Increased CNC automation is one way through the hiring crunch, but it can also cut costs over time, ramp up production (sometimes dramatically), increase throughput speed, save floor space, improve accuracy, and open new design options. Updating can also offer the opportunity to integrate software and controls, streamline dust collection, and reduce training costs. There’s a lot happening as technologies improve in both hardware and software, and there are lots of choices, even from single manufacturers.
For example, Anderson America (andersonamerica.com) offers eight machines for panel processing and five 5-axis options. Anderson’s open architecture controller lets a shop designate in-house functions for routines, such as resurfacing the spoilboard or warming up the spindle. Anderson also offers the Multi-Bank Loader System (MLS) for loading sheet goods, which lifts the panel instead of dragging it.
The Felder Group (felder-group.com) offers eight Format 4 CNCs, including the new H500R 5-axis CNC technology with 18 independent drilling spindles, an integrated grooving saw aggregate, automatic vacuum pod positioning, and a drilling head that covers the whole working field.
SCM Group (scmgroup.com) has several dozen options for shops that need high-volume production. A good example of a nesting machine is the Accord 50 FXM, a 5-axis machining center with a mobile gantry structure. It has an increased Z-axis stroke for workpieces up to 500mm (19.68”) tall. SCM can outfit a work cell with material moving, edge banding, robotics, Maestro software, and controls options.
Thermwood (thermwood.com) offers several 5-axis options including the Multipurpose 90. This heavy-duty, high-speed machine is available in single- or dual-moving aluminum tables in sizes up to two 5’x 12’ work areas. It comes standard with a 12-hp router and four-position automatic changer, or an optional 16-hp spindle with 4-, 6-, 10- or 12-tool positions. Other options include up to 60” in Z movement, auto tool-length measuring, a gantry lighting system, Accu-Lube mist cooling, a machine enclosure, and continuous C-axis.
Options and upgrades
The Universal CNC Router from Castaly (castaly-cncmachine.com) comes in 4’ x 8’ and 5’ x 10’ versions, and the company also makes machines with tables up to 7’ x 14’. Its Universal model can be outfitted with a rotary axis/lathe. Other features include a Syntec controller, moving gantry, HSD spindle, and six-zone vacuum table.
CNC Factory (cncfactory.com) describes its flagship Python XPR as “the pinnacle of fifth-generation CNC technology. It is completely driverless and can let your operations go into autopilot by pressing a few buttons. From loading, to spoilboard cleaning, rapid cutting, parts marking and unloading, the Python takes away all the heavy lifting and critical thinking required of a skilled operator.”
The Talent T5D from NewCNC (newcnc.com) is a 3-axis panel-processing machine that is used extensively in cabinetmaking, closet manufacturing, sign making, and plastics fabrication. It offers a 16-hp spindle, Delta CNC controls, 12-position carousel tool changer, 10-position boring block, panel sweep, multi-zoned table, and more.
Stiles Machinery in Grand Rapids, Mich. (stilesmachinery.com) offers a huge catalog of CNC routers and nesting solutions, including the Homag Centateq N-800 CNC. Features include a working field that’s reachable with all processing tools, an air- or liquid-cooled routing spindle, and a tool changing system with up to 42 places.
Machine Tool Camp (machinetoolcamp.com) in Eau Claire, Wisc. makes the VR Series Flex Table CNC router which offers both nesting and pod-and-rail options. It has a 5’x10’ table and 12” of Z-axis bridge clearance. Options include Home Free (no homing required), a 5-axis articulating spindle, a rotary C-axis, nine vertical drills, and a two-zone vacuum table.
JKL Machinery in Brighton, Mich. (jklmachinery.com) is the exclusive North American importer of Casadei-Busellato (casadeibusellato.com) CNCs. At the top of the range is the Jet Master RT, which can be ordered with panel support and multi-function worktables, boring heads of various dimensions, electro-spindles with 3, 4 and 5 axes, and 1- or 2-outlet horizontal routing units.
Diversified Machine Systems (dmscncrouters.com) makes eight different 5-axis machines for high-volume production work. The Yellowstone is a U-frame, gantry, continuous-use machine that can be manufactured with a universal fixture table. It has front doors that slide open for easy loading/unloading of large materials. All models have Fagor controllers.
Bigger is better
The Pegasus from Limtech (limtechindustries.com) is available with up to 36” of Z stroke, widths up to 10’ wide, and lengths up to 40’ long. It can have up to eight spindles and eight carousel tool changers on board. It comes with a Fanuc PLC controller. Options include a vertical nine-drill spindle head, 360-degree C-axis with separate aggregate stations, vertical and horizontal drill and saw blades attachments, an aluminum tabletop with a coolant misting system, up to two 16-position servo-driven tool changers, and an auto loading/unloading system.
The SmartShop 5-axis CNC from Laguna Tools (lagunatools.com) features a welded steel frame and gantry, an HSD 2-axis articulating head, and Fanuc’s 31i-B5 control. This is a fixed table, moving-gantry design that provides unrestricted access all the way around. Standard features also include a 12-position automatic rotary tool changer, pod-ready universal vacuum table, adjustable pop-up pins, and HSD 2-axis, 9-hp spindle.
The Rover AS FT from Biesse USA (biesse.com) is a machining center designed for nesting operations in a woodshop that needs to meet high performance and productivity goals. The machine lets a shop manufacture diverse components on a single, compact machine that is built to withstand serious processing stresses. Its worktables can use multizone technology to concentrate vacuum where it is most needed, and the AS FT can be integrated with Winstore automated storage. That’s a system that optimizes panel storage and movement, which can substantially increase cell productivity. The machine can also handle porous and thin material and glued panels down to 3mm. A dust hood with 12 programmable positions reduces cleaning times, and there’s a single software platform to manage all machine processes with intuitive plug-ins such as B-Solid and B-Nest.
C.R. Onsrud (cronsrud.com) offers a vast array of CNC routers for larger woodshops, including an option with 5 axes and dual processors, effectively giving a shop two machines in a single footprint. Built upon the company’s standard Extreme Series twin table model, it features a second tool changer, an additional main router spindle and an optional individual servo control for the second complete Z-axis. There’s a single controller for the dual processors. Aggregate tool changers or multiple C axes can be added.
The Cobra Elite from CAMaster (camaster.com) is a highly customizable industrial-grade machine with SmartCore, a next gen automation system, already on board. The CNC is available in five stock table sizes up to 6’ x 12’, and custom sizes are also available. It has a helical rack-and-pinion drive system and servo motors on all axes with planetary gearboxes.
The Epicon 7335 from Holz-Her U.S. (holzherusa.com) is part of a family of machines that come with CAMPUS Machine Control, five interpolating axes, an effective machining height up to 300mm, a 10-year guarantee on all linear guides, and machining in X up to 7,280mm (286”) and in Y up to 2,100mm (82”). It also has SafeDetect, a new proximity-type safety monitoring feature with sensors, that’s available as an option.
When it comes to making large parts, the Solution Series of CNC machining centers from KOMO Machine (komo.com) has been developed for the customer who requires flexibility in the width and length of their machine. The series features a moving gantry configuration with table sizes ranging from 8′ to 12′ in the Y axis and up to 110′ in the X axis. They’re accompanied by an 18-hp HSK 63F fan-cooled spindle and a 12-position automatic tool changer with aggregate capability.
Masterwood (masterwood.com) offers a dozen high-volume CNC machines with 3, 4 or 5 axes, and some with nesting capabilities. The nesting M5 has a HSK 63F spindle and a work area up to 295” x 86” x 15.75”, which can be fitted for an automatic vacuum subdivision.
MultiCam (multicam.com) presents the 5000 Series, its mid-size CNC router with an 1,800 ipm cut speed and 3,000 ipm rapid traverse. It fits well in smaller workspaces. Options include a 12-position tool-changer and working areas from 50” x 50” to 120” x 242”. The standard work surface is 1” phenolic.
The Venture Plus from Techno CNC Systems (technocnc.com) features all-steel construction, helical rack-and-pinion on the X and Y axes, a ball-screw Z axis drive, a PC-based Osai controller, 12-hp HSD spindle, and a multi-zone vacuum T-slot table.
The Infinite series from AXYZ (axyz.com) is the company’s most customizable option for larger woodshops as it offers virtually any width and length, and an endless list of options. With process areas up to 128” wide by 50’ long and beyond, these machines are suitable for one-off, small-batch production as well as high-volume and high-productivity applications.
This article was originally published in the September 2022 issue.