We are proud to announce that our friends at Shopbot of Durham, North Carolina have partnered with NCFS to expand learning opportunities for our students. Together we are developing classes for skill levels beginner to advanced. These classes are designed to help you learn and master digital fabrication in the fastest possible way.

If you don’t own a ShopBot, don’t worry, the principles we teach are applicable to any other CNC machine.

Start your CNC journey with our two day class called CNC Basic Training. In it, we will introduce you to the components of a CNC machine, the operator station and control software, bits, materials, work holding, and the CAD/CAM software.  Here are a few key terms to get you started:

  • CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control
    This is the general phrase that describes how we control a machine with a computer.
  • CAD stands for Computer Aided Design
    This is the software we use to draw and visualize the objects we want to make.
  • CAM stands for Computer Aided Manufacturing
    This is the system that allows the cutting machine and the computer work together.

In this class, we are working with a 3 axis, flatbed router primarily designed for cutting wood, plastics, non-ferrous metals, and light to medium density synthetics. We use the proprietary ShopBot control software (Sb3) to control the router from the control computer at the operator station. For CAD & CAM we use VCarve Pro by Vectric of England.

Learning CNC isn’t really that complicated, so don’t be intimidated. Think of it as a more accurate and efficient tool like a hand plow compared to a tractor. Both tools are designed for the same task. You are still doing all of the work and you are still in total control of the outcomes. The real thing to understand is that a mechanized or automated system is less prone to error and inefficiencies than handwork. That means you can get more done in less time with a higher rate of success, and you will do so with more predictable outcomes.

The ideas are still yours and the fit and finish are still your responsibility. The real advantages to CNC are that you can make things more complex, in less time, and with improved safety because the machine does the heavy lifting for you. CNC doesn’t replace anything and it doesn’t do anything for you. You are in total control of what you make using CNC, in the same way as you are with a table saw. You still have to think up the things you want to make and you have to tell the machine how to make it.

If you find that digital fabrication really is your thing and you want to purchase a machine, we will train you and work with ShopBot to get you the best deal possible. For more information, give us a call or send an email.

We look forward to seeing you in class!