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Suggestions Should I Run?

debeer920

New Member
Hey all!!! I'm looking to grow my business and start doing more in house. I do a fair amount of dimensional sign jobs, as well as custom shaped flat signs. My next step is to venture into the lighted sign world (channel letters, push through signs) . At the moment I have to sub out for all routing and I hate how much I'm losing out on. I don't do enough to justify buying a 100k machine yet. I did get a quote from CamMaster for one of their entry level 4x8 with an upgraded spindle for around 28k, that was precovid, so I'm sure the price has increased. I'm mechanically inclined enough that I can handle most equipment repair jobs myself (especially if I can get hands on a service manual). So I'm questioning whether or not this machine would be a wise investment or will it always be a thorn in my side? Would it be worth, upgrading to servo's? I provided a picture of the machine in question along with the sellers description. I forgot to mention that it is quite close to my shop no more than 20 min.




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REDUCED - $13,000 OBO!! MUST SELL!! MultiCam MG-204 CNC Router 5' x 10'. Has Vacuum Table, 8 Tool Automatic Tool Changer and Hand Held Control Pad. Currently used for signage - reason for sale is we purchased new router. - Handheld Control Pad replaced and upgraded within the past year - Spindle was rebuilt within the past 5 years - Stepper Cards (X axis) replaced within the past 2 years - Stepper Cards (Y axis) replaced within the past 5 years Router is about 15 to 20 years old, but it is a workhorse! Has a few issues that we have worked around - the Automatic Tool Surfacer doesn't work, but the tools (bits) can easily be calibrated and surfaced manually and the brushed dust catcher must be closed and secured manually. We use EnRoute software (not included). Serious Inquiries Only!! We have more photos and videos - just ask! Buyer is responsible for local pick up in Glendora, NJ or arranging shipping. Items shipping dimensions are 144" x 88" x 57" high and weighs 4,000 lbs. **Please do not ask me for advice on shipping item.**
 

Notarealsignguy

Arial - it's almost helvetica
Can't say that this is the right machine but I am a big fan of doing everything in house or not doing it at all.
I will say that when I buy something, the reason the person is selling is important - they bought a newer machine. Going out of business is better, no offense to anyone, but upgrading usually means that they are not stupid. Do not ask me about shipping, tells me that they are normal and honest plus they don't want to deal with idiots, don't waste my time because I am not going to waste yours either. That reinforces that they likely did not abuse it.
 
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rjssigns

Active Member
Seems like a good price. I would pay close attention to the linear rails/bearing blocks and mechanical bits. Make sure there is no slop in the rails/bearings and be darn sure they and anything else aren't proprietary.

Some mfg's will do that to lock you in to overpriced replacement parts.

If it's still powered up being a test file and have them run it. Take notes about what you see and hear then ask questions. It's a good way to find out if the seller is trying to shine one on ya.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
If I was younger, I'd snatch that up in a minute. That's in my backyard, too.
 

JBurton

Signtologist
I am a big fan of doing everything in house or not doing it at all.
Says the guy with no router...


That's a great price if it's including a vacuum, not just a blower. Tool changing is going to be a chore, so I'd look into fixing the part that measures tools for a great increase in quality of life while running it. In my experience, someone is going to be married to this machine, hopefully you have a bright young lad ready to run it, or you may end up being the only one knowledgeable enough to run it, and end up 'wasting' time running it instead of pounding the pavement for sales.
Have them cut a 1' square and 1' circle, measure them for accuracy. Loading is going to be the worst part, you may just rent a crane and pull your own trailer for a more reasonable price than paying a company to pack and load it.
I'd avoid upgrading to servos, as it will necessitate new controller software, and multicam's onboard software is pretty convenient. You'll need to get software to generate your own cnc files, that's not necessarily a small investment, just keep that in mind, in addition to a new workflow for jobs involving this machine obviously.
You may negotiate some additional saving once you have an idea of what it will cost to move it, sounds like its in the way of the current owner...
 

GaSouthpaw

Profane and profane accessories.
The only issue I ever had was in a situation where the router was so old (something like 27 years, if I recall) , it couldn't be upgraded when the original electronics failed, so the only drawback I could see on this machine is that it's "15-20 years old." That means that many of the parts may be obsolete or difficult to find, should they need replacing. I mention that because the Multicam 3000 I currently use is eight years old, and some of it's parts aren't available (found this out six months ago when a power supply needed to be replaced). It's good that you feel confident you can make repairs, just make sure your "Google-Fu" is top notch to search for those parts. That "problem" aside, Multicam is (in most cases) an extremely well-built piece of equipment. I've run four different iterations of their machines and they were all outstanding. And that's a good price.

Their listing says it has a vacuum table, but makes no mention of whether they're including the vacuum pump with the table. That's kind of important to know, because having a vacuum table with no vacuum pump is pointless. If you have to buy a pump yourself, I strongly suggest you contact MultiCam to get the proper specs for a table that size. You'll also want to ask if they're including the debris vacuum, as that's another added expense if not). It's size isn't as important as the hold-down pump is, you just want it to clear plastic chips/dust and sawdust. Don't use the debris vacuum when cutting aluminum or metal- the coolant you use with end up allowing the dust to build up in places that will reduce the effectiveness.

I second the ideas of having them cut 1" squares and circles to assure the machine operates without "jitters" (you'll know them when you see them) and cuts true, and of taking them a simple vector design and having them run it. It would probably be beneficial for you to watch the operator set the files up for cutting, too. And yes, you'll also want to check the condition of the rails to assure there aren't missing teeth, corrosion, or slop (meaning you shouldn't be able to move the gantry- even a little- in any direction when the machine is powered on and the motors are engaged).

I disagree, however, with the take that "upgrading usually means that they are not stupid" (implying that there's a flaw with the machine). If the machine is 15-20 years old, as the ad says, and they're the original owner, it's just as likely that they're upgrading because they find that a 5'x10' is no longer adequate for their production needs. It's quite possible that they've decided they need a much bigger table.

You'll definitely need software to run the machine. The EnRoute they mentioned is a top-notch CAM software that will create G-Code for you. Simpler, less expensive CAM programs exist, but they tend to require a familiarity with G-Code language to perform some functions, so base that choice on what you're most comfortable with. In any of the CAM software, you'll import your design (though EnRoute does perform the most basic of design, it is not intended to replace programs like Illustrator, CorelDraw, FlexiSign, SignLab, or any other vector design programs), nest it to the material, assign the tooling, and output for cutting. If you (or your operator) doesn't already have some degree of knowledge in operating a CNC router, there will be a learning curve.

I see no mention of tool holders, collets, collet nuts, or wrenches (to change tools). Ask if they're included. Depending on the spindle's requirements, the tool holders can be expensive, so it's a huge bonus if they're included. If not, count on spending another $200 (each) on them for the holders, plus $30 and up each for the collets and collet nuts- all of which will need to be replaced periodically (so make sure you keep them clean and it good repair).

Having run tables with and without ATCs, it's a definite plus, and you're definitely going to want to get a new calibration pad (the surfacer) to make things easier. Most machines with ATCs will have certain minimum air requirements- and don't forget to factor in the rest of the shop using the compressor at the same time- so you'll need to figure out if your current compressor is up to the task. One additional not here is that you will want add a dryer to your air. You do not want to risk moisture in the air line that feeds this machine, because that will cause spindle failure, and spindles (depending on size and horsepower) start in the $15k area and go up. Rebuilding them because of water damage- count on that starting around $5k. (I know this because I once worked for someone who insisted on running the brand-new CNC they'd bought without a dryer, and ruined the spindle within the first six months).

You will also need to make sure your shop has enough electrical capacity to run the table, the vacuum pump, the debris vacuum, any compressor upgrades (whether it's a more powerful model, or an additional model) and its dryer.

Best of luck to you.
 

letterworks

Premium Subscriber
It would be a no for me. I haven't run steppers for nearly 20 years for one and ATCs are harder to retrofit to newer controls.... although it could be done with a multicam since they are still in business. Just not cost effectively.

But, the objective advice is to call the closest dealer (to the seller and to yourself) and see what their thoughts are (are schematics available etc)

And if the spindle isn't rebuilt by now, it could fail anytime and as stated above, that ain't cheap. My first spindle lasted about 20 years. Second spindle on a different machine welded itself together (I think) and then I bought a chinese knock off spindle for 3k instead of repairing for 5k+
 

garyroy

New Member
If you go for it you'll definitely need a rigging company to move it. Check with some local ones, that looks like a minimum of $3000 to move properly.
Count that into whatever your budget is. That might be why he says $13,000 OBO.
If you do it you have to post some pics after it's installed and give the experience of how it all went.
GaSouthPaw sounds like he knows what's up for sure.
 

signdudegraphix

New Member
We picked up a yeti Smartbench precision pro for under $10k and it does everything we need. It can be assembled and disassembled fairly quickly. It’ll cut full 4x8 sheets. We’ve used it for cutting 6mm ACM without any problem. It all depends on your needs. This has worked very well for us being a mobile shop and space is limited.
 

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letterworks

Premium Subscriber
We picked up a yeti Smartbench precision pro for under $10k and it does everything we need. It can be assembled and disassembled fairly quickly. It’ll cut full 4x8 sheets. We’ve used it for cutting 6mm ACM without any problem. It all depends on your needs. This has worked very well for us being a mobile shop and space is limited.
It's not even remotely in the same class. I can see the appeal of portability but the OP is asking about an old production-class machine. Smartbench isn't a production machine, It won't ever be expected to run 24 x 7 or handle 8 hour shifts 5 days a week for years on end.
 

letterworks

Premium Subscriber
It would be a no for me. I haven't run steppers for nearly 20 years for one and ATCs are harder to retrofit to newer controls.... although it could be done with a multicam since they are still in business. Just not cost effectively.

But, the objective advice is to call the closest dealer (to the seller and to yourself) and see what their thoughts are (are schematics available etc)

And if the spindle isn't rebuilt by now, it could fail anytime and as stated above, that ain't cheap. My first spindle lasted about 20 years. Second spindle on a different machine welded itself together (I think) and then I bought a chinese knock off spindle for 3k instead of repairing for 5k+
Whoops, missed the description saying the spindle was rebuilt. It should be good for as long as you have it then. And. the control thingy (pendant, sort of) definately is newer than the age of the machine suggests. Both good things.
 
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