View Poll Results: best $30k 4x8x12 CNC router

Voters
36. You may not vote on this poll
  • Techno LC4896

    0 0%
  • ShopBotPRSa

    18 50.00%
  • CAMaster Cobra 408

    13 36.11%
  • EZ Router Scorpion

    1 2.78%
  • Precix Industrial plus

    0 0%
  • other

    4 11.11%
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Thread: best $30k 4x8x12 cnc

  1. #1

    best $30k 4x8x12 cnc

    I've been assembling quotes for CNC routers and we're getting close to picking one.

    This machine will be used in a collegiate fabrication shop in design education: mostly by architecture students. We'll probably use RhinoCam for toolpath generation. Output will include 3D topographic site models, 2D building elevations, modular building systems (tab & slot), molds for thermoforming, occasional furniture parts and surely a million things we would never have thought of.

    We're currently considering (in no particular order): Precix Industrialplus, Techno LC, ShopBot PRSa, CAMaster Cobra and EZ Router Scorpion. To me these machines (except maybe the ShopBot) have very similar specifications and capabilities. Pricing w/12"z, 3-5hp spindle, vac table and vac pump ranges from $26.5k to $37k. The Techno got about 10K higher than the sales rep initially indicated which may knock it out of consideration.

    I would very much appreciate any comments and suggestions, particularly useful would be significant quantitative and functional differences between the machines.

    Obviously part of the cost and expectations with such an investment are support after the sale. Comments regarding the customer service, maintenance issues and user support networks associated with any of the machines/manufacturers are also appreciated.

    There is a table with specs and pricing for the machines under consideration here: (or attached)

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=...MDNjZWEy&hl=en

    If anybody notices obvious errors or can help fill in any blanks on the table, that would be appreciated. I have not included a couple of manufactures (MultiCam of whom I have requested but not received a quote(after 2+weeks). If there are other machines that NEED to be included please let me know.

    Thanks in advance, I hope input from this knowledgeable community can help us determine which machine best meets our needs.

    Regards,
    KG
    UofMN
    College of Design
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Last edited by Kevin Groenke; 03-18-2010 at 10:58 AM. Reason: attachment

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Central Vermont
    Posts
    1,081
    I will recommend Shopbot since I own one and can speak from experience.

    I have been very happy with my PRS Standard 48X96 and other than two miss tapped holes for the proximity switches which were easily fixed I have had no problems both in the setup and use of my machine.

    Shopbot's Included software package is pretty good, and I have been able to put off additional software purchase as Partworks has met my needs so far. Both RhinoCad, and Aspire are on my shopping list but Partworks (V-Carve Pro and Cut 3D) have met my needs.

    I would recommend downloading and trying out V-Carve Pro and Aspire from Vectric. Even if you plan to use Rhino/Rhino Cam the learning curve for Vectric Software is almost non existent, and makes 2D, 2.5D projects a no brainer. If you buy a Shopbot a rebranded version of V-carve pro with only Shopbot post processors is included as partworks.

    I would strongly consider whether or not you need a vacuum table. a box of sheet rock screws and some hold down fixtures can save you $10,000 or more, and can be the best method of hold down for many applications. Tabs can be cut out pretty easily with a laminate trimmer and a 1/4" or 3/8" flush trim bit.

    A vac table can be setup later on as well if you can't quite budget for one right away, or if your unsure if you really need one.

    Of the brands you mentioned I would consider Shopbot and CamMaster. The CamMaster is a very sturdy machine for the price.
    Last edited by Michael Schwartz; 03-18-2010 at 2:15 PM.
    Hardware - Shopbot PRSstandard 48x96 with PC router.
    Software - Aspire 2.5, Partworks, Cut 3D, Photo V-Carve
    Open Source/Free - Inkscape, Open Office.

  3. #3
    You need to look at these in operation. Listen to it and the operator, feel it, touch it, watch it run. Note the construction, then decide which most fits your need and budget.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Piedmont Triad, NC
    Posts
    756
    My vote is other. We went with Precision Automated Equipment. We purchased one last year and are very satisfied with it's performance.

    http://precisionae.com/

    It beat out Techno on price with comparable features.
    "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.
    Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

    "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
    Henry Ford

  5. #5
    On the PDF The machine should be the CR-408 for the Cobra.
    as the model
    Joey Jarrard
    CAMaster CNC

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph B. Chritz View Post
    You need to look at these in operation. Listen to it and the operator, feel it, touch it, watch it run. Note the construction, then decide which most fits your need and budget.

    I couldn't agree more Joseph.

    I've personally inspected and observed operation of the SB and Techno. There are no Precix or EZ's in my immediate area (Minneapolis) Still waiting to here from CAMaster if there is a machine in town. I may take a field trip to see finalists but until then, first-person accounts from current users may help to narrow the field.

    Thanks
    -kg

  7. #7

    posted for those who may benefit

    kevin, on may 14 and 15 there will be a gathering of cnc users who are real partial to the aspire software, kieth outen who owns this forum will be one of our speakers as well many members who are on this forum, vectric, camheads and shopbotters will attend. i have a camaster x3 in the shop and joey will be bringing the new table top as well. i would like to invite you to attend as well no mater what machine you buy welcome to cnc

    jim mcgrew





    excellent work!!
    that is the most comprehensive comparrison i have seen to date, i will say thanks as it makes me feel pretty good about my camaster x3. on the machine side mine was built in october of 08 and has yet to give me any kind of significant trouble. it is built with industrial quality parts that are easily replaceable and readily available there is no propietary contol by the company. previous to this machine i had a 408 built in 99 that never lost a day of work and has been sold to a sign company in florida and is at work to day.

    support, all camaster owners have the cell phone numbers of the owners and techs who build and service the owner community. the owner supported forum www.camheads.org is moderated by the owners of the machines in an autonomus manner in order to keep everyone on thier toes in credibility, camster provides direct live real time online support via internet, this eliminates the cost of having to send techs to a site for diagnostics, any tuning of the machine and training can be done this way.

    controllers, wincnc is an excellent industrial controller that i have yet to find any limitations with. it uses a daughter board free of the cpu mother board, this allows for free access to the computer while the machine is running or using a file, i can teach, be on the internet and have techs and any one else watching my my machine (or any thing else) via webcam and this is all at the same time. i have yet to have any problem (and yes i have done some dumb screwups) that was not solved in a few minutes for 95% of any issue and within a shipping day of a needed part ( i fried a stepper motor and yes it can be done!!)

    you asked for comparison's of the machines, one of the most attractive features of working with the owners of camaster is they have never badmouthed another cnc company to me in any form, and i researched 4 of 5 of the machines you have shown and none of them did this either, you have picked a good lot for comparison! i will note this, to cut and carve at any speed over 600 ipm might be a stretch, yes it can be done not advisable but it could be done if you do not break bits or destroy material, rapids of 1000 -1500 are realistic, but i look for the quality of cut and common sense.

    software, camaster includes vcarve pro with thier machines, to shopbot this is called partworks and to the best of my knowledge is include for them as well. it is an excellent file production program. it is not a cad program and many software companys provide software at a greatly reduced rate for educational facilitys. i have done a good bit of online training with this program for the new owners of camasters and all are making chips on the first day (provided the machine is correctly wired and ready to run). i have a friend who closed his cabinetshop and returned to teach woodworking and building trades in a local high school, i am helping him to implement his cnc program into the school, (he has a laser already) the administrators of several other local schools have been in tmy shop to see the machine and prepare for cnc in thier schools, in most all cases the need for cnc in education is immediate and desired so then comes budget, i have told many to go back to the school and as they walk down a hall look for the cost of signage, cabinetry, art production, sets for plays in theater, and many other uses of a cnc which could now be done in school using ciriculum as a method, add up that outsourced cost against the value of the teaching tool and the machine will pay it self off quicker than a school owned truck or other asset!! we are setting the course in addition to the neccessary learning needs (gcode, file production, safety etc.) to include a personal project for each student ( a sign for grandma, a new dash board for the ride, etc.) and a class project to be left with the school for each year, ( a display cabinet for the trophy's, cool signage, plaques, just to name a few) cnc has potential good educators will go in and pull it out, students in our countrys are not a lost cause and we can rebuild our manufacturing base to compete in a world economy.

    thank you for asking for this, i have wanted to write this for a while and you helped me by providing the opportunity!! oh an buy the way i made a cannon in high school shop!

    jim mcgrew

    i will add this, the method by which the camaster gantry is built easily allows for reconfiguration shoud one desire to add a cnc lathe or the end boring capbility
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by james mcgrew; 03-19-2010 at 8:00 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    portland oregon
    Posts
    1,283
    a vac table can be as simple as pvc pipe and a couple of fein shopvacs. that works well for me.
    Steve knight
    cnc routing

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Medina Ohio
    Posts
    4,284
    You can call Shopbot and see if there are any schools near you with a Shopbot. I know Lorain college here in Ohio has one. Also you can post on the Shopbot forum if there is one in your area to see operate.

  10. #10
    I've gotten some in-person time with a few of the machines and I'm narrowing down the options. I'll probably go down to Columbia to see the CAMasters and check out Aspire. I don't think our students would use Aspire much, but I checked out the demo and it's simple interface definitely appeals to Rhino-averse me.

    A few more machines and additional data have been added to the comparison.

    The table will now be stored and updated here:
    http://design.umn.edu/current_studen...CNCcompare.pdf

    Getting close, but more input is always welcome, might as well expand the comparison for other's benefit since it's gotten this far. I'll probably keep adding machines as alternatives are suggested and quotes come in. Are there any specs or data missing from the table?

    -kg

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Groenke View Post
    I've gotten some in-person time with a few of the machines and I'm narrowing down the options. I'll probably go down to Columbia to see the CAMasters and check out Aspire. I don't think our students would use Aspire much, but I checked out the demo and it's simple interface definitely appeals to Rhino-averse me.

    A few more machines and additional data have been added to the comparison.

    The table will now be stored and updated here:
    http://design.umn.edu/current_studen...CNCcompare.pdf

    Getting close, but more input is always welcome, might as well expand the comparison for other's benefit since it's gotten this far. I'll probably keep adding machines as alternatives are suggested and quotes come in. Are there any specs or data missing from the table?

    -kg
    Kevin, thanks for the compiling the spreadsheet, I am sure that it will help many people thinking about purchasing a CnC router.
    I strongly suggest that you attend the Atlanta ww trade show this fall. Just focusing on CNC machines and venders took me two days at the ww show 2 years ago. On top of the many deals that are only offered at the show you will find a wealth of information that will be difficult to compile from your computer.
    James Jaragosky
    Last edited by James Jaragosky; 03-27-2010 at 10:30 AM.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]Camaster Cobra 408 working table size 48 x 98
    Wincnc,AspireII,PhotoVcarve,Cut3D
    HX6090SE 60Wworking table 23X36
    LaserCut 5.3
    Coreldraw X3, photograV 3.0, Photozoom3

    Sawmill Creek is financed in part through member contributions.
    Many members just like you have found extraordinary value in becoming a financial supporter of SMC.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Hayes, Virginia
    Posts
    14,400
    Kevin,

    I own the very first model ShopBot PRT Alpha and I operate a newer PRT Alpha at Christopher Newport University. The machines are similar, the one at CNU has a spindle and the newer aluminum rails. My ShopBot has the old steel channel rails and I use a PC Router.

    Both machines are an excellent value and will perform well in your situation but rather than me sharing what I like about ShopBot's you may find it more useful if I tell you what I don't like.

    Raised rails - ShopBot considers the raised rails a safety benefit because they provide a bit of protection for the operator. As a user I dislike having to reach over the rails all day long loading and unloading material. The gear rack on each side is exposed enough that you need to wear an apron or risk getting grease on your shirt just above the waistline.

    ShopBot's Frame - I would much prefer a welded frame over one that is bolted together. Normally I don't have a problem with the frames vibrating or see any shake unless I am doing 3D work. The aluminum rails are less stable than my personal ShopBot that has the steel channel rails.

    Dust Collection - The dust collection hose that ShopBot provides has a 90 degree bend in the hose just prior to connecting to the dust foot. The hose is squeezed to the point of reducing the air flow to some degree, I would prefer another design that provides a more efficient air flow and provides better access to the router when I need to change bits.

    Performance - I can't say that either of the ShopBot's I have operated have ever produced what I consider a perfectly smooth circle or arc. I have discussed this with their tech support people and was told that even if I upgraded to the newer motors I may or may not see any improvement. Although this isn't a big problem based on the kind of work I do it could be a deal breaker for some people. If you ever are offered a demonstration of any machine make sure that they cut a perfect circle for you so you can decide for yourself if the cut quality is satisfactory or if you are required to do a lot of design work to machine arcs that meet your specifications. Software can be a major part of this issue. Aspire has a feature that helps produce a better quality arc.

    Being realistic you can't expect a machine that costs less than 20 grand to perform like a $100,000.00 machine. You get what you pay for is relevant to CNC machines the same as any other equipment but the lower end machines are still an excellent value IMO. ShopBot has done an excellent job designing their PRT Alpha machines at an affordable price point, they are reliable, tough and an excellent value.

    I didn't cast a vote in your poll. My vote wouldn't be meaningful to you considering that my hands on experience is limited to just one manufacturer. I can tell you that I have been doing my own research lately concerning the new models available in my own price range and that I am seriously considering a CAMaster X3 Cobra. Last Spring I attended the Aspire Users Group meeting at Jim McGrew's shop in South Carolina. I had the opportunity to speak with two representatives of the CAMaster organization and to look closely at the machines they are building and see them operate, great stuff

    I am happy to extend to you an invitation to visit our sign shop in the Architects Office at CNU. Although we don't provide student training I'm sure the information I can provide would be valuable to any instructor and ultimately to your students.
    Last edited by Keith Outten; 03-27-2010 at 8:35 AM.

  13. #13
    joey kinda likes the pop up pins,,ya think!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6idMB4KoqY

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by James Jaragosky View Post
    I strongly suggest that you attend the Atlanta ww trade show this fall. Just focusing on CNC machines and venders took me two days at the ww show 2 years ago. On top of the many deals that are only offered at the show you will find a wealth of information that will be difficult to compile from your computer.
    James Jaragosky
    It would be nice if I could delay the purchase until after the IWF, but this purchase needs to made in this fiscal year (June 30) and the machine (and techs) need to be in service when the fall semester begins Sept 7th.

    Thanks for the candor on the ShopBot Keith (and the invite). Your analysis coincides with other accounts that I've found and my own impressions. Honestly, I'm a bit surprised the the SB isn't a few $s less considering some of the competition's prices .

    -kg

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by james mcgrew View Post
    joey kinda likes the pop up pins,,ya think!!

    I do like them it is a cool thing to have considering the 250K Biesse (Pic of one like it Bellow) I ran in the cabinet shop did not have them, or a Z height calibration switch for that matter. I am proud that the pro does for its $ tag
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Joey Jarrard
    CAMaster CNC

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