Computer numerical control (CNC) machinery is a significant investment that should be approached with caution. If your woodshop’s milling capacity needs an upgrade, buying a computer-controlled miller could be the answer. To shop for the right machines, it pays to ask the following questions concerning your production rate, workspace and finances.
What are your Production Needs?
Your production needs determine your milling capacity, which in turn drives the price of a milling machine. Some companies buy a CNC miller machine that offers more capacity than they need, and have trouble paying for it when their production rate does not increase as expected. If you know your production will increase, opting for more capacity than you currently need is sensible. Refrain from buying industrial machinery when commercial machinery meets your production needs.
How often will you use the Machine?
If you need a machine for large, frequent production runs, buying a well-maintained, used industrial grade miller is the best option for cost and reliability. If you need a machine for small, infrequent production runs, buying a new commercial grade miller may be the best decision.
Commercial grade millers have limited secondhand value, but industrial CNC milling machines are designed to stand up to heavy use, and can last for decades when properly used and maintained. Even with several years of use, an industrial miller can perform as effectively and reliably as a new model.
How large is your Workspace?
The dimensions of your workspace ultimately determine the type of machines you buy. Many woodworkers economize on space by buying combo machines that offer numerous features in one unit. However, when they need industrial machinery that operates as part of a production line, upgrading their workspace precedes updating their equipment. If you have come to the point where you cannot economize on machinery, it is safe to say you should not economize on space either.
What is your Equipment Budget?
Deciding on the equipment budget is harder than it seems, especially when increased production demand creates the need for new equipment. If you plan on financing a milling machine, do not rely on the projected income from an anticipated increase in production to pay for it. One way to avoid this is to buy a used machine, and then upgrade to a new one after your production rate and income stabilize.
Do you need CNC Machine Training?
The least mentioned financial aspect of buying a CNC machine is the training required to operate it. Although some woodworkers learn to use CNC milling machines by trial and error, this method seldom results in a full understanding of the machine’s abilities, and could cause damage to sensitive cutting mechanisms and computer equipment. Some manufacturers offer free training with the purchase of new machinery.
A CNC machine is a significant investment, one that can improve the woodwork of your company in terms of time and accuracy. To learn more about the best equipment for your needs, contacting a company that sells new and used woodworking machinery is the best option.
In my research on CNC milling machines, I studied the best practices for buying CNC machines.
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