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Whitehurst Enterprises, LLC.
Inexpensive, Accurate CNC Router Helps Start Production
After studying these machines, he selected the Techno model 210 PC-driven CNC wood router from Techno Inc., New Hyde Park, New York. This router, which sells for about $30,000 complete, is designed for production routing and drilling on a wide variety of materials including wood, plastic, MDF, solid surfacing materials, and nonferrous metals. "I liked the Techno router from the start because it is flexible and easy to use. As I learned more, I discovered that it's also very adaptable to nearly any woodworking problem. For example, long pieces of molding can be stacked side by side while the spindle traverses each piece to cut the pattern. On the other hand, multisided pieces like a corbel, can be mounted on a rotary table that moves the appropriate face towards the spindle one after another. Best of all, the router only costs about the same as my car payment every month."
The Techno router is constructed on steel stress-relieved bases with hardened steel linear ways. Its shaft and bearing system produces very smooth, play-free motion and is an extremely rigid system that produces high-quality cuts. The router also uses anti-backlash ball screws. These screws have excellent power transmission due to the rolling ball contact between the nut and screws. This type of contact ensures low friction, low wear, and long life. The ball screws also make it possible to produce wooden parts to the machine resolution of 0.0005 inch. Instead of being ball screw driven, the less expensive routers use rack and pinion gearing, which has too much play to make accurate cuts in small areas. Also this type of gearing wears out quickly in the dusty environment of a carpentry shop. The other main difference we found between the Techno router and the others was that the Techno uses a servomotor to control cutting motion while other routers use stepper motors, which can give a stair-step cutting effect.
Producing anything that customers ask for
"With this setup, I have found that I can produce just about anything that customers ask for," Whitehurst said. "For example, one customer asked for a molding that looks like a grapevine with the grapes protruding in 3D. They gave me a picture of what they wanted which I scanned and then turned into a 3D model. To transform the 2D image into a true 3D relief with a hand-carved look works this way. The artwork is colored by the use of brushes and flood fill tools and each color is assigned to an individual 3D shape profile. The different types of profiles that can be generated include plane, round and angular. The parameters of these profiles are controlled by defining the basic shape, start height, limit height and wall angle, giving almost total control over a wide range of 3D effects. The program builds 3D reliefs by assigning a height to each pixel in the 2D image. I provided my own artistic interpretation and also designed the molding in such a way that it can be machined quickly. I cut a sample piece in MDF, give it to the customer, and listen to their feedback and then modify the program so that the finished pieces are exactly what they want. If the customer ever needs more molding, I can simply call up the program again and match the original order to a tee."
"Another interesting piece that I made recently is called a corbel – a triangular decorative bracket that fits in the corner between a ceiling and wall," Whitehurst said. "The program takes a solid block of wood and whittles it down to an intricate 3D design on three sides. The complexity was so great that I didn't get it exactly right the first time but as nearly always, I cut sample parts in inexpensive wood and then measured the errors and used them as an offset to correct the program." Whitehurst said that his new business has also spawned several offshoots. While he is building his production machining business, he also acts as a consultant to other woodworking companies that want to establish a 3D machining capability and provides custom programming services. "The Techno router is intelligently designed so that I can plug my own devices into the various ports and provide commands in the program to turn on a dust collector and an air blast to clean the tool," he commented." I also have a digital video camera pointing at the machine so I can log in while I am visiting a customer's site to see how everything is going. In the future, I plan to add a tool breakage sensor that will send me a page or an email when a tool breaks in order to provide for fully unattended operation."