Iíve been considering a CNC for some time now. Besides just using it to produce cabinet parts I would like to use it to help me cut out solid surface c-tops. If I spend this much on a CNC I will not have enough budgeted for photo templating software or a laser to take field measurements. I don't mind making templates like I have been out of masonite or particle board but once I get them back to the shop is there a good way to edge trace them with the CNC? Does it take a long time to do this? Also is there anything out there where you can lay your template on the CNC table and take points by using a hand held device like an ink pen to tell computer software the perimeter of your top?
From contributor A:
I'm not sure which machines have this option but I do know that the AXYZ machine has this feature.
We used to do our templates with cardboard, templast or plywood strips depending upon how they were being transported and what type of material we were fabricating. Not anymore. No more vans or trucks to transport templates or worrying about whether or not it is going to rain and soak what is in the back of the pickup. No more problems getting in and out of high rise condos or finding a parking space big enough for the truck itself. No more fighting with the elevator operators and management because they don't have a freight elevator to transport template material to the job. No more hot melt or contact adhesive to purchase and or deal with on site. I could go on , but it comes down to this - we have a two photo template kits and two FARO arms. Some jobs actually are better one way versus the other and it depends a lot on who is going to process the information after measure, but there is no way that I would consider purchasing a CNC without including the cost to have at least one of the methods we use to create the templates. They allow for information to be emailed from the field measure person to the office to begin processing immediately if it is necessary to keep a project on schedule. This method also allows us to reduce travel time depending upon how large of an area that needs to be covered by centrally locating an individual in an area that we work in and communicating job and template information back and forth without needing to pay the extra expense of transporting templates back to the office at the end of the day. Another benefit is that the template system allows us to measure projects for materials that we do not fabricate, but do install, and send the jobs by email to the fab shop to be cutout and delivered back to us completed.
I won't say that the methods we use are cheap, but they have paid back our investment many times over. And the best thing is that if you have someone who truly understands cabinets and countertops and has some skills on a computer, the learning curve is not too difficult. I had no CAD experience and only a limited amount of experience on the computer. Once I got the basic ideas about how to create the parts in a CAD program, I have been able to make every other part of our operation more effective and allow anyone that has to deal with our customers to have access to the same file information that was created during the field measure. It has also made it easier to create many different design options for the customer to preview before the project went into fabrication. The truth be told, in the time it took to type the response, I could have either done a field measure or processed the after measure info for final fabrication (actually as badly as I type, I could have done both).