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Laser vs. CNC


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I am seeing Laser machines being mentioned more frequently on MSW in the build logs.  Given some of their difficulties, I was wondering why I don't hear more about CNC.  They seem to require similar learning curves for software but the CNC seems easier to set up. doesn't have the char and angled cuts and the prices seem on par with the laser machines.

 

Just curious...

 

Richard

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Richard,

 

CNC is harder and more costly to set up is probably the biggest reasons.  I've not seen, but then I haven't looked in a couple of years, to see what's out there and if the prices dropped.  There is a Triton cross-section log where the guy doing it was using CNC.   He admitted it was noisy, dusty, and time-consuming to run as you just couldn't route the part in one pass.  He hasn't posted in awhile so I don't know if he gave up or had machine problems.

 

All things considered, I think it's the builders choice.  There's advantages and disadvantages to each.  The laser tech is improving and the prices do seem to be dropping.  The one machine I was interested in but was $3000+ including some accessories, is now at $2000+.  The software is different (not MoshiDraw) and the machine is a 50W.  How good is it?  I have no idea as I've not seen any reviews nor was I able to test on the machine I saw locally.

 

I'd suggest do some research.  Make a list of what's important and what's not important and go from there.  There's a lot of forums out there for both lasers and CNC.

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Hi Mark,

 

As you know I followed your trials and tribulations in getting your laser to where you could use it reliably. However, it seems to me that given all the set up required to cut parts, if it's realy much more suited to situations where you want to cut many copies of the same part, for example if you are manufacturing a kit. I know you've lamented your scroll saw skills, but is it really time effective to use as a day to day tool? I don't know the trade-offs but I am truly curious. I find the technology intriguing, but I would like to get a better idea about the trade-offs in time and materials when doing a "one off" build and need to create a unique part.

 

Best,

John

Edited by Landlocked123
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Good questions, John.  I'm not sure I have all or even any of the answers though. 

 

At this point, for me, it works.  I'm getting better parts than if I had used the scroll saw.  Is it effective use of time?  I don't have a one-size fits all answer.  It does take time and learning curve to get the drawings right for cutting.  Once they're done and after the learning curve for power and speed settings for various sizes and type of wood, it's quick.  Put the wood in position and hit "cut". 

 

There's a trade-off with any tool and moreso power tools.  Table saws need blade changes and setup time for the fence, etc.  A mill takes time to master and setup for each task.  A lathe also.  But these are tools that are now considered pretty much standard. 

 

The guy with the most knowledge who could answer that is Chuck since he has a lot more experience in this than I do.

 

I'm still on the learning curve.  I'm getting faster with the drawing tools, my speed and power settings are zeroing in on the best appearing cut.  Am I there yet? Nope, not yet.

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Thanks Mark,

 

One more question. Did you have much CAD experience before you started working with the laser? It seems to me that there would be a steep learning curve to using both for the first time.

 

Right now, I've finally finished making saw dust on my first kit. I should be way further along, but as my skills have improved, I'm constantly redoing old work. I should begin rigging any day now and will be looking for advice/help soon. After the schnooner I'm working on is done, I'm going to build the MS New Bedford Whaleboat ala the model by Greatgallions in the gallery. I'm going to the New Bedford Whaling Museum in a couple of weeks for a curator's tour. After that I'm going to build the MS Bluenose to learn planking and sails. Hopefully it will go pretty fast since I've already learned quite a bit about fishing schnooners in my current build. AND THEN......I'm going to attempt my first scratch build. Probably something like the Amistad or Eagle, but likely some sort of gaff rigged, top sail schnooner. Something sleek. So you see, I'm pretty far from needing the laser and CAD, but as you can see, I'm thinking pretty far down the road.

 

Best,

John

 

ps. I'm pretty much an out of control tool junky. Since I can't retire, I'm trying to take advantage of my last earning years by buying as many toys as possible!

Edited by Landlocked123
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John,

 

I've had minimal CAD exposure and only with AutoCAD.  I used to do a lot work back in my Engineering days in CorelDraw and CorelPaint but that was Verson 5 :blush:  They're now up to Version 13, I think which is called X7.  There's still a learning curve.

 

I think to be model shipbuilder it's required to be tool junky, isn't it?   :D  :D :D  I did a lot of that (buying) the last couple of years before I retired.   

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I am told that CNC is a process and can mean many things and indicate many different tools.

 

So I thought I should the item that led to my interest in this question.

 

post-4218-0-15058000-1437047039.jpg

 

It seems it can not only cut the pieces per outline but also carve the piece as 3d carvings.

 

 

Richard

Edited by rtropp
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