As CNCROi.com grows, the need for custom solutions to production issues expands as well, in this case, there was a need for a downdraft table, so I designed and cut it out with the laser to suit our needs PERFECTLY!
If you are not familiar with what a downdraft table does, it’s used in shops where lots of sanding is done, it captures the dust and sucks it down into the table and out into the dust system of the shop. In this case, this custom designed downdraft table is hooked-up to a 3 hp extraction system which does a fantastic job!
If you are curious to see how something like this is designed, check out these links on my other site, CNCKing.com.
- Custom CNC Laser Downdraft Table: Design
- Custom CNC Laser Downdraft Table: Design (Part 2)
- Custom CNC Laser Downdraft Table: Design (Part 3 of 3)
You can also read a bit more about the process behind this table at http://cncroi.com/sneak-peak-custom-cnc-laser-cut-downdraft-table/.Now, onto the CNC laser cutting of this custom designed downdraft table!
Having a huge industrial CNC laser has its advantages, we can make small intricate work just as easily as large furniture pieces. I’ll be the first to admit that this table is best cut with a CNC router but I wanted to cut this table out with the laser. In this case, it’s made-up of half-inch and quarter-inch MDF (12.7 mm and 6 mm).
Each piece is cut out individually using the absolute precision of our Austrian CNC laser. Each piece interlock and MDF was chosen because a good downdraft table is strong, heavy and durable. MDF was the best choice short of Corian.
As there are lots of vibrations happening on this table, you want something that won’t sway or break apart on you, that’s what is so great about MDF with screws going through interlock and glue… this table is incredibly strong and dampens those vibrations fantastically!
There were a few production issues with this table, the first is that it was designed for MDF that was actually 1 mm thinner than what I bought at the store. You may think 1 mm is NOTHING, and it is, until you try to fit interlocking pieces! They just don’t slide into one another, that’s why every aspect of the design was updated to take this into account right before production.
The other issues with MDF is fire, the picture above shows you a bit of what we had to contend with. Luckily, this industrial wide-format Austrian laser is hooked-up to a premium 80 gallon air compressor to extinguish any flames quickly during cutting AND a 2 hp extraction fan in the back.
With this set-up, there is no build-up of smoke inside the laser which can be a huge fire hazard and no chance for the fire to grow out of control during the cutting process. We also have a vacuum table so the flames are pushed DOWN and sucked out if needed.
On some pieces, there was less than a mm of material to be laser cut from the pre-cut boards, like the above picture, the laser is just cutting an extremely fine piece of the MDF quickly and easily as if it was perfectly solid and in the middle of the board.
The holes for this custom downdraft table are optimized to CNCROi.com‘s set-up and extraction system, this simply sits on the top of the table, gravity holds it there. These holes could have been slots, bigger holes, smaller ones and the material acrylic, Corian or anything else you want. Basically, CNCROi.com designs to YOUR needs. In this case, strong 12.7 mm (half-inch) MDF so that none of the work pieces going onto this table are scratched during sanding.
It never ceases to amaze me how a beam of light energy can cut through the toughest materials seamlessly while, at the same time, handle incredibly delicate material as well, one moment, half in MDF, the other, the softest silk for fine dresses!
As the pieces of the custom downdraft table are CNC laser cut, they are layed onto the floor to be sorted after production. Depending on material and application, we put this on softer material but in this case, cement was more than adequate for the finished custom downdraft table. If it gets scratched, it doesn’t matter in this case.
There are many pieces in this custom downdraft table that are almost identical, the repeatability of our CNC laser means that each part, no matter when during the production sequence it’s produced, will be identical. First or thousandth, same is same.
The designing of this table was optimized for the laser but could have just as easily cut using our CNC router, it was just easier this time around to showcase to our clients what’s possible using a laser. Additionally, although each machine has their optimal set-up, if this was done with our CNC router it would have been far more labor intensive as you need to account for a round bit and hold down.
The advantage of cutting this with a CNC router though would have been production time, in the time it takes to cut this custom downdraft table using the laser, it would have been fully cut and built with time to bake a cake and sand a few units.
Each machine has its + and – so it comes down to timeline, materials and what else is going on in the shop. During this project, our CNC router was busy cutting out custom Corian cutting boards and coasters, so it was busy doing other client work while cutting our stuff for internal use.
There are a lot of unique challenges with designing custom furniture, one of which is deciding upon during the design process how to optimize pieces for easy assembly! It’s easy to design furniture electronically shuffling pixels around but quite another putting the boards together.
Things like gravity, physics and material defects come into play so deciding upon a shop that can pull off your custom furniture needs is a must so that you end-up with something as close to the proposed project as possible.
This is nowhere near the first nor the last piece of custom furniture CNCROi.com has produced, our experience is here to help you though the custom production process, design through finished project.
In this case, the entire process was seamless, it was a custom downdraft table that was properly designed, the cutting was flawless as was the assembly. The finished product was as expected, strong, customizable and heavy.
The custom downdraft table also offered plenty of storage options, further optimizing the production process in the shop for our customers. The sanding tools and accessories fit perfectly inside the table, the hole for the extraction fit the hose perfectly and so forth.
The custom downdraft table was also optimized to the perfect height, length and width for the shop and projects we handle in it. The amount of scrap produced was an absolute minimum as well, as each board was optimized to produce as little as possible.
Overall, the entire process was lean and is totally repeatable, if we needed another 10 custom downdraft tables, that wouldn’t be an issue in this case or even a hundred. The equipment is the same, processes unchanging and the design customizable for on-demand custom furniture production.
As the pile of parts continued to grow, the pile of pre-cut boards continued to dwindle and scraps such as the holes you see in the board below were used as coasters in the shop to protect equipment from coffee and tea stains.
In this case, MDF was used throughout, it easy to work with and the slots below are actually additional vertical storage portions of the table added-in during the last minute of the design process to actually hold the dust walls that slot right into the top of the custom downdraft table’s top.
The advantage of having custom designed furniture built to your spec means that you have something optimized to YOUR needs, not the other way around. Do you wish your furniture had X option or Y feature? That’s what we do at CNCROi.com!
Although there were many pieces cut out using our industrial CNC laser for this project, it never experienced a crash or production error. We buy top of the line equipment so that problems don’t become headaches for our clients!
Some components where the strength offered by half-inch MDF were done in quarter-inch, such as the barriers that slot into the top of the table. If you look at the design process, this was originally going to be cut our of acrylic of the same thickness but I ended-up just going with MDF as acrylic is like a magnet with dust due to static cling.
This table has since been used numerous times, as both a table and downdraft, if you notice, it’s also been painted upon slightly. It’s perfectly level and straight, although for our purposes, this isn’t necessary, having an interlocking design means many issues with furniture simply are not capable of happening.
Laying all the pieces out of this custom downdraft table, you can see it’s a massive jigsaw puzzle, luckily, each piece has a unique feature and only fits ONE WAY, thus making assembly rather intuitive.
Screws were added to the overall design just to keep everything absolutely together and strong, glue is great but when you need something to stick together that will undergo regular abuse, hardware is required as well!
You can see the size of the downdraft area of the table and the slots making-up the internal shelving very clearly. This is an awesome custom downdraft table!
After the glue was allowed to dry, it was put into production almost immediately, we got a few big projects and this custom downdraft table has allowed us to work efficiently for our clients far and wide!
Need some custom furniture designed and constructed just for you? Contact CNCROi.com today!