Sunday 29 September 2013

Adventures in CNC - Part 3

The BIG Purchase!

Check out Part 1

This is the exciting part! After weeks of indecision and exhaustive research, I finally pulled the trigger on this major purchase.

After carefully examining all the CNC Routers that fit my needs and price range (see Part 2), I decided to go with the ViperXZ machine from XZero. My reasoning? After comparing the specs and prices of different CNC packages, the ViperXZ seemed to provide the most 'machine' for my CNC dollar. The parts are stronger, the linear bearings are of higher quality, and the whole machine just seems 'beefier'. Plus I could get a 30 x 48" table size which is larger than the other units in this price range.

The tradeoff is I will need to assemble the whole system from the ground up myself. This is not entirely a bad thing though as you really can't underestimate the knowledge gained from putting your hands on every nut and bolt of the machine. With this intimate understanding of how the pieces fit together, you will be much more confident when it comes time for repairs and upkeep.

When dealing with any small company, you need do your research to make sure they are actually legit and not some fly by night deal. Luckily, XZero is a regular poster on the CNC Zone forums so I was able to read many firsthand accounts from other owners. I emailed George (the owner) with a list of questions and he was nice enough to give me a call to discuss things. I also found out that George actually lives somewhat close to me which was a huge score! He was nice enough to deliver the parts to my house personally which saved me a ton of shipping expenses. He also made several additional trips to deliver some back ordered parts.

George made a good point in suggesting that I start out with a router and upgrade to a spindle later which makes sense. If I'm going to make any rookie mistakes, I would rather damage a $100 router than a $1500 Spindle. For this same reason he also suggested using a MDF tabletop for a while before installing the slotted aluminum one.

Costs so far

The package total came to $3600 and included the following:

- 30 x 48" CNC Router kit
- Router Mounting bracket
- Motors, Motor Drivers, and Power Supply
- 5 Proximity Sensors
- Aluminum T-Slot Tabletop

I purchased a Hitachi M12VC Router from Amazon for $130 delivered. I still need to buy software and a few more accessories to get things running.

All said and done, I am now the proud owner of a few thousand dollars worth of machined aluminum lying on my shop floor. A lot of work ahead! Stay tuned for Part 4

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