Techno CNC Systems

 

 

 

jorge_perez_FresnoCityCollege

Jorge Perez is a manufacturing student at Fresno City College, and has been working with routers for quite some time now. Excelling in everything he does with a creative twist to each project he completes, Jorge has become a true machinist with the help from his instructor, Mark. His Instagram account, @Jorge_CNC, showcases the captivating projects he has complete thus far during the program.
            Jorge spoke highly of the manufacturing program at Fresno City College. “It is such an advanced program compared to others. The instructors focus on allowing each student to get a lot of hands on action with the machines. We aren’t just learning by watching or being taught by step by step instruction manuals. We are taught to try on our own, mess up a little, but most importantly, learn from each other. It’s an awesome program to be a part of.” After the students complete the CAD/CAM software training at the beginning of class, Jorge said this is where the students creativity is key. “We all focus on making something unique to ourselves, rather than perfecting the exact same prototype twenty-something times. Our instructors basically allow us to use our creativity to come up with anything.” Fresno City College allows the students to make about 5-6 projects a semester using different kinds of plastics, where they then can move up to more advanced materials that make and engrave signs. The students are encouraged to think outside the box… the possibilities with their Techno CNC router are, indeed, endless.
“I find it so helpful that our instructors allow us to do our own programming, as well. At other schools, the instructors usually do the programming for you, or go over it with every single student individually. Instead, my instructor allows us to practice on our own. We let other students teach each other, which is awesome! It helps us all to learn the machines, as opposed to just following the directions on how to program. Our instructor believes that being able to teach one another is the key to becoming a true machinist.”
Perez spoke about the different levels of the class, and how the class improves throughout the semester. They start with easier projects, but then advance to more advanced classes where their projects become harder and their learning becomes clearer. “We recently used a 4x8 piece of melamine to create a cabinet of some type. It’s tricky because we only have one piece to do the entire project, correct. That’s the tricky part about manufacturing- everyone makes mistakes, so when we are tested on our knowledge of the machines/program itself, it is super nerve-racking to know that anything is possible.”  Perez shared a tip he recently learned from a personal experience using the Techno CNC in class. “I found it hard to know where my part was going to move on the table. I learned that the router is very forgiving... The machine will allow you to fix your mistake… which was one of the greatest tips I could have learned. I simply hit the pause button, reset the part to go back to 0, repositioned my part, and boom. I was able to save a lot of time and material by using this one simple trick time after time. You just have to slow down when you make a mistake, and the machine will fix itself for you.”
One of the main goals of the program study is to become an instructor yourself. Perez’s instructor has taught his students the importance of being able to teach someone else exactly what you are doing, and “then, you are a real machinist.” The program focuses on making the students step outside of their comfort zone, and allowing them to practice, learn, and study with the help of other students. The program is focused around the machines, the software, and learning the correct way to do things, rather than following an instruction manual step by step. The students are also allowed to bring in their own material from home; they are not limited to what the school provides them with.
Perez went on to tell me about his latest project, and the most challenging part about completing his final: a complete chess set. “My final project for advanced class was to make a complete chess set from scratch. I couldn’t figure out how to design it. I was determined to make mine unique and not look like the rest of the class. It was challenging. I cut out a lot of pieces but didn’t have a board, just yet. That is where our Techno CNC router came into play. I used a 3 quarter inch acrylic piece, and router the entire board using the CNC. The most challenging part was that I wanted to make a board that went with the geometry of my chess pieces themselves. I designed each piece from the ground up. I gave each piece extremely sharp corners, and wanted the board to reflect upon that. With that goal in mind, I stared at the machine for a while to see how it engraved, and to see what tool paths were available to program. It hit me finally, and I was able to figure out what speeds would cut on the acrylic. I used the 4x8 router, which involved tool changes, as well. I had to do a quarter inch straight bit to cut it out, plus an engraving bit to engrave on the board. It truthfully came out awesome, thanks to the Techno CNC router.”
“We all love the Techno CNC router in class. The machines are by far one of the better routers I’ve ever used. They are all really fast! I have never been limited when using my Techno CNC router; the possibilities are endless, especially with wood. feel like the quality is superb for what they do… and especially for the price. Amazing results, and I would highly recommend this router.

 

 

 

Stunned by Unger’s design website, we had to interview him to hear his thoughts about his very own Techno CNC. Coby Unger is a staff member at MIT Hobby Shop, the go-to facility at MIT if you have an interest in woodworking. The most frequently used CNC tool in the shop is the Techno CNC 4x8 router that they have had for over 5 years now. It runs pretty much every day on different projects by students, faculty, staff and other community members. The MIT Hobby Shop is one of three woodshops on the MIT campus, yet it is the only one that is not a part of a specific academic department. Basically, anybody with an interest in making things can go, and take advantage of the amazing tools and facilities this shop has to offer. The shop allows for students, faculty, and alumni to come, design, program and build whatever they want, with no additional costs. The shop charges a small membership fee, but the rest is basically free and Unger is your go-to man when designing. He is there to help and guide you to build whatever your project may be. 
“Students usually come in and work on class projects or research projects, but some students come in to build their own custom furniture for their dorm rooms, and we assist them with whatever they need. Normally, students do not know how to use the Techno CNC when they come in, but it is our job to teach them. It is such an easy machine to teach students how to use.” Unger discussed how the shop currently has 300 active members, and is constantly expanding. “We are the most flexible shop on campus that focuses on using the router and other tools to teach with. Half of the shop is CNC equipment and the other half is manual tools. I find it really important to teach students to use both hand tools and the router, because they go hand in hand. You will be more successful at designing and routing what you want if you already know how to make it using hand tools.” This was such a great tip for other woodworkers!
Coby talked about the 2 classes he and his colleague were teaching back in January. “I taught a custom skateboard deck building class, and he taught an eclectic guitar making class. The primary tool we used in both classes was our Techno CNC router, and it was great. The students were able to learn how to make a skateboard by first designing molds in Autodesk’s Fusion 360, followed by creating the curvature of the skateboard deck. Next, we cut out the skateboard mold with MDF on the Techno CNC router. Then we used the vacuum bag to laminate the deck and put it back on the router to cut out individual curves for the skateboard. Each student then designed custom laser cut veneer inlay graphics for the bottom of the decks. It was an awesome project and class!”
Unger discussed how the MIT Hobby Shop is different from day to day since most students come in with projects and ideas of their own. “The projects are always different which definitely keeps it interesting. Just yesterday we were working on making a trophy for the intermural sports championships here at MIT, and then today we were just engraving some text for a student’s project. Recently, somebody was making a knife block, while another student was designing some furniture, while another student was cutting out a prototype for an assembly line for their research project in engineering. Each project is unique, but the Techno CNC router makes it very efficient and easy.”
While Coby discussed the successes of MIT Hobby Shop, I was curious to see why he enjoyed their Techno CNC router so much. “I really like that it is so easy to jump between designing a part in CAD, programming a CAM file, and then cutting it out. It is a really quick turnaround and it is such an easy machine to teach to the students that come into the shop every day. The shop has a few CNC mills and a water jet cutter, but I would have to say that the Techno CNC is the one that I find to be easiest to teach with because it is logical and works very well.”
The goal of the MIT Hobby Shop is to allow students to learn to make in a flexible learning environment, and learn more about the interface between digital technology, the physical world, and how things are made to go together. The shop houses tools building things with wood, plastic and metal, for the students to use like, but the Techno CNC is focused around mostly the wood projects. 
Lastly, Unger discussed how much the Techno CNC router is used in the shop. “The machine literally is used, almost every day. We are all very satisfied. The quality is great. The finish is great. The longevity of the machine is great (the shop has had the machine for over 5+ years now… running it consistently!) The accuracy is great. I am very pleased with it. Overall, our Techno CNC 4x8 machine is a real asset for our shop.”

Fresno City College’s very own, John Marquez, shared with us the ins and outs of what it is like to be a CAM student at Fresno City College… one of the many educational programs a Techno CNC is being used to teach with. I originally found John on our Instagram page @technocnc because John has become one of many happy Techno CNC fans… who just so happens to tag us in a bunch of cool projects made by students using their Techno CNC router. Marquez was excited to share the schools projects and excitement for their Techno CNC Router.
“Everything about our Techno CNC is PERFECT,” He started. “My favorite project so far was when I made a poster out of Corian. I routed my favorite logo, No Shave Life, on a piece of Corian plastic, and I was so excited about how well it engraved. I was amazed at how well and how fast it cut. I look just like the guy on the logo, beard and all, and loved that the Techno CNC allowed for me to bring my favorite logo to life.”
Marquez shared how Fresno City College uses their Techno CNC router in the classroom. “The first part of class is mostly software based, where we are learning all about software, programming, etc. We mainly use MasterCam, but have also been using a bit of Fusion 360 lately, as well. The second half of the class is when we are allowed to go into the lab and use our Techno CNC router first hand. Each day is different, but we originally start by learning how to set up the machine, use the tool changer, etc. Our Techno CNC router is the focus of our entire class.”
The students use the router to make their own individual projects, and are graded differently based off of the programming, edge finish, and tool change. “Our instructor gives us an assignment where we then begin designing, planning, and drawing it up on Mastercam. We then nest it, g-code it and put it in the software. All projects are done individually, so we are all able to use and understand the machine and software by ourselves.”  The class uses a wide variety of materials when doing projects on their Techno CNC router. “We have used soft plastics, Corian counter top material, a lot of MDF and melamine.” The class has also completed a bunch of projects on their CNC during the past 6 months like a 6-pack holder for beer (picture shown), small plaques, coasters, posters, signs and more. We also used a bunch of soft plastics to draw up our own introductory drawings of parts to cut out on the router.
Marquez talked about his favorite projects during the 6 month CAM class. “My favorites, by far, was making the 6-pack holder, and this sign I made for my mom for mother’s day. I made her a sign that said, “Artistic Hair By Teri” and routed the entire thing using the Techno CNC in class. It was very fun to make and see being routed. The CNC made it so easy… anybody could do it!”

"Our Techno CNC router is the focus of our entire class.”

 

"The CNC made it so easy… anybody could do it!”

 

“Everything about our Techno CNC is PERFECT.”

 

- John Marquez, student at Fresno City College

We recently interviewed Chris Thompson, the school CNC operator, at Philadelphia University. The University purchased their Techno CNC HD 4896 router 2 years ago, and have transformed their entire Architectural program that is made up of 250 students. Before having their Techno CNC, the students were learning with a lot of hand tools. The students would practice with cardboard lamination by cutting cardboard by hand, and gluing them together. Now, students are learning first hand with a CNC, and they are inspired to rout using all different materials.
“The students love to try out different projects with ‘weird’ materials. We use a lot of upholstery foam and rubber cell open foam. But I constantly have the students running up to me with a random piece of material saying, “what can we make with this?” The students are really inspired and dedicated to learning with the router, and to see what they can make with it, also. We recently made a vehicle for a derby bike contest where I routed a bunch of panels to construct the vehicle. I used 4 sheets of coreplast to rout out the panels, and then assembled it. The router made this project so simple! My students were amazed with this project, and it was awesome for me to say, “Hey, now you make this, too!” I explained to them that it was only 5 minutes of using CAD/Cam software,  and these types of personal projects using the Techno CNC HD really inspired them to do these kinds of projects, too.
The students are learning by using a lot of materials… ranging from coreplaste, to apolustry foam, to MDF and plywood, to styrofoam, to urethane foam (a foam that they can even purchase in their own bookstore). “The vacuum table is really helpful for using materials like these because the vacuum table holds the material in place very nicely. We love the vacuum table. It clamps down on the foam making it super easy to work with. I use G-Wizard CNC Book which is very helpful for the speed of the machine. I save it as a tool library and go as fast as possible. My edge finish is great! The quality of the machine is great!”

- Chris Thompson, Philadelphia University

"The router made this project so simple! My students were amazed with this project, and it was awesome for me to say, “Hey, now you make this, too!” I explained to them that it was only 5 minutes of using CAD/Cam software,  and these types of personal projects using the Techno CNC HD really inspired them to do these kinds of projects, too."

- Chris Thompson

 

 

 

 
 
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