Help! So confused. Need recommendation for CNC Router / Table

Faith Sign Co

New Member
I need some very serious recommendations for cnc equipment. I would like a 4 x 8 table with the CNC Router. Seeing prices from 5k to 100k. Smaller shop but wanting to get into building my own channel letters and sign cabinets. Budget cap is 15k to 20k. Would love to hear what experienced shops would recommend. Purchasing very soon. Thank you.
 

Jester1167

Premium Subscriber
Been a while since I ran a router, but the beefier router the better the cuts, the faster you can run, and the longer your bits will last. Get the beefiest router you can and you will save time and money in the long run.

I used a couple of Multicam routers the 3000 being the last and latest. They worked well, but the price was more than triple your cap with the vacuum hold-down. If your willing to waste some time, mask and spray adhesive you can skip the vacuum hold-down but I don't recommend it. You can save some money on the chip collector and buy your own dust collector. You will have to buy a mister since you will be cutting aluminum.
 

Jester1167

Premium Subscriber
You can get a router, probably a shopbot, in your price range, but it won't be near as efficient in a high production environment. Your other option is to buy used. I have no experience with a shopbot, but it may be a perfect fit for you. I don't know you, your business, or your area so I can't offer advice on which is the best solution for you.

I mentioned beefier because the more weight in the router, the more the vibrations get dampened, which leads to better cut quality, shorter run times, and your bits will last longer. There are other benefits to the more expensive routers, but it doesn't mean you have to spend $75,000 on a CNC. I am just trying to help you understand what you will get at different price ranges so you can weigh your options and pick the best solution for your needs, future needs, and budget.

Also, once you get comfortable with a CNC, You will sell and find more work for it. Your market will determine if or how quickly you will outgrow a less expensive router.

The old skool option is to buy 2" pink foam from the hardware store. Just put the material you want to cut on top of the foam and use a jigsaw to cut it out. This method is cheap but labor-intensive.
 

synergy_jim

New Member
When I first started my shop, I bit the bullet and bought a $60,000 Multicam 1000 series 5x10 with 8 tool changer. Lease payments were roughly $1200.00 per month for 5 years with $0.00 buyout. I have never regretted the purchase even though we sold the machine after 7 years and upgraded to a 3000 model.

Points to consider.

1) lots of budget machines are very quirky and require you to know at least a little G code to run them. Multicam has the easiest controller in the business. No g code.
2) you 100% get what you pay for. Do you want to have to monkey with the machine every day to get the output the way you want it.
3) Once we bought our machine, we started machining parts for other shops as well. I'd be surprised if our income from the router wasn't 5 to 10X the cost of the lease every month.
4) No matter what you buy. find someone who uses that router on a daily basis and pick their brain. A little mentorship goes a long way.

I hope that helps. If you have questions regarding specific manufacturers or anything else. drop me a PM.
 

John Miller

Member
I need some very serious recommendations for cnc equipment. I would like a 4 x 8 table with the CNC Router. Seeing prices from 5k to 100k. Smaller shop but wanting to get into building my own channel letters and sign cabinets. Budget cap is 15k to 20k. Would love to hear what experienced shops would recommend. Purchasing very soon. Thank you.
The advice you're getting is about spot on. You really do get what you pay for. If you asked me "new shopbot or used main stream brand" I'd go with used.
There are people who specialize in used equipment and know what to look for and what to avoid. With the limited knowledge you have on CNC you need to align yourself with a trusted company. Two things that you should definitely get on your CNC are vacuum hold down and automatic tool changer. The time they will save is worth much more than their cost. PM me if you like and I can give you advice.
 
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citysignshop

New Member
The equipment is important, sure.
What hasn't been mentioned is the operator, or physical plant, so I'll touch on that.
I ran a Gerber 4'x8' table for years...good solid machine, rather overpriced, like all Gerber stuff!
some points......

space: you don't just need room to walk around it, you need good access to feed sheets on and off in both directions.

noise: the router screams, and the vacuum, coolant, compressor, dust collection all add up to a lot of decibels, and vibration. Pretty sure I have hearing loss, even though I wore earplugs and muffs overtop. If it's running for hours each day, you can drive the other people in the building crazy!

operator: all these devices have their learning curve, and quirks. The operator(s) who become proficient need to be compensated. You end up saving money in training, ruined jobs, and equipment damage. It's best if the router operator is involved, or actually 'sets up' the job in the cut program, so they can use, select & adapt, for the bits and toolpath that work best for each material.

dust/waste etc: the area needs to be well ventilated. Materials cut best in certain temps, and create fumes that may be objectionable if circulated thru the HVAC system.

Table: we did not have vacuum hold-down. It works with adhesive etc, but obviously that adds time, material, cost to the job. For cutting small letters and shapes, I'm not sure that vacuum alone is adequate.
We did a few jobs over 12'+ long by moving and re-setting the second panel of the job. Not impossible, but requires the operator and designer have their heads in the game....lots of time planning and designing to address all the possible problems.

good luck in your new adventure!
 

fixtureman

New Member
I have an older Shopbot and it does everything that comes my way for acrylic I have a laser cutter gives me a better edge even then the 100K Bessie I ran at the shop I worked for. In fact I did cut stuff that for that shop would nod try on the Bessie as it was more cost efficient. I could make my file and cut it before they could make the file.
 

Greg Kelm

New Member
I just bought a CNC plasma table from ShopSabre and the thing is very well built. They're US made and their Router tables run 17k for entry level 4x8' table. The support is great and the Facebook user groups are extremely helpful too. If I were you, I would spend a little more money on a better model because it will pay off in the long run. A lot of people speak highly of Geneva Capital on this site, so I decided to use them. The process was extremely easy and I couldn't be more happy.
 

SignEST

New Member
Currently work in a shop running 3 candy rock mountain Chinese routers. You can get away with a cheapo E-bay router and cut your acrylic/polycarb faces and sintra or composite backs all day long without any issues with uplift . So long you get a good vacuum pump which is about $10,000 new. Auto tool changer and auto tool height sensor will save you a lot of time. Minimum 8 tools and I don't recommend the linear tool changer. The dust from everywhere will end up gathering on the toolholders and over time cake up the inside of your spindle with tool changes. Axyz offers a carousel style tool changer that keeps tool holders away from all the dust and crud. Also has a built in tool height sensor the loves getting freaked out if you leave a 10+ hour job running and metal chips pile up on it.

Cut 1/32" or 1mm PETG today with the smallest part being about 2" by 2" and it stayed down just fine. Mind you I got a Becker pump for a 5x10 so the 4x8 variety might be a bit cheaper.
Included in the picture is a 1/2" acrylic letter and some acm numbers. The tape roll is to scale. No tabs or skin holding parts down. All cut on the same 5' x 10' table. No work done to them besides a quick hosedown with the air. Cutting polycarb is quite easy especially if you're doing bigger letters.

Another thing a lot of sign shops here do is cut the xps foam insulation into letters for cost-effective cheap building lettering. Again, you can go pretty small with the letters but they tend to be on the larger size, like 18"+. The pink foam is the most common variety in the Homeless depot nearby. 1" thick but you can cut 2" easy as well. Added a photo of cut 4" styrofoam letters, it's some next level dusty cancer causing stuff for sure so wear your respirators on your respirators. Cuts all that with a single pass at about 150 ipm. I cut all my foam at the same speed because it just works every time.

There's also a photo of a push through folded acm lightbox. Cheap, fast and somewhat good looking solution for a lot of customers nowadays.

You will not be able to do all this without knowing how to use a CNC router. It's not the machine you buy but how you use it. Word of warning about purchasing a Chinese machine or a less known manufacturer. You will end up having to fix any issues that arise yourself. With your budget you can't afford any CNC routers made in the west and the support they come with, it sucks, I know, such is life in a small shop. The only big upside with the candy rock mountain routers is you get so much more for your money so long they don't land you a lemon.

Good luck with your endeavour , cnczone forums have a lot more information about these kinds of things.
 

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WildStyleSigns

New Member
A quick note considering, I was in the same spot a month ago.
I personally just purchased an Axiom Elite 4x4, although only 4x4 the build and machining is top notch. 15K with the 3D software and some add ons.
My neighbor's cabinet shop recently bought a Shop Sabre 4x8 and it's exceptional well built as well, his full machine setup 55K. That'll be my outsource option for larger needs.
I was seriously considering the 4x8 Shopbot, but with all the bells and whistles the Axiom was the same 15K, just smaller, with longer life spindles, liquid cooling, servo motors, things Shopbot didn't offer.
All are made in USA, I believe, which I thought was good for sourcing parts, and customer service.
The future challenge I'm making for myself with the higher-end but smaller option is to try and see if I can register an XY point to see if I could actually sculpt larger signs than the 4ft length.
 

MikePro

Member
bought our 3000 series MultiCam nearly 20yrs ago....still going strong.
best deals on them are buying used, as I just bought a used 6'x12' one that came with blower for the vacuum hold-down for $32k, but you would have to know how to look under the hood to determine if someone is just unloading a lemon on you.

The future challenge I'm making for myself with the higher-end but smaller option is to try and see if I can register an XY point to see if I could actually sculpt larger signs than the 4ft length.
I've done this plenty, recently just cut a 22ftx6ft custom shape on my 12ft table. 3D fills i think would be difficult, but still theoretically possible at a bit more precision in the setup, but with a good target strategy and using engraving passes on open shapes (offset, to account for toolbit radius, before tiling) instead of offset paths that prefer closed shapes, then technically your only limitation would be the throat of the gantry
 
I just purchased a CNC router table from allroutertables and the thing is very much constructed. They're US made and their Router tables run 17k for section level 4x8' table. The help is incredible and the Facebook client bunches are very useful as well. In the event that I were you, I would spend somewhat more cash on a superior model since it will pay off over the long haul. A many individuals praise Geneva Capital on this site, so I chose to utilize them. The cycle was amazingly simple and I was unable to be more glad.
 

balstestrat

Problem Solver
I just purchased a CNC router table from allroutertables and the thing is very much constructed. They're US made and their Router tables run 17k for section level 4x8' table. The help is incredible and the Facebook client bunches are very useful as well. In the event that I were you, I would spend somewhat more cash on a superior model since it will pay off over the long haul. A many individuals praise Geneva Capital on this site, so I chose to utilize them. The cycle was amazingly simple and I was unable to be more glad.
First message, posting in the middle of the night, bad grammar.
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Last edited:
First message, posting in the middle of the night, bad grammar.
Great ad mate!

How the hell were you able to make it worse than it was? You only needed to copy paste it...

i just provide the information with some changes and if someone get information from my posting then its better
 
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