Stage 1: Designing a 20-unit kitchen for a developer took a matter of minutes with Cabinet Vision.
Stage 2: The material was ordered at 4.55pm the same day.
Stage 3: The following day it was cut, drilled, edged, assembled and delivered by 12.30pm
‘I did that simply to prove a point,’ says managing director and owner of Chris Sharp Cabinets Ltd, Paul Kettleborough.
‘I wanted to know just how quickly we could produce a kitchen. Although we had to machine multiple panels, our CNC machine was running at up to 80m/min,’ says Paul.
Employing a dozen people at the company’15,000ft2 workshop and showroom in Lincolnshire, the company generally produces two kitchens/week for end-user consumers, with a number of others for property developers.
Having recently invested in Cabinet Vision software to complement the company’s Alphacam package, there is now the capacity for designing and manufacturing around 20 a week.
With a long-standing history of making both softwood and hardwood furniture, the company decided that there was a need to diversify, as cheap imports began to have an effect on business and they moved into the purely bespoke kitchen market.
Three years ago, Paul bought the company from Chris Sharp, having worked there for over 20 years and he decided to concentrate solely on kitchens.
Alphacam had been the main software for furniture production for many years, and the company continued to use it to design and manufacture the cabinetry components for their kitchens, which Paul admitted was not the optimum tool for casework assemblies.
‘It was taking a long time to program our three-axis SCM Ergon machine tool,’ says Paul.
‘We’d have a standard 600mm base unit with the holes and tool-paths – but if a customer wanted a 550mm unit, for instance, I’d have to take it down by 50mm.
‘So in time, my Alphacam program had up to 150 different units. If a kitchen contained 600mm, 500mm and 400mm units, I’d put them on a separate sheet and nest them through Alphacam, which was a long-winded process when compared to Cabinet Vision, because it’s not optimised for that type of work,’ explains Paul.
So, the natural progression was to invest in Cabinet Vision for carcase work.
Design manager, James Graves now receives customers’ orders as an ArtiCAD drawing from their external designer and imports it into Cabinet Vision.
‘As I’ve got a library of the 60 or so cabinets that we use regularly, I create the rooms by dragging and dropping the units into the project and then editing them,’ says James Graves.
‘The ArtiCAD file is often just a plan with dimensions on, usually in increments of 50mm, but with Cabinet Vision’s parametric capability and the parameters already set up, if I drop a 600mm unit in and change it to 587mm, all the relevant sizes and joins are changed accordingly. Each one literally takes just seconds and I can complete a full kitchen plan in around 20 minutes,’ proclaims James.
Being able to customise each unit is particularly valuable when he is working with the company’s range of handle-less cabinets.
‘We prefer to have these carcase-pressed, so we can choose that the jointing technique is all dowelled rather than KD-fitted. However, I can have KD fittings, if required and I have full control over their location and orientation.
‘I can make all fittings on shelves up to a certain height face down and the ones above it face up, so when the customer looks at it, they don’t see where the fixing joints are,’ explains James.
Cabinet Vision’s powerful communication tool with the CNC nesting machine, S2M (Screen-To-Machine), sends the NC code to the Ergon, which includes all the cutting and drilling instructions for the machine.
Alphacam comes into play with the handle-less units, notching out the areas on the side of the panels for the profile to fit into, by sending machining code to the Homag Weeke CNC.
Paul Kettleborough explains that operation can’t be performed on the Ergon.
‘As it’s notched out, we wouldn’t be able to put the panel through the linear movement on an edge-bander…it just wouldn’t accept it. So we put it through as a rectangular piece, which is edge-banded on one edge and, as it’s neatly notched out for the profile on the Homag machine, the edge-band stays intact. Alphacam is also used to produce any curved, complex shaped and hardwood doors. All these programs are carried out solely with it,’ explains Paul.
Alphacam also indirectly drives a Koch machine tool, by working in tandem with Cabinet Vision
‘As the Cabinet Vision files go to Screen-To-Machine, it stores the programs in Alphacam, along with the position of the holes that need to be drilled horizontally.
‘All holes, both on the main faces of the panels and the edges, are designed and placed there by Cabinet Vision.. I pull up the nested program in Alphacam and those on the face are drilled by the Ergon.
‘However, I can also get the same file in a different format, which gives the hole sequence for that individual panel and the horizontal holes are drilled on the Koch machine,’ says Paul.
In conclusion James Graves says that another advantage of using Cabinet Vision is that it means that the company can give an accurate price for the job.
‘All materials and their price are in the system, so I can see at a glance how much each unit costs and the price for the whole kitchen, right down to the screws. We can come in with a bottom-line figure to stay competitive. It’s a bespoke kitchen, but not a bespoke price,’ says James.

For further information tel Alphacam/Cabinet Vision
on 01189 756084.
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