A few things happened recently inspired me to start blogging again. First is the pandemic and how life has slowed down and changed being locked at home. I am grateful my employer has been very good about us all working from home and that I can for the most part. Part of my engineering work really requires me to be in the lab sometimes and that have been very limited access. But the design and documentation part can be done easily at home even at some lesser percentage of efficiency. The plus side is I am not commuting into work spending 2 1/2 hours a day. That gives me more time to work on other stuff. One of the big other stuff has been learning more techniques of 3D modeling and CNC software tools. That part has been great as I really feel I have learned a tremendous wealth of techniques and a much better understanding how to do some things.

The second event was getting my stimulus check. Feeling a little bit comfortable in my job and not really in any pressing need to spend it I thought maybe the best use would be to put it a side in a new upgraded CNC machine fund. I have been wanting to do for years with my annual bonus but for the most part we have been putting that in the house and other necessitates. In this case to me it was found cash and putting towards an investment to hopefully help me do some side jobs after I retire would be the best choice. I knew it was not enough to get a machine now but added to a small portion of this years bonus it might work out.

I have been tracking developments in CNC machines for a long time. Almost always I would come the conclusion of what I wanted is too far out of a reasonable budget.  If I had 5K laying around I would love to pick up an Axiom  Iconic 4. But being honest this is a hobby with a small potential to make a little side cash. Investing that much would not be smart. But as I looked and looked everything seemed to be more compromise than I wanted make.

But then I started to learn about a new machine just coming out. A hobbyist level machine with some excellent mechanics and at a promised reasonable cost. Like that ever happens! But I signed up for their pre-offer information with an expected pre-sale in May. Information was slight but a they did send out a few units to Beta tester bloggers who started to review the machine. Glowing reviews only stoked my interest. They finally announced the prices in April and it did not disappoint. Plus they offered a significant pre-order discount and freebies making it really a rare opportunity to get in The catch is this is a pre-order and they wont start shipping until August. But its not a kick starter deal its from a company that has been in the CNC biz for years so that is some relief. All said even though I am not ready and really don’t have all the funds I contemplated could I stretch and make it work. Not saying it was a deal of a lifetime but not saying it isn’t close either.

So… I know you are dying to know the offers

Onefinity https://www.onefinitycnc.com/

Two machines:

Machinist full price $1995, pre-order $1575
Woodworker            $2395 pre-order $1975

They are not even listing the freebies anymore but included was a dust boot and a rail stiffener making the total saving for both machines

$645

Oh and shipping was only $99 flat rate which seems very reasonable as well.

30% savings for the Machinist, 25% for the Woodworker. I had to pull the trigger. For the Machinist. I will spell out my reasoning in my next post aside from the lower cost.

So I got on their website May 21st 9am, read the final details which cost me a few spots in the lottery but ended up with order #135 which means an October shipment. Bummer! But hopefully early hiccups will be worked out before my shipment.
Another reason I decided to start my blog up again was I am planning on adding a few cool features on my new cnc and wanted a space to document and show. Plus all the things I am planning on creating with it. So enjoy the ride.

NEW CNC ON ORDER PART DEUX – WHY THE ONEFINITY MACHINIST

As I mentioned in my last post I pulled the trigger on the new Onefinity Machinist CNC machine and I can’t wait for it to show up in October. I have lots of prep work to do before mostly organizing my space for it. Onefinity is offering two machine configurations at the pre-order stage; the smaller “Machinist” and the larger “Woodworker”. The only two differences between the two configurations is the working or cutting area and of course the price.

So to boil it down here was my list wants and how the “Machinist” filled them.

  • Affordable : A-
    • I think with the Pre-order price and goodies it probably should be A+ I checked the original cost on my micro CNC Click n Carve system and it also was $1500. I dare say the Onefinity is a major step up in value.
  • Reliable A+
    •  Time will tell. The design looks very solid. Most hobbyist machines in this class use glide wheels that need constant adjustments. Onefinity uses sealed linear bearings that should be maintenance free. Another weak area in typical machines is the drive system. Many low cost systems use rubber drive belts that tend to stretch or break. Onefinity uses precision ball bearing lead screws. This increases accuracy and removes maintenance. At this point I feel comfortable with my decision.
  • Controller: A+ 
    • Most hobbyist machines use an external computer to control the CNC. That really is not a huge issue other than needing a computer and then dealing with the dust getting into it. I am currently using an old Windows Vista laptop to control my Click n Carve. It is long past obsolete and slow to dead slow. To run any semi-modern system I would need to upgrade and that would add hundreds to the budget. Onefinity chose to use an open market controller from Buildbotics. As far as I can tell checking out the Buildbotics site their controller is top notch. And to boot it works over the network and you can operate the CNC with a simple web browser. Locally to the machine is a 6″ touch pad and you can use a game controller to jog the machine around. 
  • Space required to setup the machine: A-
    • I run my Click n Carve in my office right now. I find that most convenient as I can work on other thinks like design new things or actual work work stuff. Now I could set up the new CNC in my basement workshop. I would even been able to setup the “Woodworker” machine there. But the space is not heated in the winter which is a minus. A lot of the jobs I will running and have been running take hours to finish. That’s a long time to watch over a system. So I really wanted it to fit in my upstairs office and the “Machinists” will. One day we are planning on selling our house to move to our forever home and no telling what kind of setup I will end up in. I am planning on my new CNC to be my major tool and it should fit where ever.
  • Working / Cutting Area” B-
    • This the the one shortfall of the “Machinist”. The 16 1/4″ X 16 1/4″ cutting area comes up a little short on what I think I want. I want to make some flags and signs and for those you need about 24″ of cut area. Of course coming up from my tiny 6″x 8″ Click and Carve the “Machinist” is huge! And for probably 80% of what I want to make it will be very sufficient. For the larger work well there are work arounds
      • The rails on the Onefinity are inter-swap-able between the machines. Which means if I could take a X-axes rail (width) from the “Woodworker” my cutting area would increase to 32 1/4 X 16 1/4. I asked Onefinity about the idea and they said down the road they are diffidently looking into that. The upgrade cost should be quite reasonable. So I think that is future path that would allow me to do more signage work.
      • There is a technique called tiling. The design software Vectric Aspire allows you to break up a job in sections. When you send your job to the CNC you work on smaller sections say 12″X 12″ and you index the large piece say 24″x 24″ to a new section. The tricky part is indexing with minimal errors but it would be possible for me to cut 24″ X 24″++ on the machinist. There is a problem to overcome however and that is the Y rails get in the way. But due to the design of the Onefinity I am working on a way to do it. But it’s going to be a complicated engineering task.More on this in the future!! 

So final grade B+ to A- No system will be perfect but for my needs I think the Onefinity “Machinist” will fit the bill. October can’t get here fast enough.

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