Start Here October '22

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54 S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 2 POWER NEEDS & COST TO SET UP e next step was to make changes to the shop to accommodate the new machine. Because Signarama is in a commercial area, it wasn't hooked up to 220 electrical, so Lokpez had to change the electrical to accommodate it. "In addition, because I was in a small commercial space, the electrical fuse box was already maxed out," he says. "e dollar number was starting to add up. e landlord says, 'at is not my problem. If you want it, I'm not paying for a commercial setup.'" It cost $3,000 to update the electrical circuit and $2,800 to add 220-volt power to the bay area of his shop. e only CNC routers that don't take 220 single-phase electric- ity are smaller beginner desktop machines or hobby machines, Smith says. He points out that even if these smaller machines can run on 110 volts, they are "not something you want to rely on for a business." Some of the smaller routers require 20 amps of power, which is what everyone has in their house, but some larger machines require 60 amps and require the help of an electrician. Smith recommends that shops that are outsourcing a high volume of CNC work should consider a three-phase industrial machine that can go up to 70 amps. Smaller shops that are doing more custom work can get by with a single-phase machine. Many commercial sign and graphics shops are in light commercial areas, so they don't have access to those higher levels of power. "Most shops will have at least 100 amp or 200-amp service. e bigger single-phase machines will take 60 amps of that," he says. Another thing to consider when it comes to power is the addi- tion of an air compressor, which will require 10 to 20 amps, and a vacuum hold down, which holds medium to the table while it is being processed. at will take about 30 to 60 amps, "depend- ing on how crazy you want to get with the vacuum," Smith says. Another vacuum is necessary to extract chips and the mate- rial that was just cut, so it doesn't leave a mess in the shop. Dust collection systems require between 10 and 20 amps of power, which adds up quickly. Lokpez bought a 5' × 10' table that came with two vacuums. He says he didn't account for that and had to build shelves in the space to elevate them for more efficient airflow. He also didn't account for the size of the machine and needed a forklift to get it into the building. "I didn't know I needed a license to use a forklift," Lokpez says. Luckily one of his employees' husbands had a forklift license, and he ended up hiring him for a day to bring the table in and put it where it needed to go. Lokpez paid Laguna Tools to train his staff on how to run the router once it was installed. He recommends buying lots of scrap materials so employees can learn how to route effectively at dif- ferent thicknesses. He says each type of material needs a differ- ent speed and spin to get the right cuts and curves. "I accounted for that in my PML (probable maximum loss) for the first year. I accounted for 20% excess spoilage." In the end, his shop only used 15%, but "it was a smart thing to do. It is very Adding a CNC, dust collector, vacuum, and air compressor means they all need somewhere to go. If a machine says it has a 4' × 4' cutting area, you are not planning for a 4' × 4' machine. It will be more like 6' × 7'. You also need space to work around it and load material. " Buying a router isn't just something you can do overnight. It takes plan- ning and foresight. The first step is to figure out what types of projects and signage your shop wants to use a router for and then determine the best machine for the job."

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