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View Full Version : While the Chinese are building cheap Lathe's, what they SHOULD make is...



Paul F
04-06-2007, 01:20 PM
The hole in the market *I* see is for a "9"x30"-ish" HOBBY class CNC lathe...

Manual type quick-change toolpost... not an "industrial" turret.
Threading capability.
Comes without PC, but with motor controller.
Stepper Drive (cost savings... I know Servo's are superior in many ways...)
1-1/4" spindle bore!!!
Single phase 220v (Even though 3phase with a VFD would be better)

Priced in the $6-7K range...

Given the mechanicals that can be left OUT of a CNC machine (mechanical change gears for threading, mechanical speed change pulleys), there's no reason it couldn't be done. (well, other than they'd probably STEAL the controller design from a company like Geckodrives, and I'd hate that! I'm buying Gecko's to retrofit my Mill/Drill!)


OK... just my rant..
Just seems like I can either buy a Sherline/Taig sized CNC lathe, or a Mori-Seki weighing 5 tons and costing $25,000 used and wore out.

I know Microkinetics makes a simillar sized CNC lathe package, and I appreciate that theirs is probably BETTER than a "chinese CNC lathe" would likely be... But, well.. an acquantance had a bad experience with Microkinetics some years ago.. and I'm leery.


Heck, Tormach makes JUST what I want in a MILL..... (well, I need more money...but aside from that they're CLOSE!)...
Why not a lathe!

OK.. Rant over..
Discuss or ridicule as you desire!
Paul F.

lazlo
04-06-2007, 01:25 PM
Perhaps this is heresy, but the Chinese do make great lathes, but they're not cheap. Quality costs, even in Asia:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/feeler/

http://www.lathes.co.uk/feeler/img0.gif

motorworks
04-06-2007, 01:38 PM
Why not build one.
Start out with good iron, be it new from china or something used with little wear.
Add a ball-screw or two.Couple of steppers,drive boards,power supply,and a pc.
Add the tool post you like and run it with Turbo or Mach.
Not too hard.
I did it about 4-5 years ago.
eddie
ps I don't have a pic, but I will take some and post if you like

Milacron of PM
04-06-2007, 01:44 PM
I haven't seen any evidence of the Chinese making "great" machine tools, but have seen evidence of some "pretty nice" ones. At the 1991 EMO show in Hannover for example I saw some pretty decent Deckel copies.

Problem is, as you say, when the quality gets up there the price is so close to similar machines from the Eastern Bloc countries, they become a moot point. Sales of higher end Chinese machines would not do well in the USA as folks would gravitate toward the Eastern Bloc machines when prices are similar, if nothing else due to the bad reputation of the currently imported Chinese machines compared to the much better reputation of the Polish, Bulgarian, etc machines.

(Since when is Feeler in China ? )

lazlo
04-06-2007, 01:55 PM
I haven't seen any evidence of the Chinese making "great" machine tools, but have seen evidence of some "pretty nice" ones.

Dunno Don -- I got to run a Feeler HLV clone in Boston, and it's a really nice lathe. To my unprofessional, amateur machinist touch, it was 90% of a "real" Hardinge lathe (although the "real" Hardinge I've run is a 1970's HLV-EM). It's inch/metric standard. They also have a version with an electronic leadscrew.


Since when is Feeler in China ?

The Feeler plant is in Taiwan, but a lot of their manufacturing is in mainland china. Same deal with Sharpe.
In any event, I have a couple of Taiwanese engineers who work for me who would fight you to the death that they're Chinese. :)

mlucek
04-06-2007, 02:50 PM
Perhaps this is heresy, but the Chinese do make great lathes, but they're not cheap. Quality costs, even in Asia:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/feeler/

http://www.lathes.co.uk/feeler/img0.gif
Geeeez, that seriously looks like the Hardinge 10" I've been using for the past few weeks in my shop class !! :p

Paul F
04-06-2007, 03:15 PM
I've been toying with the idea for years, in fact...
Even squirreled away a few parts useful for the conversion of my lathe should I ever get to it.
But I can either pay $8K for all the parts (being an electrical idiot, I'd burn out some parts and have to re-buy them...) and spend a year getting it all right..
OR hope that one day I can just BUY one for $8K and spend that year learning how to program and then tweak and tune the machine (as all "new" imports I've ever used need).

That... and there's no reason an affordable mid-size hobby CNC machine couldn't be made on a slant bed design... I haven't figured out how to turn my lathe into a slant bed yet :)

Paul F.




Why not build one.
Start out with good iron, be it new from china or something used with little wear.
Add a ball-screw or two.Couple of steppers,drive boards,power supply,and a pc.
Add the tool post you like and run it with Turbo or Mach.
Not too hard.
I did it about 4-5 years ago.
eddie
ps I don't have a pic, but I will take some and post if you like

HTRN
04-06-2007, 04:15 PM
What they should do is build a gang tool lathe, with a power drawbar. Sorta like an omniturn GT-jr..(only not costing $36K:rolleyes: )

http://www.omni-turn.com/Media/Michel%20loading%20part%20in%20GT-Jr.jpg

There's no reason why somebody like grizzley, Syrl, or Industrial Hobbies(In fact, my money would be on IH doing this) to not import a machine specifically to do this. The big expense over a mill conversion is the tooling(those quick change posts are $$$) and more importantly, a pnuematic collet closer - Royal (http://www.royalprod.com/content/files/products/Pages_30_31.pdf) gets $1600 and up for theirs, and requires a 1&3/8" spindle bore..

I've thought about this alot, and the best starting point is probably a used lathe, perhaps one of those 14"x30" Taiwanese lathes that are now turning up on the used market. Put a gang tool plate on it. Buy a bunch of Phase II tool posts, and you've got the makings of a nice multitool CNC machine.


HTRN

The Doctor
04-06-2007, 05:44 PM
Syil comes close... http://www.syilamerica.com/product_C6.asp
10X20 and the spindle hole is small(3MT), but $3500 ready to go. Just add computer and software.

For the 6-7K$ you're calling a limit, I would look for good used iron and do my own conversion. A mamufacturing model 10ee would be a great start, and they don't cost too much, especially if they have drive trouble. A bit lighter would be a 10"-12" South Bend, Logan, or one of the better Chinese machines. The bonus of doing your own conversion is knowing how it all works, and choosing the performance/quality you want/can afford.

Ed

Milacron of PM
04-06-2007, 11:03 PM
The Feeler plant is in Taiwan, but a lot of their manufacturing is in mainland china. Same deal with Sharpe.
In any event, I have a couple of Taiwanese engineers who work for me who would fight you to the death that they're Chinese. :) In other words, Feeler is Tawainese. :rolleyes: I've been to EMO in Germany, IMTS in Chicago and examined not just one (pure) Chinese machine, but probably 50, and I stand by my acessment.

Michael Moore
04-06-2007, 11:48 PM
Syil comes close...

Ed, that 10x20 weighs 450 pounds. For a CNC lathe that seems really light to me by 650-1000 pounds or so (at minimum) if you look at a Hardinge/Monarch manual lathe of a similar swing/length.

Of course, with CNC you can take a gazillion tiny cuts since you aren't having to stand there doing it, so maybe the light weight isn't an issue.

cheers,
Michael

Too_Many_Tools
04-06-2007, 11:59 PM
I haven't seen any evidence of the Chinese making "great" machine tools, but have seen evidence of some "pretty nice" ones. At the 1991 EMO show in Hannover for example I saw some pretty decent Deckel copies.

Problem is, as you say, when the quality gets up there the price is so close to similar machines from the Eastern Bloc countries, they become a moot point. Sales of higher end Chinese machines would not do well in the USA as folks would gravitate toward the Eastern Bloc machines when prices are similar, if nothing else due to the bad reputation of the currently imported Chinese machines compared to the much better reputation of the Polish, Bulgarian, etc machines.

(Since when is Feeler in China ? )

The best Chinese machines never leave China.

One could conclude that as China continues to grow (much faster than the US) that their ever growing manufacturing base will use Chinese machines...better quality and less expensive than American or European machines.

Meanwhile as American manufacturing continues to shrink, sales targeting the United States will be chasing fewer dollars.

Both are distrubing trends....

TMT

dp
04-06-2007, 11:59 PM
The hole in the market *I* see is for a "9"x30"-ish" HOBBY class CNC lathe...


The Chinese are making a killing doing what they're doing - they have no reason to change. If anyone should take a lesson it's the western world. It is obviously possible to get stinking rich with a lesser product. The best example is Bill Gates, but the Chinese industry is also an excellent example. If you mass produce a lot of crap that works well enough and it's cheap, people will buy it. Walmart is another example. Most of the world nations are poor and what the Chinese are doing is providing them with adequate products in huge quantities with enormous economies of scale, and selling them at decent prices. Find a better economical model.

John Stevenson
04-07-2007, 03:36 AM
Don,
You started a post on your board giving some details of a Chinese lathe at the IMTS show.
OK looks to be made more for home use in China than export but by the time they get the bugs sorted it could be scary.

http://www.practicalmachinist.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/13/3862.html#000017

.
BTW I have one of the manual C6 lathes and they are comparable to a 10" South Bend on weight and build. If converted to CNC they will still only be a home shop lathe.

.

John Williams
04-07-2007, 08:14 AM
Lathemaster 9x30 in process of being converted to CNC

http://www.cnccookbook.com/CCLathePotpourri.htm

Too_Many_Tools
04-07-2007, 10:13 AM
The Chinese are making a killing doing what they're doing - they have no reason to change. If anyone should take a lesson it's the western world. It is obviously possible to get stinking rich with a lesser product. The best example is Bill Gates, but the Chinese industry is also an excellent example. If you mass produce a lot of crap that works well enough and it's cheap, people will buy it. Walmart is another example. Most of the world nations are poor and what the Chinese are doing is providing them with adequate products in huge quantities with enormous economies of scale, and selling them at decent prices. Find a better economical model.


Yeah, its hard to argue against success.

I also suspect that the low grade machines will have an important contribution to China's future success.

If you recall how the Japanese used Just In Time (JIT) in manufacturing, they had tens of thousands of small mom and pop operations workihg out of their homes each making a component for a manufactured product. Remembering that they work for less a dollar a day, tens of thousands of local workers can become a human version of a "CNC" machine with little overhead to the company producing the product.

While we have seen a considerable impact from the manufacturing that was imported to China from American companies, I suspect we will see an even more competitive effort as the homegrown boys start coming on line.

If it worked for Japan, it will certainly work for the Chinese and with their larger scale will be a force to be reckoned with.

When I first saw a Harbor Freight catalog I wondered why they had some of the items that they carried....then I realized that those items are already being made for and sold to the Chinese and being available were being offered to the American market. They also represented manufactured goods that America would never have the opportunity to sell to the Chinese public.

The famous Asian lathe is one of them.

TMT