Is a Cut Center Right For Me?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, May 15, 2015

Tags: Thermwood, CNC Router, Cut Ready, Cut Center

Thermwood's IWF Challenger's Award Winning “Cut Ready – Cut Center” is an alternative to CNC routers for making custom cabinets and furniture.  

Here we want to help you answer the question:  Is a Cut Center the right machine for me?  

We provide insight into this incredible machine and reasons as to why you would choose a Thermwood Cut Center over a traditional nested based CNC router.  

Is a Cut Center Right For Me?

First, a Cut Center is clearly not a CNC router. It may look a little like a CNC router, but it doesn’t work at all like a CNC router. 

A nested based CNC router has three basic elements:

  • A control capable of running sophisticated software
  • Cabinet design software capable of creating the required CNC programs
  • A machine capable of running those programs.
It requires a significant effort to engineer, select, buy, install, learn, tool, program and operate a CNC router system. While many shops embrace this challenge, many others do not. 

Cut Ready Cut Center Selection ScreenA cut center consists of a single element, the machine. Everything is inside the machine, pre-selected, pre-installed and ready to run. There is no programming with a cut center. That’s right, no programmingnone. A cut center actually knows how to make cabinets, allowing the user to make cabinets in about any way they want by simply selecting the desired product. You simply tell the machine what kind of cabinet you want (face frame/frameless, single/double side material, toe kick/detached toe, etc.), then select the specific cabinet from all the cabinets made that way and adjust the size.

Installing a Cut Center

Thermwood Cut CenterInstallation of a cut center couldn't be easier.  the process simply consists of connecting power, air and dust collection and you are ready to run production right away.  A new Cut Center comes with the program definitions and tooling preloaded.

 

 

Cut Center Has an Impressive Selection 

You can also make drawers and drawer fronts in the Cut Center

The number of products you can make with a cut center is impressive. In addition to kitchen cabinets, there are closet, bath and utility cabinets and furniture (including book shelves, entertainment walls and table tops). You can also make drawers; side mount, undermount or slot slide, quarter inch or full thickness bottom, blind dado or dovetail construction. Simply tell the cut center to make drawers for the cabinets you cut and it does it - just that easy.  

 

A variety of door options are available in the Cut CenterIt also makes doors and drawer fronts. There are over 450 designs for MDF doors and drawer fronts including square, arch, cathedral, slab and sophisticated applied molding designs with both raised and recessed panels.

You can also make grain matched slab doors. Just like with drawers, simply tell the machine to make doors for the cabinets you just cut and it does it. It even makes moldings, both straight and arched. Select from hundreds of profiles, resize the profile in width and depth and it makes it. It uses a reverse 3d printing technique for MDF doors and moldings where, instead of adding a small amount of material each pass, it removes a small amount. This means that everything in the system is made with a set of standard tools.

Add Your Own Unique Products to the Cut Center

You may be impressed with the huge selection of products already in the Cut Center, but are thinking "But what about my custom stuff?  How can I have that added to the Cut Center as well?" With our new “Special Products” program the answer is simple, we add them for you! 

With this new program, definitions for your unique products are custom developed and installed in your Cut Center. These are not just CNC programs. Definitions teach your machine to make your products in all their variations, all their sizes, from all the materials you use. The machine does it all! 

How Does This Work?

  • The process begins by developing a formal, written description of the products you want to make. This description details all aspects of the product and becomes the guiding document for the development team 
  • Once product definitions (based on your description), are complete, sample products are run to make certain that they function properly and that you are happy with the result.
  • We then install the new definitions in your Cut Center. If you are installing several items, a Thermwood technician may visit your shop to help get you going. Otherwise, we can connect online, directly to your Cut Center, and make additions or changes as needed, without the need for a technical visit 

Add more than just Cabinets and Furniture

The Special Products Section allows you to make you own custom products easily with the Thermwood Cut CenterThis service is not restricted to cabinets or furniture items but will work for about anything that can be run on a CNC router. Some products may require special fixtures to hold the part and/or special tooling. In those cases the required fixtures and tools will be detailed in the written description and will be developed, tested and supplied as part of the “Special Products" package. All you do is select and run them 

The Special Products Section allows you to make you own custom products easily with the Thermwood Cut Center

Add More Products at any Time

You can add additional products at any time and have existing product definitions modified if necessary. We stand ready to manage your product offering so you don’t have to 

With the “Special Products” addition you still have all the features and product capabilities of the Cut Center, with your unique products as an added benefit 

Operating the Cut Center 

Operate the Cut Center through a large touch screen and remote clicker.Running the cut center is also different. Everything is handled through an adjustable touch screen and a remote “clicker” you wear. Pretty much everything is handled automatically, tooling management and tool life, vacuum hold down and spoilboard management. All the operator does is follow step by step instructions. If needed, there are “Show Me” videos for each step.  You can even call a real live person on the screen if you need more help. 

Easy to Run by Almost Anyone

A cut center can be operated by just about anybody, allowing you to produce a lot of different products with no programming and almost no effort. Thermwood has invested thousands of hours developing, testing and refining these programs. To duplicate this for a CNC router would also require thousands of hours. 

There is a smooth integration between cabinets, drawers, doors and drawer fronts. For example, once you cut the cabinets, you can make everything else by just telling the machine to make the rest of the components for those cabinets.  

Easy Assembly

Details in these cabinet designs (some patented), make assembly easier. Assembly marks machined into the joints show you which parts fit together and in which orientation and alignment pin holes make installing drawers really easy.

The machine will also print detailed step-by-step assembly instructions for more complex items like closet cabinets. It also prints a label for each part showing you which job and cabinet the part is for, which edges get edge banded and a bar code in case you need to re-make the part. 

Flipping the Sheet

The flipper on the Cut Center makes flipping sheets a snapThere is a major difference in the way the cut center handles parts that need to be machined on both sides (more complex pieces like closets or cabinets made from single sided material often require machining on both sides). 

CNC routers generally cut the front side, cut the parts out and then machine the back side one part at a time. Not only is this difficult, but it can be confusing and is prone to error.   

The cut center starts by loading the sheet, back side up and doing the back side machining first, on the whole sheet. It then flips the sheet over and machines the front side. When the parts are cut out, they are complete, front and back. A really unique feature of the cut center is that it has a “flipper” on the front of the machine that flips the sheet over, so this process is really easy. Just slide the sheet into a clamp located just off the front of the table and the clamp grips the sheet and rotates it 180 degrees, all within the confines of the table. When you first load your sheet, if the backside is not up, you can use the flipper to fix that too. 

Free Ongoing Updates

Easily select your product and change size and features right at the Cut CenterThermwood is continuously expanding the products our cut centers can produce, driven by feedback from users, and these new designs are available to all cut centers as a free download. System software updates are also available as a free download as they are released. The “Virtual Service” feature mentioned above is also available to cut center users for free. 

Less Cost Over Time

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 around the cost of a single employee, cut centers make sense for nyone who just wants to make cabinets and not spend a lot of time learning to program computers.

Thermwood Cut Center Video

 


Click for More Info on the Thermwood Cut Center

 

2015 Thermwood Dealer Conference

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, May 08, 2015

Tags: Thermwood, Announcements, Dealer Conference, Tech Con, AAI, 2015, Equipment Hub, Carbon Studio

We recently held our 2015 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 Automation Associates, Inc.  Second and third places went to Tech Con and CNC Automation out of Canada.  The award for the dealership with the Most Improved Sales for 2014 went to The Equipment Hub.  The award for top International Sales went to Carbon Studio/AP Group, LLC out of Russia.  Congratulations, guys!


Thermwood Dealer Automation Associates Inc

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


Thermwood Dealer - Tech Con

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


Thermwood Dealer - CNC Automation

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


Thermwood Dealer - The Equipment Hub

Pictured above are: (l-r) Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood), Carl Davis (The Equipment Hub) and Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood).


Thermwood Dealer - Carbon Studio

Pictured above are: (l-r) Jason Susnjara (VP Marketing for Thermwood), Ekaterina Malykhina (Carbon Studio/AP Group, LLC) and Dennis Palmer (VP Sales for Thermwood).


2015 Thermwood Dealer Conference Awards

Thermwood personnel, domestic and international dealers await the sales award results during the 2015 Dealer Conference.

Thermwood Honors Retirees For Their Years of Service

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Apr 15, 2015

Tags: Thermwood, Thanks, Retirement

Thermwood recently honored two retiring employees for their years of service with a luncheon at our headquarters in Dale, IN.  They are:

Becky Fuller - Treasurer - retiring after 34 years at Thermwood.

Dennis Englert - Training Department Manager - retiring after 17 years at Thermwood (and after previously retiring from the Marine Corps).

Both Becky and Dennis will be greatly missed, and we wish them the best of luck with their retirements! 

Below are some photos from the luncheon:


 

Cakes and gifts celebrating Becky and Dennis' many years of service

Cakes and gifts celebrating Becky and Dennis' many years of service

Becky Fuller and Dennis Englert Retirement Cakes

Thermwood President, David Hildenbrand, thanking Becky for her many contributions over the years

Thermwood President, David Hildenbrand, also thanking Dennis for his many contributions

Thermwood President, David Hildenbrand, also thanking Dennis for his many contributions

Becky, grandson Gavin and daughter Michelle Kieper being silly at the luncheon

Becky, grandson Gavin and daughter Michelle Kieper being silly at the luncheon

Dennis and his wife Mary

 Dennis and his wife Mary

Everyone enjoyed the pizza!

Everyone enjoyed the pizza!

Thermwood CNC Mobile App now supports automatic text and email alerts

Posted by Duane Marrett on Mon, Apr 13, 2015

Tags: Thermwood, CNC Router, smart-router, QCore, CNC Mobile App, Monitoring, Advanced Support

The free Thermwood CNC Mobile app is intended to allow Thermwood Machine users to track the operation of their Thermwood CNC router(s) and the programs that run on them from anywhere by using their cell phone, PC or other mobile device.

The new Automatic Alert addition allows the user to instruct the machine to automatically email or text them when certain events occur.

To accomplish this, the user simply enters their email address or phone number, chooses the machine(s) to monitor and select the events they want to automatically receive alerts about. The alerts are easily customizable and adjustable, making it simple to set up and receive more or less information automatically.

Thermwood CNC Mobile App Automatic Alerts


Thermwood CNC Mobile App - Machine Listing DisplayThe Thermwood CNC Mobile app allows users to monitor many aspects of their Thermwood smart-router(s) and QCore Super Controller including programs, events, cycle times, scheduled maintenance and much more from just about anywhere. This app permits the user to obtain the following information on a smart-phone, tablet or PC:

  • A listing of every machine they own (includes an optional user customizable nickname)

  • The current state (ready, running or in e-stop)

  • The current Feed Override setting

  • The current program loaded and or running

  • A listing of all current and past part programs loaded/ran in chronological order with extensions

  • A listing of machine events during each part program in chronological order

  • A listing of the cycle time of every part program ran in chronological order

  • A listing of completion or interrupt times in each part program ran in chronological order

  • All machine events in chronological order with filtering

  • Monitor scheduled maintenance with a cycle time countdown as well as a graphical countdown progress bar

  • A time stamp listing of all previous maintenance performed

  • The ability to request a service phone call from a Thermwood Support Technician right from your device.

  • The ability to download the data from any of your Thermwood CNC Routers in either Excel (XLS) or XML format.

Note: While this app is free to install, only machines enrolled in Thermwood’s Advanced Support program or subscribed to Virtual Service will deliver the monitoring service. The machine also requires QCore control software version 8.5.5 or newer. A demo portion of the app is available to observe the features.


Download Your Thermwood CNC Mobile App Machine Data

Now you can download the data from any of your Thermwood CNC Routers in either Excel (XLS) or XML format. You can also choose the date range you wish to download.

Note: You must be a current Advanced Support or Virtual Service Customer to access your data.

Download Your Thermwood CNC Mobile App Data

 


Available on the App Store

Available on Google Play

Also available on any browser here: https://server.thermwood.com/thmmobileapp


About the Thermwod CNC Mobile App



Thermwood CNC Mobile App - Maintenance Display

Thermwood CNC Mobile App - Machine Display

Thermwood CNC Mobile App - Program View

Thermwood CNC Mobile App - Main Screen


Request a Consultation

Please click the "Request a Consultation" link above or give us a call at 1-800-533-6901 and we will sit down and show you how all this happens, in detail.

FrameBuilder 53 5'x10' CNC Router Video with Roller Hold Down, Auto Load/Unload

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Mar 27, 2015

Tags: Thermwood, 3 Axis, CNC Router, Video, Auto Unload, Auto Load, FrameBuilder 53, Dual Spindle, Roller Hold Down

Below is a new video showing the redesigned Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 5'x10' CNC router in action. 

The machine in the video features the following options:

  • Automatic load/unload system with 6,000 lb lift table and unload sorting table
  • Dual 18HP (3,000-18,000 RPM) HSD spindles with programmable head spacing
  • Two optional electric drills

Video


About the FrameBuilder 53

 

Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 Roller Hold Down CNC Router

The Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 series is a heavy duty, high-performance three-axis CNC machining center.  It is specifically developed for the machining of upholstery frames and other sheet goods that require rollers on each side of the spindle to hold various materials typically not held by vacuum while machining.

The redesigned FB53 is now equipped with rack and pinion for both the X and Y Axes, bigger drives, and a redesigned gantry that is stiffer while allowing more options.  These changes represent over 110% increase in speed from the original (various table sizes up to 20' are available).

FrameBuilder 53 5×10 Shown w/optional dual spindles
Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 5'x10' CNC Router with optional dual spindles and 6,000 lb load table
FrameBuilder 53 5×10 Shown w/optional dual spindles and 6,000 lb load table  

 

Features of the FrameBuilder 53:

 

  • 5'x10' Machining Table (available table sizes up to 20 Feet in Length)
  • Optional Automatic Load/Unload System (6000 lb automatic lift table for loading)
  • Optional Dual 18HP (3,000-18,000 RPM) HSD Spindles
  • Optional Programmable Head Spacing
  • Fixed Solid Aluminum Table
  • Moving Gantry
  • Rapid Speed:  3160 Inches per minute
  • Siemens Intelligent Servo Drives
  • 3D Laser Compensated Axis Alignment
  • Automatic Lubrication
  • Optional At the Head Automatic Tool Changer
  • Optional Electric Drills
  • QCore SuperControl
  • Optional Unload/Sorting Table
  • Machine Training and Installation
  • Free Lifetime Phone/Forum Support

Dimensional Drawings (featuring optional dual spindle and load/unload):

Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 5'x10' CNC Router Dimensional Drawing Top View

Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 5'x10' CNC Router Dimensional Drawing Front View

Thermwood FrameBuilder 53 5'x10' CNC Router Dimensional Drawing Side View


Click to Calculate the Value of a CNC Investment

Visit Thermwood for a Hands-On Cut Center Demonstration!

Posted by Duane Marrett on Fri, Mar 06, 2015

Tags: Thermwood, CNC, Cut Ready, Cut Center, Live Demonstrations

The all new Cut Ready Cut Center is now available for free live demonstrations here at our modern factory headquarters in Dale, IN.

The all new Cut Ready Cut Center is available for free live demonstrations here at our modern factory headquarters in Dale, IN.  During your demo process you can expect:

  • The demo process starts with phone consultations with our techs.  This helps us learn about what you want to make, and how the Cut Center can best help improve your operation.
  • On the day of the demo, you’ll find a relaxed atmosphere, and receive a complete overview of the easy to use Cut Center and its operation.  You will work with our knowledgeable experts hands-on with this amazing machine.
  • By “Hand’s-On”, we mean that you will actually be able to select, size and run product from the Cut Center yourself and see how incredible easy it is to operate.  With no training necessary, you’ll be able to run the Cut Center yourself!
  • You’ll get a personalized tour of our modern facility to see our manufacturing process from start to finish, and how we carefully build each machine from the ground up.

Will the Cut Center Make Everything I Want?

We are continually adding products and capabilities to the Cut Center.  But what if something you want to make isn’t in the system yet?  Does that mean the Cut Center won’t work for you? 

Actually, we have developed a program for those who want to make things not already in the Cut Center. How do you get “No Programming” and the simple, intuitive operation of a Cut Center for your special products? With our new “Special Products” program the answer is simple, we add them for you! 

The Special Products Section allows you to make you own custom products easily with the Thermwood Cut Center

Definitions for your unique products are custom developed and installed in your Cut Center. These are not just CNC programs. Definitions teach your machine to make your products in all their variations, all their sizes, from all the materials you use. If your product requires special fixtures or tooling, we will develop and supply them also. This is a complete, ready-to-run solution. 

The Special Products Section allows you to make you own custom products easily with the Thermwood Cut Center

Run your products by simply selecting what you want, right at the machine. You can use material of varying thickness and/or adjust product size and features, again, right at the machine. The machine adjusts for all of this with no separate computer, no software and no programming. This is by far the simplest, easiest way to make things. This program is not restricted to cabinets and furniture. It will work for any product that can be manufacturered on a router. 

You can add additional products at any time and can have existing product definitions modified. We stand ready to manage your product offering so you don’t have to. 

With the “Special Products” addition, you still have all the features and product capabilities of the standard Cut Center, with your unique products as an added benefit. 

More Information

To find out more about the Cut Center and the process of adding arranging a free hands-on demonstration, please give us a call at 1-800-533-6901 or click below to fill out an information request form.  We hope to hear from you soon!

Click for More Info on the Thermwood Cut Center

Why Choose a Cut Center?

Posted by Duane Marrett on Thu, Nov 20, 2014

Tags: Thermwood, CNC Router, Cut Ready, Cut Center, cabinets, MDF doors, No Programming

Thermwood has introduced our IWF Challenger's Award Winning “Cut Ready – Cut Center” as an alternative to CNC routers for making custom cabinets.  

In this post, we ask two main questions:  Why would you want a Thermwood Cut Center instead of a traditional nested based CNC router?  Why would a major supplier of CNC routers introduce a new product that competes directly with its already successful products in this market segment?

Why a Cut Center?

With the advanced technology available today, we at Thermwood believe that it’s time for something new…. something even better… something a lot easier, so after almost five years of technical development, we have released the Cut Ready – Cut Center. This system is clearly not a CNC router. It looks a little like a CNC router, but it doesn’t work at all like a CNC router. 

A nested based CNC router has three basic elements:

It requires a significant effort to engineer, select, buy, install, learn, tool, program and operate a CNC router system. While many shops embrace this challenge, many others do not. 
Thermwood Cut Ready Cut Center

A cut center consists of a single element, the machine. Everything is inside the machine, pre-selected, pre-installed and ready to run. There is no programming with a cut center. That’s right, no programmingnone. A cut center actually knows how to make cabinets, allowing the user to make cabinets in about any way they want by just selecting the desired product. You simply tell the machine what kind of cabinet you want (face frame/frameless, single/double side material, toe kick/detached toe, etc.), then select the specific cabinet from all the cabinets made that way and adjust the size.

Installing a Cut Center

Installation of a cut center consists of connecting power, air and dust collection and you are ready to run production right away.

Cut Center Has an Impressive Selection 

You can also make drawers and drawer fronts in the Cut Center

The number of products you can make with a cut center is impressive. In addition to kitchen cabinets, there are closet, bath and utility cabinets and furniture (including book shelves, entertainment walls and table tops). You can also make drawers; side mount, undermount or slot slide, quarter inch or full thickness bottom, blind dado or dovetail construction. Simply tell the cut center to make drawers for the cabinets you cut and it does it - just that easy.  

 

A variety of door options are available in the Cut CenterIt also makes doors and drawer fronts. There are over 450 designs for MDF doors and drawer fronts including square, arch, cathedral, slab and sophisticated applied molding designs with both raised and recessed panels.

You can also make grain matched slab doors. Just like with drawers, simply tell the machine to make doors for the cabinets you just cut and it does it. It even makes moldings, both straight and arched. Select from hundreds of profiles, resize the profile in width and depth and it makes it. It uses a reverse 3d printing technique for MDF doors and moldings where, instead of adding a small amount of material each pass, it removes a small amount. This means that everything in the system is made with a set of standard tools.

Operating the Cut Center 

Operate the Cut Center through a large touch screen and remote clicker.Running the cut center is also different. Everything is handled through an adjustable touch screen and a remote “clicker” you wear. Pretty much everything is handled automatically, tooling management and tool life, vacuum hold down and spoilboard management. All the operator does is follow step by step instructions. If needed, there is a “Show Me” video for every step.  You can even call a real live person on the screen if you need more help. 

Why is a Cut Center for Me?

One reason you might want a cut center is that it can be run by just about anybody. Another reason is that you can produce a lot of different products with no programming and almost no effort. Thermwood has invested thousands of hours developing, testing and refining these programs. To duplicate this for a CNC router will also require thousands of hours. 

There is also the smooth integration between cabinets, drawers, doors and drawer fronts. Once you cut the cabinets, you can make everything else by just telling it to make it for those cabinets.Another reason is that details in these cabinet designs, some patented, make assembly easier. Assembly marks machined into the joints show you which parts fit together and in which orientation. Alignment pin holes make installing drawers really easy. The machine will print detail step by step assembly instructions for more complex items like closet cabinets. It also prints a label for each part showing you which job and cabinet the part is for, which edges get edge banded and a bar code in case you need to re-make the part. 

Ongoing Updates

Thermwood is continuously expanding the products our cut centers can produce, driven by feedback from users, and these new designs are available to all cut centers as a free download. System software updates are also available as a free download as they are released. The “Virtual Service” feature mentioned above is also available to cut center users for free. 

The Bottom Line

This is clearly a new approach. It is not for everyone, but we believe there are a significant number of cabinet shops that would rather make cabinets than program computers and so we created the Cut Ready – Cut Center.

 


Click for More Info on the Thermwood Cut Center

 

Thermwood Virtual Service - Help in an Instant

Posted by Duane Marrett on Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Tags: Thermwood, QCore, SuperControl, Service, virtual service


What is Virtual Service?

Virtual Service is a useful system provided for members of Thermwood's Advanced Support Program and owners of the Cut Ready Cut Center.  Virtual Service is a powerful audio and video link, using an internet connection, between the customer's SuperControl (QCore or Gen2) and the Thermwood service department that is used for helping prevent costly service trips and minimizing possible down time.

How Does it Work?

Thermwood Virtual ServiceVirtual Service is a "one way service" which can only be initiated from the customer's control.  The customer simply selects the "Connect to Virtual Service" button on their control, and within a short period of time, they are connected to a Thermwood service technician and can interact via voice, chat and webcam.

After the Virtual Service link is established, the customer can see and talk to the Thermwood service technician and the service technician can see, not just the cutomer, but also all of the critical parameters of the customer's control.  This connection essentially gives the service technician as much information as he would have if he were standing in front of the customer's control itself.  

Through this link, the control can be diagnosed in real-time and corrections made while programs are being executed. Programming errors can also be identified and corrected online.

Customers can typically handle many mechanical problems themselves if they are shown what to do, so related videos can also be launched by the Thermwood technician to be viewed by the customer on their end.

 

 

The Benefits

Virtual Service can effectively handle most difficulties and problems that occur and provide service in minutes instead of days or weeks - reducing downtime and frustration.


Virtual Service Capabilities

Monitor in real-time:

  • Machine motion
  • Axis positions
  • Inputs and outputs
  • Servo Information
  • Part program execution
  • PLC info
  • AFL messages
  • Axis Normalizaiton Info
  • Axis home switches
  • Machine trajectory information
  • Part program error messages
  • Feed rate override

View:

  • Tool setup data
  • Actuator setup data
  • Tool changer setup data
  • Fixture offset data
  • Maintenance clock information
  • Machine in/out limits

View or modify if necessary:

  • Macro files
  • PLC files
  • Machine setup files
  • Machine format files
  • All Thermwood system files

More Information

For more information on Thermwood's Virtual Service program, or to see a live demonstration of our 3 Axis or 5 Axis CNC Routers in action, please visit the link below:

Request More Information from Thermwood

An In-Depth Look at the Cut Center

Posted by Duane Marrett on Wed, Nov 05, 2014

Tags: Thermwood, CNC Router, Cut Ready, Cut Center, CNC Automation, No Programming, Open House

Thermwood’s new Cut Ready - Cut Center works much differently than a CNC router.  In this post we take an in-depth look at some of the distinctions:

CNC Router

A CNC router operates in a sophisticated technical environment. Computers and sophisticated design software are used to design cabinets, layout kitchens and create the CNC programs needed to make those kitchens. An operating environment has developed around these capabilities that the industry has become accustomed to. It takes a highly-skilled and trained operator to program and operate these machines.

Cut Center

First, 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. To understand how this approach fits into the operating structure of a shop you must first realize that cut centers have been designed for cabinetmakers who are already running a successful business and simply want to make what they are doing more efficient with the least disruption possible. They don’t want to change from woodworkers to computer programmers but they would like to make their products faster, better and at lower cost. 

How Does This Work? 

The cut center works through a large touch screen which essentially performs three functions. First, it allows you to adjust settings that tell the machine how you want to work, plus it watches routine maintenance and tooling. 

The other two areas are picking what you want to make and actually making it. 

To pick what you want you have to know what you want. If a shop is operating, they have already developed some way of determining what they need to make. Some may do it by hand, other might use software or drawings or whatever works today. The cut center doesn’t mess with this area. Whatever you are doing today is what you will do with the cut center. 

-Choosing What to Make

Easily choose what you want to make on the Cut CenterOnce you know what you want and the sizes you need, picking it is intuitive and easy. Pretty much anyone can do it the first time, even if they have never seen the machine before. You do need to know how you want your cabinets made, but you don’t need to know anything about the machine. You will group all the cabinets you want to make into a job which the machine will nest together and cut. If you want, you can create a job but not necessarily run it right away, which is probably what most people will do. When you create a job and process it, the machine will tell you how many sheets of each material you will need and how long it will take to cut all the parts. This information can be quite useful when you are working with a customer and developing a quote. 

-Running the Job

Once you are ready, it is simply a matter of calling up the job and running it. Going back to the list of material, it not only tells you what material you will need but also tells you in what order the materials will be needed. You can print this out and use it as a pick list to load the handling carts. The Cut Ready Cut Center comes with two tilt carts that make it easy to retrieve and stage the material for a job. While you are working off of one you can be picking material for the next job. 

Once the cabinet boxes are complete, you can make drawers, doors and drawer fronts. These are easy. Simply select the type of drawer and the door and drawer front designs you want and tell it to make them for your job. If you don’t want to use the machine for your doors and drawers the machine will print out a list of sizes for you. 

-Stopping a Job

Another interesting aspect is that you can stop a job between sheets at any point and then finish it later. This is great when you go home at night or if you have to work in a “hot” job in the middle of regular production.  

-Familiar but Different 

Some of the operations of the machine would be familiar to anyone who has operated a CNC router but a number of areas are different. 

Let’s start with loading. First, the cut center manages the vacuum system. It turns the pump on and off and turns vacuum to the table on and off. When you are told to load a sheet, it pumps air through the table, sort of like an air hockey table, to make it easier to slide the sheet. It also uses special sensors that detect when the sheet is tight against the location stops. When this happens, the machine turns off the float air, turns on vacuum and drops the location stops, all automatically. 

-Using the Clicker

Another difference is the “clicker”, which is a fob-like device you wear around your neck. The silicone cord necklace for the clicker uses magnetic catches so if it gets caught it simply pulls off. This clicker is used to communicate with the machine so you don’t have to go back to the control every time you want to do something. It also allows you to stop the machine when it is cutting, so you don’t need to stay near the stop button while the machine is running. When you get used to the position sensors and the clicker, things that were awkward before become simple, natural and easy. 

-Flipping the Sheet

The flipper on the Cut Center makes flipping sheets a snapThere is a major difference in the way the cut center handles parts that need to be machined on both sides (more complex pieces like closets or cabinets made from single sided material often require machining on both sides). 

CNC routers generally cut the front side, cut the parts out and then machine the back side one part at a time. Not only is this difficult, but it can be confusing and is prone to error.   

The cut center takes a different approach. It starts by loading the sheet, back side up and doing the back side machining first, on the whole sheet. It then flips the sheet over and machines the front side. When the parts are cut out, they are complete, front and back. A really unique feature of the cut center is that it has a “flipper” on the front of the machine that flips the sheet over, so this process is really easy. Just slide the sheet into a clamp located just off the front of the table and the clamp grips the sheet and rotates it 180 degrees, all within the confines of the table. When you first load your sheet, if the backside is not up, you can use the flipper to fix that too. 

-Tooling is Managed For You

The Cut Center Manages Tooling for youTooling is also handled differently with a cut center. The machine manages tooling so you don’t have to. It uses standard “Cut Ready” tools. Each tool is numbered and has a “Chuck Line” showing how far to insert the tool into the tool holder. When a tool needs to be changed, the machine brings it to you and tells you which tool bit to insert. It then measures both the length and diameter of the new tool and adjusts all the tooling parameters. If you load the wrong bit by accident, it will know and will bring it back and ask you to fix it. 

Since the machine knows when a tool is changed, it also knows how long that tool lasted. After a while, it knows about how long each tool will last in your operation and will warn you when a tool nears its historical life. This can prevent cutting scrap parts because of dull tools. 

-Vacuum Hold Down

Another area that needs attention is vacuum hold down and waste board management. The “waste board” is a quarter inch thick board that sits on top of the table board. As parts are cut, shallow channels are cut into the waste board and eventually it needs to be resurfaced. Resurfacing is a simple automatic process that can be performed, even in the middle of a job. The machine keeps track of cuts in the waste board and warns you when it needs to be resurfaced. It may even require that you resurface it if it knows that parts on the next sheet will move. 

Final Thoughts

While this doesn’t cover every aspect of running a cut center, it should give you a flavor of what it is like to run this next generation of cabinet machines. They are flexible, easy and require a lot less technical skill and training. This almost makes cabinetmaking fun again.

Where to See

You can see and get hands-on experience with the IWF Challengers Award Winning Cut Center when it makes its Canadian debut November 6th and 7th at the CNC Automation Open House.  You can also contact us here at Thermwood to arrange a free personal and interactive demonstration here at our Dale, IN headquarters.  


Click for More Info on the Thermwood Cut Center

 

CNC Automation Open House

Posted by Jason Susnjara on Wed, Oct 08, 2014

Tags: Thermwood, Nested Base, 3 Axis, CNC Router, Cut Ready, Cut Center, CNC Automation, Live Demonstrations

 

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Click to Register for the 2014 CNC Automation Open House!