February '21

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 1 F E B R U A R Y G R A P H I C S P R O 6 5 can take before you make your purchase. If you still aren't sure if the machine is the right choice for you, start by actually see- ing and working with one. "You might visit a shop that has one," suggests Allard. But for the most part, it's easy equipment to learn. "CNC is now easy enough that one shouldn't feel they need classes to get up and running," he feels. "Nowadays, anyone can learn to use a CNC machine very quickly as long they have the time to spend learning." FINAL THOUGHTS If you're still on the fence about whether to purchase a CNC router, or even how to prepare to add the equipment to your business, there are a few final points to consider. "It would be rare (to find a) shop that would not benefit from a CNC," believes Warner. "Once word gets out that a shop has a CNC and people see your work (and yes, you should take lots of pictures), you'll begin seeing an in- crease in business." "A CNC router may be the most versatile piece of equipment on the market," adds Allard. "Anyone with a serious interest can learn to do CNC work much more easily than ever before. Whether a one-man shop or a large company, they're also more af- fordable than you think." GP CASSIE GREEN is the executive editor of GRAPHICS PRO magazine, and previously served as the editor for A&E magazine. You can reach her at 720-566-7278 or associated with CNC routers quickly. "Your CNC router will come with CAD/CAM software, which communi- cates your drawing and cutting param- eters to the CNC and tells the machine what to do and where to machine," says Friesen. "The design portion is definitely the hard part, but since most sign makers and printers are already familiar with this it makes things much easier." "Software has steadily improved over the years but that's not to say there is no learning curve," Warner states. Most ven- dors offer video training to help get you started, and of course YouTube is always one avenue to take. "You certainly do not need to know how to do everything in order to get started, but the video ap- proach makes it easier to learn new fea- tures and functions in the software rather than having to dig through a manual," he adds. Additionally, shops should determine ahead of time who will operate the ma- chine. "The addition of a CNC router will require shops to pick a lead CNC operator," says Recinos. This will great- ly impact the training portion after the machine arrives. "(For us), training is conducted by a certified technical sup- port specialist who will cover the basics of a CNC router and show the lead operator(s) the day-to-day operational requirements of the machine." One way to prepare for this new learn- ing curve is to work ahead. "I like to have my customers start working on the software as soon as possible, even if they are a few months away from purchasing a CNC router," says Friesen. "Learning the software ahead of time will ensure you are ready to go as soon as the ma- chine is delivered." Recinos agrees, recommending that shops prepare some real projects as part of the training. "This will aid in the integration of the new cutting technol- ogy," he believes. When it comes to general education on the equipment, there are a lot of roads you

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