An Introduction to 3D Laser Scanning for Woodworking and CNC Routers

Posted by Jason Susnjara on Fri, Feb 12, 2010

Tags: CNC, CNC Routers, Woodworking, 3 Axis, 5 Axis, wood carving, 3D laser, polhemus, laser scanning, 4 Axis

In the Woodworking industry, laser scanners and touch probes have been used for some time for digitizing objects, but due to severe technical or practical limitations, neither has seen significant use in the market. Software and CNC machine technology already exist to take advantage of 3D digital models, so digitizing has been the weak link in the process. The recent introduction of the FastSCAN to the woodworking market has changed that, and allows woodworkers to leverage digital technology to increase their productivity and get more return on their CNC investment.  Click HERE for the full article.

 

Thermwood Corporation: CNC Innovator

Posted by Jason Susnjara on Wed, Jan 06, 2010

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, CNC Routers, 3 Axis, 5 Axis, Technology, aerospace, Wind Energy, Ken Susnjara, energy digital, cnc innovator, 3-D volumetric compensation, GSA

This article is also available to view here

 

Thermwood Corporation, always on the cutting edge of technology, is now taking its CNC expertise to new markets

Written by Militza Richard & Produced by Shaheen Mohammadipour

The Thermwood Corporation has never been intimidated by technology. Founded in 1969 as a plastic molder for wood-grained parts for the furniture industry, the company developed their own CNC tool in the mid 1970s.

"We ended up building the first CNC control system ever offered commercially," says company founder and CEO Ken Susnjara. The company developed its own operating systems and evolved their CNC routers into a very powerful and capable system.

Used to cut, trim and shape a wide variety of materials including wood, plastic, composites, foam, honeycomb core and non-ferrous metals into either flat or three-dimensional shaped products, CNC routers have changed the face of the machine industry. Thermwood is the oldest CNC router company in the world and the only CNC manufacturer in the country with a GSA certification.

With customers ranging from NASA to Broadway, Thermwood offers a wide variety of systems, in both three and five axis configurations in a wide range of sizes. The company has also become a major international player with operations across the globe.

NEW MARKETS

For many years, Thermwood Corporation has been extremely successful focusing on three key markets: woodworking, plastics and aerospace. However, the company has recently begun expanding into new markets, such as the growing wind sector.

"We've made a huge number of changes in the downturn," says Susnjara. "We've revamped marketing, targeted the wind energy market, and created some new machines. We didn't pull into our shells. You have to go out there and get the business."

With Ken's son Jason Susnjara heading up the marketing department, Thermwood Corporation has embraced online marketing and begun attending new tradeshows, opening doors into new business sectors.

"We had a traditional marketing plan that had worked well for us, but over the past few years we have begun embracing electronics and becoming internet savvy. It's worked rather nicely. By spreading out our marketing we have been able to pick up business in new sectors," says Ken Susnjara.

Entering these new markets has been essential as the economy continues to struggle. "The biggest trends are our competitors going out of business," says Susnjara. "We are in a dozen markets in 35 countries, and we would have never believed they would all dip at the same time."

But the company has taken the down time to revamp and is now excited about the future. "As the economy recovers we will be much stronger," states Susnjara. He believes the economy is turning around and is excited that more and more companies are beginning to adopt CNC technology.

IMPROVED MACHINES

As Thermwood enters new market places, the company has also developed larger, more accurate machines. However, one problem with large machines is the head alignment. Ensuring accuracy comes with a high cost.

To solve this problem, Thermwood has employed 3-D laser systems to measure the exact position of the head everywhere in the working envelope. They then developed technology that allows their CNC control to take this data and compensate for any machine error.

This system cuts down on the cost, making it practical to build larger machines. "We have sold 60ft machines and with the new system we can run the Z axis into the 10-12ft range," explains Susnjara.

As Thermwood continues to improve its systems, its technology continues to become more accurate and easier to use. For example, mounting a fixture used to be a task that could take hours of painstaking work, but Thermwood's new technology can transform the program to match the fixture instead of the other way around, cutting out hours of work.

"Things that used to take a lot of time and skill are now being handled in the control," says Susnjara. "Once we discover the needs of a client, we can generally come up with a way to meet those needs better than our competitors. We can offer the machines for 1/3 less money with specs that are better."

Thermwood hopes to apply this technological savvy to the growing wind sector. Susnjara says the company has programs in place with leaders in the industry and is excited about the "unique technologies they will be able to bring to the industry."

STRONG RELATIONSHIPS

Thermwood is able to offer flexible technological solutions to its clients thanks to the hard work and skill of its employees. "We get pretty good folks. This area has a strong work ethic and skilled people," says Susnjara.

In fact, he says many of the people who were with the company in the beginning are still there today. Their very first employee just retired last year, and many employees are second generation. And while there have been layoffs and pay cuts due to the economy, Susnjara says that in a normal year a turnover rate of 1 or 1.5 percent is bad.

Thermwood also cultivates long-term relationships with its vendors and distributors. Having been in the same business for so long, they have maintained great relationships with all of their vendors. "We have a philosophy that everyone needs to make money. We don't squeeze our vendors. It's better to create relationships where you support each other," says Susnjara.

Similarly, the company has worked with many of its distributors for 20 or 30 years. Many are now second generation.

FACTS AT A GLANCE:

Company Name: Thermwood Corporation

CEO: Ken Susnjara

Operations: Thermwood is the oldest CNC router company in the world and the only CNC manufacturer in the country with a GSA certification

Established: 1969

http://www.thermwood.com

 

 

Thermwood CabinetShop 45 CNC Pen Project

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Dec 03, 2009

Tags: CNC, CNC Routers, 3 Axis, CabinetShop, Technology, Model 45, smart, Customer, education, ball state, drawing

The members of projectione recently utilized the 3 Axis CabinetShop 45 CNC Router at Associated Fabrication in New York to create several cool projects.

The first is a combination of CNC Router and a set of drafting and art pens to draw abstracted versions of character sketches.  For more information on this process, please click here:

CNC Pen Project on CS45 by projectione

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thermwood CabinetShop 43 Performance Videos

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Sep 11, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, New, CNC Routers, wood, Productivity, Woodworking, Nested Base, 3 Axis, Announcements, CabinetShop, Model 43, Cabinet, High Performance, Cost, cabinets, Video, nested based, Product Information, Gen2, QuickCut, 43, Low Cost, Easy, wood carving, Purchase, carving

We've created a couple of videos demonstrating the superior performance of the CabinetShop 43 in a variety of applications.  The first is the Carving of an inset carving, and the second is Cabinet Cutting.

 

About the CabinetShop 43:  The CabinetShop 43 offers premium performance not normally seen at this price point. For example, it has positioning speeds to 3,180 inches per minute and programmed cutting speeds to 2,250 Inches per minute. The actual speed at which you can cut is determined more by tooling and material than by the machine, but its speed is indicative of the overall solid CNC performance of the CabinetShop 43.

Updated Thermwood QuickCut Video

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Sep 04, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, software, CNC Routers, 3 Axis, Announcements, CabinetShop, Cabinet, smart, Video, nested based, QuickCut, 43, Easy, super controller

We've created an updated QuickCut video that shows how easy and powerful the entire process is:

About QuickCut:  QuickCut is available on all Thermwood CabinetShop series machines and offers the fastest, easiest and simplest possible way to make custom cabinets. Everything is done right at the machine. You don't need separate computers, design software, networks or anything else other than the machine.

Please Click Here for more information on QuickCut 

Thermwood Introduces Low Cost, High-Performance CabinetShop 43

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Sep 02, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, New, 3 Axis, Announcements, CabinetShop, Model 43, Technology, Cabinet, High Performance, Cost, cabinets, QCore, nested based, QuickCut, closets, 43, Low Cost, manufacturing, Ken Susnjara

We are pleased to introduce a revolutionary new CNC Router System, called the CabinetShop 43, for nested based applications. This new high performance CNC router is built in the US, at Thermwood's Southern Indiana factory and utilizes a whole new, highly efficient manufacturing approach which results in a superior structure coupled with enhanced use of materials, all at a dramatically lower price.

 

CabinetShop 43

The new machine features a 61 by 121 inch fixed table, a 10 HP HSD spindle and an eleven position automatic tool changer. It offers high acceleration, high performance motions in both positioning and cutting. This new system includes quality features seldom, if ever, found at this price point including full stress relieved weldments, high-end Siemens drives throughout, THK rails and three-dimensional volumetric position compensation.

The system also includes Thermwood's QCore SuperControl which sharply distinguishes it from every other machine in this class offering features such as:

"QuickCut" is the fastest, simplest, easiest way to make cabinets and closets ever. Just select and resize a cabinet from the library and cut it, all right at the machine control.

"Job Level Interface" means you communicate with every major cabinet design software package using a single job file instead of dozens or hundreds of individual programs. Nesting and program development happen automatically at the machine; an approach that offers dramatically simpler operation and higher productivity.

The QCore SuperControl also executes standard G-Code programs developed elsewhere.

The QCore SuperControl also has an impressive list of operating features all with one purpose, make the machine as foolproof as possible to reduce errors, minimizing the time you fiddle with the machine. It runs more with less effort.

- Automatic Tool Management helps you manage tooling and tracks tool life

- Maintenance Tracking tracks machine use and guides you through routine maintenance

- Graphic Error Reporting shows you exactly where a problem is and suggests solutions

- Complete User Manual in the control

- Dynamic CAD drawings of the entire machine on the control screen

- Maintenance Videos on the control guide you through mechanical adjustments

- Virtual Service provides direct link from the control to Thermwood service

Never before has this level of technical sophistication, quality and performance been available at this price. The CabinetShop 43 is ushering in a new era of productivity, ease of use and profit for custom cabinet operations.

Adirondack Studios completes project using Artcam, Thermwood

Posted by Jason Susnjara on Fri, Aug 28, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, software, CNC Routers, 3 Axis, manufacturing, Skills, artcam

Delcam's ArtCAM software enabled Adirondack Studios to complete successfully a project to produce five giant chandeliers for the Mohegan Sun Casino at Pocono Downs, Pennsylvania.

 

For over 30 years, Adirondack Studios, based in Argyle, New York, has helped to design and build themed environments for theatres, arenas, exhibit halls, ballrooms, parks, restaurants, casinos, amusement parks, supermarkets, museums, stadia and marinas. About a year ago, the company began using the ArtCAM artistic CADCAM software to program the CNC routers used to manufacture the majority of the company's products.
"The software that we used in the past for CNC programming worked fine for routine jobs but many of the projects that we get involved in are far out of the ordinary," said Bob Gregory, Senior Router Operator. "We spent too much time watching the clock while we were machining and ran into quite a few bugs. Also, the software developer was not as responsive as we wished when we called in for support."
"We had heard that a number of our competitors were using ArtCAM with very good results so we decided to give it a try," Mr. Gregory continued. "From the very beginning we felt that ArtCAM was a more finished product, more robust, with much higher performance. The tutorials make it very easy to take advantage of the many advanced features of the software. The support provided by Delcam has been superlative and they do listen to, and implement, user suggestions for improving the software."
Adirondack Studios' designers began the construction of the chandeliers by building a 3D model in AutoCAD. The file was imported into ArtCAM to generate the CNC program to machine a positive shape in low-density foam. This was used by a subcontractor to vacuum-form the plastic bowl segments. These were then painted to look like alabaster.
In a similar way, the casting department used ArtCAM to make a mould to cast the grouse models that would be used to decorate the chandeliers. A black-tinted silicone rubber was used to give the grouse the appearance of wrought iron.

The next step was to create a bird's nest pattern and weave it around the circumference of the bowl. ArtCAM allowed the ways in which the strands crossed each other to be varied for a more natural appearance. "Birds do not use a CNC machine to build their nests so it took considerable effort to get the correct look," Mr. Gregory said.  Mr. Gregory generated a CNC program to cut the bird's nest negative shape into MDF. It took only fifteen minutes to create the program compared with at least four hours that would have been needed with the previous software. The mould was used to cast the bird's nests from the same silicon rubber used for the grouse. Finally, the birds and the nests were glued to the bowl of each chandelier.
The finished chandeliers were then installed in the casino. They formed part of a $208-million renovation of the site, aimed at transforming it into the area's leading entertainment complex.

 

 

Thermwood Joins the American Wind Energy Association!

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Aug 27, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, Composites, CNC Routers, 3 Axis, 5 Axis, Announcements, Trade Shows, Product Information, manufacturing, Wind Energy

We are now a Business Member of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and will be exhibiting at the Windpower Expo 2010 in Dallas, TX (May 23rd-26th, 2010).  Make plans now to come out and see us in action.

Thermwood is a Business Member of the American Wind Energy Association

Thermwood offers 3 and 5 axis systems ideally suited for the production, fabrication and trimming of composites and other materials used in the production of wind energy products. 

For more information on our applications in this area, please visit the composite page of our CNC Routers By Applications area.

 

New Low-Cost, High Performance CabinetShop 43 5×10 CNC Router Coming Soon!

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Aug 27, 2009

Tags: CNC Routers, 3 Axis, Announcements, CabinetShop, Model 43, High Performance, Cost, 43, Low Cost

CabinetShop 43 Coming Soon! 

We are pleased to announce the upcoming arrival of our latest machine, the CabinetShop 43! This low-cost, high-performance 5×10 table CNC Router is perfect for making nested based cabinets, closets, furniture and upholstered frames.

Look for more information about the CabinetShop 43 coming in the next few weeks.

Until then - if you would like to know more, please contact us for the inside scoop.

Thermwood announces QuickCut Cabinet and Closet System

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Aug 27, 2009

Tags: Thermwood, New, CNC Routers, Productivity, Woodworking, 3 Axis, Announcements, Cabinet, cabinets, Product Information, Assembly Marks, Gen2, QuickCut, Closet, closets

We are pleased to announce a new, simplified approach to nested based production of cabinets and closets that does not require separate cabinet design software. This new approach, called "QuickCut", is done entirely at the CNC machine.

QuickCut Screenshot

The operator, working at the machine control, simply selects and resizes cabinets and closets from a built-in library and runs them. This entire process happens at the machine. The process is simple enough that virtually anyone can run it with minimal instruction. Libraries can be modified or extended through a programming service.

"For the first time you can operate a CNC router without extensive training or technical skill", says Thermwood's Vice-President of Marketing Jason Susnjara. "This approach allows cabinetmakers to focus on making cabinets using an amazing new tool that's really easy to use".

Operating a CNC router usually requires specialized knowledge which limits its use to specially trained employees. We used the technical power in our Gen2 SuperControl to totally automate virtually every task, then created a simple user interface, resulting in a system that almost anyone can use without extensive training.

The QuickCut feature targets smaller, less technical shops but can also be used by larger companies to make virtually any part or product in their product line any time they want. A library of parts can be stored on a network drive. At that point, almost anyone can walk up to any QuickCut machine and make any part. It's that easy. By storing files in a central location, management has complete control of anything that is made, anywhere in the factory.

"This new interface takes what has been a confusing area for non-technical users and makes it almost as easy as using a copy machine", states Thermwood's President, David Hildenbrand. "We believe it will fundamentally change how cabinets, closets and perhaps many other products, are made".

All nested based systems from Thermwood are QuickCut compatible and Gen2 systems operating in the field can be retrofitted to make them QuickCut compatible.

For more information on this exciting new development, please visit our QuickCut area of the website.