Picking a CNC router – Part two

In my last post I talked about discovering CNC routers and wading through the technical specs and language to determine which machine was best for our needs. Once I had determined the specifications of the machine we needed it was time to go shopping.

Our new CNC router would have the following specifications:
Heavy duty steel construction throughout. Steel gantry with 6″ of clearance
All servo drive
Four foot x eight foot table
6″ minimum gantry height
12 hp spindle with auto tool changer – linear style tool holder.
Vacuum hold down

As I started talking to various dealers I quickly discovered they all had the perfect machine for my needs – or so they said. Some did their best to talk me out of what I wanted and instead to go for the machine they stocked. Others offered to build and deliver a custom machine. All offered excellent service. Delivery times of machines varied greatly.

A tour through their operations yielded plenty of information. Some were organized and neat, others much less so. A few carried parts in stock. Consumables like bits and collets were plentiful at some dealers, less so at others. Quick chats with their support techs made it clear who would be helpful when help was needed.

It was time for a little more information gathering. I asked for a list of past customers and talked with them at length about what I might expect from each machine dealer. Some had a reputation of dropping a machine off and then disappearing while others were there for the long haul.

I was looking for a machine I didn’t have to think about. If something went wrong I absolutely wanted my dealer to take care of it with the minimum fuss or delay. The quality of service I was to receive was as important as the quality of the machine itself.

Notice in all of this that saving money wasn’t at the top of my list. I’ve long believed that you get what you pay for – especially when it comes to tools. By virtue of what I was demanding from my machine it automatically kicked me to the top of the food chain. I wanted a top quality machine that would serve me trouble free for years. I wanted top notch service to back this up. My specs limited my choice from the start.

One company continually rose to the top of the list at every turn. MultiCam. They weren’t the cheapest by far but they offered me a stock machine that was exactly what I wanted. They had built thousands of routers and more than 400 just like mine in the past. This meant I was getting a machine that had all the bugs worked out of it. MultiCam also had a hard earned reputation of providing quality service to back it up.

There was one last test they had to pass. I asked for a demonstration of a similar machine in their showroom. I would bring the file. I had someone else make up two files to run. One was simple, the other almost impossible. My dealer was waiting for us when we arrived – all smiles. We handed him the disk with out files and he treated us to lunch while the tech set things up. The first file was set in motion while we ate. I could see the tech in the back sweating over the second file. He was on the phone to head office and whomever else he could thing of to sort things out. By the end of our time he hadn’t had any luck. I told the dealer not to worry about it. I promised to give him our final answer the next morning.

Imagine my surprise when I went out to the shop to unlock the door I found a routed sample of the impossible file leaning there. The tech had worked late to figure it out and route the file. He had even driven out to our shop after hours to deliver the piece to our shop. This was service – above and beyond the norm. We were ready to pull the trigger on the deal with no reservations. MultiCam would supply our CNC router. We opted for the 3000 series machine spec’d exactly as we had wanted.

The next step was to pick the software we would use to build out files. That will be started in the next post…

Published with permission from precisionboard.blogspot.com. Source.