Activity Feed Forums Sign Making Discussions CNC Router and Engraving information please on routers being shown at signuk?

  • information please on routers being shown at signuk?

    Posted by Bob Gilliland on May 17, 2002 at 8:01 pm

    Wondering if I may request a favor from you folks that are going to the NEC show. I would like to obtain some information on the new Spandex Tornado router machine. Unfortunately, not much is available on their website at this point in time and I won’t be attending the show. Most important to me at this time; what are the similarities and differences between this machine and the Sabre series they offer? I could email a list of specific questions if anybody wants to get that “technical” about it. I’d be very appreciative for any information that can be passed along. Thanks in advance.

    Bob Gilliland replied 22 years ago 3 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • Robert Lambie

    May 17, 2002 at 9:30 pm

    hi bob.
    why the spandex model?
    have you tried AXYZ for routers.
    what size are you looking for?

  • Bob Gilliland

    May 17, 2002 at 10:59 pm


    Not looking to purchase any of them, just looking for the information. 🙂 I’m somewhat familiar with all the major to mid-level players in that market, with a very good understanding of the Gerber Sabre series. Since Spandex is owned by Gerber, and not much has been released information wise, over here anyway, about the machine, I thought I’d attempt to get information via the people on this board that will be attending the show. Part of what I “do” requires that I stay somewhat informed about the options to the sign trade. The Spandex Tornado fits into such a situation. In the short time since my reply, a piece or two of information has been forwarded to me about the machine, but I still desire to know much, much more.

    IMHO, the AXYZ machine is a decent piece of equipment. Not saying it’s the best, not saying it junk either. Each machine has its strength and weaknesses, some of which will hinder some shops while being a non-issue to others. And the machine is only part of the equation, what about the software. Depending on the software, a great, well built, feature rich machine can be a real nightmare to work with by making the operation of such a machine more difficult then it needs to be. Conversely, a not so high-level machine can draw rave reviews if the software is intuitive and powerful. Like the thread over in the Digital section; each shop is different and going to require various features and functions from a machine/software combination then perhaps their fellow shop down the road. If we didn’t have these different requirements, everybody would be using the same software, plotter, printer, router,….

    Thanks for inquiring. 🙂

  • Robert Lambie

    May 17, 2002 at 11:14 pm

    yeh i guess your right right bob.
    why all the info on machines you dont use, or intend using?

    the axyz i have had for over 3 years. ive not had any problem with the work i do. routing and engraving… other than 3D work i dont know why i would want to spend an extra £10,000 on another machine.
    even at that the AXYZ router is more than capable of doing the job…

    im not saying the machine is the top of the range. but for the money it more than does the job.
    maybe i am missunderstanding what you mean by a great router and a good router… could you explain please bob… 🙄 😛

  • Bob Gilliland

    May 18, 2002 at 2:08 am

    First question is somewhat easy.

    One of the business units within our corporation is InKnowVative Communications, the particular business component that I’m using for this site. That unit does various things with the intention of doing much more in the near future. Part of the current offering is advising small to medium size sign companies on a variety of relevant issues. What software to utilize, hardware to acquire, pricing issues, optimizing production workflows, etc. and then training and support of those assorted items. I also do various items for some manufactures as well. So, the more information I can acquire, digest, and retain, the better I can service clients on both ends.

    Second one is going to be a bit different because opinion enters the equation.

    I’m going to attempt to answer it, but when it’s all said in done, I probably will have typed a fair amount and not say anything to directly answer the question. It’s about perception in my view. A “great” machine to me could be an overpriced paperweight in your view. Software that you’re comfortable and productive with, I could think is intensely laborious to use. So who is right, who is wrong? Neither in my perception! But who says my perception is correct for you. See the vicious circle starting now. Case in point: Many sign folks in the US prefer CorelDraw as their preferred sign-making package, perhaps many here on this board as well. (Still catching up to know the folks here) They design from it and cut from it, and it works for them. It wouldn’t work for me. First my equipment can’t be controlled from within Corel. Next, I’m not interested in spending additional labor time to overcome the deficiencies when plotting. Some folks complain about the cost of sign specific programs. If someone would cost study how long it takes me to accomplish certain task and how long others take, it very well may reveal that running CorelDraw is costing more in the long run. Am I downing CorelDraw or sign makers that use that tool exclusively? Absolutely not! In fact, CorelDraw, Illustrator, FreeHand, and other mass marketed object oriented based programs have much better “design” functionality then most sign specific programs. A one-person shop with a single plotter and low volume probably isn’t very concerned about these items. However, a five-person shop with multiple plotters, heavy vinyl production load, etcetera is very concerned about those issues. Each has valid reasoning for their respective choices while the other probably thinks the other guy is “nuts” for using what they’re using. This is all painted with a very broad brush and generalizations.

    Same with routers. Take the hobbyist, build it your self ShopBot machine. The price you pay for it is peanuts compared to other machines. Add your labor time to assemble it and bring it on line and it starts to add up. Is this machine going to handle 8 hour days, five days a week, 52 weeks a year and survive for a long time period. I seriously doubt it. However, if its placed in a shop that only needs it on occasion and doesn’t need to be aggressive with it, it’s a great option. That guy will look at someone that spent the money on an Axyz or MultiCamm etc and think, “Man, why spend all that money?” Again, it’s about perception. A big machine owner probably “owns” that machine because it can delivery on the production requirements that shop has. Again, which shop is correct? Which one is wrong?

    Here is one more situation about perception then I’ll let it rest for this reply. And I’ll add that I am “very” familiar with this particular situation. A Gerber Sabre 408 with vacuum hold down list for about £28,752 ($41,900). Now, if you move up to the optional 7HP high frequency spindle motor, you tack on an additional £5,146 ($7,500). If you decide down the road you would like to have the ATC (Automatic Tool Changer) added, that’s another £17,155 ($25,000) invested. Now here is where different “perceptions” take over. The initial purchase with the optional 7HP spindle is £28,752 ($49,400). Add the ATC down the road and your looking at a total investment of £51,053 ($74,400) at list. We took a different look at it. If the ATC was added from the onset, we actually saved £5,146 ($7,500). So now, the ATC option is only costing £12,008 ($17,500). That is about the equivalent of paying a minimum wage person for one and a half years here in the US. After that, all time saving that the ATC provides is pure profit adding to the bottom line. When we went to buy the machine we couldn’t afford NOT to get it loaded with all the goodies. It was an investment in the company’s future. I perceive most other shop look at it as a £51,053 ($74,400) expense. Our circumstances differ from others, and as such, others use their background and circumstance and probably look at our situation and say “you’re nuts.” Again, everybody has different measuring sticks that are accurate for him or her at a given time. You probably have a different outlook about issues today then you did yesterday, and different yet from six months ago, let alone from five years ago.

    Are you sorry that you asked now. 🙂 Please move this to a more appropriate area if it warrants.

  • Martin Pearson

    May 18, 2002 at 10:16 pm

    Couple of nice posts Bob that make interesting reading, helps to put across the point I was trying to make to Robert about printers.

  • Robert Lambie

    May 19, 2002 at 9:27 pm

    Hello again bob
    I have to say. You explain things much better than I do.
    As far as ramble on… I don’t think you do. It makes perfect sense when explained right. I would never try to compete in an area that I know little of. Or should I say a limited amount of.
    The figures on outlay and savings, “If correct” then you probably are correct in what you say. Taking into account it’s your job to sum up the pros & cons of a machine then I have little doubt to how inaccurate they are.
    All this aside I reckon your answer is probably aimed at the larger companies of this trade.
    Similar case came about with our company. We have a few vans. When buying a new one we decided on our second Mercedes sprinter, this time mid-wheel-base.
    The sales man said why not buy the one with the bigger engine at only about £3000 more. We thought he was just trying for a better sale & declined. In short, if we had listened to him we would probably have saved that on petrol in our first year. When the van is fully loaded it struggles to pull its weight. Causing more problems, quicker with the engine & burns twice as much on fuel.
    Back to this situation. When confronted with the AXYZ machine. We thought…. what size of bed? Do we need a vacuum? Do we need the wand mister? Etc
    Having no real customer base for the router, but a need for one none the less. We decided on the millennium 1m x 1m with vacuum bed etc. why?
    Like I said. We had no real market for it. We purely bought it to decrease the time taken to cut Perspex & metal letters. (Normally done by hand) it would also at the same time vastly improve on the quality of the work. On top of this we could also start to do all our own engraving. Normally this would be farmed out to other companies.
    Now a few things that made AXYZ more appealing to us than the rest was this.
    The closest machine to the one we bought was the pacer. It was almost £10k more and only 2 thirds the size of bed.
    AXYZ gave 5 years warranty on all parts and labour. Others gave 2 years
    They also had various upgrades & add ons we could have at any time.
    They also offered to trade in our old machine against a bigger one of there’s if we ever wanted to go larger.

    When testing the water I always recommend putting your toe in first. Rather than diving in & finding out, not only is it hot, but also you can’t swim.

    Like I said in my post regarding the printing martin. Unless you already have the market. Its better to build your way up. Its not impossible but hard for a small firm.

    Bob, you obviously know your stuff. & I have no doubt you are correct. But I still think the average sign company should consider the outlay first and what they will ultimately make in return short term. Rather than have the machine luxuries & a better saving long term.

    Just my opinions.

  • Bob Gilliland

    May 25, 2002 at 9:54 pm


    I intend this in a non-confrontational fashion. Reading many of your post I perceive this “hang-up” about “average” shops. Can you define an “average” shop by your definition? In my scope of work I see one person shops, multi-person shops, union shops, non-union shops, independent shops, franchise shops, etc. I’m aware of a one person shop generating revenue of £240,120 ($375,000 USD) a year, while at the same time knowing of a three person shop struggling to achieve the same amount. Both of these shops have almost the same amount and kinds of equipment. Another area one-person shop does about £85,757 ($125,000 USD) a year in sales. This person doesn’t own any computer equipment. Everything is done with paint. Do any of the above shops fit your “average” criteria? What is taken into account for an “average” shop? Revenue, percent of profit, amount of employees, type of equipment, etc.

    My intention with the above is to not get hung up on “classifications”. If it didn’t come out in the digital post already I’m quite sure it will in the near future, and that’s Glenn’s philosophy that it doesn’t matter what it costs, focus on what it makes you. Please don’t misunderstand, if you can’t afford, outright purchase or lease, a piece of equipment, then you shouldn’t attempt to acquire it. However, buy not looking at all options and considering the “big picture”, one could seriously be hurting themselves in the longer run by going “cheaper” on the front end of the equation.

    On a related note, just because you have the equipment doesn’t mean you should always use it. The shop where I use to work, the one that acquired a Gerber router, still contracted with a vendor to supply us with some brushed brass laminated 6mm acrylic letters, about 25mm in height. We could have cut them with our own machine, but the small quantity required per instance didn’t warrant us purchasing the material and possibly making mistakes on our end. When we ordered the letters from the other company they couldn’t grasp why we, having the same equipment they did, still wanted them to produce the product for us. We viewed it this way; when ordering from them we knew exactly what our cost was going to be. There cost to us was far lower then what we could produce them in-house. Added to that, if they made a mistake in production I didn’t really care, it came out of their bottom line, not ours.

    quote :

    When testing the water I always recommend putting your toe in first. Rather than diving in & finding out, not only is it hot, but also you can’t swim.

    Like I said in my post regarding the printing martin. Unless you already have the market. Its better to build your way up. Its not impossible but hard for a small firm.

    That is why I strongly recommend outsourcing jobs to build the market before acquiring equipment. This is going to allow you to see if the market is there for such services and also allow you time to thoroughly investigate all equipment options. Your two lines above say it well IMHO.

    This was the approach that was taken before we brought a routering system in-house. While building our market and researching machine options, we used three sources for router work. This allowed us to see various machines in use, how each approached pricing for the work produced, and to learn by their mistakes. The job posted below is the one that made us finally get the machine. This job required some “engineering” and understanding of what the software and machine could do. Unfortunately, we understood the software better then most of the vendors that were being utilized at the time. I drove over two hours to get to this particular place, spent about three hours reviewing how to machine all the pieces (also did a small sample), then another two hours back to the shop. Three days later the HDU panels arrive and they’re all junked because they didn’t follow the instructions. Our router order was placed about two days later.

    As stated above in an earlier response, the machine purchased fit the requirements that “we” needed. It may be overkill for some while at the same time be inadequate for others. Each needs to weight what is best for them.

    quote :

    Bob, you obviously know your stuff. & I have no doubt you are correct

    Make me prove it! As much as this and other sign boards are a real asset to the industry, they also produce some negative side effects IMHO. Just because someone took the time to put some words on a screen doesn’t make it fact. Hold me accountable for what I write. 🙂

    Just because something may appear “correct” for me doesn’t make it “correct” for the next person. Facts are facts, black and white, not much arguing over them. Opinions, now that’s a whole different can of worms…

    **Work was done at Stoner Graphix, Harrisburg, PA (previous employer) **

Log in to reply.