Clearly Nick enjoys what he is doing and the CNC and Aspire have become pivotal in his process, we wondered what prompted him to add a CNC into his original Cabinet business.
I was creating these complex shaped fixtures for some drawer fronts for a customer, Iíd made a jig and was routing them out by hand. As I was making 'yet another one' I thought that there has got to be a better way to do this. So I started researching on the internet and realized that CNC was the way go but I needed to figure out if there was a machine that fitted my budget. I ended up buying an imported machine because it was the right price and had an 8í x 4í work-area, although it was relatively low-cost it was still a major commitment for me and pretty scary. The machine was shipped with Vectricís VCarve Pro software and Mach 3 for the control. While the software was not a problem, the machine did not work correctly to start with and there was a big lack of help from the guy who sold it to me so the machine sat inactive for 3 months. It was only thanks to the folks on the Vectric Forum that I eventually learnt how to set up and run my machine, reading posts and asking questions I was able to get help to configure Mach 3 and deal with other technical questions to do with the control. Thankfully I got it running and was very glad the investment had not been a waste. Learning how to use the software was much easier, I just set up my laptop played the video tutorials and followed along. After a couple of years of using this machine my business was such that I decided I wanted a more capable CNC and purchased a 5í x 10í CAMaster Cobra with vacuum hold-down plenum and 10-tool changer and rotary section (see picture above right). This has proven to be a really good machine for the business.
Nick ran VCarve Pro up until he saw a pre-release version of Aspire demonstrated by one of the Vectric staff at a small user meeting in a local shop. At the time he had a job he was doing that needed the 3D functionality so he know it would be beneficial for the future. As soon as Aspire was released he upgraded from VCarve Pro and has been using it since. We asked him to tell us what he likes about the program:
What I love about Aspire is the fact I can easily just work with 2D vectors and 3D files that I am sent by my customers. Often they may be from Adobe Illustrator, or even vectors embedded within pdfs and I can import them straight into the software. This lets me take the designers files and start working with them immediately. Of course I can do the drawing myself in Aspire if I need to, but itís nice that when the client already has some vector files that need adjusting and I can pull them in with no hassle and get to work. I have also worked directly with 3D files such as OBJ and 3DS that they have sent me to make.
The drawing tools in Aspire allow me to pull apart and engineer a solution even when not much thought has been given to how it will be made by the designer. Once I have a working layout I can quickly create accurate toolpaths and preview them to check exactly what I am going to cut and get it out on the machine to start making parts.
For a small shop like mine where Iím the only guy running the CNC this efficiency is essential and has made a huge difference to my turn-around time.
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