The all-new Thermwood Cut Center (which makes virtually everything a cabinet shop needs, with no programming) was just announced as a winner of a 2014 IWF Challengers Award. These awards were given to seven entrants out of a field of over 60 innovative new products.
You have the opportunity to see just how easy it is to run this new machine - right now, during IWF 2014. We'll be demonstrating live during the show, and you can be part of it by helping to operate the cut center. Please visit our booth (#5513) and speak to a Thermwood representative to get your hands on this exciting machine!
Below are some examples from the displays at IWF. Everything on these displays was made with the Thermwood Cut Center using standard tooling:
This is a set of closet cabinets in aromatic cedar plywood. These feature grain matched slab door and drawer stacks. They use “slot slide” drawers eliminating the need for hardware slides. They also use our proprietary drawer stop system. Drawers are “Blind Dado” construction with edge banded drawer sides.
Cabinetmakers who have worked with aromatic cedar in the past will likely ask where we got the matching edge banding. This particular cedar is highly figured with lots of knots which make it brittle and difficult to work with so it is generally not available commercially. Western and Eastern red cedar are a poor match.
We made our own aromatic cedar edge banding from a paper backed cedar veneer. The sheet was 4’ x 10’ and we cut it into 7/8” strips which we ran through the edge bander. The paper backing kept it from breaking. The system and routine we used is not currently in the machine but we plan to add it shortly. The fine tip tool we used is already one of the standard tools so this system will allow folks to make perfectly matching edge banding for about any material. These cabinets are assembled using lock joints and cam-lock fasteners.
This assembly method is ideal when the cabinet must be assembled inside the closet. Often, you cannot physically move an assembled closet cabinet into a confined closet area and you must assemble the unit inside the closet. Lock joints are the easiest way to do this although we also offer lock joints with pocket screws fasteners. Also, these closet cabinets have detailed, step-by-step assembly instructions that you can print right at the machine. Items with lock joints must be assembled in a fixed sequence. The instructions make this much easier.
This one features upper corner pantry cabinets and a sink base in the center. This is also a face frame design using style 2, which has a mid-rail only under the top drawer.
MDF doors and drawer fronts are mounted using traditional partial overlay with a half inch overlay on face frames.
Drawers are dovetail construction with half inch thick sides and bottom. They are mounted on Blum undermount, soft-close slides.
This display features a tall corner pantry cabinet with connected base and uppers. Cabinets are “open frame” (Style 1), face frame designs made using ½ inch single side material. There are no mid-stiles or rails. The corner pantry features right hinged upper and lower angled corner doors and a left hinged appliance garage door for storing kitchen appliances. The left hinged door makes it easier to move appliances from storage to the counter top. It also features a full side door on the left end, increasing accessibility to a huge amount of storage space.
For the cabinet, ½” Columbia Pure-Bond maple veneer was used which was clear coated with a pre-cat lacquer on one side prior to cutting. The shelves are made from ¾” Columbia pre-finished Pure-Bond plywood edge banded with pre-finished edge banding.
The base cabinets feature a three drawer stack and a double door/drawer cabinet. Drawers are dovetail construction with a ¼ inch slide in bottom mounted on undermount Blum Tandem soft close slides. The machine automatically sizes drawers for the undermount slides which come in three inch increments. This is important because these slides only work with fixed depth drawers. Width measurements are from the inside of the drawer to the cabinet sides rather than from the outside, as with side mount slides. This means the width of the drawer must be adjusted for any variation in material thickness, which is all done automatically.
Doors and drawer fronts are MDF from the “Applied Molding” area. They are sized and mounted as “Full Overlay” meaning they cover most of the face frame and present a frameless “Euro” look on a face frame cabinet. This style is becoming popular in the US today.
This is a set of bath face frame cabinets that show both the 30” height and 35” height cabinets available in the cut center. They also demonstrate how you can modify the standard face frame structure. Standard Cut Ready face frames have 1.5” wide stiles and 2” rails.
These cabinets use the standard 1.5” stiles but reduce the width of the rails so we can install inset drawers. The top rail was made at 1.5” instead of 2” and the mid-rails are 1” instead of 2”.
The 48 inch high counter top mounted corner cabinets are topped by a shelf from the same area, resized to act as a top cap. The mirror frame was made using the same molding shape as the doors and drawer fronts but sized wider when made in the molding area.
This is a walnut closet based on the frameless closet designs available in the cut center. Although essentially the same as the previous display, appearance is dramatically different, demonstrating the variety of products that can be made from the core designs. It is also cam lock construction although pocket screw construction could also work since the unit must be assembled and finished before it is installed. The solid wood doors were made from moldings cut on the machine. Several molding shapes from MDF applied moldings doors are available in the “Mid-molding” sections of “Moldings” making mitered wood doors possible. The wavy restoration glass in the doors add an “antique” appearance.
The walnut carving along the top as well as the crown molding were both cut on the machine and are both part of the current offering. The carving takes almost five hours to cut but adds a unique, “expensive” look that demands a premium price. The design can also be made without the carving. Note: carving and molding material such as walnut or oak is quite difficult because of the tendency of these materials to tear out during machining. The machine allows for this tendency and creates rather nice results as you can see here.
The all-new Cut Ready Cut Center is on display and cutting live at IWF 2014 in Booth #5513 at the Georgia World Congress Center - Atlanta, GA. Make plans now to visit us and see this exciting new technology in person!
Thermwood’s Cut Ready – Cut Center knows how to make cabinets without you having to tell it every move to make. Face frame or frameless, single or double sided material, toe kick or detached toe, screw dado or pocket dado construction, etc. Just pick what you want, adjust the size and it makes it. It also offers an extensive selection of closet cabinets, bath cabinets and furniture items, but that’s not all.
The cut center makes drawers, also in several configurations: blind dado or dovetail construction, quarter inch or full thickness bottom, sized for either side mount or undermount slides. Simply tell it what kind of drawers you want and tell it to make them for cabinets you’ve cut and it handles everything else. There is also an interesting drawer called a “slot slide” which is available on closet, utility and some furniture items. The drawer bottom extends out each side of the drawer and rides in slots cut into the cabinet sides. High-tolerance machining assures smooth operation without the cost of separate hardware slides. It also means drawers can be made any depth without worrying about slide length and you don’t have to worry about alignment, since it is machined in. These are ideal for items such as closet cabinets where it saves the cost of separate hardware slides.
The cut center also makes doors and drawer fronts in two versions: Slab doors and drawer fronts are cut from sheet stock so that the wood grain flows smoothly across all the doors and drawers on each cabinet. MDF doors and drawer fronts are available in over 450 styles including slab, square, arch, cathedral and applied molding (in both raised and recessed panel designs). Again, simply tell it to make doors and drawer fronts for a cabinet job and it makes them. It even makes applied ends.
On face frame cabinets you can specify wheter the doors and drawer fronts are inset, partial overlay or full overlay and the machine will automatically size them properly for that installation method.
MDF doors are made using a reverse 3D printing technique where, instead of adding a small amount of material each pass, a small amount is removed each pass. This means everything in the system is made with the standard tooling that comes with the machine. This technique is also used to make moldings.
Hundreds of molding profiles are available in the cut center and the size of most can be adjusted. These adjusted profiles are then used to make either straight or arch moldings. There are also a number of carved moldings that can be cut.
The molding area also includes profiles for the stiles and rails used on the applied molding MDF doors. This means you can make solid wood versions of those doors by cutting long sections of molding from solid wood and use them to fabricate mitered wood doors and drawer fronts, all without special molding knives.
The Cut Ready - Cut Center is extremely easy to operate, even by people with little technical background (at every point the machine tells you what to do). If you ever need help, a “Show Me” button on the large touch screen plays a quick video showing you how to do what the machine is telling you. It handles tool management and watches tool life automatically.
It measures tool length and diameter and adjusts tooling parameters automatically without the operator becoming involved. It handles vacuum hold down and spoilboard maintenance automatically. It automatically adjusts how it cuts parts based on their size and resurfaces the spoilboard when needed, even in the middle of a job. It can even keep track of two spoilboards, allowing for shuffle loading, which can increase throughput by about a third. It also watches routing maintenance, alerting you when you need to service something. As you might expect, a video shows you how to perform each service.
If you ever need help or have a problem, you can call up a Thermwood service technician, right on the control screen. They can handle diagnostics, adjustments and parameter settings and answer questions. This is a free ongoing service for Thermwood Cut Centers.
The Cut Ready - Cut Center is also equipped with a sheet flipper. Some products, especially when using single sided material or in areas like closets and furniture, require that parts are machined on both sides. The cut center groups these parts on the first few sheets of a job and does the backside machining first, on the full sheet. The sheet flipper is used to flip the sheet over so it can be machined on the front side. This makes parts machined on both sides quite easy to process and offers tremendous design flexibility for future products...and there will be many future products.
Thermwood plans to continuously expand the products that the cut center can make, based on feedback from users. These additions will be available to all cut centers users as a free download. System software updates are also available as a free download whenever they are released.
Cut centers represent a departure in thinking from how things are done today and this new approach seems to make a lot of sense for a lot of cabinet shops. With lease payments of about the cost of a single employee, cut centers make sense for anyone who just wants to make cabinets and not spend a lot of time learning to program computers.
The Cut Center will be on display and cutting live at IWF 2014 (August 20th-23rd) in Booth #5513 at the Georgia World Congress Center - Atlanta, GA. Make plans now to visit us and see this exciting new technology in person! We'll be demonstrating live during the show, and you can be part of it by helping to operate the cut center. Please visit our booth (#5513) and speak to a Thermwood representative to get your hands on this exciting machine!
With 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:
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
Now, 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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:
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
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
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 !
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
See videos and more info at cutready.com