Centroid CNC - retrofit and support issues
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  1. #1
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    Default Centroid CNC - retrofit and support issues

    A customer of mine has two Thermwood CNC routers (3-axis). The controllers are very outdated and need to be replaced. They gave a quote of about $36K (both machines) which would include controls, cabinet, install but the motors wouldn't be changed out. Local Centroid dealer gave a ballpark of about $32K which would included everything that Thermwood quoted plus engineering and it would replace the servo motors (not sure of brand). Plus the Centroid dealer would do it in a shorter leadtime (2-3 weeks vs. 6-7 weeks).

    A few questions:

    1. How good is support from Centroid (phone, email)? I looked at other threads and it seems like the older ones (before 2010) weren't good on their support, newer ones seemed to be.

    2. How good is local tech service in the Pacific NW? My customer is in the Portland, OR area. I know there is a guy (independent as I understand) in Northern WA but he is also quite busy (we had Centroids at my last place of employment and he was good but not very responsive) that does tech service but is there anyone else available in the Portland area? I am going to talk to the dealer some more (I'm helping them make a decision on this) to find out their service abilities but the guy was out of town today.

    3. In general, how is the reliability of Centroid compared to other controllers?

    4. One post that I saw implied that Centroids didn't work well for "production" work, which I don't fully get. I know that CNC can be (or is sometimes required) for prototypes and low volume but what would make them not work so well for repeat work? This customer does mostly "fixed nest" parts (i.e. the same part nested for the highest material utilization, typically manually).

    Thanks for any input,
    The Dude

  2. #2
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    I did Centroid All in One DC retrofit on my Milltronics CNC Knee Mill. It has been very reliable, easy to set up and programming is no different than any other industrial CNC... although I don't use the conversational aspect, write my own g-code off line with other software. Good friend of mine is the local Centroid dealer/installer and while I prepped the machine, we actually ripped the old control out and replaced with the Centroid in one weekend and had the machine running again on Sunday night. Did a little fine tuning first of the week, chased down a couple of noise issues and installed Quench arcs on some solenoids and it's been trouble free since. Been running about 6 months now.

    As for service, haven't really needed any, but I've had a few questions and when I contact Centroid they are very responsive and questions get answered.

    It gave new life to a troublesome 27 year old machine and I highly recommend doing it. Being able to use a current state of the art computer system, network access of files, unlimited code length, a touch screen, tool setter and wireless remote MPG are great timesavers and make the machine much more productive.

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  4. #3
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    Question

    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    A customer of mine has two Thermwood CNC routers (3-axis). The controllers are very outdated and need to be replaced. They gave a quote of about $36K (both machines) which would include controls, cabinet, install but the motors wouldn't be changed out. Local Centroid dealer gave a ballpark of about $32K which would included everything that Thermwood quoted plus engineering and it would replace the servo motors (not sure of brand). Plus the Centroid dealer would do it in a shorter leadtime (2-3 weeks vs. 6-7 weeks).

    A few questions:

    1. How good is support from Centroid (phone, email)? I looked at other threads and it seems like the older ones (before 2010) weren't good on their support, newer ones seemed to be.

    2. How good is local tech service in the Pacific NW? My customer is in the Portland, OR area. I know there is a guy (independent as I understand) in Northern WA but he is also quite busy (we had Centroids at my last place of employment and he was good but not very responsive) that does tech service but is there anyone else available in the Portland area? I am going to talk to the dealer some more (I'm helping them make a decision on this) to find out their service abilities but the guy was out of town today.

    3. In general, how is the reliability of Centroid compared to other controllers?

    4. One post that I saw implied that Centroids didn't work well for "production" work, which I don't fully get. I know that CNC can be (or is sometimes required) for prototypes and low volume but what would make them not work so well for repeat work? This customer does mostly "fixed nest" parts (i.e. the same part nested for the highest material utilization, typically manually).

    Thanks for any input,
    The Dude
    . One post that I saw implied that Centroids didn't work well for "production" work,

    BS**t

    I have had Centroid on a Bridgeport Boss for about 20 years now drilling about 5000 3/16"
    holes a day averaging about 35 hours a week.
    The 1st version became a PIA to keep running. It would go down about every year. In 1st 10 years I had replaced
    3 hard drives 2 mother boards 2 monitors My service Tech is about 200 miles away. I would just pack the control up and send it back to the
    main office. And usually have it back in a week.
    About 10 years ago I upgraded to the latest version of Controls and it's been running ever since without a glitch.
    Making about $75 hour when it's running, it's probably one of the best Investments that I have ever made.

  5. #4
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    I liked the Centroid I used. Believe it was a retrofit to a Bridgeport boss as the previous guy said. Supported everything we threw at it using HSM inventor for programming (std 3 axis plus hsm paths). Also has a relatively nice graphics screen that can be manipulated (iso/front/top, etc views) very easy, and will give a cycle time, although I am not sure how accurate it was for the time.

    As mentioned this was a retrofit to a machine without a toolchanger so no experience with that.

  6. #5
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    Thanks guys, go info so far. Their routers don't have tool changers, overall very simple machines.

    BB

  7. #6
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    Dude,

    I have a mill with a Centroid retrofit. Done by Marc Leonard in Bellingham who I think you're referring to as the Centroid guy in this area. I did the old control removal and mounted several components, Marc did the wiring integration and system tuning. Good price too, I didn't want this to be a learning experience so it was well worth the quoted price. I was so happy with the initial retro I had a 4th axis installed too.

    From a programming standpoint the Centroid is great, easy to use with conversational for quick and dirty, USB for offline program loading.

    1. Support has been very good via email, understandably I don't think Marc likes to take phone calls during the day when he's doing retrofits. The only support I've needed in almost 10 years was about tricky programming issues not related to the hardware.

    2. Local service has not been needed. One reason I went with the Centroid was the all-in-one main board can be replaced in the $2K price range, not many controls offer that.

    3. Reliability, 100%, no problems whatsoever. Over 30 years I've purchased 2 brand new CNC's and two complete control retrofits (not counting the Centroid). Every one of those four has had problems requiring factory/local support in the first year.

    4. I have no idea why anyone would consider the Centroid not suited for production.

  8. #7
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    many folk are happy with their new acorn system which is way less money than you spoke of

    many are happy with mach4, the new version of the hated (here) mach3, as long as its not run by parallel port, but with a separate motion controller. go to *a rt sof t* and read, remove spaces and asteroids. and small money

    the folk who built my cnc knee mill used a mechtronix controller and westamp boards, it ran very well for 20 years. they have moved on to something by uccnc, its step and direction, but they are very happy with it. and small money. read read read before u buy.


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