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Thread: Hard decisions concerning CNC upgrade/downgrade for small shop

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Houston, TX
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    This has been a fascinating thread to watch. Thanks everyone for the insights.

    During my original purchase, I felt like I had excellent support from Camaster. I really haven't had any problems with my machine after the first 6 months or so - and so I haven't tested their support infrastructure these days. They haven't been the most accessible for questions concerning upgrades - often taking a few weeks to respond - but I guess that's not surprising given that I am a pretty small fish with an old machine and upgrades really aren't their thing. Ditto with getting quotes - long delays - but there isn't an emergency here. It's been disappointing to see the control infrastructure of my machine dropped by the company so soon after I purchased it but that hasn't prevented me from using the machine without problems.

    Perhaps the issue is that Camaster (and a few others) straddle this line where they focus mostly on selling big machines to professional customers but also have a foot in the small machine to private consumer market. I would imagine the process of selling and supporting a $50,000-$75,000 5x10 ATC machine to a business is pretty different than selling a $8,000 machine to a guy in his garage. Us "guys in the garage" like (and are used to) the options of incremental upgrades and tweaking over time because our livelihood doesn't depend on this machine churning and we like tinkering (and have limited budgets). I suspect a business wants a turnkey workhorse machine and if they outgrow the capability it's much more efficient to just upgrade the whole shooting match and replace rather than waste time tinkering. Maybe the consumer oriented CNC companies (like Axiom for example) have a different model of machine upgrades (or maybe not...).

    At any rate, the take home message appears to be - upgrades are probably too expensive and too complex to consider. If I can find someone interested in buying my 48x48 then I'll sell it and invest in a smaller more modern machine but if not then I can continue to enjoy using the fine machine I currently have.

    Thanks again everyone.
    Richard Link

    **********************

  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Link View Post
    Perhaps the issue is that Camaster (and a few others) straddle this line where they focus mostly on selling big machines to professional customers but also have a foot in the small machine to private consumer market. I would imagine the process of selling and supporting a $50,000-$75,000 5x10 ATC machine to a business is pretty different than selling a $8,000 machine to a guy in his garage. Us "guys in the garage" like (and are used to) the options of incremental upgrades and tweaking over time because our livelihood doesn't depend on this machine churning and we like tinkering (and have limited budgets). I suspect a business wants a turnkey workhorse machine and if they outgrow the capability it's much more efficient to just upgrade the whole shooting match and replace rather than waste time tinkering. Maybe the consumer oriented CNC companies (like Axiom for example) have a different model of machine upgrades (or maybe not...).
    I cant say that I know personally of any preferential treatment based on anyone's cost of entry though I cant imagine a company pulling in a machine that may pull in 10 more wouldnt get some "stroke" to use a very familiar term that Gary comfortingly used in his reply. But my experience alone has been the manufacturer is only responsible up to their end of the deal with is the post processor. I have no idea with regards to asking them for support beyond that with regards to toolpathing and the like.

    That said, I can only imagine if I were to call ShopSabre at this point and inquire about adding a 4th axis 5 years after the fact there may or may not be some issues. My guess is not. Upgrading a spindle or some other hardware who knows. My gut feeling is its where ShopSabre poached their pitch about buy your second machine first. Upgrading is likely more costly than pitching your current machine and getting all the new bells and whistles. Who hasnt gone down that road looking at a new car, truck, computer, TV, refrigerator, on down the line. Upgrades in this world are more than like a completely new machine unless your interested in, and have the gap in your schedule, for a major DIY teardown and rebuild.

    Im not in any way busting on Camaster but your statements with regards to their communication are completely on-point with what I found when I contacted them initially and couldnt get anything out of them other than a cut and paste email. In hind sight my guess is they may have been getting smart 5 years ago an initiating the severing of that connection with the new-comer/tire kicker but thats what I was then and they lost me straight out of the gate. They rely heavily on their army. Im not the army type so Im not looing to source out my issues with a user base. I go straight to the horses mouth but with that I try to only go there when Im completely stuck.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Marquette, MI USA
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    478
    Mark...
    A note of clarification:

    When I said: " Just like your customer above. Anyone that can stroke a check for a $60k machine and not commit to learning how to run it is much wealthier and more foolhardy than myself."

    That's the 20 years of South Florida coming out. In the Midwest we would say "write a check" or "can afford". Either would apply to the context I intended. Nothing against your friend or neighbor, more so verifying that a lot of these fairly complicated machines are purchased by users that never put them to proper use.
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

  4. #34
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    Mar 2003
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    I feel a need to re-emphasize that the paid support being discussed that Jerome originally mentioned is relative to folks buying used machines on the open market that were originally produced by a particular manufacturer. Buyers of new machines from the manufacturer get the support as part of the deal. Buyers of used machines now have to pony up to get support for that used machine or pay hourly support for the same. The volume of used machines "out there" has increased substantially and that's a primary reason things have moved in the direction they have.

    ---

    Richard, one way or another, things will work out for you. I do believe that you'll be able to sell your current machine for a reasonable sum.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I feel a need to re-emphasize that the paid support being discussed that Jerome originally mentioned is relative to folks buying used machines on the open market that were originally produced by a particular manufacturer. Buyers of new machines from the manufacturer get the support as part of the deal. Buyers of used machines now have to pony up to get support for that used machine or pay hourly support for the same. The volume of used machines "out there" has increased substantially and that's a primary reason things have moved in the direction they have.

    ---

    Richard, one way or another, things will work out for you. I do believe that you'll be able to sell your current machine for a reasonable sum.
    Does Camaster support their older machines with a Mach controller that are only one owner with their lifetime support

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Campbell View Post
    Mark...
    A note of clarification:

    When I said: " Just like your customer above. Anyone that can stroke a check for a $60k machine and not commit to learning how to run it is much wealthier and more foolhardy than myself."

    That's the 20 years of South Florida coming out. In the Midwest we would say "write a check" or "can afford". Either would apply to the context I intended. Nothing against your friend or neighbor, more so verifying that a lot of these fairly complicated machines are purchased by users that never put them to proper use.
    No issue for me Gary, your use of the term stroke is completely fine and in-line with me. Im well aware of your southern definition too. They both work. All good with me.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    Hayes, Virginia
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    14,095
    According to the owner of CAMaster they provide unlimited life time tech support to the original owner when they purchase a new CAMaster CNC Router. If you purchase a used CAMaster you can purchase annual tech support or pay by the hour.

    IMO this is a very generous policy, it is unreasonable to expect free service from a company when you have never been a customer.

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Outten View Post
    it is unreasonable to expect free service from a company when you have never been a customer.
    Agreed ........
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome Stanek View Post
    Does Camaster support their older machines with a Mach controller that are only one owner with their lifetime support
    You'd have to ask them for specifics, but I believe they provide technical support to the original buyer based on their stated policy. "What" they can do relative to things like parts for the really old machines would be the unknown in my mind and that applies to any company whose product line evolves over time since it's an industry issue. I am not speaking from any kind of knowledge here...I'm just thinking about it from a business perspective as I had similar challenges helping clients in the telecom industry prior to retirement that for whatever reason chose to hold on to some really old technology that could no longer be supported with parts. In some cases, it was impossible to get component level things necessary to make the parts because they just didn't exist on the planet anymore.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerome Stanek View Post
    Does Camaster support their older machines with a Mach controller that are only one owner with their lifetime support
    CAMaster support towards those legacy machines is similar to that of ShopBot. They have very few if any parts for them anymore, but there are one or two guys that are still employed there that can give some assistance. Also the previous owners from the Mach days have a service company that does machine retrofits, so these owners are not left in the dark. They may not have a totally free assistance program, but unlike ShopBot, who have a majority of proprietary parts, those 12 year and older machines have no parts on them that are not available today, sometimes with a more modern upgrade.

    My question for you Jerry is: What is your interest? Do you or a friend need something, or are you just poking the nest? I can refer you to knowledgeable people if you need them.

    My guess is the latter. So I will poke back. Do you think that the new owners of ShopBot are going to be generous enough to offer free support for thousands of machines that they didn't actually sell? And if so, for how long? Most of their employees are new since I worked there and the majority may have never seen a PRT.

    And while I'm at it, lets check in with the SB development teams promises from 2018 in this thread and see how many came true:

    http://www.talkshopbot.com/forum/showthread.php?24425-Post-Processor-Modification (plain text, copy and paste into your browser)
    Last edited by Gary Campbell; 09-21-2021 at 11:49 PM.
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

  11. #41
    Hi Op,

    I found your predicament similar to my predicament. I have a garage shop as well with a dedicated shop of a similar size in the works. I was looking at a Stinger I or II, but its hard to get over the space consumption. I was hoping to find an option to collapse the CNC down when not in use, i.e. fold up, or fold vertically. It doesn't really seem like thats much of an option. The small units don't have the travel or the power to do thicker materials, and the larger machines are too damn big.

    I was considering a CNC for cutting out small parts and inlays, but, like anything else, I figure if I use it much, I'll probably want to do bigger and more with it and just end up upgrading if I go to small. If I were in your position, I would sell the existing unit and go with the new unit, assuming you had a plan to store it or otherwise make use of the space (shared top?).

    Jim,

    I'm wondering how you got a Stinger II into your shop along with a Slider?

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by derek labian View Post
    Jim,

    I'm wondering how you got a Stinger II into your shop along with a Slider?

    My old shop was about 750 sq ft and while space wasn't "overly generous", getting the 4x4 machine (which is actually about 5x7 in footprint) wasn't too much of an issue. I should have put out a couple more grand and got the 4x8, however, in hindsight, although right now with my temporary shop, it would be, um...challenging. I'm planning for about 950 sw ft for the new shop when I can put up a building, but I need the old property sold before I can even think about building it.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    You'd have to ask them for specifics, but I believe they provide technical support to the original buyer based on their stated policy. "What" they can do relative to things like parts for the really old machines would be the unknown in my mind and that applies to any company whose product line evolves over time since it's an industry issue. I am not speaking from any kind of knowledge here...I'm just thinking about it from a business perspective as I had similar challenges helping clients in the telecom industry prior to retirement that for whatever reason chose to hold on to some really old technology that could no longer be supported with parts. In some cases, it was impossible to get component level things necessary to make the parts because they just didn't exist on the planet anymore.
    I work on tools that make semiconductor chips. While I wouldn't call our tools old we are reaching a point where parts are getting difficult to obtain. There's a very large industry just in repairing things like industrial systems build on CPUs that are no longer made. Electronics are the worse but even things like servo motors and drivers can be difficult. When it's a multi-million dollar tool you can find a solution but for a $10k CNC machine all you can tell a customer is "sorry".

  14. #44
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    Feb 2003
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    Hayes, Virginia
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    I read the entire thread that Gary shared above and I am surprised that ShopBot is in the position they are after leading the industry for so many years.
    Normally we don't allow links to other forums by I made an exception in this case because of the value of the information and it cannot be duplicated here.

  15. #45
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    I read the complete thread as well Keith. It sounds like they were content to sit on their past accomplishments and quit working to continuously improve. I found it interesting they locked the thread because a few a couple unhappy owners were pushing them for answers solutions. I used to tell people that you couldn't go wrong with CAMaster, Shopsabre, or Shopbot. Now only two of the three after reading that thread.

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