CNC router or Cut Center...Which is Better for Me?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Feb 08, 2017

Tags: Thermwood, CNC Router, Why Purchase a Thermwood, Cut Ready, Cut Center, Purchase, Affordable

CNC router or Cut Center...Which is Better for Me?

Can I Afford a Thermwood Cut Center?

Nested based manufacturing and CNC routers are well known to most cabinetmakers. Thermwood Cut Centers, less so, but there is a big difference between the two, even though they produce essentially the same products. This difference means that cabinetmakers wanting to automate must make a decision. Which direction is better for them? 

The major difference between a CNC router and a Thermwood Cut Center is in who addresses the details of each cabinet design and how involved the user must be in the underlying technology.

CNC router - the Basics

A CNC router system consists of three fundamental elements:

  • A PC computer able to run sophisticated software
  • A cabinet design software package that can produce the required CNC programs
  • A machine to execute the CNC programs.

With a traditional CNC router system, the user designs the cabinets and addresses all of the design details. They must also become intimately involved with the underlying technology. They are responsible for selecting, installing, learning and running the software.

They must also understand the intricacies of the machine control and operation so that their programs run properly. They must adjust and maintain machine parameters, select and set up tooling and deal with vacuum hold down and the spoilboard.

Thermwood Cut Center - What you need to know

The Thermwood Cut Center is Different in a Good Way

A Thermwood Cut Center consists of a single element - the machine. It already knows how to make cabinets, closets, furniture, doors, drawers and much more just about any way you want.  

It doesn’t require you to learn complex programming to operate, and is so user-friendly that it walks you through every step of the process.  You simply tell the machine what you want to make via an easy to use touch screen interface, and it does it.  No programming is required

Other Thermwood Cut Center Features

  • Thermwood Cut Center Product SelectionWith a Thermwood Cut Center, details of the cabinet design have already been addressed by experienced and seasoned programmers, working with professional cabinetmakers and have been built into the machine. You need have no more involvement with the underlying technology of a Thermwood Cut Center than you do with the underlying technology of your car.
  • The system has been automated and refined to handle areas such as tooling and tool life, vacuum hold down and spoilboard maintenance, error handling and routing maintenance without the user becoming directly involved. The machine guides you, step by step, can show a quick instructional video of every step and can connect with a real live person on the screen should you ever need help.
  • Also, you can operate the Cut Center system as a CNC router in the traditional manner, running programs generated with virtually any CNC software. Thermwood has created a simple way to switch between operating as a CNC router and operating as a Cut Center to assure that all machine parameters are properly reset and that the standard Cut Center tooling is properly installed, checked and ready to run. 

The Main Differences

  • A CNC router is completely flexible, totally controlled by the user who must become directly involved with both the software and hardware.
  • A Thermwood Cut Center makes cabinets, etc that you select and define, and can be run by just about anyone.  Two different approaches, so which is best for you?

The Three Types of Cabinetmakers

Those who like and embrace computers, software and technology.   
They will only be happy if they have the total flexibility, capability and control of a CNC router and a powerful design software. Using the car analogy, this would be someone that builds custom or race cars. They also likely have the technical skill and experience needed to take full advantage of the possibilities of the underlying technology with little technical risk.

Those who really dislike technology.  
They just don’t like it, and really can’t or won’t work with computers, parameters or software. They just want to make cabinets, etc. They are strictly woodworkers. Clearly the Thermwood Cut Center works better for them. It allows them to enjoy the financial benefits of automating without totally disrupting what they are used to. It could very well help them stay in business in an ever more competitive market.

Everybody else.
These shops are in business to make money by making cabinets. They neither love nor hate technology. It is simply something you learn in order to automate and make more money. The decision here is not as easy.

The Fine Details of Each Approach

If you compare the initial investment cost of the two approaches, they are about the same even though the Cut Center looks more expensive at first. In the end, you will spend about the same amount of money for either, although you will spend it in different places.

Get into production quickly with the Thermwood Cut Center

A Cut Center is tooled and ready to make cabinets on day one. For a fair comparison, with a CNC router investment, you must add the cost of a vacuum system, a design computer, design software, technical training for the software, technical training for the machine, programming time to create the cabinet programs and tooling. When you consider everything, your money investment will likely not be much different between the two systems, although you will likely have invested more time in getting the CNC router into production. 

With a Thermwood Cut Center - there is No Programming!There is also a cost difference in operating the two systems that can tip the scales one way or another. A CNC router needs a CNC program for every job. This means it needs a programmer to create those programs. A CNC programmer will cost more each month than the total lease cost of a Cut Center. Also, after five years, the lease cost of a Cut Center becomes zero. Most likely the cost of a programmer will go up over the same period. 

There is also the matter of technical risk. With a Cut Center technical risk is low. Everything has been developed, tested, refined and it is ready to make your products.

With a CNC router, everything needed to make it work from creating the CNC programs to selecting tooling is your responsibility. Clearly there is more technical risk with a CNC router.

Another Factor

The Thermwood Cut Center comes standard with a huge library of products to make.
The Cut Center is set up to make a lot more than just basic kitchen cabinets. There are closet, bath and utility cabinets as well as furniture such as shelves and shelf walls, entertainment centers and entertainment walls. There are also drawers, slab and MDF doors and drawer fronts and custom sized moldings, both straight and arch. The selection is quite large and making any of these is quite easy.

If you don’t need these things, this may not be important, but with a Cut Center you can make a wide variety things with little effort. They are already in there. These things can also be made with a CNC router but only with significant additional investment in time and effort. Thermwood has invested thousands of hours in developing and testing these items. To duplicate them will require thousands of hours on your part.

From an operating standpoint, you do not need a computer, software or a software programmer for a Cut Center. Also, the machine operator does not need the same level of technical skill and training that is required to operate a CNC router.

The Bottom Line 

In the end, the decision is likely a philosophical and emotional decision since both systems offer the huge benefits of automating cabinet production.  It is the learning curve that separates them.

The Thermwood Cut Center might be the machine for you if you don't have extensive programming experience or have experience and want both the flexibility of a CNC router and the ease of use of a Cut Center.  

A CNC router might be for you if you have extensive programming experience and want the total flexibility, capability and control of a CNC router and a powerful design software. 


What our Cut Center Customers Think...

Jody Wilmes and the guys at Original Woodworking with their new Thermwood Cut Center

Jody Wilmes and the Donovan Mumma of Byrne Custom Woodworking and their new Thermwood Cut Center

Jody Wilmes and the guys at Arkansas Wood Doors and their new Thermwood Cut Center

Jody Wilmes and the guys at Bednark Studio and their new Thermwood Cut Center

Click for More Info on the Thermwood Cut Center

 

Can I Afford a Thermwood Cut Center?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Nov 22, 2016

Tags: Thermwood, Why Purchase a Thermwood, Cut Ready, Cut Center, Purchase, Affordable, 2016

Can I Afford a Thermwood Cut Center?

Can I Afford a Thermwood Cut Center?

“I’ll buy a CNC router as soon as I can afford it”.  Is this something you’ve said to yourself time and time again over the years?  Surveys indicate that 50% to 70% of cabinet shops say this, depending on which survey you read. A CNC router is automation, it is productivity and it is on every cabinetmakers short list of things they would really, really like to have. So exactly when can you afford a CNC router?

The simple answer is that you can afford it when it will make you more than it costs.  Taking a look at the Thermwood Cut Center, for instance, the Cut Center may have a slightly higher than average purchase price, but the immediate benefits and ability to get into production quickly can outweigh any initial costs.

The Cut Center is Different in a Good Way


The Thermwood Cut Center is Different in a Good WayThe Cut Center is not like any regular CNC router you may be familiar with.  It doesn’t require you to learn complex programming to operate, and is so user-friendly that it walks you through every step of the process when making cabinets, closets, furniture, doors, drawers and much more.  You simply tell the machine what you want to make via an easy to use touch screen interface, and it does it.  No programming is required.

 

"No Programming" is a Huge Factor

Thermwood Cut Center - No Programming!

That little bit about “no programming” is huge factor – no matter how great of a deal you get on the purchase of a CNC router, it will still need to be programmed.  This means that you either need to learn to program yourself or you’ll need to hire a CNC programmer. 

A typical CNC programmer will cost you more each month than the payment on a Thermwood Cut Center.  And every few years, that programmer will most likely cost more money, while the payments on a Cut Center will go away once the machine is paid off.

 

How About Programming it Myself?

No programming necessary with the Thermwood Cut Center

Programming it yourself is possible, but it isn’t simple.  CNC routers require a constant stream of programs to run. Solving problems (like damaged or scrapped parts or defects in material) means even more CNC programs. Programming custom cabinets on a CNC router is a full time job….good thing you have nothing else to do! 

No Software Required

And don’t forget about the software to run the CNC router. Cheap cabinet software is limited and difficult. It will most likely take more time to learn and operate, which means more money. Really good software can cost as much, or more than a cheap CNC router, and then you still need to learn to use it.

Save By Using Scrap Material

Save money by using your scrap material with the Thermwood Cut CenterAnother consideration is scrap material. You will most likely have one or more partial sheets left from each job. Regardless of what they tell you, it is so difficult, complex and expensive to add this to new jobs that virtually everyone just throws it away. With the Cut Center, you just scan the label on any extra material lying around and it is added to the job, automatically. This can mean a lot of money saved at the end of the year. 

Get Into Production Quickly

Get into production quickly with the Thermwood Cut Center

With the typical Thermwood Cut Center installation, you can be in full production is a little as about half a day.  A regular CNC router can take as much as six months to get to that point.  A half a day or half a year?  In business, time is money, and there is serious cost associated with that half a year.

Enhancing Employee Productivity

Enhance employee productivity with the Thermwood Cut Center

A new CNC router can sometimes be seen by employees as intimidating or threatening when it is installed into a shop.  Your workers may either be worried that their jobs could be affected by this dazzling new piece of equipment, or that they will be required to learn an entirely new programming language or operating procedure.  With the Thermwood Cut Center, there is no programming knowledge necessary.  Basically anyone can walk up to the machine, pick out part(s), select their desired quantities/sizes and make it.  The Cut Center is designed to be as simple as possible to operate, and to help shops and employees be more productive and efficient.

Another Way to Make Money with a Thermwood Cut Center

List your business for free on the Thermwood Production Sharing MapFinally, there is Production Sharing. This is a program where you sell production time on your machine by making parts for other shops that don’t have a Cut Center or CNC router. Thermwood provides an area on our web site where you can advertise your services (there is no cost for this), and you work directly with the other shops to set up your jobs.  Thermwood receives no money for these transactions.

 


More about the Thermwood Cut Center:

Operate as a Cut Center with No Programming

Operate the Thermwood Cut Center as a CNC Router or a Cut Center

Thermwood Cut Center Product SelectionWith the award-winning Thermwood Cut Center, there are no computers or design software. Everything is already in the machine. There is no programming. The cut center doesn’t need a computer to tell it how to move because it already knows how to make cabinets. Just tell it what you want to make, and it does it - it is that simple!  

Operate as a CNC Router

Also, you can operate the system as a CNC router in the traditional manner, running programs generated with virtually any CNC software. Thermwood has created a simple way to switch between operating as a CNC router and operating as a Cut Center to assure that all machine parameters are properly reset and that the standard Cut Center tooling is properly installed, checked and ready to run.

Operate as a Cut Center or as a CNC Router - the best of both worlds!

What our Cut Center Customers Think...

Jody Wilmes and the guys at Original Woodworking with their new Thermwood Cut Center

Jody Wilmes and the Donovan Mumma of Byrne Custom Woodworking and their new Thermwood Cut Center

Jody Wilmes and the guys at Arkansas Wood Doors and their new Thermwood Cut Center

Jody Wilmes and the guys at Bednark Studio and their new Thermwood Cut Center

Click for More Info on the Thermwood Cut Center

 

How to save money on a CNC Router Purchase

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Jan 21, 2011

Tags: Thermwood, Stimulus, tax incentive, save money on cnc router, Purchase

Bonus Depreciation extended for 2011

2011 Depreciation Bonus

On Dec. 17, President Obama signed legislation that would extend and expand the depreciation bonus through 2012. 

 

What This Means:

This could be a huge advantage to anyone considering purchasing a new Thermwood CNC Router this year, by giving a business the ability to write off a huge portion of their machinery purchase on their 2011 tax return.

How to save money on a Thermwood CNC Router

Depreciation Bonus At A Glance:

  • This provides 100 percent depreciation bonus for capital investments placed in service after September 8, 2010 through December 31, 2011.
  • Depreciation bonus is designed to help businesses cut their tax bill and buy new equipment.
  • This bonus applies (among other things), to purchases of tangible personal property (including construction, mining, forestry, and agricultural equipment) with a MACRS recovery period of 20 years or less.
  • The bonus applies to NEW equipment only.
  • The bonus is allowed for both regular and alternative minimum tax purposes.
  • Totally discretionary - Taxpayer need not claim the depreciation bonus

Links:

For more information on this incentive, please click here.

To calculate your potential savings, please click here

Please use the following links to view our line of 3 axis and 5 axis Thermwood CNC Routers.

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.

Why should you purchase a Thermwood CNC Router?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Jun 24, 2009

Tags: CNC, CNC Routers, Customer, Cost, Product Information, Straight Talk, Purchase, super controller

Why Purchase a Thermwood? 

Recently we asked ourselves a simple question - Why should someone purchase a Thermwood CNC Router over any of the other options on the market?  To us, this seemed like a no-brainer.  Of course they should purchase one of our machines, because they are superior to all the others, right?  Well, we think so, but that answer to such a simple question doesn't really explain anything about our advantages or help a potential customer understand the entire support system and huge range of unique tools and time-saving capabilities built into our control and machine.  We just take these powerful advantages for granted, and assume everyone knows about them....but how can they if we don't let them know?

Our next task was to come up with a concise listing of these features/advantages that could be easily understood without needing to go into complex detail just to explain everything to someone.  That proved to be easier said than done.  We stood back and started listing everything we have that gives our machines, control system, training and service and support programs a huge advantage over anything offered by our competition - it was a very long list! 

We spent the better part of a week refining this list into three main points (each also being broken down into further information).  The concise reasons we came up with are that someone should purchase a Thermwood CNC Router because we offer Better Machines with More Features and Better Support.  Anyone can say this, right?  But we can also prove it with facts.  To do this, we created a new area on our site that goes into further detail on this subject.  It breaks all of these areas down and explains everything in further detail. 

This exercise was a positive experience for us in helping to focus our message into a simple statement that includes everything a Thermwood customer receives as part of their machine purchase.  without sounding too "sales-like":

The bottom line is that Thermwood systems install fast, start up quick, are easier to use and maintain, produce more and last longer. 

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