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Carpentry-Cabinetmaking Program hammers away at new technology
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Diman’s students are trained on four CNC machines, three of which able to take advantage of Cabinet Vision. The latest machine is a large Weeke Vantech 480, obtained in April. Another large machine is the slightly older SCM Pratix 480NST, while the smaller Multicam SF can also handle Cabinet Vision. Only the General CNC iCarver is incapable of handling the Cabinet Vision Power, relying strictly on AlphaCam.
Nathan Byrnes, Director of Media Services
L-R: Donald Travers, Jacob Perry-Niewola, Paul Corey, Tyler Johnson, Emanuel Botelho, Kellsea Bellavance
Discussion of the Weeke Vantech 480
L-R: AWI President Tony Aubin, Steve Whitham with Inventor Software, Donald Travers, Emanuel Botelho, and Ken Bertram (owner of Herrick and White Architectural Woodworkers)
Hammers and nails have been joined by advanced machinery and computers in Diman Carpentry-Cabinetmaking shop. Students still learn traditional carpentry, but visitors to the program would also see students programming advanced CNC (computer-numeric controlled) machines to carve intricate designs and patterns into wood.
While many carpentry education programs use CNC, Diman takes woodworking several steps beyond what most schools do, using a program like AlphaCam to build intricate cabinetwork and woodwork on display from Fall River City Hall to local libraries.
That expertise will be expanded in the coming weeks when the school begins training students on recently-acquired software Cabinet Vision Ultimate, which is made by the programmers behind AlphaCam – Hexagon/Vero Software.
While AlphaCam is an established industry-leading software program with remarkable flexibility, CabinetVision focuses exclusively on cabinetry.
Recently, Diman’s expertise at AlphaCam was featured at the Architectural Woodworking Institute’s New England Chapter meeting in Chelmsford on January 25, 2017. Vero Software used Diman as an example of one of the two schools in New England who bring AlphaCam to the next level (the other school being in Connecticut).
“We want to put you in every magazine we can find,” said Vero Software’s Paul Corey. “We need to produce kids that know how to use this program and these machines, so we’re willing to give the stuff for free to schools like Diman because we need people who can handle it.”
“Cabinet Vision-type programs are where all the big carpentry companies are going,” said Carpentry-Cabinetmaking Department Head Emanuel Botelho. “Or at least, all of them that aren’t already there,” he grinned.
Botelho explained that Cabinet Vision greatly accelerates the process of building cabinets by managing all aspects of the process, from design drawing, to inventory, to programming, to milling (if the company has a CNC machine).
Fellow Carpentry-Cabinetmaking teacher Donald Travers agrees. “That’s why it’s so important for high-volume cabinetmakers,” he said. “They can go right from Cabinet Vision designer to programming, then send it to the machine to be milled … and they even send a stock list to a guy on the floor. This is all automatic and is built into the system. It can all be printed out and given to estimating, too.”
Because the software is so flexible and powerful, many smaller companies use it strictly for inventory or design and sales, but never implement the full capabilities of the program, in part due to the lack of skilled operators.
“So our students, by learning Cabinet Vision, will be in a better position to get a job in the industry because so many companies use it or want to be able to use it,” said Botelho. “When our students go out to work in the industry, they know the programs.”
Travers agreed, adding, “There’s not enough people out there who know the program for the jobs out there. Companies buy this $14,000 software, then shelf it or barely use it because they don’t have anyone to run it. Our students will be snapped up because they’ll know the programs.”
“Companies saw our students and our logo during the presentation, which should lead to more opportunities for our kids, both on co-op and post-graduation,” said Botelho. “There are probably five cabinetmakers out there right now on the local Craigslist looking for people with Cabinet Vision or AlphaCam experience.”
Cory echoed that sentiment from Vero’s perspective, saying, “I get a phone call every day, asking ‘Do you have a person, do you have a person,’ so the demand is there. These are NOT $10 per hour jobs … they’re highly paid positions.”
“Since our students are exposed to multiple generations of CNC machines in the shop, they’re better prepared to work in the industry, where you see a multitude of levels of technology,” explained Botelho.
But while skills at a variety of technical levels are valuable, Diman’s program is aiming higher. “This is the level we want our kids at – really high-end kitchens. We’re talking $100,000 kitchens,” said Botelho. “We’re also talking about other high-end cabinetry for homes and businesses.”
“CNC and Cabinet Vision doesn’t take someone’s job, it just changes their job,” he explained. “They can be more efficient and do more than before.”
In the end, this isn’t your parent’s carpentry, but it will certainly be your children’s carpentry. The banging of hammers is being joined by the sound of keyboards typing and machines whirring, and the industry is becoming more productive and advanced by the day.
Nathan Byrnes, Director of Media Services