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Cut Center or CNC Router?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Jul 24, 2014
  
  
  
  

Thermwood CNC Router or Cut CenterWith the introduction of Thermwood’s “Cut Ready - Cut Center”, cabinet shops are faced with a fundamental decision about how to approach automating custom cabinet manufacturing. There are now two, distinctly different approaches, each with advantages and limitations:

cnc router

Most shops are aware of CNC routers and how they work. You begin with cabinet design software that is used to design products and create the CNC programs needed to make the parts. Each software provider and machine manufacturer uses a somewhat different approach, but in the end you create what you want to make with software, on a separate computer, and send the resulting programs to the machine where it is cut. With this approach, there are no limitations as to what you can make, other than limits of the software package, your design and programming skills and how much programming time you want to spend.

cut center

Cut centers take a different approach. With cut centers, everything is already in the machine. There is no separate design software or design computer. The machine itself knows how to make cabinets. Tell it how you want your cabinets made, frame or frameless, one or two sided material, assembly method…it offers you options and you select what you want. It then shows you all the cabinet configurations it knows how to make that way. Specify the size and it makes the parts for you. Because everything from product design to tooling and machine set-up is carefully controlled and coordinated, operation is a lot simpler, requiring virtually no technical training or skill. The touch screen control is intuitive so you focus on the product you are making rather than concentrating on making the product. The cut center is intended to make the bulk of products required by most cabinet shops with virtually no effort.

so which is best for your operation?

The answer probably depends on who you are and what you make. The “who you are” is defined by how enthusiastically you embrace computers, software and technology. A major advantage of cut centers is that there is no programming and it requires very little technical skill. If you embrace computers, software and don’t mind the programming time to get the complete flexibility and capability that you want, then a system that doesn’t need programming might not be for you.

-cut center advantage

If you are not very technical or don’t want to hire programmers, the cut center could offer a huge advantage. Even if you are technical, you may want to consider the amount of programming time and effort required to create programs for the products and jobs you plan to run. After all, even computer programmers buy software from others just so they don’t have to program everything themselves. Thermwood, working with professional cabinetmakers, has spent thousands and thousands of programming hours developing products the cut center can make. This is an ongoing effort, something you probably would not have time to do.

In general, if you don’t enthusiastically embrace technology, the cut center approach is probably better, but “what you make” is also important.

-cnc router advantage

If you seldom make the same thing twice and focus on truly custom products, your choice is probably design software and a CNC router, although, in these circumstances it may also be reasonable to continue making products using existing manual techniques. Sometimes programming and proofing something so it can run on a CNC router takes more time than just making it by hand, especially if you are only going to do it once. If most of what you do is a variant of a standard product line, custom cabinet boxes for example, the decision depends on whether the cabinets that the cut center makes will work for you.

cut center has a huge selection

The cabinets that the Thermwood Cut Ready - Cut Center know how to make are built around the most common ways cabinets are made and offer a lot of flexibility. They may not be exactly what you currently make in every detail but they do offer the major features. In fact, they may include features that you can’t do today that make the product easier and better. For example, Cut Ready cabinets include assembly marks on major components. These are a dot pattern machined into mating parts that show you which parts fit together and in what orientation. They are completely hidden after assembly but save a ton of time when assembling more complex pieces. They also include drawer alignment holes machined into the cabinet sides. Put alignment pins in these holes and use them to install drawer slides and drawers for quick installation and virtually perfectly alignment the first time.

While you can program exactly what you want with a CNC router, no cabinet shop could possibly invest the programming time and effort needed to duplicate even a small portion of the products a cut center can make. For example, considering all the variations, the initial Cut Ready – Cut Center can make something approaching 20,000 different cabinet configurations without counting size variations.

Another consideration is that cut centers include things you may not make today, such as drawers, doors or moldings. It may be a lot less expensive to make these things yourself as long as they are already in the machine and you don’t have to spend a lot of time and effort learning and programming them. Most shops with a CNC router will not go through the trouble to figure all this out but, with a cut center, they are just sitting there and all you have to do is say “make it”.

 


financial comparisons

Now let’s look at finances. How does the cost of these two approaches compare?

The initial cost of a ready-to-run cut center is more than the cost of a conventional CNC router. Remember however, cut centers come complete with everything, including tooling. There are no options. CNC routers tend to have a lot of options and their selection depends on what you want to do with the machine. In addition, for a true comparison you must realize they are not exactly the same thing. For a true comparison, you must add to the CNC router and option cost, all the additional costs needed to get to the same point as a cut center, that is, a system ready to run production.

You need to consider the cost of a design software package and a computer system capable of running it plus the time and cost needed to learn and operate both of them. You must also consider the cost of travel and training for both the design software and machine, including the cost of the folks being trained and any resulting disruption this might cause. Cut centers do not require in-depth technical training, so the basics needed to run them can be taught rather quickly during installation. In fact, most folks can walk up to the machine and run it with no previous instruction.

When looking at a CNC router, you also need to consider the time required to develop and test all required product programs, including the time and material needed to proof the new designs. In most cases, although the initial cost seems to be higher, you will find that a cut center may actually be somewhat less expensive than a CNC router when both are programmed and ready for production. After all that, realize that a cut center can be leased for about the same cost per hour as a single employee.

Another way to look at it is that you can lease a cut center for less than the cost of a programmer for a CNC router and after five years, lease payments for the cut center go away while the cost for the programmer probably went up.

One other factor to consider is that with both systems ready to run, the CNC router will likely have been programmed for only the basic products you make while the cut center can make a variety of additional products such as closet cabinets, utility cabinets, bath cabinets, furniture, MDF doors, dovetail drawer boxes, profile and carved moldings. This is so easy that many shops will elect to include these additional products in their product offering so cut centers could generate more business and profit with little extra effort. With the cut center, its ability to make different productws will continue to grow as Thermwood continues to develop additions. You can download these for free. With a CNC router, you cannot program additional products for free.

the bottom line

So, there it is. Two approaches with the same goal. For truly custom products and the maximum flexibility in a technically savvy environment, the CNC router is probably better. For customized standard products in a less technical environment the cut center wins out. Which is better for you? Only you can decide.

more info

For more info on the Thermwood Cut Center, please visit cutready.com.  For more info on our line of 3 and 5 axis CNC routers, please visit us at thermwood.com.

 

 


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Nested Based Production the Easy Way

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Jul 09, 2014
  
  
  
  

Quite a few custom cabinet shops haven’t automated because they just don’t like computers. They don’t want to get involved with design software, CNC programs or any other complex technology. They just want an easy method to make cabinets.  

Thermwood Cut Center is the easy way to make custom cabinets and furnitureNow, there is a way for them to automate without any of that. It’s a different kind of machine called a “Cut Center” and it is available from Thermwood. With Thermwood’s “Cut Ready - Cut Center” there is no programming, no design computer, no design software, no machine parameters or complex systems. You simply tell the machine what you want and it makes it for you.  

True, there is a huge amount of highly advanced technology in a cut center, but the user doesn’t need to know, understand or deal with it any more than you need to know and understand the technology that makes your car run. With a car, all you want to do is drive. With a cut center, all you want to do is make cabinets and a cut center knows how to make cabinets.

just tell it what you want to make

The cut center runs through a touch screen, sort of like an iPad, but a lot bigger. Tell it what you want … kitchen cabinets, closet cabinets, bath or utility cabinets, furniture, etc.  Next, (depending on what you select), tell it how you want it made…face frame or frameless, single or double sided material, toe kick or detached toe, etc. Now select a cabinet configuration from the list presented, adjust the size and make it. The machine guides you through the process, step by step.

This is pretty easy and when the cabinets are done, you can make drawers, doors and drawer fronts for those cabinets.

There are several kinds of drawers to choose from, side mount or undermount slides, blind dado or dovetail joints, slide-in bottom or full thickness bottom. It is interesting that, depending on the mounting system selected, the drawer will be a different size and built a little different but, the user does not need to deal with any of that. Just tell the machine to make drawers and it takes care of all the details.

doors and moldings

MDF doors are high-end designs that replicate quality five piece doors. They are made using a reverse 3D printing technique where, instead of adding a little material on each pass, a little is removed. This means that every door in the system can be made with the same standard tools that come with the machine, and there are already over 450 different door and drawer front designs. This same technique is also used to make moldings. Hundreds of profiles are available and each can be adjusted in both width and depth and then used to make either straight or arched moldings.

the cut center takes care of it

The cut center is really easy to use, even for people with no real machine operating experience. The control takes care of the complex areas automatically like tool management and tool life monitoring, vacuum hold down and spoilboard management and routine maintenance. It then guides the operator every step of the way and if he doesn’t understand any step, it will play a video showing him exactly what to do. And if that isn’t enough, the operator can connect to a live Thermwood technician, right on the touch screen, who can answer questions and help with any problems. This virtual service is available whenever needed, as long as you own the machine, and it’s free.

Over time, Thermwood plans to add additional products to the cut center, based on user feedback, and these additions will be available to all cut centers as a free download. System software updates are also released as a free download.

less cost over time

In the past, if you wanted to automate your cabinet production but didn’t want to deal with computers and software, you were pretty much out of luck. Today there is finally an answer, it is called a Cut Center and it can be leased for about the same cost per hour as a single employee.

more info

Here at Thermwood, we are excited about this new product and direction.  We hope it brings the benefits of modern automation to a new segment of the woodworking industry, who (for a variety of reasons), are uncomfortable with or can't work with current methods.  You can learn more about this incredible new technology at cutready.com

 

 


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Thermwood Cut Center Featured on 21st Century Television

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Jun 20, 2014
  
  
  
  

Thermwood's amazing new Cut Ready Cut Center is being featured on 21st Century Television with an interview between Thermwood's Chairman and CEO, Ken Susnjara and host Donald Trump Jr.  The cut center is a new type of machine for making cabinets, closets and furniture that requires no programming and can be run by about anyone.

The first broadcast airing of this program will be on Blooomberg Television (US) on July 27th at 6:30PM EST.

There will be multiple broadcasts in the US, Europe and Asia this summer and fall.  Exact network and broadcast times will be available by July 10th, but you can watch the program segment right now by clicking below:

More info

We at Thermwood are excited about this new product and direction.  We hope it brings the benefits of modern automation to a new segment of the woodworking industry, who (for a variety of reasons), are uncomfortable with or can't work with current methods.  You can learn more about this incredible new technology at cutready.com


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About the Cut Center

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Jun 06, 2014
  
  
  
  

Insight and thoughts about the all new Thermwood Cut Center - a machine that makes cabinets, doors, moldings, closets, furniture and much more with NO Programming. 

Just tell it what you want and it makes it...it's that easy.  

 

find out more here

See videos and more info at cutready.com



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The Most Significant Technical Advancement Since Nested Based Manufacturing

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Jun 06, 2014
  
  
  
  

Thermwood Cut CenterDo you realize that nested based cabinet technology was first developed thirty years ago?

For technology, that’s ancient, and it really hasn’t changed much! It’s time for something new… something better… something easier… a lot easier

what is it?

It’s called a “cut center” and it’s really different. It makes virtually everything a cabinet shop needs, but there is no programming. That’s right, no computer, no software and no programming…none….EVER !

no programming?

A cut center doesn’t need programming because it already knows how to make cabinets, closets, furniture, doors, drawers, moldings and more…. thousands and thousands and thousands of designs. Just tell it what you want and it makes it, the size you want and the way you want

Thermwood has just announced the very first cut center, called "Cut Ready".  This amazing new technology has already been discovered by the business media and is being featured on Fox Business News, Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg International Europe and Bloomberg International Asia multiple times this summer and fall

The amazing thing about this machine is that it can be run by just about anyone, no special training, no special technical skills. This is manufacturing for the average person

Now cabinet shops can remain cabinet shops and not be enslaved by technology. It installs and you are in full production in a couple of hours.  It can be run by your current folks and make you a ton of money

more info

See videos and more info at cutready.com

 


 


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Thermwood 5 Axis Multi-Purpose CNC Routers

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, May 16, 2014
  
  
  
  

The Thermwood Multi-Purpose Five Axis Series combines all the elements needed for trimming formed parts, patterns or molds using five-axis simultaneous motions.  

Whether you are interested in a moving table machine for high-speed trimming, a fixed table for large aerospace and composite fixtures or a high-wall machine, we have a solution for you:


Multi-Purpose 67

The Multi-Purpose 67 is an entry-level five axis available with a variety of either single or dual moving aluminum table sizes.

Thermwood Model 67 7x10 CNC Router

Model 67 7x10 Single Moving Table

Thermwood Model 67 10x5 CNC Router

Model 67 5x10 Dual Moving Tables


Videos

 

 

 


Multi-Purpose 90

The Multi-Purpose 90 is a heavy-duty five-axis designed for high-speed trimming and pattern machining, available in single or dual moving aluminum tables.

Thermwood Model 90 5x12 Dual Table CNC Router

Model 90 5x12 Dual Moving Tables

Thermwood Model 90 10x5 CNC Router

Model 90 10x5 Single Moving Table


Videos


Multi-Purpose 70

The Multi-Purpose 70 is designed for aerospace and composite applications utilizing large/heavy fixtures (various sizes available).

Thermwood Model 70 10x20 CNC Router

Model 70 10x20 Fixed Table

Thermwood Model 70 10x10 CNC Router

Model 70 10x10 Fixed Table


Video


Multi-Purpose 77

The Multi-Purpose 77 is a heavy-duty, high-speed contained system for the machining of large aerospace and composite materials (various sizes available). 

Thermwood Model 77 5x10 CNC Router

Model 77 10x20 Fixed Table


Videos


More Info

Click to Calculate the Value of a CNC Investment


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New Option for Model 70 - 10 Position Automatic Rotary Tool Changer

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Apr 29, 2014
  
  
  
  

10 Position Automatic Rotary Tool Changer

A new option is now available for the Thermwood Model 70 CNC Router - A 10 Position Automatic Rotary Tool Changer.  

This new tool changer is contained in a protective housing that moves forward when tool changes are needed, and then back out of the working area to continue machining.  It expands the Model 70's capabilities with an additional 10 tooling positions.


Video


Images

Model 70 10 Position Rotary Tool Changer

 

Model 70 10 Position Rotary Tool Changer - Open


More Info

The 10 Position Automatic Rotary Tool Changer can be added to a new Model 70 as an option, or retrofitted to an existing machine.  Please Contact Thermwood Retrofits for more information on adding this option to your existing Model 70.

About the Model 70

 

Thermwood Model 70 10x20 CNC Router

The Thermwood Model 70 is designed for aerospace and composite applications utilizing large/heavy fixtures (various table sizes are available).


Click to Calculate the Value of a CNC Investment

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Which Type of CNC Router Training is Right For You?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Apr 24, 2014
  
  
  
  

CNC Router Training Options
After weeks, months and sometimes years of deliberation, you've finally decided that a CNC Router is right for your business!  One of the most important (but often forgotten) aspects of a CNC Router purchase that businesses don’t think about is training.  If this is your first CNC Router purchase, then training is key.  Choosing a router that offers a comprehensive training schedule is important so you can be prepared when the router arrives at your facility.     

Almost every CNC Router manufacturer offers some form of training, and each has its positives and negatives.  Some allow five full days of dedicated in-house training at their facility, while others offer two days of training at your facility in combination with your machine install/setup. 

What is Onsite Training?

Onsite CNC TrainingOnsite training is generally one to two days at your facility performed by a technician who not only will train you but will also run power to the machine and set it up.  Some of the training should include maintenance routines.  Onsite training is nice for those businesses that find it hard to get away from the office for a short period of time or having to spend extra on travel expenses (but this scenario also gives you less training time).  During this training period, distractions and interruptions can and will occur due to daily business routines. 

If you’re looking at a CNC Router that offers onsite training, ask the company for a training itinerary so you can get a better idea as to what they will be teaching you during this one to two days.

What is In-house Training?

Thermwood Training FacilitiesIn-house training is generally a longer period of time, usually no more than five days at the manufacturer's facility.  Added travel expense and time away from the shop for one or two of your employees could be hard for some of you, but you will receive more in depth training as well as no interruptions or distractions.  Some view the travel as a way to take a “vacation” or time away from the shop. 

In-house training is performed by a dedicated instructor who teaches this information week in and week out.  Also, you would most likely be in a training class along with other businesses just like yours.  This method gives you and the other students a chance to take a tour of the manufacturers’ facility and possibly see your machine being assembled if it hasn’t been shipped yet.  Depending on the manufacturer, lunches are provided during the week, so students aren’t left wandering around looking for places to eat. 

How about Software Training?

eCabinet Systems Online TrainingSoftware training is going to depend on who you purchase the software from.  Some offer onsite training, some in-house training and now (because of the popularity of the internet), online training is also available.  The pluses and negatives above will also apply to software training.  Hopefully you will have decided which software will work for your business before your new machine arrives, as this will give you an advantage of putting that CNC Router right to work once it is in place.  Online training allows you to go through the training courses anywhere/anytime and at your own pace as long as you have an internet connection.

Don't forget Training Support

Thermwood technician uses Virtual Service to help a customerAnother aspect to consider is training support.  If you have questions or concerns about your machine or its operation/programming, you want to go with a vendor who offers the easiest access to answers.  Some manufacturers have pay-for-answer support which charges by the answer or by a time period, while others have free forums, email and/or phone support. 

The decision is yours!

You should spend time investigating all aspects of your purchase before you make a decision.  Ultimately, how well you understand your CNC Router and its operation (as well as the level of support you can expect) will help determine your future success.


 

Click to Calculate the Value of a CNC Investment



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2014 Thermwood Dealer Conference

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Apr 11, 2014
  
  
  
  

We recently held our 2014 Dealer Conference at our headquarters in Dale, IN. The purpose of this annual event is to get all of our domestic and international dealers together in round-table informative sessions to discuss sales strategies and also to present the exciting changes and new products we plan to release in the next year.

Of course, the conference isn't all work and no play!  It also gives everyone a chance to socialize and catch up on news, as well as the opportunity to award our top sellers special prizes at the awards dinner. 

This year, our top dealership was Tech Con.  Second and third places went to Automation Associates, Inc and CNC Automation out of Canada.  The award for the dealership with the Most Improved Sales for 2013 went to Thomas F. O’Brien, Inc.  The award for top International Sales went to CAM Automatizacion out of Mexico.  Congratulations, guys!


Thermwood Dealer Tech Con

Pictured above are: (l-r) Robert Vollmer (Tech Con), Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood), Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood) and Glenn Suss (Tech Con).


Thermwood Dealer Automation Associates

Pictured above are: (l-r) Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood), Mark Drone (Automation Associates, Inc) and Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood).


Thermwood Dealer CNC Automation

Pictured above (l-r) are: Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood), Andrew Legault (CNC Automation), Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood) and Bob Law (CNC Automation).


Thomas F. O’Brien, Inc. Thermwood Dealer

Pictured above are: (l-r) Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood), Thomas O'Brien (Thomas F. O’Brien, Inc.) and Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood).


CAM Automatizacion Thermwood Dealer

Pictured above are: (l-r) Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood), Pablo Macias (CAM Automatizacion) and Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood).


Thermwood Dealer Conference 2014

Thermwood personnel, domestic and international dealers socialize after hours during the 2014 Dealer Conference.

 


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Thermwood Model 45 CNC Router with Nemi Pod System Machining a Poplar Hardwood Door

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Feb 21, 2014
  
  
  
  

This video shows a Thermwood Model 45 CNC Router equipped with a Nemi Pod System machining a hardwood door out of poplar.

The Model 45 is a heavy-duty three axis CNC Router designed for nested-based production. Available in either single or dual spindles with optional rotary axis.  Featuring fixed table sizes from 5'x5' to 7'x12', it has a 12HP HSD Spindle (3,000-24,000RPM) - optional 18HP HSD Spindle available.

Thermwood Model 45 5'x10' CNC Router

Thermwood Model 45 5'x10' CNC Router shown

Thermwood Model 45 with Nemi Pod System

Thermwood Model 45 5'x10' CNC Router with Nemi Pod System Shown


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