SmartBench - Before you buy
SmartBench - Before you buy
You can watch the ‘Before you Buy’ video above, which covers most FAQ about what is SmartBench, what it can do and what else you need to know.
Otherwise, we have broken down the topics below in to separate articles. Simply expand a topic to learn more.
What is SmartBench?
SmartBench is a large format CNC multitool. You can automatically process 2D and 3D designs, which SmartBench will mill, cut or draw on sheet materials (both small and large).
Completely unique in the world of CNC, SmartBench is portable and storable, with a 3 minute assembly time. Industrial-grade 3-axis CNC control means that SmartBench can produce everything from simple profiles to complex 3D geometries.
SmartBench makes CNC technology accessible: we have designed it to be the most affordable, easy to learn, and space efficient CNC solution on the market.
What can SmartBench do?
Can SmartBench cut full size sheets?
SmartBench is a full size CNC machine that can process 2.5m x 1.25m sheets (8×4 sheets).
It can hold materials as thick as 152mm/ 6 inches, and has Z axis travel of 152mm/ 6 inches.
It’s worth saying that SmartBench doesn’t have to cut full size sheets only – it can process small stock just as easily!
How accurate is SmartBench?
We target a finished part accuracy of ±0.5mm or better.
What materials can SmartBench process?
SmartBench is optimised to process woods and plastics; however, we have customers process a wide range of materials including some aluminiums (softer grades).
Can it do anything else?
Yes! With the CNC stylus, SmartBench can also become a drawing tool and vinyl cutter. You can see more about the CNC stylus at the product page here.
We’re always working on new features that we can bring to SmartBench, so watch this space…
Whoa, so it can do a lot then?
Yep! Why not check out what some of our customers have already been making with SmartBench:
SmartBench is the only CNC machine of its kind.
It’s simple to store. The whole machine packs down into a footprint of 2.7m x 0.5m x 0.5m, so it is perfect for situations where space is valuable.
And it can pack down to be transported in a van.
With its small sub assemblies and the use of light aluminium, it makes carrying the components a one person job. The weights of each item can be found below:
266.5 x 49.5 x 8
Upper X Beam
149 x 29.5 x 31
Lower X Beam
149 x 22 x 16
37 x 28 x 29
82 x 37 x 20
21 x 20 x 8
3 minute assembly
SmartBench is fast to deploy with a 3 minute assembly time. This means you can start cutting within a matter of minutes.
With very little dead space, SmartBench is small enough to operate in a single-space garage.
SmartBench’s operational footprint is 2.8m x 1.7m x 1.4m
Easy to learn, easy to use
We have done our best to flatten the steep learning curve of CNC machining. SmartBench’s intuitive touchscreen interface is packed with features such as Wi-Fi file transfer and job checking.
The Shape Cutter tutorial app will even walk you through carrying out a job from start to finish – no computer, CAD or CAM required.
Material clamping technology
SmartBench is designed differently from other CNC machines to incorporate what we call “material clamping technology”.
Our patented design works by clamping the material between the upper and lower beam; this intrinsic clamping force gives SmartBench the rigidity it needs to withstand forces generated by routing (without needing to be big or bulky).
The system consists of 2 beams which both have sets of rollers. The roller sets run along the bottom of your spoilboard and the top of the material, clamping both together.
The resultant clamping force holds everything in place around the spindle while it is routing.
F: Clamping force
This technology is what makes SmartBench deployable, affordable and incredibly space efficient.
We have a video which explains this a little more here:
SmartBench has industrial-grade 3-axis CNC control.
We manufacture SmartBench using an aluminium tooling plate and custom extrusions for the best combination of weight and rigidity.
The X and Y axis move using a cammed wheel system, along with an industrial standard rack and pinion drive.
The motion along the Z axis is driven using a screw drive.
The Standard and Precision models use a single lead screw, and the PrecisionPro uses two for extra rigidity in the Z axis.
Reduced leverage of the tool
SmartBench does not use the conventional overhead gantry approach to support the spindle, unlike other CNC machines.
Traditional CNC machines have a longer distance between the spindle mounting and the tool, meaning they have to be more rigid to resist the extra leverage of the longer tool.
SmartBench holds the tool much closer to the work surface; this means that the leverage between the tool and the Z axis bearings is greatly reduced, and SmartBench’s application of force is far more efficient.
The Yeti Tool SC spindle series is our first OEM spindle collection. The SC series is manufactured especially for SmartBench by Mafell AG, a high-end woodworking tool specialist.
The SC1 has an ER16 collet system for easy tool changing, much improved clamping force, and better concentricity.
Most notably, the SC1 has integrated digital control. This unlocks some of SmartBench’s “smartest” capabilities:
Spindle speeds can be adjusted throughout the job; either using commands in the job file, or with console controls.
The spindle overload feature monitors speed, temperature, and current in real time. If SmartBench determines that the motor is under too much load, it will auto-pause and save your job (Precision and PrecisionPro SmartBench models only).
Finished part accuracy: +/- 0.5mm, or better
Most CNC manufacturers will tell you how accurate their machine is, but not how this translates to the tolerance on a finished part.
We like to be honest, and we know that finished part accuracy is the thing that you care about most – especially if you want to manufacture complex joints.
Better part accuracy is readily achievable, but depends on many factors outside of our control.
These factors include:
condition of tooling;
regular machine maintenance and calibration.
Feeds and speeds
SmartBench needs to be treated slightly differently to other CNC machines, and there are many different factors that can affect the feeds and speeds you should use.
Click here to open our conservative guide about feeds and speeds, which should be taken as a starting point.
An example of feed rates
For an idea of feed rates, consider this scenario:
8mm spiral upcut
Birch plywood (2440 x 1220 x 12mm)
Passes and step down
4mm deep per pass, x3 passes
Quality and reliability
Each SmartBench is assembled, calibrated, put through a thorough multi-point QC procedure, and then a 6 hour test before leaving the factory.
We have two SmartBenches that are a critical part of our own SmartBench production line. They work 5 days a week, 9 hours a day.
Check out this video to learn more:
SmartBench’s continuous self-monitoring helps you to keep track of and optimize its performance; key to minimising downtime!
Self-monitoring features include:
automatic reminders to help you to carry out important maintenance tasks at regular intervals;
(Precision and PrecisionPro models) spindle overload protection, which auto-pauses the job whenever SmartBench detects that the stress on the spindle is too high.
We’re always aiming to make SmartBench even smarter, so expect more self-monitoring features in the future, downloadable via free Console software updates.
Tools to assist the operator
We know that turnaround time is important, so SmartBench is packed full of features to help the operator:
Preventative maintenance reminders
Job file checker
Placement map & bounds checker
Z axis probe plate
SmartBench has a 7 inch full colour touchscreen display with intuitive controls and workflows.
Workflow: Console apps
Shape Cutter is a start-to-finish tutorial app that allows you to create simple designs on SmartBench itself.
It will walk you through:
designing circles, rectangles and squares;
entering your tool parameters;
creating your cutting strategy;
and starting your job – without the need of any computing!
Workflow: CAD/CAM to SmartBench
If you want to process more complex geometries, you’ll need to make your designs on a computer and then transfer the job files to SmartBench.
Design your part with CAD/CAM
Parts are designed and processed on the computer, using CAD/CAM software. Post-processing converts the design into job files for SmartBench.
Send your job to SmartBench
The files are transferred to SmartBench via Wi-Fi or USB. Our computer app, SmartTransfer, makes it incredibly easy to drag and drop files straight on to the SmartBench Console.
Load files on SmartBench
Select, load, and check files on the SmartBench Console.
Position and start the job
Choose your datums, and let SmartBench take care of the rest!
Which CAD/CAM software can I use?
SmartBench is compatible with 99% of CAM software packages. As long as you can post-process your file with a GRBL processor, then it will work.
We recommend two CAD/CAM packages, which cater for different applications:
If you are drawing lines and curves, or simply want to import images then we would recommend you look at Vectric VCarve Pro which is $1099 + GST (one off payment).
Vectric specialises in the application of CNC machining to sheet material. It is very popular in the woodworking community for applications such as doors, panels and nested sheets.
3D Design is useful for more detailed engineered work, where fittings and parts with complex features are required.
If this is right for you, then we would recommend Autodesk Fusion 360 which is free for personal use for one year. After that, it’s approximately $590 + GST a year.
SmartBench is a flexible platform which allows you to adapt your workholding, depending on your application and your materials.
A sacrificial sheet called a spoilboard is commonly positioned underneath the stock. This allows the cutter to safely break through the bottom surface of the stock.
You can use speed clamps or F clamps to securely hold your sheet material in place. These can be placed at either end of the Y bench. When using clamps, make sure there is sufficient room for the X beam to travel, so the upper and lower X Beams do not collide with the clamps.
If you need to work closer to the edge of the sheet and clamps won’t work, you can use screws or similar fixing consumables. It is possible to fix material directly to the clamp panels (A) of the Y bench or to a spoilboard under the stock material using woodscrews. Make sure that they are:
positioned away from the cutting toolpaths to prevent damages to the tool, or
in case of spoilboard – driven at least 1mm below the top surface of the material, so as not to disturb flatness
A: Clamp panels
Dogs, which are normally made from stainless steel, act as a stop for you to butt your material up against. These can be used as a fast way to fix a wide range of stock sizes in place. This method works best for repeat jobs and engraving jobs. Be sure your dogs are low line and sit below the top surface of your material. If using larger dogs like show, make sure they do not collide with the upper X Beam, so ensure you have sufficient space for SmartBench to traverse without interacting with your dogs.
SmartBench can also process smaller stock. This can be fixed down using double sided tape for low to medium strength holding.
Jigs are ideal for the kind of repetitive work that you need in a small production environment, ensuring that stock can be referenced to SmartBench quickly.
And of course, you can make your own jigs for SmartBench, using SmartBench!
Some of our customers are even creating their own vacuum tables for SmartBench:
Image credit – Steven J Michaels.
It is easy to position your job on SmartBench with our easy-to-use interface and datum tools.
The XY datum can be positioned and set using the tool on all SmartBench models, and with a laser crosshair on SmartBench PrecisionPro.
All models come with a Z probe plate to auto-detect tool position on the job surface for fast setup.
SmartBench will automatically check job boundaries prior to starting the job, to ensure it is positioned within SmartBench’s limits.
You will need an MDF or plywood spoilboard. It needs to be rigid and flat so that SmartBench can clamp it, and run across it easily.
We recommend using a 6mm – 9mm melamine-faced MDF board.
You will need an extraction system, which you should choose with your specific application in mind.
Click here to see our extractors in a new window.
You will need good cutters and collets, and lots of them!
Click here to see our range of cutters in a new window.
You will need a CAD/CAM software package, such as Vectric VCarve Pro or Autodesk Fusion 360.
Minimum flow rate
You will need a MINIMUM flow rate of 50 l/sec.
Some materials and applications WILL require extractors with a higher flow rate.
If the extractor meets power specifications SmartBench can start and stop it automatically.
Extractors with higher power requirements will need to be powered externally.
SmartBench power specification
Maximum power rating of extractor powered by SmartBench
(extractors above this rating will need to be powered externally).
Where can I get an extractor?
Click here to see our standard extraction system, available on our website.
Cutters are one of the most important factors when using SmartBench; after all, it’s the cutter that sees the most action!
Cutters come in a wide range of sizes and types for different applications.
Unfortunately, there isn’t one cutter to rule them all, so if you are making the most out of SmartBench then you will need to consider having a range of cutters.
Keep your cutters sharp!
Cutters do not last forever, and a blunt cutter can lead to job failure. It’s important to inspect and replace your cutters regularly.
Blunt cutters are any CNC’s worst enemy! Be sure to use sharp, high quality, and well maintained cutters.
Where can I get cutters from?
We stock a wide range of cutters on our website.
Click here to see our cutter range in a new window.
SmartBench is fully CE certified. Click here to see our certificate.
SmartBench has a number of built-in safety features. These include:
Emergency stop switch
Spindle overload monitoring with auto-pause
Guarding around pinch points and the cutter
Never leave SmartBench unattended
When SmartBench is in operation you should not leave it unattended, just in case something unexpected happens.
Ensure that you can always:
Have a clear line of sight to the machine.
If you cannot see the machine, ensure you can hear it.
If something goes wrong, can you quickly stop the machine?
Downloadable Safety Poster
You can save and print out the following image for your jobsite:
SmartBench is designed to be maintained by the operator, and has built-in automatic reminders to help you out. The level of maintenance required is fairly low, but necessary.
Our manuals, online CNC Academy, and even the Console apps will show you how to carry out all of these maintenance tasks yourself.
Interval maintenance tasks
~120 – 500 hours (depending on your brushes and application)
Z axis lubrication
When required as per wheel checking
320 hours or when accuracy improvement is required
The SmartBench Console has automatic built-in reminders for calibration, brush replacement, and Z axis lubrication. This will ensure your SmartBench performs as it should, giving you maximum uptime.
Over time, the wheels (which are part of each axis) may need replacing.
If you need to replace the wheels, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Brushes typically last between 120-500 hours, depending on the brushes you are using and your application.
Click here to find replacement brushes on our website.
We know that a lot of people who buy SmartBench are new to CNC.
That’s why we have created the YetiTool CNC Academy, a free online resource to help you get the most out of your SmartBench.
The academy consists of:
Step-by-step video tutorials to get you started
Projects to help you gain experience
Masterclasses to further your knowledge
You’ll be up and running in no time.
Click here to visit the CNC Academy.
SmartBench is compatible with our Multitool accessory, CNC Stylus.
CNC Stylus lets you turn SmartBench into a drawing and plotting tool, or a vinyl cutter. It will hold a wide range of different pens and vinyl cutting blades.
This gives you the ability to expand your offering to your customers.
Click here to open the CNC Stylus range in a new window.
You can also check out the CNC Stylus Knowledge base for more information and tutorials here.
Click here to see some of our customer case studies on our website.
Keep an eye out for customer site visits. We like to keep in touch with our customers, and create videos showing how SmartBench has transformed their business – and how it might transform yours too!
We have the Yeti Tool Talk Group on Facebook, with over 600 active members.
See first-hand how we have helped people transform the way they work and provide the missing link to their business.
Members frequently share their own projects and how-tos as well – it’s a fantastic community to be a part of.
Click here to join the Yeti Tool Talk Group.
We have over 800 SmartBench users, and this is just some of their feedback:
“I love my Yeti SmartBench and wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is the primary reason I have been able to make a career change in the past year. It easily sets me apart from other designers/remodelers who need to rely on other expensive subcontractors who charge a high premium for customer work. Now I am able to do nearly anything a customer can think of for little cost and with a quick turnaround.”
Wood by JAH
“SmartBench has improved all aspects of my joinery and projects, and to be frank allowed me to create things that I don’t have the raw talent to create by hand. It is fast, accurate and super easy to use. Having never used CNC previously, the software was the biggest learning curve but once mastered, your own creativeness is the limit. SmartBench is my go-to machine and the hub of my workshop; I don’t know what I’d do without it.”
“It’s so fantastic to do such things with your ‘little’ Smartbench and when you see the result – there is no difference to a much more expensive machine.”
“I love the fact it can handle full sheets and is really accurate and easy to store (I keep mine stored at the ceiling of my garage). The controls are simple and easy to use, a lot easier than some of the other machines where you need an engineering degree to get them even moving.”
And there’s more…
Click here to read more customer quotes and see their fantastic projects on our news page.
Review: Tool Box Buzz
Stan Durlacher took the time to write an incredibly in depth review of SmartBench for Tool Box Buzz. This review has not been endorsed by Yeti Tool, and is a completely honest assessment of SmartBench.
Stan’s article focuses on everything from unboxing and setup to using SmartBench to create projects. It even has a great breakdown of how SmartBench is mechanically different from traditional CNC machines.
Here are Stan’s closing comments;
“I close this review by restating that the YetiTools SmartBench is a Seed Change in the CNC marketplace.
SmartBench is designed and manufactured by an exceptionally talented, innovative, dedicated, and responsive set of personnel in the UK. In addition, the SmartBench is distributed by a uniquely responsive and caring company that sells and services a series of the highest quality and innovative tools in the US – Timberwolf Tools.
I look forward to seeing SmartBench’s progress in the marketplace, and I give Yeti Tool the highest marks for creating a revolutionary machine. It has been a pure pleasure to use and review the YetiTools SmartBench.”
Click here to read Stan’s review in full.