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View Full Version : Small CNC Mill Recommendations



split63
04-10-2006, 10:01 PM
Is there a smallish, quality, mill, simliar to this one from Grizzly:

http://www.grizzly.com/products/G3103

But one with CNC capability?
Did Bridgeport or any of the quality manufactures build such mills?


My other option is to buy a basic bridgeport mill and add 3-axis CNC ability to it. Is there a economical upgrade solution?

Thanks,

sch
04-10-2006, 10:24 PM
If you want a bridgeport your best bet is to find a semi defunct CNC bridgeport series 1 that is 12-20yrs old and has all the basics: motors, power supply and ball screws and strip out the obsolete dedicated controller and install uptodate stepper controls and PC based CNC system. There was a series of articles in HSM a yr or so back doing this precisely. A manual bridgeport would probably need an expensive ball screw retrofit in addition to expensive motors in addition and has the cachet of being a ready to use machine where an older CNC bridgeport is 'worthless' as it is obsolete electrically and in the controls.
www.tormach.com has a small CNC mill that might suit. Price is right.
Steve

split63
04-10-2006, 10:28 PM
I looked at a Series I BOSS Bridgeport today, and the thing was massive...much bigger than I can accomodate. If they are all this size, then there is no way that will work for me.

sch
04-10-2006, 11:18 PM
The Series I is the smaller one. They are significantly larger footprint than the manual series.
Steve

vinito
04-10-2006, 11:19 PM
Check out the Tormach. If I had the extra money, I'd pick one up just to fiddle with. I'd bet in a couple years it will cost double what they are asking now.

BobWarfield
04-10-2006, 11:44 PM
Check out the Tormach. If I had the extra money, I'd pick one up just to fiddle with. I'd bet in a couple years it will cost double what they are asking now.

I agree. I think they're selling at a slight loss to build up a reputation. If they are actually making money on them, good for them!

There are also any number of discussions on how to convert a mill similar to what you've shown and there is the Industrial Hobbies mill which can be had converted or with the conversion components as a kit.

Lots of ways to skin this cat.

Best,

BW

split63
04-11-2006, 12:11 AM
I agree. I think they're selling at a slight loss to build up a reputation. If they are actually making money on them, good for them!

There are also any number of discussions on how to convert a mill similar to what you've shown and there is the Industrial Hobbies mill which can be had converted or with the conversion components as a kit.
BW
I saw that one.....$6800 and no computer. It seems that it would be better to get a bridgeport and retrofit it....it would be a more robust machine and would have modern control. When I say small, I'm not referring to these little CNC drill units, Small in the sense that its the size of a manual bridgeport series 1 or it may be even smaller like the Grizzly I pointed at. I must admit that I'm a bit skeptical that a Grizzly like unit would be a rock steady and smooth as a bridgeport.... but I'm open to the possibility

split63
04-11-2006, 12:17 AM
The Series I is the smaller one. They are significantly larger footprint than the manual series.
Steve
I went and looked at the unit below today. It read "Series I" right on the side. It was huge. There were about 12 other manual bridgeports surrounding it, and this BOSS Bridgeport was seemingly twice the bulk of the others. I wanted it to work out, but the more I looked at it, I just had to accept that it was too big. I would guess it was 3.5K pounds. If I had a huge shop, I would go for it, but my 4-car garage would not be enough.

http://www.1stoppostershop.com/bridgeport.jpg

dvideo
04-11-2006, 02:20 AM
your garage is big enough!!! get the right thing... it's your buddy for life and cars rust and then are gone... Moving is it is not so bad at 3500# as you might think... Just ask others on the forum....

g'luck

--jr

split63
04-11-2006, 02:27 AM
your garage is big enough!!! get the right thing... it's your buddy for life and cars rust and then are gone... Moving is it is not so bad at 3500# as you might think... Just ask others on the forum....
g'luck --jr
I have a 2 ton engine hoist which I really doubt could move that monster around. Honestly, I was shocked at the size of it. It would surely out live me, that thing was solid. But its just too big. I plan to move within a year, and the thought of moving such a thing again....is well, just too much.

SJorgensen
04-11-2006, 02:47 AM
I thought that about the BP Series I mill when I first saw it. Mine was stuffed into a corner and covered with dust. It hadn't been run by the owners who got it with a building they bought. I thought it was HUGE! It is 7' 3" tall and massive. It was more than I thought I could handle so I made a low-ball offer that I inwardly hoped they would reject. The move was also scary because of all the unknowns, and I didn't have an experienced friend helping me. Now I wouldn't sweat the move much as long as I can rent a good trailer and arrange for forklifts or cherry pickers at both ends of the move.

Now that I have owned and used the mill extensively I appreciate the necessity of all that mass and the strength of the mill. I wouldn't sacrifice a single pound of it. Remember you are cutting metal, not balsa wood. And as for the size, the cutting area on mine is still only 9" x 14" but very very accurate within that area.

One other thing I can say in regard to this is that you will make mistakes as you learn CNC programming. One area of mistakes is in moving from one cut to another and not having enough clearance, or running into hold-downs. These can be pretty spectacular, and I've made several mistakes from various causes and yet I haven't damaged this strong and durable tool. I really like my mill. When I am done with it, I hope it will be in better shape than when I found it and have excellent resale value. Some of my friends go the full measure of restoring the finish on their machines. I may do that eventually. It must add to the pride of ownership. I like mine the most when it is covered in chips. Then I give it a cleaning and a look at a nice shiny new precision part that I just made. Once you master this mill, it is a gentle giant.