I came here almost a year ago and have been reading and researching. I have a bunch of things I really want to make with a CNC router. There are so MANY things to do with them!
Anyway, I have a history of getting into things and being really interested for a while then moving on. That being said, I have worked in the same field for the last 22 years, 5 with the latest employer and 17 with another one. I had a lot of jobs prior to that. Unfortunately, I am not in TECH.
I have worked with machines in the past: I was a skilled machinist (Manual only), welder, brazer, sheet metal worker, and iron worker. Oh, and military. Machines don't scare me or intimidate me, but I am having some problems convincing my wife that money spent on a CNC router will not be poorly spent. I live in Northern Ohio, Lorain County, to be specific. We have a FAB LAB at our local Community College, which is free for residents to use. The problem is the equipment they have is not really useful to me. They have 8 or ten 3D Printers, but most of them are at. end of life cycle and are inoperable. They have a couple of lasers, and apparently those are busy almost all the time. They have at least 1 plot cutter type of thing, similar to a cricut but heavier duty. There is a 4'x8' CNC router, but they primarily use that for sheet goods and have a prohibition against using small/fine bits in it. There is a portable cart that has a benchtop or desktop sized SHOPBOT in it, but from what I gather, that is pretty reserved for traveling to sites and giving demonstrations, not for actual "use" in the space.
They DO have about 20 computers that they encourage people to use to do their designs on. They encourage the use of INKSCAPE for 2D designs and TINKERCAD online for 3D design work. So far, the FAB LAB has been less than helpful. I have seen the lasers working, and 1 of the 3D printers still works (as of my last visit there) so I have seen that in operation, but overall, there is no one doing the things I want to do whom I can talk to. I find myself rather disappointed with the progress I am making towards researching CNC routing and trying to SEE it in action before I buy one.
Which brings me to my REAL QUESTION... Is there anyone here from Lorain County Ohio, or one of the surrounding counties, that would be willing to let me come see them navigate whatever design program they (you) are using, and even let me watch the machine do it's thing for a while? I have watched many youtube videos, but I would really like to see one in person to see if this is going to be the hobby that I pursue. In my mid 50's, so this could potentially be the last "big" hobby choice I make and I would like to be confident in my choice, and be as realistic as I can be with it. Anyway thanks for any consideration. Please feel free to ask me questions, or send me a more direct message.