I posted a couple of things about all the CNC information being delivered to my inbox prior to IWF 2016. At the show, as you may expect, there was a substantial amount of CNC-focused tooling and machines.
The last time all the companies gathered in Atlanta for an IWF show at which I was in attendance, I saw only a couple of CNC setups. Granted it was either six or eight years ago (can’t remember exactly). This year, however, you would be amazed at the number of companies dipping a toe into the same pool. One company that produces CNC accessories said that, by its calculations, CNC sales industry-wide were up 38%. Woodworking with CNC will not be shoved into a corner and looked past.
Let’s take a quick look at what caught my attention at IWF 2016.
For the hobbyist, Next Wave Automation was a standout. It has many new developments for the Shark and Piranha. The company has developed Auto Edge & Rotational Sensing that automatically locates the work piece and identifies its size, center and auto locates your starting point no matter how the piece is positioned on the work bed. Plus, it has software (“Virtual Zero”) that maps the surface of your table or work piece to virtually eliminate problems caused by warped or bowed work pieces. Both these programs help the beginner CNC operator.
Next Wave also has available a 4th axis tabletop kit that allows the operator to create turned spindles. And, Next Wave Automation has an accessory that turns your CNC into a laser printer.
A step up to the next level brings you to Axiom Precision for small-format CNC. These machines are from the small hobby type, through a Basic series, Pro series and into the Elite series (all of which can be experienced on its website).
What I was impressed with at Axiom is the new AR16 Elite, a 48″ x 48″ machine with almost 8″ of Z-axis travel. With this setup, you can handle a 1/2 sheet of plywood (a full sheet if you support it at the end), or slip a behemoth slab onto the table to produce detailed carvings or square mortises for massive bench legs. (The new Elite machines will be ready to ship in late October or early November 2016).
Axiom also has a 4th axis setup for the Elite series (not yet available but will be ready to ship when the Elite machines begin moving out the door), and compared to the Next Wave add-on, Axiom’s is HUGE. And sometime late in 2016 or during the first quarter of 2017, Axiom should have a 4th axis available for its Pro series CNC machines, too. My guess is that it won’t be as big in size.
In addition, Axiom brought to the show a hefty hunk of milled aluminum (a gantry brace from the underside of its machines) to show how stable its machines are under the pressures of work. There’s no doubt that Axiom Precision machines could run 24/7.
Stepping away from CNC machines and toward accessories, Freud has pulled together a couple of sets of router bits optimized for smaller CNC machines. The sets include V-Groove bits, Up-cut Spiral Ball-nose bits and solid carbide Ball-nose bits, a couple of tapered ball tip bits and more. One set (eight different bits) is for sign making (#87-108), and the second eight-piece set is for general purposes (#87-208).
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