Most Difficult Part of the Process?

I get all those and they are handy for the beginner, but an intermediate or advanced option as well.

The struggle also becomes the never ending update to the software and sometimes loss of aesthetic or polish feel because it is a never ending beta in true nature.

What if you would like to incorporate a spiral toolpath with a specific stepover for the floor or some intentional scallops on the surface finish. Most easy going software is limited b/c it takes a lot of work for it to become a powerful option and then even more so to be intuitive.

Can you elaborate on ‘process’ you have in mind?

Or process elsewhere that works with as many steps involved?

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Toolpaths and options are exactly what I’m trying to work up now.

Spiral is definitely an option for round, though did get this answer a while back:

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Process as in being able to have a novice sit down at a machine and be making parts within a few hours and the experienced operator being able to learn the system in the same amount of time and output higher quality at increased volume if needed, or being able to run more projects in the same amount of time. Levels of difficulty within design (beginner, intermediate,expert) aren’t effective, people no matter the existing skill level, benefit equally from an optimized workflow.

The industry doesn’t have a technology or feature problem, it has a usability problem. There will always be another company able to undercut on cost, but it’s practically impossible to copy an ecosystem. This particularly benefits smaller machine manufacturers since their support load drops significantly. It’s more intensive on the front end but gains are long term.

Maybe I’m missing something then because the instances Will mentioned replicate what you’re saying to some effect.

Can you provide examples elsewhere where a process made such a drastic improvement?

3D printing seems to have this sort of process, but there are far less variables to account for in the end.

Material size/location, workholding method/size/location/holding ability, machine rigidity/speeds/feeds/work envelope/repeatability/accuracy, tooling size/geometry/effective F&S/stickout, controller processing power/memory, etc. Once all of this is addressed you change a few pieces of hardware and a whole new range of parameters to adjust or tune. This is a lot of data to capture and have readily available to limit the knowledge needed by the end user. A tremendous amount of data within a system

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We’re probably talking past each other, a box of parts doesn’t make an engine unless assembled well.

You’ve enumerated a load of information that a user currently needs to have available to him. Have you ever questioned why? Every one of those issues you’ve mentioned are an impediment to the end user.

I suppose it comes down to how a companies customer base values their time and how big of a market they’d like to capture. If you’re comfortable being strictly in the tinkerer type of market where customers value their time at a low rate then it works, with the downside being lack of mobility upward and new learning curves as the user outstrips production capacity, willing to put up with downtime. With an effective workflow provided by the machine vendor the user won’t experience the start/stop sort of activity that has become prevalent at the small side of part manufacturing. This is a business exercise, straight time and money calculation, if it’s a hobby it’s still a time / money calculation, you’re being paid in having fun.

Nearly every industry has benefited greatly by optimizing how the user interacts with a piece of equipment. The work I’m doing may be a little upstream but it is one of those areas where it scales downward as well. Reliable understandable low barrier production beats break / fix cycle every time.

I understand you are suggesting a new process, but it is all vague mentions of improvement.

If the industry is at need are you trying to cater to hobby and scale up, or start with high end production and scale down?

The high end production arena has some very impressive ecosystems which alleviates much of the information needed by the end user. It comes at a price, and much of the time is proprietary since the companies do not tend to give it away.

I’m curious what the next steps are, actionable items, creating the process.
Examples of previous instances in other industries, specific instances, to further understand this whole exercise.


Just like a word processor does not make you a typographer, a beginner can produce stuff but to do things beyond the basics, you need knowledge to operate a CNC. It is not a Star Trek replicator, it is a tool that can be used to produce some parts using some materials when you know what you are doing.

If I want to produce a widget, I first need to understand how this part can be realized. A beginner will be able to produce simple 2D parts on a CNC, 2.5D will require more in depth knowledge while a 3D part will require not only require advanced knowledge but also significant equipment upgrades to be able to make the part by adding at least one or two axis so the parts can be be rotated to be milled.

Before wanting to change everything,I would suggest you get a system, try to see what works and work on improvements from there standing on the shoulders of people from this and other forums. You need to build up that experience to get that understanding.



Trickle down, it’s much easier to charge more when you have demonstrable time savings, increased profit and less waste from a solution, not much sense in fighting upstream. Interestingly the hobbyist type market indirectly benefits from the improvements, but for different reasons. The widening skills gap in the manufacturing industry worldwide is making these changes mandatory, the upside being easier to use equipment at the smaller end of the spectrum.

I’m not suggesting that tech will replace everything, but hearing the same chronic problems from a wide variety of experience levels within the same vertical indicates an opportunity for improvement. It takes time and effort but I’m confident of a successful outcome.

Can you be more specific?

It’s not clear to me where you’re going with this. Are you trying to solve all ineffiencies in machining? Trying to build a better benchtop machine for the same market as Shapeoko 3, X-carve, openBuilds, etc?
There will always be limits and there will always be people pushing the limits, you can be confident in that.

On the back end of the process - I’ve always like the Datron hardware and software. I’ve never used it but having tools like the probing/camera system available on a cheaper machine would be great. The software leaves a lot of other systems in the dust in my opinion

see DATRON neo Measurement with Camera & Probe

Obviously having having an understanding of the front end of design & toolpath creation is critical. but for someone who is half decent at that side of it, I always yearn for something like the Datron system for day to day use. I’d be quite happy to forego some accuracy to get the cost down


With an app like CNCjs where the camera is already connected and it is made to control the CNC and probe, some great people maybe able to add similar capabilities. I know there are several steps to get there but there is something to start with.


I’m not sure it’s possible to solve all inefficiencies in any process. Benchtop is a very small segment of the market, physics limit the possibilities at that form factor although the small form factor machines can benefit from the improvements.


Datrons next platform is interesting, they seem to be trying to address some of the impediments to the process. Realistically a neo running that platform is a six figure capital investment plus recurring costs, it’s a specialty machine that fits specific application cases well.

I’m trying to consider long term costs for the customer and ease of repair. Keep it simple and serviceable.

Datron is a really good example but there are others as well. I’m not sure this forum is best suited to pursue this goal? Practical machinist and the like might be better suited, guys that run high end machines/controllers all day long. They have a wealth of knowledge. In any case this is a very big task to shake up the industry as you state. Best of luck!


I was thinking about this thread and there are a number of preventable things that lead to issues with many projects. Here are a few that could be addressed in the future to make CNC easier to use successfully.

Most CAM software do not have the ability to calculate appropriate F&S for the material specified on a given type of machine. When we set F&S for a given endmill we usually set a default that does not apply to all types of material lets say a .25in square endmill in pine is much different to the F&S in aluminum. The values need to be changed for each and this may lead to errors. The information from one successful project is lost in the system when we change the value again. The tool library should add another dimension where we could retain settings for several materials. In fact the optimum F&S should be calculated automatically from the information and values provided in the CAD/CAM like and integration of Carbide Create with G-Wizard. In this case the default values would be adapted to the Shapeoko/Nomad with the ability for the more advanced user to change the defaults. Knowing that would be a long term goal maybe a calculated field should display the effective chipload for a given toolpath. This could be used to compare to the Shapeoko cookbook @Julien is preparing.

Many of the problems reported here are operator induced where errors are made entering parameters can translate into crashes. Entering a DOC of .25in instead of .025in would probably have grave consequences for the project and/or the CNC but it could take time to find the reason for the crash and the typo may not be spotted before a few attempts have been made.

Another problem frequently reported is properly setting the Z0. Stock may be of uneven thickness or there could be issues with placement of the probe. Ideally, the stock would be perfect or the stock would be 3D scanned and the Z0, along with the X0 and Y0 would automatically be set.

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This isn’t a machining knowledge problem, I have no lack of qualified input from loads of experienced machinists. My “goal” was to determine what problematic similarities existed within the same vertical market, the responses provided some good insight.


@luc.onthego, there it is. That sort of thinking will lead you to not only a more efficient process but more importantly a safer process for the operator as well.

Thought this might apply to this thread:

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