February 26, 2018 at 3:42 pm #9142
I am curious if anyone is creating cabinet design with CabWriter and outsourcing the CNC sheet goods cutting to a third party. I do not have CNC capabilities of my own and I would like to know best practices for using someone else to cut the sheets. I have reached out to a local shop. What questions should I be asking them in order to ensure interoperability, accuracy, etc. My biggest fear is having 20 sheets of pre-finished plywood shipped to a CNC shop and having them all cut wrong because I overlooked something or we weren’t on the same page.
Any advice is appreciated!February 26, 2018 at 4:50 pm #9143cabwriterKeymaster
My advice would be to meet with them and ask the about their expectations from you in terms of what to supply and in what format. If you had a CabWriter design, I would show it to them and explain what features you’ll be cutting with the CNC, then export the DXF’s for the design and have them take a look at it.
I did exactly this with a friend of mine who own’s a large Biesse CNC at his shop. I supplied him with the DXF files; he nested and created tool paths for the sheets. Then, we simulated running the parts by keeping the tool above the sheet before running it for real to make sure that it was doing what I thought it would for each sheet. We did this the first time; after that, I trusted it and we just ran the parts. No problems at all.
Hope this helped a little…
GregFebruary 26, 2018 at 8:55 pm #9175
Thanks for the suggestions Greg. Your feedback is appreciated.
Another question along similar lines – what is the typical cost basis for outsourced CNC machining from a file. I would guess there is a setup fee, especially if I am providing a DXF file. Then per part? Per hour? Per sheet? Per tool? Obviously this will vary by shop and market, but what are people typically paying for these services?
-KFebruary 27, 2018 at 8:00 am #9179cabwriterKeymaster
I can’t speak for what might be common, but in my case, I got charged the standard shop rate for their shop; keep in mind that includes their time to process the files and create the tool paths plus machining. Seems like that would be a relatively common approach. In my case, since I knew him well, I came in and helped load and pack parts, which saved time. Around here, the shop rate is typically in the neighborhood of $75 – $85. I did 16 sheets in two hours of software time and two hours of machining time, for example.
GregMarch 2, 2018 at 6:27 am #9232
As Greg said, meet with the company or individual that will cut your sheets. I do have a large 4′ X 8′ CNC and do a lot of outside work for customers. Any competent individual will be able to import the DXF files. With the updated features coming in CabWriter 2.0 – specifically the ability to have the tongue and grove – make sure the understand that and can execute that feature. Most DXF files will have that information embedded in the drawing and in my case it is just a macro that I need to run to ensure it translated into the proper dado or tongue depth. Also since 3/4″ plywood is not .75″ the programmer will have to measure the sheet to ensure they have the proper depth. When cutting with a CNC, you can either go off the top or the bottom of the material. On sheet goods, I always go off the bottom which ensures the tongue is always correct.
I would make a simple one sheet cabinet and let the individual run it to ensure it met my specifications – don’t use an expensive prefinished sheet, baltic birch plywood (5 ply) would do. Give the individual the measurements so they can validate their tool paths. Since I deal with wholesale companies that deliver to my shop, most customers just send me the files and I get the product delivered to me. Why would you want to handle the sheets twice. If are getting better prices, have your company deliver the product to the CNC shop.
One of the other questions I would ask is what is their lead time and if I had a rush job, how little time could they pump something out for me. I stay very busy and customers are always calling me for jobs; the first thing I as is what is their time frame. There are times that I have jobs already scheduled back to back and do not have a lot of leeway – the sheet breaks loose or I have programed it wrong and have to run a sheet again. The other day I did three doors for cut glass inserts and the customer somehow cracked a door and he needed to finish the job; I had to work him into my schedule so he was not late. That impacted my next job – I had to work extra hours in order to catch up.
Not that it makes much difference to you, but ask what software they are running. Someone specializing is just doing cabinets and running Mozaik or CabinetPro may not be able to import the DXF files, I am just not familiar with their programs enough to say. These are expensive programs with monthly fees or just cost a lot and only focus on cabinet designs and cutting.
I hope this helps from someone who has a CNC and cuts customer’s jobs. As I was typing this I got a call and have to call the customer back to get him scheduled.March 2, 2018 at 6:40 am #9233
In the sencond post from Greg, I also charge for both my design and CNC time. My design charge is $50. If all I am doing is importing a file, there is no charge, but most time it is not that simple. As Greg said, I have to create the tool paths which I use a macro to do and it reduces the total cost. If the customer is there and dose most of the sheet loading and cleanup of the spoil board during the process, I reduce my CNC charge from $65. For regular customers I do give them a break. they will call me and send me the files so I can do all of the work before they arrive. The last job for one of the customers, he had his materials delivered to me (a lower grade plywood that I do not use in my shop). He also has a CNC, just smaller, that he cannot run large sheets. He is the only customer that sends me the files that are ready to run and so all I have to do is load his load his file and run it; he also is fully functional on my machine operations so he does most of the work. I just charge him for the CNC time. I do have to check his file before we run them to ensure they are correct.
On my other post, I had it typed but just did not click the send button for until today – it sat there for two days.
LynnMarch 10, 2018 at 10:53 am #9517
Thank you for the very helpful information. I have engaged with a local shop and we agreed the first step will be for me to provide a DXF file that they can review. They will create the tool paths from the file(s) I provide. Like you, they are very busy and cannot afford to have any down time caused by tool path conflicts from customer-created g-code. Their shop and machines are fully utilized and their lead times are long, but I am optimistic that if I provide them with good files and I am doing all the rest of the cabinet building that they will be able to fit sheet good cutting in with quicker turnaround times. I don’t know if they are agreeable to having help in their shop managing the materials, waste, cleanup, etc., but I will be inquiring.
They are a fully functioning furniture shop and can source the sheets for me, which will probably make sense as you suggest. Besides not having to handle the materials any more than necessary they will have reliable, tried-and-true providers. We have not discussed options or pricing yet.
I will keep you posted on progress so that others can learn from the process.
KevinMarch 10, 2018 at 6:15 pm #9539
I am glad that it is working out. With them sourcing the material, it should be less than what you would pay. The suppliers I deal with will only sell to you if you have an EIN (business tax number). I have one customer who uses me all of the time even though I tell him he could cut it faster on the table saw, but it would require more sheets because of the nesting optimization. He uses me because in the end, it saves him time. I provide the cabinets all labeled and all he has to do is assemble them and install the hardware. For him, I have to draw his cabinets in the software – previously my CAD/CAM program, but more and more in Cabwriter; I have a set of cabinets already designed and we pick and choose which one he wants and how many of each. I also use another program that has features that version 1 did not have. Please let me know how it goes and hopefully this will also help the community.
Afterwards, please tell us would you do it again (with this provider or possibly another one) based on the cost and time savings. Do you do many cabinets? If so how many which may impact other users’ decisions based on your feed back.
If there are any other questions I can answer, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to talk to me privately.
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