CNC machinery revolutionized the commercial woodworking process. At a time when machines were operated manually, CNC technology made them operable by computer – a sweeping improvement that made high speed, high quality production a reality. Today, CNC machines’ cutting accuracy and production speed are at an all time high. But before you buy one, it pays to weight the drawbacks against their benefits. Below are the advantages and disadvantages of CNC woodworking machinery:
Advantage: Flawless Cutting Accuracy
With its computerized control, a CNC machine can produce multiple identical pieces. It can also produce one-off pieces that conform precisely to programming coordinates. This accuracy saves companies money by reducing waste pieces.
Disadvantage: Expensive to Purchase
An industrial grade CNC machine is at least a five-figure purchase, and many models reach the six-figure mark. For some woodworkers, this means taking out a second mortgage or looking for a quality used machine. In today’s impressive used woodworking machinery market, the latter is the optimal choice.
Advantage: Excels at Intricate Design
CNC machines can execute intricate designs that manual machines can’t. CNC millers and routers routinely perform intricate millwork and cutouts for furniture. In years past, this work was by hand and reserved for premium products. Today, computer controlled machines make it widely available.
Disadvantage: Costly to Repair
Computer controlled machinery has two components that are costly to repair: sensitive cutter heads and the computer that controls them. Proper training educates CNC operators on the fine points of operating and caring for these elements. But if they malfunction, the repairs can be costly.
Advantage: Fast Training Process
Due to the physical nature of the operator’s job, a manual woodworking machine can take years to master. Conversely, computer controlled machinery can be mastered in as little as weeks. A CNC machine operator controls its computer, oversees the production process, and performs light servicing – tasks that can be learned through training as easily as through experience.
Disadvantage: Potential for Costly Error
Some companies let CNC machines execute the operator’s instructions while he attends another machine. If the instructions contain an error that isn’t caught, a large run of useless pieces could ensue.
Advantage: Excellent Resale Value
As long as it is well maintained, industrial grade CNC machinery retains its value well. With woodworkers constantly on the lookout for quality used machinery, you shouldn’t have difficulty liquidating a machine when you need to upgrade to a new one.
The disadvantages of CNC machines can be reduced or eliminated by proper machine care, careful operation, and the identification of quality used machines. Their advantages can improve the production rate and overall quality of your woodwork.
For many woodworkers, replacing manual machinery with CNC machinery is the beginning of woodworking as a “business.” If you have reached this point in your woodwork, RT Machine can help you identify and acquire the right equipment. In addition to selling new and used woodworking machines, we also locate machines in equipment inventories worldwide. To get the equipment you need, call us today.