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CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 15th, 2010, 1:11 pm

enigma
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I'm looking to buy a CNC Milling Machine for steel products no bigger than a size of 3"x3"x 5". It'd be ideal if it can produce 3-5 pieces at a time. Any brand/company recommendations? Thanks.
Using both sides of the brain . . . .

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 15th, 2010, 9:12 pm

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Dan Lewis
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Haas

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 15th, 2010, 11:32 pm

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fatkid
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Matsuura, Mori Seiki are good, just like many others.

It wouldn't hurt to look at used equipment right now either with how many shops are going under. Unless you are doing aerospace tolerances, a little wear on a 10 year old machine will be hardly noticeable. Plus, you can probably get one for a quarter of the price of a used one.
"You can only be young once, but you can be immature forever." -Dave Barry

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 16th, 2010, 8:13 am

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Bbarn
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i have been looking into picking this guy up for a while now
http://www.cncmasters.com/CNC%20Jr%20Mill.htm

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 16th, 2010, 9:38 am

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Dan Lewis
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Previously I mentioned Haas -- really good machines, made in the US, with a very good controller but there are a lot of good machine manufacturers and there are many good used machines right now. To machine 3 blocks of steel, on the machine at the same time requires a serious machine with a tool changer, coolant, significant tooling and an operator or machinist that nows how to setup and run the machine. This is no casual undertaking and the cost will be significant even with used equipment. In addition to the machine and the physical and electrical requirements for its location, there is the additional tooling (tool holders and cutters) vises, fixtures, and setup tools. Then there is the all important CAM software that will be needed to produce the tool paths along with someone that is experienced in using it. And, then, you still need whatever equipment that will be necessary to finish the parts after you machine them.

We have invested heavily in this equipment over the past 10 years and have a lot of experience. If you want to talk about this in more detail send me an email.

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 16th, 2010, 10:13 am

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NURB
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Here's a heck of a deal on an 09 Haas VM3 - a bargain @ $82,500
http://cgi.ebay.com/Haas-2009-VM3-HS-CN ... 4a9e89765c

If you're keeping track at home:
30-100K for the machine
50-70K/year for the experienced operator
20K for miscellaneous site prep work (if you don't already have dedicated electrical service)
5-15K (at least) for fixtures, tool holders, and other do-dads.
2-5K for software
Chris Haar

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Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 16th, 2010, 10:36 am

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Dan Lewis
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If you're keeping track at home:
30-100K for the machine
50-70K/year for the experienced operator
20K for miscellaneous site prep work (if you don't already have dedicated electrical service)
5-15K (at least) for fixtures, tool holders, and other do-dads.
2-5K for software
Yep -- but I'd add another 5K for software (12k) unless you are only doing 3-axis work.

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 16th, 2010, 11:40 am

a2pmfg03
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Dan Lewis wrote:Previously I mentioned Haas -- really good machines, made in the US, with a very good controller but there are a lot of good machine manufacturers and there are many good used machines right now. To machine 3 blocks of steel, on the machine at the same time requires a serious machine with a tool changer, coolant, significant tooling and an operator or machinist that nows how to setup and run the machine. This is no casual undertaking and the cost will be significant even with used equipment. In addition to the machine and the physical and electrical requirements for its location, there is the additional tooling (tool holders and cutters) vises, fixtures, and setup tools. Then there is the all important CAM software that will be needed to produce the tool paths along with someone that is experienced in using it. And, then, you still need whatever equipment that will be necessary to finish the parts after you machine them.

We have invested heavily in this equipment over the past 10 years and have a lot of experience. If you want to talk about this in more detail send me an email.
Dan speaks the truth. I went through the exact same experience 3 years ago. Man, was that an education.
Rod Spradlin, BSME MBA
A2P Manufacturing Inc.

http://www.a2p-manufacturing.com
rspradlin@a2p-manufacturing.com

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 16th, 2010, 11:43 am

a2pmfg03
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Bbarn wrote:i have been looking into picking this guy up for a while now
http://www.cncmasters.com/CNC%20Jr%20Mill.htm
If you're looking at a desktop unit like this one, pretty much all you'll be able to cut is plastic and aluminum. Even in aluminum you'll have crank the feed rate waaaaaaay down. There's just rigidity in these types of units. Cutting steel will probably cause the thing to rattle apart.
Rod Spradlin, BSME MBA
A2P Manufacturing Inc.

http://www.a2p-manufacturing.com
rspradlin@a2p-manufacturing.com

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 17th, 2010, 10:59 am

enigma
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Thanks for the information folks!

Dan,

Which machine would you recommend for making working prototypes without the need for multiple steel billets? I'd do the finishing by hand. It'd be ideal to have a "desk-top" size model with the quality of a Haas.

This is my proposed working scenario:

Rhino CAD/CAM to NextGen 3D Printer for form studies
Rhino CAD/CAM to CNC Machine for working prototypes

Most likely I'll use contract manufacturing for making actual production pieces as the cost (roughly $100K) is not efficient at this stage of the game. Plus, the product requires Laser etching, Nickel Plating, etc.
Using both sides of the brain . . . .

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 17th, 2010, 9:04 pm

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Dan Lewis
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The reality is if you want to machine steel in the single blank size you mentioned there is no desktop machine. You need rigidity and that only comes from mass and you need a serious motor that will run for long periods of time. The smallest and least expensive machine would be a good 3-axis CNC knee mill (Bridgeport style) or a bed mill like a Haas TM1. Machining steel requires coolant, messy, and knowledge of feeds and speeds for various cutters. It really isn't for novices so be prepared to spend at least twice the cost of the equipment in learning how to use it. For any of the CAM programs you will need a post processor (turns the toolpaths from the CAM program into G-code for the machine) that is designed for the machine -- most CAM programs come with generic post processors and they all need some degree of customization.

IMHO -- have a model shop or machine shop make the steel pieces. Many fewer headaches and much less costly.

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 17th, 2010, 11:39 pm

a2pmfg03
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Dan Lewis wrote:The reality is if you want to machine steel in the single blank size you mentioned there is no desktop machine. You need rigidity and that only comes from mass and you need a serious motor that will run for long periods of time. The smallest and least expensive machine would be a good 3-axis CNC knee mill (Bridgeport style) or a bed mill like a Haas TM1. Machining steel requires coolant, messy, and knowledge of feeds and speeds for various cutters. It really isn't for novices so be prepared to spend at least twice the cost of the equipment in learning how to use it. For any of the CAM programs you will need a post processor (turns the toolpaths from the CAM program into G-code for the machine) that is designed for the machine -- most CAM programs come with generic post processors and they all need some degree of customization.

IMHO -- have a model shop or machine shop make the steel pieces. Many fewer headaches and much less costly.
Agree 100%
Rod Spradlin, BSME MBA
A2P Manufacturing Inc.

http://www.a2p-manufacturing.com
rspradlin@a2p-manufacturing.com

Re: CNC Milling Machine Recommendation

February 17th, 2010, 11:43 pm

enigma
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Dan, thanks for your advice. I will heed it!
Using both sides of the brain . . . .
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