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  #1  
Old Wed 28 February 2007, 01:56
Gerald_D
Just call me:
 
What are the limitations of a MechMate compared to the $50 000 machines?

Was asked in another thread: "How do you compare the cutting quality of Mechmate to other machines which have price tags in the range of US $ 50,000 (Servo driven THK ball screws)."

Let me try and describe it this way....

Here in Cape Town we are now "competing" against a couple of other companies with mostly MultiCams well over $50 000. If customers come here to cut plastic or metal we send them to the "opposition". They send us the guys who want MDF cut. We have lost a really tiny amount of guys who wanted a better finish, but a lot of those came back to us again. Apparently their finish is also not mirror smooth. We charge about the same hourly rates and so the price is not a factor in keeping our customers happy.

I am sure the expensive machines can do better than us on really heavy/hard materials. I am sure we do much better at paying off the bank manager's loan.
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  #2  
Old Wed 09 April 2008, 01:01
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
This thread is bumped to the top for Sean Reish

I need some very honest and brutal assessments of where a business could fail because someone decided on MechMate versus the more traditional expensive industrial machines. I don't want a guy to invest his life-savings into a MechMate and then say one day that he didn't realise the MechMate could not do this_or_that like the Multicams, Thermwoods, Gerbers, Biesse's, SMC's, etc. etc.
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  #3  
Old Wed 09 April 2008, 08:32
Robert M
Just call me: Robert
 
Lac-Brome, Qc
Canada
Send a message via Yahoo to Robert M Send a message via Skype™ to Robert M
I believe what such a person may really realize is, he assumed too much on what a machine can or can’t do in an honest arbitral and objectively fashion.

In my opinion & not to assume the majority of any business community would agree on, but what will make a business fall is definitely not some miss judgment on equipment purchasing but fundamentally the pit fall is the one who has made the final decision, not managing it & turning it to it’s advantage !

You know & most of us here understand/knows your MechMate design is as good as the one who will not respect it & push it for what it can’t do !
One should invest a little more time understanding his judgment ability, than evaluate accordingly what some machines can HELP him/his company !
Blaming ones machine concept is by its self showing only his true colors!

One of my thought & opinion on poor management.
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  #4  
Old Wed 09 April 2008, 08:48
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Robert, all your words are summarised by "A bad workman blames his tools"

But I want to focus on purely the machinery now. In general we try to avoid cheap tools (all types) in our workshops because we know they break easily, or they wear out quickly, or they vibrate and flex and leave bad marks in the work, or they are dangerous, or they are unpredictable from day to day.

What is the risk in "buying" a cheap MechMate?

This is a serious question for a small guy who wants to start a business - it doesn't help to tell him that he needs a better attitude.
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  #5  
Old Wed 09 April 2008, 23:24
revved_up
Just call me: Craig
 
Hartland, MI
United States of America
I was thinking that if somebody invested his life savings in a MechMate then he couldn't afford the other machines anyway. Maybe to keep ease of mind you could add a disclaimer that it is an entry level machine that can be the basis of a start to a sucessful business. Although in my case I don't consider it to be entry level when you see guys building them out of MDF or Plexiglass.
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  #6  
Old Thu 10 April 2008, 00:17
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
The term "entry-level" is vague. I consider the MDF and Plexiglass machines as "hobbyist" - excellent to learn the basics of CNC but useless to process a ton of MDF for a paying client over 8 hours.

I have absolutely no qualms in calling the MechMate a full production machine - definitely not "hobbyist" or "entry-level". My son has 2 of them now and is running a solid business with very rare downtime on the machines. But we have no experience of what a more expensive machine would do better (or worse).
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  #7  
Old Thu 10 April 2008, 02:13
sailfl
Just call me: Nils #12
 
Winter Park, FL
United States of America
MechMate Advantages over $50,000 and up Machine.

1) Owner can repair and modify machine with out paying manufacturer's high per hour rate or wait for them to come fix the machine.

2) Owner can add additional features that manufacturer is still deciding if they are useful.

3) Owner has excellent priced (currently no charge) designer's technical support.

4) Owner has excellent forum for discussions of modifications and support.

5) Owner owns a full set of drawings for the machine the Owner built.

6) Owner paid a fraction of what the manufacturer wanted and has a better machine.

Last edited by sailfl; Thu 10 April 2008 at 02:18..
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  #8  
Old Thu 10 April 2008, 03:08
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
I think a key advantage is the MDF/plywood spoilboard that you can use and abuse as you want to. On the expensive machines they are obliged to give alu tables for the price. We can drill/weld/rewire our machines to our heart's content - you won't do that on a $50k machine.

But I am still curious to hear Sean Reish's comments about the actual machine cutting power, speed, finish, reliability, user friendliness (of Mach) compared to the Multicam experience that he has. Or anyone else that has run both styles of machines.
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  #9  
Old Thu 10 April 2008, 13:18
WTI
Just call me: James
 
Detroit (Michigan)
United States of America
Something very telling is to look at the used prices of those $80-100k mechs:

http://www.x-factory.com/equipment.aspx?catId=RL&pos=0

Often times, a 10 year old mech is selling for 15% of the new price. A new controller board will run you $15K.....they just cost too much to maintain or upgrade.

Once I called Xfactory about a Unisaw and they said that the CNC unit that held its value best was the Shopbot! They had one that they had received 100 calls on and it was only selling for 2K less than new.
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  #10  
Old Thu 10 April 2008, 17:29
Bill McGuire
Just call me: Bill
 
Weiser, Idaho
United States of America
Although I am just now getting ready to begin building my MechMate, I would venture to guess that most of the "Quality" and speed from a much more expensive machine comes not due to the machine itself, but rather because of:
1. It is proprietary in nature and cannot be reproduced legally due to the restrictions
2. The software used (most of it also proprietary) is restricted to that specific brand of machine, and may have some easy of use and bells and whistles due to the high cost of designing and writing the software, whereas open source software is a labor of love and most of the developers have limited time to work on them.

Not to be an evangelist, but my experience is that Apple has always led Microsoft in software development, easy of use, stability, etc., but lags drastically in sales due to the exceptional advertising involved with the Windows platform.

Nothing to due with quality, speed, downtime, etc... just good advertising.
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  #11  
Old Fri 11 April 2008, 00:26
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
It is amazing what a glossy brochure and a logo can do to a price. Tying up with James' observation above, I am totally convinced that you will be able to sell a MechMate for more than what it cost you. And I hope this "perceived value" has a lot to do with the fact that we have this forum and are building a common identity, or brand, via standardised name, colour and logo.
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  #12  
Old Fri 11 April 2008, 03:11
grandpi
Just call me: Pierre
 
Caussens
France
To go ahead in this discussion, what difference between Vcarve software from Vectric and Artcam software from Delcam : 10 000 $ !!!. The quality is the same. I know a company who are going to sell Vcarve now with 100 000$ cnc machines...

Bye,

Pierre.

Last edited by grandpi; Fri 11 April 2008 at 03:13..
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  #13  
Old Wed 10 December 2008, 20:54
dragonfinder1
Just call me: Dave #49
 
Astoria, Oregon
United States of America
starting a business

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerald D View Post
This thread is bumped to the top for Sean Reish

I need some very honest and brutal assessments of where a business could fail because someone decided on MechMate versus the more traditional expensive industrial machines. I don't want a guy to invest his life-savings into a MechMate and then say one day that he didn't realise the MechMate could not do XYZ like the Multicams, Thermwoods, Gerbers, Biesse's, SMC's, etc. etc.

I have to say that if someone stumbled onto this site, downloaded the plans, built the MechMate, started a business and then that business failed because he didn’t realize that the MechMate wouldn’t do XYZ like the Multicam, then he shouldn’t have been in business in the first place. Someone who starts a business without doing the research has to be a blockhead.

A couple of days on this site, reading through the posts here will tell anyone that understands what they are reading that the MechMate is an excellent cnc router regardless of price. It might not do everything that the “higher priced” cnc machines will do, but if someone started a business with this machine and built the business to a point where they could afford the higher priced cnc, would probably build another MechMate.

At $7500 ( a reasonable number I think, ok a little high maybe ) for a MechMate vs $50000 for another cnc router, one would have a better chance of making a business a success with the MechMate. Afterall, the machine is only a part of the overall cost of the business. And if $7500 was their life savings and they had to buy the other machine, they most likely wouldn’t start the business anyway.

Even if the business failed, it would only take a week or two to sell a well built MechMate any where in the world for $8000 usd.

Ok, off my soapbox ( built with a MechMate by the way)

Dave
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  #14  
Old Wed 10 December 2008, 21:49
smreish
Just call me: Sean - #5, 28, 58 and others
 
Orlando, Florida
United States of America
Gerald,
Thanks for the reminder.
I have done a few head to head comparison's on my past 3 cnc machines.
Multicam 48x96 series 1000 machine w/ spindle, Warthog 48x120 machine w/ PorterCable router and my new MM with router.

All machines performed equally well in the theme and sign market they were intended for. The most common material to cut was/is 3/4 ply or MDF with occasional cutting of sign board and sign foam upto 4" thick.

The Multicam's gantry wouldn't allow me to cut anything thicker than 3" under tool bit.
Warthog allowed about 3.5" under tool bit
The MM allows for me to get a usable 5" under tool bit while using the longer slide with 6 rollers. (just barely, but it does)

Speeds are the speeds that are specific to tool bit diameter, cutting tool, and depth of cut.
On average - on all machines - I typically cut 180-225ipm in 2 passes for ply and mdf.

The Multicam had a vac holddown and was a really nice feature. I currently don't use a vac holddown, but I haven't seen any change in cut quality.

Cut quality.
The MM with 7,2 gearboxes cuts the finest acrylic/polycarbonate I have expereinced to date.
The Multicam had 3:1 belt reduction and chattered on the tight curves frequently. Additionally, the belt drives would snap about 4x a year when it hit a hard stop!....Disassembling the Gantry access covers and replacing the belts was NOT a fun thing to do when production is screaming at you!

For the cost comparison.
Multicam = 40,000
Warthog = 25,000
MechMate = 10,000 with parts and internal labor (7K without labor)

Just my opinion

Sean
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  #15  
Old Wed 10 December 2008, 22:02
jhiggins7
Just call me: John #26
 
Hebron, Ohio
United States of America
Sean,

Useful comparison. Thanks for sharing.

By the way, what type of vacuum hold-down did the Multicam have? Was it a regenerative blower/vac? If so, what horsepower? I see some of these being 10 HP or so.

Regards,
John
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  #16  
Old Wed 10 December 2008, 23:28
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
That's an interesting observation on broken belts caused by hitting stops . . . . .

With the OM motor gearboxes, the OM company de-rates the torque allowed by the gearboxes. Which indicates they are a bit nervous of the gearbox toughness. But, keeping an ear to the ShopBot forum where there are literally 1000's of users with these gearboxes, nobody has destroyed or worn out an OM gearbox yet? And lots of bashing of end-stops must be happening there because limit switches were not a standard feature.
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  #17  
Old Tue 03 March 2009, 00:44
Fronzel
Just call me: Fronzel
 
Decatur
United States of America
I read the Because We Can blog. Because We Can is a design/build studio that uses a shopbot to build their business. They don't release designs, but they do encourage people to get into CNC.

They posted this. As they say(and I'm sure I've read here) a 50,000 dollar machine doesn't produce better products automagically.
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  #18  
Old Tue 03 March 2009, 01:07
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
(Thanks (and welcome!) Fronzel, I fixed your link)
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  #19  
Old Tue 03 March 2009, 07:12
SteveE
Just call me: Steve
 
Louisville, KY
United States of America
VS PlasmaCam

With no previous experience with CNC machines (other than metal shop classes) I have started my MM build with expectations that it will fullfil my needs in a small cabinet/countertop business. I don't have the funds for a $50,000 machine nor the maintenance that would be required. I can however build this machine and support it myself down the road. To try and compare the MM to other production machines from my standpoint is irrelevant, If it does what it's designed to do and works as expected, then it's worth every bit as much as a much higher priced machine. I recently picked up some steel from a local supplier who is also a friend. Told him I was building a MM and we had a nice discussion about the uses of CNC. He proudly showed me his most recent purchase, a plasma cam CNC machine. He bought it used for around $16,000. Of course while he was showing it to me, I was quietly comparing it to a MM. His CNC just had a hand held plasma torch in a cradle mount and the construction was all bent sheet metal. In my mind, far inferior to the MM design, but it worked as advertised, and my friend is more than happy with it. The point of this is, if the machine you build/buy does what you want it to do, then it's worth every penny and far more. I'm sure if a MM came out of a factory, was built on a production line with tighter tolerances than a DYI'er can produce, had an advertising budget, traveled to trade shows, paid sales people salaries and commissions, paid taxes on profits, ect, ect, ect. You would would probably see MM's selling for what Multicam's go for.... But lucky for us, Gerald had made available a great design, superior support, and in my opinion a machine equal to it's competition. Enough said, got to get back to welding up the MM.
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  #20  
Old Sat 14 March 2009, 11:17
Nautis
Just call me: Dennis
 
New York
United States of America
Gerald D
It was not part of your original question, but I would like to bring up a point.
I have never owned any CNC but have worked with a few.
Speed is an issue for the shops lucky enough to have the work. The last machines I worked with included a Multicam and a Weeke. The Weeke just flew through work compared to the Multicam. The value of this speed was apparent when the pressure was on.
However, sensible business people understand that you purchase a machine like this to fill a need, not to find a use. $200k routers are purchased to keep up with an existing work list or a business plan that can believably develop a work list.
An alternative is to build and learn with a machine like yours. If it becomes overworked for a long enough period to believe a business could sustain one of the more expensive and job specific machines, then they make sense. Until then your design seems like a sensible choice.

This brings me to another point. As these commercial machines advance, as you would expect, they become more specialized to a given industry. In order to compete, selecting a truly efficient machine for your industry is paramount. This requires the help of advice you trust (hard to find) or enough experience to know what you want. The trick is to get that experience with a machine that is not a toy...that can really do the work, but it doesn't break the bank finding out. I think you have achieved this. I think your design will certainly fill my needs.

Thanks
Dennis
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