Thinking of starting a shop? Unless you have a ton of money and willing customers, it can be a tough row to hoe. Still, thousands have done it, so why can’t you? You need a good machine, though, and if you’re expecting to do any kind of production work, it had better be a CNC. The good news is, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to do it. Here’s why:
Starting a Shop: Why CNC?
Back in the day, starting a shop was easy. All it took was a knee mill, engine lathe, band saw, some tooling and micrometers, and you were off to the races. Nowadays? Most companies won’t even talk to you unless you have at least one CNC. Fortunately, a handful of good CNC machines are available that won’t break the bank. For example, the ACU-MILL series of CNC machining centers from Kent USA is a great place to start. Three models are available, starting with the 30,000-rpm AM1 to the 40-taper, 5-hp AM8. I’m not going to discuss specs here except to say that multiple configurations are available—some quite basic—allowing even the most cash-strapped of us to get started and work up from there.
More than Entrepreneurs
What about schools? Research labs? Jewelry manufacturers? Electronics houses. Specialty firms like engraving houses and glass grinders? Also, how about shops that want to automate their deburring and secondary operations? While the ACU-MILL vertical machining center is a good option for anyone starting a shop, it’s also quite suitable for these and other businesses, companies that need to increase productivity or part quality but might have limited budgets.
CNC? What’s That?
Worried about CNC? Maybe you struggle to program your garage door opener? That’s where conversational programming comes in. Upload a drawing (or create it on the control), answer a few questions, and go. Of course, you will have to learn about drills, end mills, and other cutting tools, but the people that sell these things will help. You’ll also need to figure out vises and tool holders, cutting fluids, tool offsets and such, but there’s plenty of help out there for the asking. Above all else, remember that CNC is a gamechanger, and the ACU-MILL vertical machining center is an excellent way to get your feet wet.