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  1. #1
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    Thermwood Mach conversion?

    Hello,

    I'm looking at a 1997 Thermwood 40 CNC. It's a great deal, but I'm concerned with the age of the control software- I want to be able to cut as fast as possible, complex 3d contours.

    Anyone have any experience retrofiting a Thermwood with a Mach 3 control?\

    Thanks,
    Michael

  2. #2
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?


  3. #3
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    Hi,
    I used Mach3 years seven years ago before upgrading to Mach4. If you are going to take the effort to fit a machine with a new controller
    then why would you use a control software on which all development ceased seven years ago? Mach4 is so much better and is still developing....

    As to whether Mach (3 or 4) would be a good choice for your machine rather depends on what your machine is and what it requires. For instance
    if it has analogue servos then it will require a feedback controller. There are feedback motion controllers that work with both Mach3 and Mach4
    however I would not regard Mach as an optimal choice for analog servos. If however your machine has a step/direction type controller currently
    then Mach would be a good choice, but not limited to Mach.

    Can you tell us more about the machine?

    Craig

  4. #4
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    A machine like that is limited by its size, not the controller. Any control in the late 90s will be just fine as is. You could probably still get someone to completely calibrate the Thermwood control and machine for a couple thousand bucks. That won't be an option if you retrofit.

  5. #5
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    I would be surprised if the software is the limiting factor.I have to ask it the manual is included with the machine because it would contain an absolute treasure trove of information.It may be unfamiliar software and might even be running OS2/Warp-which is utterly stable and reliable.Whatever the software,you may have an interesting time loading programs as it will almost certainly have a floppy disk drive.If you are fortunate there will be a network connection point as it simplifies loading large files.I would encourage you to power up the machine and see what it will actually do,rather than installing a slightly less obsolete form of controller software which might necessitate a new operating system.It could be worth a call to Thermwood to see what the situation is with regard to spare parts and support.If the plan is to cut complex 3D shapes,the limiting factor is likely to be the acceleration the machine is capable of achieving and a change of software won't do much for that.

  6. #6
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    The machine is running Mach4 and the machine works just fine

    What controller and software would you use for your analog servos?

  7. #7
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    Quote Originally Posted by warrenb View Post
    A machine like that is limited by its size, not the controller. Any control in the late 90s will be just fine as is. You could probably still get someone to completely calibrate the Thermwood control and machine for a couple thousand bucks. That won't be an option if you retrofit.
    I actually contacted Thermwood about a year ago, and they had the machine in their database. First thing the engineer said once he looked it up...."That's OLD!" But something was off, he stated that the machine should weigh about 8,000-9000lbs. Per both truck drivers (Louisiana to Texas, and Texas to North Carolina), stated the machine was 22,000-24,000lbs on their truck. So, I am reluctant to rely on any information from their records as it may not compensate for the retrofit in the 90's.

    The servos are branded "Siemens," not Thermwood, so I imagine that I could find an Siemens engineer if the situation necessitates it. There is a Siemens engineer in my glider club, I'm sure he can point me in the right direction. But I don't think that it is just yet.

  8. #8
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    Quote Originally Posted by routalot View Post
    I would be surprised if the software is the limiting factor.I have to ask it the manual is included with the machine because it would contain an absolute treasure trove of information......If the plan is to cut complex 3D shapes,the limiting factor is likely to be the acceleration the machine is capable of achieving and a change of software won't do much for that.
    The machine has already been retrofitted. Thermwood really has ZERO to do with the machine and they have ZERO incentive to help me with this old machine. They are in the business of selling products. There are ZERO Thermwood proprietary parts on this machine. The ONLY thing that was Thermwood was the controller, software, design, and manufacturing/assembly of it. Well, the controller is GONE. The motors are SIemens. The software is Mach4. Everything else is steel and aluminum.

  9. #9
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    Hi,
    if the software currently installed is Mach4 then I would stick with that. Very obviously it has worked in the past with Mach4 so whatever controller is in use must be
    able to talk to and control the servos. If , for instance, the motion controller is a Hicon then it may well have been activated for analog servos, and thus Mach4 would
    be perfectly acceptable WITH analog servos WITH this controller.

    Siemens have been around a long time. Its not impossible that you have some older analog servos, but its also very possible that you have step/direction
    servos which were the norm from the 90's onwards.

    Can you tell us what motion controller is fitted? How about some model numbers from the servos and servo drives?

    Craig

  10. #10
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    Re: Thermwood Mach conversion?

    Quote Originally Posted by joeavaerage View Post
    Hi,
    if the software currently installed is Mach4 then I would stick with that. Very obviously it has worked in the past with Mach4 How about some model numbers from the servos and servo drives?

    Craig
    I, personally retrofitted this machine. I'm not here to argue about what can or cannot be done...I've already done it...and the video illustrates that.

    This video is for someone who may be interested in retrofitting their own machine. There is minimal support/advice out there in terms of utilizing analog drives and servos with modern controllers Feel free to read the tittle of the video for your model numbers, or better yet, actually watch the video. THANKS!

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