When to Replace a Router

Media 1’s original workhorse router and its worthy successor.
Media 1 (Longwood, FL) recently acquired a new, larger CNC router to replace their original from 2002.

Around 16 years ago, we realized we could no longer continue to hand-cut signs with jigsaws, hand-held routers or super-dangerous carpet knives. Those damn knives are deadly; admit it. Y’all know how scary it is to use a carpet knife to cut a sheet of ¼-in. Sintra. You’re putting enough pressure on that blade to cut through a cinder block, all the while pulling it straight toward your belly! And you also have to hold that straightedge with your fingers just millimeters from the blade that by now is bending in a way that looks like it’s gonna snap off and fly dead into your eye socket! 

CUTTING OPEN NEW MARKETS

Okay, maybe I got carried away. But I, for one, was sick of cutting by hand. You can’t compete in a market where automation is taking over and producing a much better product faster, cleaner and cheaper. So we made some financial arrangements, then we haggled with our vendor to assure we were getting the best deal before we purchased our very first CNC router table. That vendor was MultiCam, and we were so excited when our brand new 5 x 10-ft. Series 3000 router hit our shop floor. 

Back in 2002 when we made the purchase, besides our spray booth, it was the largest piece of equipment we’d ever gotten and took a sizeable chunk of our shop’s square footage. But it was worthwhile; our 2003 revenue was nearly double that of 2002. 

Of course, several other elements came into play, but the MultiCam router’s versatility helped us tap new markets. Over the years we’ve built plenty of signs, but we’ve also done custom furniture, architectural elements, trophies and even acrylic fish tanks. And day in and day out, that machine put in the work. But alas, after a 15-year run with minimal issues, 2017 was a tough year for the old girl. We spent some money keeping her alive, but it wasn’t so much the cost of parts; it was the down time. The router table feeds just about every other department of our operation. Without her, the fabricators are waiting on pieces, the paint department can’t paint what’s not built, and so on down the line.

BIGGER AND BETTER

Thus began our search for a new router. After doing our research and meeting with several companies to investigate different machines, we came back to MultiCam. 

Because our original 5 x 10-ft. machine was running into size-restriction limitations on certain projects, we replaced it with the MultiCam APEX 3305 model, which has a 7 x 12-ft. table. At 6,000 lbs., it’s a massive piece of equipment. Finished in a bad-boy matte black, featuring a 10-hp spindle, an 11-location auto-tool changer and a 20-hp vacuum blower with four separate control zones, we knew this was the one. We also upgraded our software to the latest version of EnRoute 6 Pro with full 3D capabilities. All told, the machine is about three times faster than our 2002 model; items that were taking three and four passes to cut are now cut in one. 

The last thing we wanted to do was spend over $100,000 on a new piece of equipment. We’ve never really been a company that has financed anything, but sometimes you don’t want to write that big check. So MultiCam introduced us to Geneva Capital. We filled out an online credit application at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday and before lunch on Monday, we were approved, docs were signed and MultiCam received their deposit check that same week. The quick approval was no coincidence. About a decade ago, we hired a CFO to help us survive the Great Recession and to get financially fit. Securing this loan was just the latest benefit of our fiscal responsibility. Finally, we took advantage of the IRS code Section 179 and deducted the entire purchase price in 2017, saving about $38,000 in taxes. With the money we saved, we threw a $27,000 HP printer into the mix!

Signs of the Times May 2018

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