the router just as fast as I can a single sheet on the beam saw we had, while my operator is edgbanding the previous sheets. I mapped it out and in my operation we now complete a job in nine steps vs. 21-29 steps in our previous method. I am running the same volume through my shop with 1 1/2 guys that we did previously with three. The other thing that people don't talk about is space requirement and the cost running multiple machines. A beam saw and ptp take up three times the space as a nested base.

From the original questioner
We use CV now, printout hard copies which go to the saw to be cut out manually. If we get a Weeke with Woodwop can that interface with CV so it goes from CV to Woodwop to the CNC? Do we need to buy a program from Planit to go from CV to the Weeke? How does this work?

From contributor D:
You will need to update CV to a nested module and purchase a post from them for your machine. CV will generate the code and output directly to your machine in a worklist format. No other software will be needed. Once set up it works great.

From the original questioner
I asked our rep and he sent me something which seems to show five programs?
S2M - Standard, Advanced, or Ultimate

From contributor D:
The post is the software link from CV to your machine. I don't know what the cab 2 Next or Cell are. We use the S2M.

From contributor Y:

We run a Weeke using CV. You need to buy the screen two machine package for the CV and it writes the file for Woodwop. You can then edit the sheets/parts in Woodwop after if needed. We only have CV advanced for that reason. I used to run ultimate at another shop but am good enough in Woodwop to edit anything we need done so far. Ours is a year old and the one I used to run (at another shop) is now three and neither have had any major issues. The learning curve is also short. I took a one day Woodwop course and went home and practiced and drew parts for practice in anticipation of its arrival. I had it running parts one night before the tech was even finished the install/training (I had his permission the machine was ready to run).