We are the original Windows based CNC control company. In fact, we have been doing this for 21 years now. Back then, most PC based CNC controls were DOS based. As archaic as DOS was, it is a realtime operating system which is capable of doing microsecond level control, which is appropriate for doing motion control and hence CNC control. Windows is NOT a realtime operating system. Instead, it is a multi-tasking operating system with a very nice user interface which enables the user to have multiple windows open and for that reason cannot do direct motion control. We recognized this problem with windows right away and engineered a solution that uses Windows for what it is designed for with a nice user interface and offset the motion control to an external microcontroller (our signal generator) which is easily capable of doing microsecond level control for smooth, uninterrupted motion control. The windows system and the signal generator talk to each other with a simple USB interface making it true plug and play.
This architecture is also designed to Microsofts standards which means that we have had zero problems working with any version of Windows from 3.1 in the 1990’s to Windows 10 today. This includes any patches or interim releases that Microsoft puts on the PC from time to time. Our customers use our software and controls easily, safely and in confidence that there will be no roadblocks along the way from Microsoft.
Mach is a different story. It is lower cost than FlashCut, but you certainly get what you pay for. It was designed try and force Windows into being a realtime operating system – which it is far from being. In doing this, there are only certain versions of Windows that it will “work” with and they still have hiccups every once in a while because, again, it is forcing a major and very complex operating system to do something that it was not designed to do. This becomes very important when you are moving motors – especially stepper motors. The motors are designed to be commanded by very precisely timed steps which is what the FlashCut signal generator with its three separate microprocessors is designed to do. The FlashCut step train would typically look like this:
With the Mach controller, it uses the Windows timer which is not capable of consistently producing well timed steps so you could get a step train from time to time that looks like this:
When a motor see this, it will hiccup or stall and ruin the part being machined.
Also, because of the sensitivity of “hacking” the operating system, Mach users cannot download recommended Windows patches from Microsoft without compromising their CNC system even further.
Another huge benefit of FlashCut is that we designed the software and the electronics from the ground up and still have the original engineers along with a large, professional team to support our customers for many years to come. This is made up of real people who are available via phone or e-mail. The Mach users should rely on online forums for their support. Also, if there is a need for a software change or improvement for any reason, we can quickly do it in a quality way.
Every component in a FlashCut CNC controller is assembled and tested in our facility near Chicago. Many Mach systems are integrated from components all over the world and the support can end up being a lot of finger pointing.
Also, because FlashCut is a real Windows program, you can easily and safely have other programs loaded on the PC such as CAD/CAM to design your part. In fact, we now have an embedded CAD/CAM program that can be added to our CNC controls.
In a nutshell FlashCut combines the best of both worlds – an easy to use Windows user interface and a well-engineered motion controller for precise, smooth CNC motion in multiple axes. We have upgraded hundreds of Mach users over the years who bought their system to save a little money, but quickly learned that the time and compromised parts were not at all worth the savings. FlashCut is a quality control system with a quality reputation.
Our experienced team of engineers provides prompt and knowledgeable support that is invaluable in today’s competitive marketplace. With over 20 years of CNC control engineering experience and over 30,000 controllers on all continents, we provide lifetime support and are available for remote support on the phone or online for all of our OEM’s – domestic and international. Our success and reputation is the result of our talented and dedicated team. All of our CNC controls and software are designed by our own FlashCut engineers. We have many tools available to support our customers including:
- Unparalleled phone support
- Product and training videos
- Software downloads
- Downloadable pdf brochures, data sheets and manuals
- Troubleshooting guides
- Knowledge Base
All FlashCut CNC Controllers have a 1 year warranty that covers manufacturers defects. All components inside controller can be easily replaced on site. It would be rare to need a field technician to service them.