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Thread: Desktop Max vs Shopbot Buddy at Community College Arts Center

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    5

    Default Desktop Max vs Shopbot Buddy at Community College Arts Center

    I have been most recently tasked with purchasing a cnc router for our Fab Lab in the Arts Center. I have narrowed down my options to two machines- either the Desktop Max or the Shopbot Buddy. I have only ever used the large 4'x8' shopbot, so don't have any real experience to work from in my decision making process.

    We have limited space, and the cnc router must fit into a small L-shaped room just off of the main space. The area where the router will be is 7'x9'. The other part of the 'L' will most likely be for storage and/or the computer. The cnc router will be used in an art educational space with a focus on innovative approaches to traditional art. Examples could be anything from woodworking to sculpture to printmaking to anything really.

    Below are some questions/concerns that I have about each of them. If you could help me to answer any/all of them, I would be very grateful.

    1. Given the size of the space I have available, do you think that the Shopbot Buddy is a real option, or am I going to find that the space is too cramped?
    2. If you have the Desktop Max, how often (if ever) do you wish you had larger capacity?
    3. Is one easier to use than the other?
    4. Is one more susceptible to breakdowns than the other? Cost more?Harder to repair? More Finicky?
    5. Do they both ultimately have the same functions, or are there differences?
    6. Is one noisier/dustier than the other?
    7. Aside from cost and size, as well as anything revealed by answering the above questions, I was wondering if there are other differences/pros and cons between these two machines, if any.
    8. Should I be considering the handibot?

    Thank you in advance for helping me with my decision. Any advice or information you have would be greatly appreciated.

    ~j.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Wilkesboro, NC
    Posts
    84

    Default

    I taught woodworking at a community college in NC for about 3 years, They have a buddy32. I bought one myself later. I would vote for the desktop.
    The buddy is a good machine, but keeping the table flat is a problem, plus it will eat up nearly 7' to 8' of space just with the normal 24" tabletop. I think the desktop will have better resolution and better performance, and if size is a problem, you could tile your toolpaths better with the non-moving table.

    I could say more, but I should probably get back to work.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    SOUTH CENTRAL COLORADO
    Posts
    1,126

    Default

    I am inclined to agree with Red. I have a buddy in the corner of my garage with a 4 ft power stick. It does not stop with just the cnc router, you have to have some kind of dust collection. My collection system takes up just about as much floor space as the buddy. I have an optional work table next to the buddy plus a UPS and optional hand tools.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kennebunkport, Maine
    Posts
    4,072

    Default

    Just a note on Desktop DC, 3 Desktops over 3 yrs in 3 shops, and it works best with high vac/low volume after trying the opposite with 3 systems.
    Best seems to be something like the Fein HEPA in conjunction with a Dust Deputy to keep HEPA clean.
    In a small space like that, a screaming shopvac is twice as loud as as the spindle option(which I hope you go) same spindle is on the Max, with the same dust foot and 2.5" hose connection.
    Just mentioning.
    scott
    Scott Plaisted
    2013 Desktop/spindle/VCP 9
    Maine

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    5

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    Thank you so much for your replies @Red F, @cowboy1296, @scottp55. Your insight has been really helpful. I knew that I could panel for more rare large-scale projects, but I was nervous that I would regret having made a choice forcing me to do so. On most days, I was leaning towards the Desktop Max but your feedback had confirmed it, thank you. It sounds like there are enough benefits to make size a non-issue. So a Desktop Max with spindle, a Fein HEPA and a Dust Deputy. Done.

    But wait.... What about the options and accessories?

    The Deck- T-slot deck, universal vacuum hold down deck, or gasket vacuum hold system?
    I love the idea of focusing on the fun parts, and not having to spend a lot of time clamping work down. I also like that we would avoid any unfortunate incidents of students accidentally routing over top of metal screws or clamps. Are these valid reasons to want the vacuum system? Aside from additional cost, why wouldn't I want the vacuum system?

    The Desktop Mini Enclosure
    The fact that this exists means I might have had the wrong assumption about how much dust the escapes the dust skirt and collection. Next, I feel like making something a version of this (or even an improved version) should be easy enough. Am I missing something?

    The Rotary Indexing Head
    I really want this. If I had this accessory, I would want to do hollow forms and other projects that used a combination of the rotary indexing head as well as the bed. Knowing this, would that make one deck a better option over the other?

    Thanks in advance for your insight.
    Jodi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kennebunkport, Maine
    Posts
    4,072

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    Jodi,
    IF you already have a Large DC system in place, can you tie into it and still have good vac cfm with other machines running?
    Can you tell us a little about what materials you hope to be working with, and whether you have a full wood shop(planer/thickness sander/large jointer,etc).
    Do you plan on hardwoods, and if so do you buy rough lumber,S2S or S4S etc.
    Possibility of doing items smaller than say 4X4",or small 3D's from small exotic woods, etc. ?
    Is small room ventilated or open door to let heat escape?(my Fein raises temp in 12X17' shop about 10F with my door open to house)

    We bought mini-enclosure for our second Desktop, but because we went with a version of Bill Young's "wedging top" that is oversized to be able to cut the entire cutting area, it's now sitting on a shelf. For students, it may be an excellent idea as it will keep fingers and eyeballs where they belong. Even my Dad when visiting has reached out to touch the wood while it's cutting, or tried to get a close look and NOT been behind a homemade plexi shield I use. Simple enough to make something though.
    I often wish I'd take the time to make 1/2" spacers, and a spare dust foot unit with 3" bristles for when I'm roughing/planing/dadoing/working on the edges of the workpiece.
    Otherwise there really aren't a lot of chips floating around if the bit is less than 2.5" exposed.
    scott
    Scott Plaisted
    2013 Desktop/spindle/VCP 9
    Maine

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    5

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    No, we don't already have a DC system in place. We will not have any other woodworking tools other than the CNC router in the space. It is very much a "fine art meets digital fabrication" space. The cnc router will be in a small room of its own. Just outside the door are 3d printers, a laser cutter, a vinyl printer, sewing machines and a printmaking studio.

    - I want the students to be able to experiment with all kinds of materials. My background is in fine woodworking, so I am partial to wood. Though I have a wood shop at home to prep hardwood for personal projects, most students won't have access to additional tools and will be limited to sheet goods or S4S wood.
    - I think there is a very good possibility that we will do smaller items especially as small as 4"x4", and 3D's. Why did you specify exotic woods, because the wood is harder? We have a laser cutter for small 2D items.
    - The small room doesn't have dust collection nor is it ventilated, other than the Fein HEPA and Dust Deputy as advised above. There are two doors in the small room that can be opened, providing is doesn't cause a lot of dust to escape into the main area. As for heat, we are based in Portland, OR. We can use all the heat we can get right now.

    I hope that helps.
    Thanks,
    Jodi

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    SOUTH CENTRAL COLORADO
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    1,126

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    When i first started I did not have a dust collection system and i do large 3-d projects. After each project there was a huge amount of dust to pick up so i opted to use a leaf blower. I was breathing all of this dust. It wasnt until i started to develop daily headaches that i did a little research. Apparently some hardwood dust can be harmful to you. I got the dc and the headaches went away. So in my not so knowledgeable opinion you need some kind of dc for nothing else than your health.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Portland, OR
    Posts
    5

    Default

    @cowboy "you need some kind of dc for nothing else than your health"

    Do you mean in addition to the Fein HEPA and Dust Deputy?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Kennebunkport, Maine
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    4,072

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    Nah Jodi,
    The air in my shop is cleaner than in the house with the HEPA.
    Once a week I blow the shop out with 90 psi(wearing a mask) while the HEPA is running to get rid of dust caused by my Other machines and hand sanding, and it's so clean that even with direct sunlight and halogen worklamps, I can't see any dust motes in the air. My coffee cup never has a sawdust speckled layer even after hours of cutting now
    Other questions after coffee in the morning.
    0F tonight here, with a 25 below windchill by 7am.
    scott
    Scott Plaisted
    2013 Desktop/spindle/VCP 9
    Maine

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