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Thread: New bot with tool changer

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Bell, Florida
    Posts
    362

    Default New bot with tool changer

    Looking at purchasing a new bot with tool changer and want to here from some users about the tool changer likes and dislikes. I know it should be a time saver and such but what is your most favorite part and what is your most discouraging part??

    Also how many tool holders ?

    Thanks
    Tim
    Tim Lucas Custom Woodworks
    www.TLCW.us

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    , Friday Harbor, San Juan Islands Washington
    Posts
    519

    Default

    I have the ATC that is 5X10 and I do like it. I have 10 tools that are capable to be used. I had to change the tool changer file but it has worked out quite well. The down side is the dust shoe. I do think it is poorly designed and I have ruined a number of air cylinders and the front of the dust shoe wears out quickly. I then have to put in new bristles to get it to work "OK".

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Palm Coast, FL
    Posts
    191

    Default

    Tim

    I will be cutting on my machine on Tuesday. If you feel like a road trip you are welcome to come over. It would be great to see you again!

    The number of tool holders is a factor of the width of the machine. I have a 5x8 and it came with 6 tool holders, however there is room for a total of ten. I use 6 tools for cutting out my cabinet parts, so at around $250 each for the extra tool holders, they are still in the "nice to have" category and not in the "need to have" category.

    I had some issues with the dust shoe, admittedly some of them due to user error. I think the dust gate could be a more robust design. I have had to repair mine a couple of times. I also don't get very good dust collection at the front of the bed when the dust shoe is overhanging, but I'm sure that is a common issue.

    I also the think the design and location of the fixed z-zero plate could be improved. It is located in the center of the aluminum bar that supports all the tool holders and there is enough inherent flex at that point that I feel the accuracy of zeroing the tools could be affected. I acutally broke mine off at one point when I didn't secure the crocodile clip to the spindle properly and it slipped off while zeroing. So when the tool got to the plate no contact was made and it kept on going. Again, user error, but stuff like that happens.

    I also found it frustrating at the amount of prompts needed during the zeroing process and having to walk between the tool and computer more than a dozen times putting the crocodile clip on, hitting enter, taking the clip off, hitting enter, repeating the process over and over. I realize that to someone with a MTC this sounds petty and lazy, but to my mind it took the automatic out of ATC.

    I now have a set up that I am pleased with. I brought the z-zero pressure plate from ShopBot and have it situated on the 12" x 96" relatively unused portion of my bed near the tool holders. Also one of the guys at ShopBot support very kindly wrote me an awesome routine that does away with the need for any prompts or inputs from me. So now zeroing all 6 tools take less than 5 minutes and doesn't involve any input from or any crocodile clips.

    I don't push my machine very hard on outline cuts. I make a cut off the line leaving about 1/16" and then a through cut on the line in the opposite direction at 270ipm. I typically cycle through a 4' x 8' sheet of cabinet parts in 20 minutes. That includes loading the sheet, cutting, removing the parts and then cleaning the bed ready for the next sheet. It can involve up to 6 tool changes and different operations.

    1/8" drill bit to mark 1/8" deep locating holes for all drawer guide and hinge attachment screws.
    3/16" boring bit for through holes for lock dado joint.
    1/4" boring bit for shelf support holes.
    5/32" compression bit to route groove in cabinet sides to accept 1/4" back.
    1/4" compression bit to route pockets for tenons.
    3/8" compression bit to route pockets for larger tenons and perform outline cuts.

    There are definitly times when having the ATC is an unnecessary luxury, but there are also plenty of times when I value the amount of time and effort that it saves me. Not only in cutting but also in the design stage when I don't have to try and design and toolpath in order to minimize tool changes.

    It's probably similair to setting up a vacuum hold down system. Once you have it you wonder why it took you so long to do it and how you managed without it.

    It's been just over three years since you came over the day my machine arrived and helped me get started. This month is my two year anniversary of working out of the shop full time. I honestly don't think I could have done a fraction of what I have done in those two years without the combination of my ShopBot and eCabinets. The ATC and vacuum were a big investment for me, but not huge enough that I lose sleep if it sits idle for a couple of days, which as a one man shop it does. To put the investment into perspective, I know guys who have spent more on their pick up trucks than I did on my CNC.

    All in all I have not regretted the purchase for one moment!

    Give me a call or drop me a line if you want to come over anytime.
    PRS Alpha 96-60 ATC
    16.9hp Republic Regenerative Blower
    Aspire 8.5
    eCabinets with ShopBot Link

    https://www.facebook.com/SyzygyWoodworks/

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Palm Coast, FL
    Posts
    191

    Default

    I just thought of one other frustration, although this pertains more to the ShopBot Link for eCabinets, it does affect the ATC.

    I don't know if you are able to zero to the spoil board using the ShopBot link with an MTC. I have not been able to figure out how to do this with an ATC and no one else has been able to show me how to do it.

    I think I would get more accurate cabinet parts zeroing to the spoilboard. Not being able to means I have to quit a job, zero to the material and then "write to ShopBot" using the link each time I switch material thicknesses. For example when I'm done cutting cabinet sides from 3/4" and need to cut drawer boxes from 1/2" or backs from 1/4".

    Not a deal breaker but there are a number of advantages I could see being able to zero to the spoil board.
    PRS Alpha 96-60 ATC
    16.9hp Republic Regenerative Blower
    Aspire 8.5
    eCabinets with ShopBot Link

    https://www.facebook.com/SyzygyWoodworks/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Marquette, MI
    Posts
    3,264

    Default

    Keith...
    Be assured that the ShopBot Link was designed to use zero to spoilboard. This is the way that ATC machines are designed to operate. It is also the way the MTC features work best. Zero to top of material was implemented (added after initial code was implemented) due to the fact that many, especially older, machines do not have a fixed location zero plate. I disagree wholeheartedly with that decision.

    You can be sure that your bits can be zeroed to the bed with some changes in the code. My ATC machine ran that way as do the vast majority of ATC machines on the planet. If ShopBot can't make your machine run the way it should be, then you can hire me to do it.

    You mention the clip and "a dozen" trips" to use the ground clip.... You should not have to remeasure a tool until it is replaced. If you do then something is wrong.
    You mention "prompts", very few, if any are required. They were added for manual safety. Not required on an ATC. It's wrong.

    You also mention "zero all 6 tools"... should be unnecessary. Measure a tool once, period.

    You mentioned "flex" in the tool measure switch mount. Mount it in a solid location or brace it so that it is solid. Your accuracy will improve.

    "I think I would get more accurate cabinet parts zeroing to the spoilboard. Not being able to means I have to quit a job, zero to the material and then "write to ShopBot" using the link each time I switch material thicknesses. For example when I'm done cutting cabinet sides from 3/4" and need to cut drawer boxes from 1/2" or backs from 1/4".

    Not a deal breaker but there are a number of advantages I could see being able to zero to the spoil board."


    All of this is 100% correct. The system was not designed to operate as you describe it. You have either misunderstood the procedures, or you have been misdirected. It all can be made to operate in the way ATC machines were intended. Mine always do.
    Gary Campbell
    CNC Training & Technology
    GCnC411(at)gmail(dot)com
    Control & ATC Retrofits

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Islaww1


    "We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them"
    Albert Einstein


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    New Auburn, WI
    Posts
    319

    Default

    Hi Tim,

    Oddly enough, I had Gary Campbell set me up a ATC machine with six tools. I wish I would have made this leap long ago.

    I think my favorite part of having the ATC is not going through the Z-zeroing routine every time there's a bit change. Even if I had to go to the computer at the end of each tool's cut file to manually select the next tool (which of course I don't), I just don't miss zeroing the Z dozens of times per day. Obviously, it's so nice to have all of my tools all loaded up in their tool holders already zeroed to the table and ready to go. Toolpathing for the ATC is a breeze too. I just line up my toolpaths in the order I want them to run, load the cut file with all of the toolpaths and hit go. I go do other things in the shop until the ATC has everything done... unload/reload and go again.
    I know you're aware of the time savings that comes with no longer manually changing bits and zeroing the Z, but I'm amazed in my short time with my ATC how much more productive every single day has been as a whole. It's so much easier to keep the machine buzzing than I ever thought it would be. I can't image anybody would go back to manually changing tools after experiencing an ATC.
    I used to think that a guy would really have to justify spending the money to have an ATC. Now, I think you'd really need to justify not having the ATC.

    Good luck!
    Eric Erickson
    Shopbot BT48 Buddy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Bell, Florida
    Posts
    362

    Default

    Thank you Keith! I have heard that the dust shoe could be better. I wont be able to make it this time but would like to come and work with you a day when I get a chance.

    So Gary, do you sell the ATC system or set up the one that comes with the machine??

    Eric, yes I understand the pluses to having the ATC and I know I would like one for sure. Thanks for your input.

    Tim
    Tim Lucas Custom Woodworks
    www.TLCW.us

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Marquette, MI
    Posts
    3,264

    Default

    Tim...
    Both. In many cases the best option is the ShopBot version due to the level support they offer. Once an operator knows enough of their machine and procedures my options are a way to increase productivity.
    Gary Campbell
    CNC Training & Technology
    GCnC411(at)gmail(dot)com
    Control & ATC Retrofits

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Islaww1


    "We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them"
    Albert Einstein


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Bell, Florida
    Posts
    362

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Campbell View Post
    Tim...
    Both. In many cases the best option is the ShopBot version due to the level support they offer. Once an operator knows enough of their machine and procedures my options are a way to increase productivity.
    Thanks Gary, I will keep you in mind
    Tim Lucas Custom Woodworks
    www.TLCW.us

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Diamond Lake, WA
    Posts
    1,473

    Default

    Over the years, and hundreds of cabinets, I have refined the cutting files dramatically from the ones that came with the machine. All of the code that is necessary to accommodate every version of every machine out there has been removed. I only have code relevant to my machine. I've watched videos of ATC's and the length of time it takes to make the tool change. I use MTC but have found that with the cutting file changes I've made it seems I can change bits as fast (or very close to it) as the ATC changes bits. When my machine is done cutting with a bit the spindle is jogged (at 15IPS) to a very easy place for me to quickly change the bit. Once the bit is changed I hit enter and walk away. The cut files position the bit over the fixed Z-zero location, zero the bit, turn the spindle back on and go on cutting. It is very quick. I think to the point that I still can't justify the very high price upgrade to an ATC system, even though I would like to for coolness factor. But in business, I don't think that's a legitimate reason to spend money...

    Just my 2 cents...
    Don
    Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks, LLC
    www.dlwoodworks.com
    ***********************************
    Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece; But to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, bank accounts empty, credit cards maxed out, defiantly shouting "Geronimo"!

    If you make something idiot proof, all they do is create a better idiot.

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