January 2012 3D Cabinet design + Optimisation For may companies that own CNC Equipment our Polyboard design software represents extremely good value, both for companies with older PTP CNC machines and the increasingly popular flat table nesting machines. However Polyboard does come in multiple versions, with the CNC version being the highest level. What this means is that for companies that do not use CNC machines they have the choice of two lower versions of Polyboard that are cheaper in price but do not sacrifice design capability. For companies that are looking at the these lower versions would typically be looking at software that will meet their design needs,. i.e. being able to design and create their own furniture and cabinets in the way that they want. Many software systems are purely based on pre-created libraries of cabinets, whereas all versions of Polyboard allow you to design cabinets the way you make them.  All versions provide an automatic cutting list, and  Polyboard is a purely 3D based design system. So not only are you able to generate 3D Drawings and rendering of your cabinets and rooms, but even when designing your cabinets from scratch it is done in a 3D environment so you can see clearly what you are doing. As we explained in detail last month, the decision to use optimisation is really clear: if you cut your parts on a panel or Beam saw, and you are already geting your cutting list automatically generated from design software, you should be using sheet optimisation software.  As we mentioned, The connection is seamless between Our design software Polyboard and our optimisation Opticut. Its simply a matter of a couple of click and you have optimised all your parts and because Opticut is a Multi-format program it will optimise all the different materials in your job at once and in a few moments you know exactly how many sheets you need what your waste will be and ready to go cutting layouts ready to be cut. To start off the new your we are offering great discounts on orders for Polyboard + Opticut software packages. this represent good savings off our already good value products. To receive this discount please contact us, and mention you read this article.    
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February 2012 New Tutorial Videos and Trial Downloads As you may have noticed we have added a new videos page to our website. We have begun by adding basic and then more advanced videos on our cabinet design software Polyboard. Over the next coming months we will progressively be adding more videos. Although we provide excellent training services for our customers at reasonable rates, we have had requests for additional training material to be provided, and in addition to supplementing our one on one training services these videos also provide an opportunity for customers who are located at a distance from our office to get a good feel for the software. If you have taken advantage of our free demo download of the software please take the time to view some of these videos so that you can get the most out of your trial and also pick up some good pointers in using the design aspects. Although our software is designed to be very easy to use, a first time user may be a little lost, or not know exactly where to get started, so these videos will be very useful to them. The actual demo versions of our software are not limited in terms of design. You can create and save complete cabinets and have access to all design related features. They only restrict you in terms of output. As you cannot export cut-lists or CNC files and cannot print reports. If you would like to test the output of the software please feel free to email me your test design and I can send you back the sample output from Polyboard for your confirmation and testing. Over time we will be adding more videos and both of Polyboard and our other software products, and of course if there is a particular video you would like us to create or are still unsure about any aspect of our software please don’t hesitate to Call or send an email to us.    
September 2012 New Online Store We are pleased to announce the formation of our new online store: Officebuilt online ordering.  The new sore will provide easy access to our software versions and pricing as well as a safe and secure way of ordering our products on-line. at the moment software products can be ordered via Paypal express checkout or you have the option of checking out with the bank deposit option and whereby we will send you an invoice for your total. We are progressively adding our range of software products to the on-line catalogue.  In addition to our paid versions there is also free trial versions that customers are free to create an on-line account, order a free version and proceed to the download area for the trial download. The on-line store also allows the ability to share our products amongst the social networking sites, and recommend them to friends and associates, as well as also the built in ability to write reviews on our products.  
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July 2012 Polyboard to Optinest  seamless transfer complete This month we have completed the requirements necessary for a seamless transfer from Polyboard to Optinest. As you may know Optinest is a true shape nesting package that has a very competent calculation algorithm (Calculation method) which results in a very tight nest and maximum material savings. In doing so Optinest has been added to the list of post-processors in Polyboard and upon exporting a cabinet or an entire project the parts list is automatically loaded inside Optinest. From here it’s just a few clicks away from nesting your parts and producing dxf files, of the nested sheets. For a complete nesting package we can now offer Polyboard - Optinest - Pratiko with Gcode generation for any cnc machine. However many machines with proper setup can take the dxf files from Optinest directly and run them. If you are using nesting software why not take Optinest for a test drive and be surprised how much material it can save you over your current nesting software.  
December 2012 New or used CNC machine? An interesting difference between the Australian woodworking industry and our overseas counterparts is the size of our workshops. Throughout our major capital cites and regional areas its not uncommon to walk into 2-3 man workshops that specialise in custom made joinery. This is of course partly due to the nature of the market, as Australians traditionally favour custom built in joinery such as kitchens and wardrobes rather than off the shelf standard modular units. This type of heavily geared custom design market of course lends itself to small workshop manufacturing as these tend to be more flexible to be able to cater for such demand. In contrast many markets overseas are dominated by standard product lines which will lend itself to mass production more easily and hence the industry would tend to evolve into a smaller number of larger companies producing standard joinery products. So the result is we have a very high number of small companies producing custom joinery. The other interesting aspect is the rate of take-up of technology. One only has to look at the take-up of first mobile phone and now smart phones to see how Australians love their technology. The woodworking industry is no different CNC machines, in particular the nesting variety are becoming more and more common even in very in these very small 2-3 person workshops. The benefits of adding a flat be d nesting machine have been discussed many times, despite the cost when a company considers the increased production, accuracy and flexibility and reduction in labour and material costs the benefits are hard to ignore.  Particularly the ability to take on difficult to machine jobs such as curved work without reservation is also a major advantage. Its not surprising that given that the machinery sales people have made sure that industry is well informed about the benefits of nesting machinery, many of the companies that we meet have a plan to introduce a nesting machine into their workshop as soon as they can afford it. Often this is a bit premature as these companies sometimes are not even using any sort of design software. Cabinetmakers that are new to the CNC world should be aware that acquiring a machine is one thing but to get maximum benefit from the machine investment needs to be software in place to program it. It should be pointed out that the software should be capable of empowering the user to be as creative as they wish and manufacture any product within the capabilities of the machine not just within the limitations of a particular software package, but more on this subject in another article. However when the company gets to the stage of being ready to order a new CNC  the next question is of course new or second hand? This is only really a question that can be considered now as flat bed nesting machines have only been available for approximately the last 10 years, and as such have not been available in reasonable numbers until recently. A search on the website machines4u.com.au at the time of writing showed approx 40 used flat bed nesting machines available for sale Australia wide. ranging from about $25,000 to 80,000 in price. Having this many to choose from really makes a used machine a serious proposition. when you consider that a brand new base model machine will start at about 70,000 with a very basic features and questionable build quality level. to get something with moderate features will be well over 100k mark and certainly a machine with all the bells and whistles and a impeccable built quality will often push the 200k mark. Clearly then a used machine wins on price. But what about the reliability of a used machine? but here is the interesting part in psychology many people will not concern themselves with buying a used car particularly when its only a couple of years old, but when it comes to purchasing a used CNC they shake their heads, and only look at a new machine. The truth is buying a used CNC is no different A used machine provided it hasn’t been worked continuously around the clock is likely to be just as reliable. If you also consider that for the same or less money as a low end new machine, you can get a high end used and get advanced features such as auto unloading, offloading or both and a large drill bank, any two of these features will set the company way ahead in terms of productivity compared to the low end new machine without these features. Another interesting comparison is when you look at the other end of the used market.  at the cheapest end you have the older machines such as Chinese single spindle machines and early model ( early 2000’s) European made machines. While the Chinese machines probably should be avoided, the European machines might be  worth a look at if your budget only extends this far. As a genuine European machine will have a very good build quality. It would have been very well specified when compared to a current base model machine that is sold nowadays. Just like in our own industry our products are designed and simulated on computer before being manufactured machinery is no different. When an Engineer designs a new machine using simulation software they can accurately predict how the machine (or parts of it) will behave under various loads. This enables them to design parts with a minimum thickness corresponding to the envisaged usage and thereby allows the company selling the machine to achieve a lowest cost price-point possible. This is great except when an unexpected load occurs (a small bump of a pack with a forklift) or even cutting material at a speed or depth or combination of these factors that it was not designed for, then the machine parts can start to warp or bend. This is the worst thing that can to happen to a CNC. Remember one of the primary reasons a company goes for a CNC machine is to improve accuracy so if something like this occurs outside the new warranty period the cheap machine will become very expensive. In contrast buying a used machine that was a high end model in its day will be a far cry and much better built that any new cheap machine. But what about the electrical side?  Its important to remember the likelihood of electrical part failure just statistics, you can have a 10 year old machine with all original parts, and you could also have a machine that you bought new just a couple of years ago (according to Murphy’s law usually just outside the warranty period) will start having axis drive failures, various power supply failure etc.  So while its true that statistically the electrical parts will more likely fail as the machine ages, remember the cost saving right at the beginning will offset future repair costs.  One warning though when dealing with older machines and computer technology there is the likely chance parts will become obsolete. so the help mitigate this problem its important that you select the brand of used machine carefully to ensure reliable service technicians and spare parts are available. On the software side while some new machines may come with software of some description bundled, as we mentioned its important that to get the maximum benefit from your machine the brain which is the software that pilots your machine is the best that it can be. Keeping this in mind fro ma software perspective it does not matter whether your machine is new or used if you have inefficient software you will be let down. For example many new machines come with a nesting suite built in but, while it may place some parts together it may not be the tightest nest. Our own Optinest true shape nesting software out performs many of the machine manufactures bundled software giving you savings not only in material usage but also in labour as when it comes to nesting if you can save a few sheets by getting as tighter nest you are also saving the labour in moving these extra sheets and offcuts on and off the machine. In a follow-up article we we will look at some things to look for when inspecting and purchasing a used machine and maybe do a review of one ore two popular used nesting machines such as the Biesse Rover 24FT  
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