A New Direction

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Ken Susnjara
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A New Direction

Postby Ken Susnjara » Mon, Mar 02 2009, 3:19PM

In the next week or so we will start beta testing a new software package that represents a shift in our thinking about eCabinet Systems. The main beneficiaries of this new thinking are somewhat larger custom cabinet shops as well as shops that are currently operating panel saws and pod type machining centers.

We call the software module a “Code Splitter”. It takes the output file from eCabinet Systems and splits it into two files, one that goes to a panel saw optimizer and one that goes to a Thermwood CNC router. The basic idea is to send any parts that are rectangles without any other machining to the panel saw and send any parts in the job that require machining to the Thermwood CNC router where they are nested and machined. This approach offers some really nice benefits, especially when compared to the panel saw/machining center approach.

First, you don’t have to cut every panel on the panel saw, only rectangular panels that have no additional machining. This saves time and labor on the panel saw. Also, you don’t need to identify and stack parts for the machining center, transfer them to the machining center, set up vacuum pods or load panels one at a time. This is where the advantages of nested based come in.

Since the operator doesn’t need to deal with parts one at a time, he or she has time to do other things. A cycle cutting a multitude of parts will take from five to ten minutes before it requires operator attention so they can do other jobs around the machine such as edge banding or sanding. When operating a machining center you have to load and unload each part so there is no time to do anything else.

Actual cutting time can be faster using a CNC router depending on the machining center. Since you are processing a whole sheet full of parts, a single tool change is used to process every part on the sheet. You must try to avoid tool changes on a machining center because any tool changes need to be done for each and every part. That’s why machining centers are so complex with so many tools, to try to avoid tool changes. The CNC router performs the same job with a much simpler configuration. This reduces maintenance, simplifies alignment, tooling, etc.

The CNC router is also faster. It doesn’t machine any faster, but it runs the job faster. This is because with the machining center, you need to stop and load and unload each and every part and adjust vacuum pods as part sizes change. This adds quite a bit of time to the cycle.

We think this will be very appealing to a lot of folks. If you currently use a panel saw, the Code Splitter could be used as soon as its available. Just design cabinets without any CNC machining and you can cut them on your panel saw. We think a lot of folks may do this at first but will soon decide they want a CNC router, at which point it is likely they will turn to us.

The Code Splitter will be sold but its price will be under $1,000 compared to prices of over $15,000 from some software suppliers for essentially the same thing. We expect to also offer an output to the Tiger Stop for under $500 to cut face frame and possibly door parts directly from eCabinet Systems. This should be ready at about the same time.

We expect to be testing with some of the panel saw companies later this week but don’t expect testing to take all that long. We will be compatible right out of the box with the most popular panel saws and optimizers but expect the Code Splitter to be flexible enough that the user can configure it to run virtually any optimizer or optimized saw. I am posting this a bit early because we are looking for comments and suggestions. We would very much like to know what you think of this. Do you think the market will react the way we think? We actually got the idea from some eCabinet Systems Members and have gotten pretty excited about the possibilities.

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Peter Walsh
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Peter Walsh » Mon, Mar 02 2009, 3:58PM

Ken,
Am I understanding that your new module is an add-on to the existing eCab software, so that those of use who are still a wholly manual, small shop can still use eCab with its nesting features and cut lists ouputs?
regards,

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Ken Susnjara
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Ken Susnjara » Mon, Mar 02 2009, 4:30PM

Yes. Actually the Code Splitter is not part of eCabient Systems. It is a stand alone module. eCabinet works just like it does today. The Code Splitter is used when you want to take the .twd output file and send part of it to a panel saw and part of it to a CNC router.

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Jean G Voyer
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Jean G Voyer » Mon, Mar 02 2009, 5:27PM

Ken,

I take it that when you talk about panel saw here you mean beam saw, not the slider saw or vertical panel saw. Am I right?
Jean-Gabriel Voyer
Janot Interiors Ltd
www.customcabinetscalgary.com
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Ken Susnjara
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Ken Susnjara » Tue, Mar 03 2009, 10:23AM

We are focusig on any saw that uses an optimizer. Our software will output to an optimizer and any system that uses the resulting output is fair game.

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Re: A New Direction

Postby Joe Dusel » Tue, Mar 03 2009, 1:37PM

So, does this mean eCabinet Systems V6 beta testing, or is it just beta testing of the splitter software?

The other area that I could see for improvement is to have a software splitter that splits the design parts of a project file from any line drawings and puts them into separate files. So, if you have a project named "kitchen1.esj" if there is an LDE portion it would be split off into a file named with an "LDE" extension, like "kitchen1.lde". This would help a lot with the computer resources. Then the software would just load up the LDE part of the project when the LDE is being used.

Another suggestion I have is to mention here that Thermwood has a new blog. You might want to have someone put a link on the forum to this. I think it would also be good to email this information to all of the registered users. It might be a good idea to email all Thermwood news to the registered users, including the information posted here about the "splitter".

Joe
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Re: A New Direction

Postby BenRatt » Tue, Mar 03 2009, 4:00PM

Ken, I think this is a fabulous idea. I can feel the big software and machine companies quaking in their boots right now. This move really matures ecabs. It is going to finally shut up the other guys that keep implying that ecabs is some sort of hobbiest software because it's only used on Thermwood machines. I think this move will put ecabs in a lot of larger shops and people will recognize the software for the world-class design package that it is. It also gives me a little peace of mind because now if I need to add a beam saw in the future I won't have to spend $30,000 and learn a new software package. Thanks!
Ben Ratterree
Blue Ridge Cabinetworks
Spartanburg, SC
http://www.blueridgecabs.com

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Ken Susnjara
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Ken Susnjara » Wed, Mar 04 2009, 9:12AM

V6 is not in testing quite yet. The Code Splitter module will be in testing later this week or early next week but it is a lot smaller effort that the new version. As for email, we will email everyone once the product is ready. I use the forum when I want feedback. Folks really committed to the program use the forum and are willing to respond. We try to keep the emails to Members to a minimum, so they don't just assume it is Thermwood spam. When we send the next one we can announce the new module as well as other changes such as the blog. Also, we will add a link from the forum to the blog, good catch. I plan to use the blog to explain, from my perspective, just what is going on in the nested based area. We should have some new "Straight Talk" areas on the site in the next few days that tries to cut through the unbelievable information clutter surrounding nested based systems. I don't know if it will help but it makes me feel better.

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Gary Puckett
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Gary Puckett » Wed, Mar 04 2009, 10:02AM

Ken,

Thanks for the update. On the issue about V6 are you looking at 6-8 more weeks ( just guessing )

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Ken Susnjara
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Ken Susnjara » Wed, Mar 04 2009, 11:43AM

Gary, I just don't know. We had an estimate for spring, but in the past these things have slipped. It depends on what we run into. A lot of what we are doing touches much of the code so it depends a lot on how many problems pop up that we have to deal with. We are unwinding the store items from the software and they are much more pervasive than we first though. The plus side is that the overall performance of the software should improve, perhaps dramatically. I will try to keep you informed but I really can't give a probable release date quite yet.

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Re: A New Direction

Postby Michael S Murray » Wed, Mar 04 2009, 12:21PM

Mr. Susnjara,
I beleive this is a step in the right direction, it will definetly get e-cabs in to some of the larger shops. Some of them do just what you describe, cut rectangle/square parts on beam saws capable of cutting 5-6 sheets thick, and then cutting irregular parts on cnc routers.To really get into the larger existing shops, I beleive that e-cabs is going to have to interact with a-cad and be able to import a-cad room drawings from architects, work effeciently with radius walls, etc. I have posted on this in a earlier post from you.
Once again, thanks for the hard work, I beleive this is heading in the right direction, and I look forward to seeing what decesions you make in the future.
Mike Murray
Versatile Cabinet & Solid Surface
mike@versatilecabinet.com
http://www.versatilecabinet.com

Rob Davis
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Re: A New Direction

Postby Rob Davis » Wed, Mar 04 2009, 12:52PM

Ken,
Sounds like the plan is a good one. We have a 14' x 14' beam saw (panel saw) but we do not have an optimizer for it as we are "not that big". We do use it to cut shelves and other square parts as we can cut them 5 at a time versus singly. My only concern regarding this entry into the next generation is that Thermwood not lose sight of us smaller shops, who have tested, commented, refined, used and proven the eCabinets program and Thermwood business model so far. I know you say you will not and yet I also from personal experience know what happens when a "big boy" gets demanding, tossing their weight around, or they begin to clutter the forum with 35 users at one location all trying to ask the same question, etc. Just don't forget those of us who brought you to the dance! A big advantage to Thermwood is responsiveness and your ability to provide immediate asssitance when we have problems, regardless of our size. I appreciate that you treat all customers as equals, regardless of hwo many routers they own, etc. Don't lose that quality.
That being said, I will echo the comment that this also puts Thermwood squarely out in the marketplace where others have said that if you don't have a Thermwood router there is no point in using eCabs. Maybe it is a side issue but it provides some credibility in addition to all the other things it will do.
Congratualtions on your new concept. I hope we ALL will prosper from it, just as we have from your original model. You have developed a fantastic business and reputation in our opinon and we are HUGE Thermwood fans here.
Rob Davis
Spiceland Wood Products


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