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Vertical CNC Machining Center


From original questioner:

I have been thinking about how a CNC machining center would fit into our shop. We are a 4 man shop currently but are getting busier. we do a mix of residential and commercial cabinetry and millwork, including custom passage doors. We have a vertical panel saw that we cut all our ply and melamine on now. We then dado for backs on a dedicated table saw, notch for toe kicks on a toe kick notcher, bore for dowels on a cheap lobo flip flop boring machine and then drill shelf pin holes on a double row gannomat. It seams like the cnc machining centers would be nice because it would do all these operations on one machine. Also the doweling machine is a little difficult to set up for stretchers and fixed shelves, and we make mistakes. My question is does it make sense to cut on a panel saw and then run through a machining center, or are they made to be fed by beam saws? would a nested based router be better for our shop as I could use it for curved parts on reception desks and such.(I currently sub this part to a local shop)
Thanks for your thoughts.

From contributor Ra

Your in the same place I was about a year ago, only difference is that I was cutting on a slider. I made the leap to a nested base machine and only thing I can say is that I wish I had done it 5 years sooner. It use to take me 2 days to cut and machine an average house of cabinets, it is now done in less than 4 hours. I went into thinking that we would still cut non machined parts on the slider (shelves and stretchers) that only lasted for 1 job. We now cut any part with a quantity of more than 1 on the cnc. The other benefits of nesting is material optimization and I have time to do other operations while its machining.
Good luck

From contributor ca

Well said Randy.

From contributor La

I'd pass on the vertical CNC. They, or at least the ones I've looked @, are not good for parts that will have drops (curved work.) It is possible to work around that but adds another step & time.
They also require the parts to be cut to near size, another handling.

Nested is much better. Like Randy said.
I've got both a nested 5x10 & a P2P. There are a few things the P2P can do better but I wouldn't buy one as my only machine unless I was processing a lot of solid wood & few panels.

From contributor Ch

You haven't mentioned if you currently use software that posts to a machine or what potential production gains you may be looking for. If you have properly cutting vertical saw then the vertical machining centers are a very nice solution likely to take up less space and be easier to use than a traditional nested or PTP style machine. They are really designed for cabinet and closet parts so therefore handling of off-fall parts needs to be considered. They shine in both production environments and JIT small shops when properly sold. I.E. more detail is needed. An example would be kitchen cabinets - they program and run just like a PTP in a smaller space with lower investment which allows large producers to buy multiple vertical machines for less money then one large format PTP and gain the process speed of having two heads = two parts running at the same time for the same if not less space. Example for a small shop would be if they cut on a vertical and do not have screen to machine software they could easily para-metrically program parts right on the machine with no extra software needed (this can be done with some routers and PTP's also) and without the added learning curve of fixturing and or zone locating. Vertical machining centers are less operator dependent.
If you run a lot of curved or angled parts and that where you lose money I would then agree NBM or PTP is the way to go. Best Wishes!

From contributor La

Go to Atlanta & look @ all the options. A 2 man shop near me has an Omnitech that has been very good. No more expensive than a vertical CNC and doesn't require additional handling, sawing. He runs nested.

From contributor Ja

Thanks guys. I am currently using Mozaik software for my cabinets and Autocad and Sketchup for the curved work.
Randy, what router did you end up with?
Larry you mentioned the omnitech and that is one of the routers that I was thinking of getting. I am running out of room in my shop which is why I was thinking of the vertical, but I could get rid of a couple machines that the router would replace.
Chris, the holz her vertical router is one that I was looking at. I have a holz her panel saw and bander and am happy with both of them. Do you know if Mozaik runs your routers?
Thanks for all of the reponses.

From contributor Ra

As others have stated go to Atlanta and look at all of them, I did and I'm very happy with my purchase of a Beisse Klever. As with most of us space is limited so I got a 4x8 table low speed machine to save space, no safety perimeter on the low speed machine. Cutting speed is determined by your bit so the high speed is only needed in non cutting movements and bit changes. If you do any cabinets I think that a drill block is a must.
Good luck

From contributor Ch

Jarin, I am pleased that you are happy with you present HH machines and that you have interest in our CNC's. I also agree checking everyone out at IWF and possibly before is wise also. A purchase like this has significant impact on your business's future success. Yes, we work with Moziak CNC version and all other g-code producing software's. The Evolution has the same software as all of our current CNC machines no matter nested or PTP. In regard to machining speeds and cutter design I would like to add some clarification; chip load is the determining factor of cutter speed. The chip must be large enough to carry heat away from cutter, slower feed speeds require less flutes and slower rpm's to achieve this. This in some cases limits your selection and potential edge quality. This is fine for you as long as you understand the limitation. Be aware that invertor driven spindles lose horsepower when they run lower rpm's . So if you start with 10hp and the cutter requires you to run say 10,000 rpm you may only have 4hp. All vendors should be able to provide for you a motor power curve diagram. The lower HP could become an issue with larger spoil board cutters, panel raising cutters, some edge detail cutters, etc. This is why it is imperative you consider how the machine will be used with a skilled machine solutions provider.
If you would like you can contact me privately to continue conversation.

From contributor Ji

I have a fair amount of knowledge in this department, I have two nested base 5 x 12 matching CNC's, Beam saw, PTP, twin table 5 x 10 CNC and one vertical CNC.
No machine does it all but the zero set up and single piece flow that I get on my vertical is amazing.
It handles the bulk of my work and the footprint and price point is a huge advantage. I think just how the nested base CNC's have made the traditional PTP less attractive the verticals will have the same effect on the rest of the market.
I run the vertical in my cabinet section of the shop, it is very efficient and would suggest taking a good long look at this for a solution to your needs.

From contributor Ja

Do you feed the machining center from a beam saw? Do you think there is a certain volume that there should be to make a machining center worthwhile? What is the average time per part to machine a cabinet?
I think I like the idea of the machining center just on space alone but I know it is a little limiting compared to a flat table router. You guys are giving me good things to consider.

From contributor Ji

I Cut, Band and then machine. It takes about 15 - 45 seconds per part. I typically make cabinets with integral toe kicks so I have less parts. Notching the toe kick on the vertical took too much time to route to dust. I had two options to overcome this. Route 90% though and then use a hand router or Buy a notching saw. I went with the saw option because it is simple stupid and will leave the corner square.
While the parts are being machined the operator is either doweling / inserting or kitting cabinets together for assembly. Total labor per cabinet is about 75 minutes on average. Not sure how that will stack up with the other shops but I am pretty pleased with that.
That time includes everything from cutting, machining, assembly, hardware install, QC and wrapping.
The volume question is hard to address, I try to focus on throughput and the least amount of WIP as possible. 2 guys can make 12 complete P.Lam cabinets in a day. When the line is fully staffed with 5. (Saw (1), Bander (1), Machine / dowel and kitting (1), Assembly (1), finial assembly / QC / Wrapping (1) we can build 35 to 40 cabinets a day.

I hope this helps.

From contributor Ma

So glad I found this thread, I'm going to Atlanta for this reason.

Currently we run a vertical panel saw, an Scm tech 80(p2p) and a Gannomat logic index (horizontal boring/doweling). We've been looking to go to nested and keep the p2p as a backuo but are also considering a move in the next few years. At this point in time and the tech 80 is almost 15 years old so we need a backup and don't want to incur the setup costs for the nested machine twice. The vertical cnc centers look like a good compromise; compact footprint, self contained, less dust collection required, less money than a full blown nested with auto on/off, the list goes on. The bulk of our work is schools and hospitals but we do enough custom work that the vertical center would never be our only machine.

All that being said Atlanta is really the place to get the best sense of what's going to work. Might be worth bringing a few programs on a flash drive to see if any of the manufacturers would let you run a few test pieces.

Good luck!

From contributor La

I considered a vertical at one point but I couldn't get around all the limitations. We have a P2P that we no longer use. It machines a part pretty fast but you have to have the saw cut a blank out first. More handling! Might make sense if you were stack cutting on the beam saw and making a lot of the same parts. The P2P can also edge process, drill and mortice, especially good for solid wood processing. We do a lot of work for outside shops and odd customers. Much of it can't be processed on a vertical or P2P. But it is nice $. Having to turn all cutouts to dust is a real time drag if you are doing openings, radius corners etc. on a vertical. Maybe I think of that because of all the curved work we do. I've considered doing away with the beam saw and putting another nested router in it's place. See you in Atlanta.