“Blowers are a lot easier to manufacture than pumps, because they require less intricate machining,” he says. “The lower pressures on blowers are the result of looser tolerances on the parts that generate the vacuum. This is why blowers tend to be more readily available than pumps. To achieve a high vacuum strength with a pump, the tolerances have to be extremely tight between the vanes and the pump body. Again, the tolerances and manufacturing techniques are generally not as refined yet in newer economies as they are in Germany and Italy, where the best pumps come from.”
So, while some machines are available at lower prices, a high-quality CNC router will cost more because of the engineering behind it, along with continual research and development (R&D), software development, customer feedback and years of servicing experience. Manufacturers need to know how hard a ball screw needs to be before they can produce them reliably.
Backed up with support
Another concern is there are some machines being imported into Canada that do not even comply with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA) guidelines. Chances are insurance will not cover a business whose equipment is not up to electrical standards and causes a fire.
Such worst-case scenarios are all too real, so it is very important to do research first and ask lots of questions. Most manufacturers today are very helpful. It has become easier to compare features side by side, as well as to understand the differences between rack-and-pinion stepper machines and servo ball screw machines.
The final decision may well come down to after-sales support. As mentioned, some suppliers offer technical support for the lifetime of the machine, but others will charge more than $50 per hour for out-of-warranty over-the-phone support.
Jamie Oxenham is the owner of Oxenham Design, which builds dimensional signage, props for films and TV shows and other creative projects in Little Britain, Ont. For more information, visit www.oxenhamdesign.com.
To read about Jamie Oxenham’s personal experience, click here.