It is hard to believe that it was almost ten years ago I witnessed a CNC router in action for the very first time. I was fascinated and simply had to have one! Although I had been in the creative end of the three dimensional sign business for most of my life I didn't really know what I would do with one of these machines - but I just knew it could do fantastic stuff.

Along with the CNC router I discovered the wonderful material called Precision Board and the glues, primers and other companion products they offer. Since then we have gone through many tons of the material using it in most signs and projects we tackle. This journal will chronicle our many adventures both past, present and future. I'll talk from the perspective of someone who pushes these products to the creative limit on a daily basis. I'll be adding to the stories two or three times each week. -dan

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Looking back ten years

I was looking through old posts on this blog and came across one I posted five years ago. It was reviewing my decision of five years before that about the jump to purchase a MultiCam CNC router and EnRoute software. It also meant learning to use new materials such as Precision Board. Now ten years later those words still ring true.

One of the biggest questions I had as I researched the purchase of a CNC router five years ago was 'Would a CNC router pay off for our shop?' A MultiCam was a lot of money. I had to think about it carefully. I had decided that if I was to get a router I wasn't going in half way. Initially buying a basic machine and then upgrading to a better router later didn't make much sense to me. That would mean paying much more for the machine I really wanted. I wanted the best from the start. I was either in or out.
We weren't the typical sign shop. We simply do not do production work. I contacted many, many sign shops as I looked for information. It was a no brainer that a router made sense for anyone doing production work. I discovered that most sign shops out there used their routers as fancy jigsaws. They pushed lots of work through their machines and it was profitable for them in a hurry. Our needs were very different. My intention was to create custom, dimensional signs. I had no intention of simply finding work to keep the machine busy, although many others I talked with had paid for their routers in this fashion. I wanted to use our router to help me continue to do the dimensional work I loved. I just knew it could speed things up for me and make me money.
It didn't take me long to figure out the machine could do things much, much faster than I ever could by hand - and much more accurately too. I discovered our MultiCam could easily do things five times faster as a minimum - including the time it took me to create the files before the machine was set in motion. Best of all it could do this work while I did other things. We financed our machine over four years figuring it would take us two years to pay it off. We played it safe. The reality is the machine paid for itself in less than one year.
Purchasing our MultiCam router was the equivalent of hiring two full time, experienced and trained employees once everything was considered. Only this machine easily works five times faster than even I could perform these tasks - never mind an employee. 
Simple math showed it doesn't take long for a machine to pay for itself. In our shop I am more than happy if it runs eight hours per week. Often it will run non-stop for a few days, then sit idle for a week or two. It's there when I need it and happily sits idle in the corner when I don't. Since it has long been paid for it's all gravy these days.

I did a LOT of research before buying our MultiCam. It has proven to be one of the best decisions I could have made. It has ramped up the quality of work we do by far. It has enabled our shop to become much more productive and profitable.