AWFS Fair Preview: 5G CNC Working Cell Has Brains and Brawns

Originally appeared here. Also appeared in Wood Industry Canada.


CNC Factory’s 5th Generation Technology not only does all of the critical thinking it totally eliminates manual lifting of parts.

Compact, yet powerfully productive. Technologically advanced, yet super simple to operate. Loaded with the latest in CNC, laser and robotic automation, yet affordable to own. These are just some of the hallmarks of the 5th Generation work cell that CNC Factory will present at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.

The driverless cut, edgeband and bore/insert system, requiring only a 24-foot by 48-foot block of space, is capable of cranking out more than 100 ready-to-assemble cabinets in an 8-hour shift. Making the working cell even more efficient is the addition of CNC Factory’s new robotic arm. Combined with automatic load/unload systems and motorized roller conveyors, manual material handling from feeding full sheets onto the machining center through unloading parts that have been edge banded, is completely eliminated.

The 5G working cell’s driverless technology not only does away with the heavy lifting, it does all of the critical thinking. Even a new hire with zero industry experience can learn to operate the large 21-inch touchscreen control in about an hour. The result is a highly reliable, lean manufacturing system that dramatically reduces errors and waste while assuring part quality and maximizing productivity.

Overview of CNC Factory’s 5G working cell demo

The robotic 5G work cell that CNC Factory will demonstrate at the AWFS Fair is anchored by the Python XPR CNC machining center. Winner of FDMC’s Best CNC for 2020, the Python’s driverless technology seamlessly adjusts all key functions of the machine when production calls for changing to a different substrate thickness, size or nesting pattern. By simply pressing a short sequence of buttons on the command center touchscreen, the Python automatically makes precise adjustments to tool height and vacuum hold-down placement; raises or lowers the unique robotic dust hood to the optimal fixed position; selects the required tool from the 12-automatic tool changer; and more. In addition, the Python robotically affixes bar code labels to each part that includes downstream processing instructions.

The Python’s driverless technology kicks into full gear after completing the machining cycle of the first panel of a production run. After automatically unloading the freshly sized parts onto a stacking table, the Python cleans the spoil board with a one-two punch of pressurized air and dust collection within 30 seconds. Simultaneously, the next panel is rear-loaded and positioned onto the Python for processing with any or all adjustments again being made with no operator intervention.

While the Python continues to go through its paces, the new small-footprint robotic arm springs into action. The robotic arm has the capacity to handle any size part up to 50 pounds. It is the latest example of a plug and play add-on CNC Factory developed that allows customers to expand their production capabilities as needed now or in the future. The robotic arm methodically places one part after the other onto a conveyor leading to the Badger edgebander. Upon exiting the versatile Badger with corner rounding capability, a return conveyor moves each part to an unloading station.

Rounding out CNC Factory’s 5G work cell is the Scorpion LDR boring and dowel insertion machine equipped with an advanced wireless barcode reader. Upon scanning the barcode, the Scorpion’s laser-guided robotic measuring system precisely drills two holes at a time. As a new pair of holes are being drilled, the Scorpion inserts dowels on the opposite side of the workpiece, further boosting productivity and more expeditiously preparing parts for cabinet assembly.

See it to Believe it

Be sure to stop by booth #1901 to witness a demonstration of CNC Factory’s 5G CNC work cell in action during the AWFS Fair, July 20-23, at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Rising to the Labor Challenge Today and Tomorrow

The COVID-19 pandemic did not create the critical skilled labor shortage, but it has certainly magnified the challenges woodworking companies face moving forward, says Chris Corrales, owner and CEO of CNC Factory based in Santa Ana, CA.

“Good employees are hard to come by and trying to find and keep an experienced person is especially tough,” Corrales says. “As a result, wood product manufacturers have to continuously strive to find ways to make more product with fewer people if they want to grow their businesses.”

A former cabinetmaker, Corrales says CNC Factory’s 5G CNC working cell is a response to industry’s mounting need to do more with less. He notes that CNC Factory’s development of the working cell that will be demonstrated at the AWFS Fair and the individual machines comprising it result from a “continuous evolution of add-ons after add-ons.”

Many of these add-ons, including CNC Factory’s new small footprint robotic arm, are plug and play features that allow a customer to expand their production capacity as needed. Other examples of CNC Factory’s anytime upgrades include:

  • Nine-position drill block;
  • Deluche vision marking tools to automatically include post-production instructions on each part;
  • Additional vacuum pump; and
  • Mister kit for cutting plastics, acrylics and aluminum.

“Back in my day as a cabinetmaker it was you buy what you get and you get what you buy,” Corrales says. “Then two years later, you would find that you need some new capability and you would have to take a big loss on your machine to buy another one. We’ve really turned a lot of the industry upside down having this plug and play capability that our customers are starting to see and exercise.”

Learn more about the CNC Working Cell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *