The advantages of CNC routers, lasers, turners and other computer-numerically-controlled machines have been obvious from the time they were first introduced about 25 years ago. These highly efficient and extremely durable machines changed the whole woodworking industry and went beyond. CNC machines bring increased speed, precision and safety to virtually any manufacturing setting, whether you work with wood, metal, glass or hot-wire foam.
But can your shop or plant afford one?
As the machines have a wide range of operations, they also have a range of prices. Given the options we have currently, there are more lower costs machines available now than ever before.
There are several factors to keep in mind when choosing your CNC machine to make it the best investment you’ve ever made. Here are some things to consider:
Price vs. Value
5.00$ vs 16.00$ per hour – this is the estimate CNC wins over an employee you might hire*
*Based on $800 lease payment and 2,080 work hours per year (estimated). Subject to credit approval.
CNC machines are a serious addition to your hobby or business, and the money you are ready to invest into one directly correlates to what you are planning to produce with it. The actual value of the machine is something that becomes more apparent every working day. Factors such as accuracy and repeatability, increased productivity and improved quality control make the decision to add CNC capabilities a practical one. The initial cost of a CNC machine can be quickly offset by lower material & labor costs and cycle times. Just be sure to look beyond basic specifications and consider issues such as industry reputation, warranty coverage and available options.
CNC machines never have a bad day. Their control hardware and software eliminates operator error and fatigue to make for more efficient use of raw materials. The repeatability of CNC machining can have an immediate impact on productivity and profitability. Here again, a little research into ease-of-use, continued manufacturer support and safety features can all yield big dividends in the workplace.
Support and Service
Like any employee, a CNC machine must be ready to do a full-day’s work every day. Easily available replacement parts, factory technical support and online assets such as videos and service guides will help you make the most of your investment every day of the week.
It turns a day’s work into an hour and a half
One story of success gives you a good idea of the revolutionary effect this addition provides your business. John Miller founded his sign making company Signs by Autografix back in 1970. Years later, he purchased a
Laguna SmartShop 2 and created a whole new production division – Computer Sign Carving. It helped him to stop outsourcing labor for the production of the signs he designed. It also allowed for the exploration of a new way to not only carve the signs, but cut-out letters to compose them.
“It has touched a lot of aspects of our business,” John says. “Where we used to have a material that we had to cut on the table saw, now we can lay a four-by-eight sheet of material on the CNC machine, and have the machine cut all the panels and each one is absolutely exactly the same. So it automated our simple cutting. The repeatability and accuracy with the CNC machine just brings you to a different level.”
Can you afford a CNC machine? Almost any company with an eye to the future will answer, “How can we afford to not get one?”