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daryl bane
10-30-2007, 05:39 PM
After looking at John Stevenson's thread on that new little CNC mill, I started thinking about the future of the home shop. Will a new wave of affordable CNC machining centers geared toward the HSM , relegate our prized Southbends, Monarchs, Bridgeports, to the dust bin of history? I have to confess to being a bit of a anti-CNC snob when home shops are concerned. I'll ooh and awe at some fancy manual machining project, and then turn my nose up at some super complex project done on CNC. I guess its the feeling of losing the old skills to progress. Anybody else feel this way? Oh well, back to the cave I go.

BadDog
10-30-2007, 05:42 PM
Not me. I spend all day every day, and sometimes into the night, in front of a computer. I do the machinist stuff to get some "hands on" time in the physical rather than virtual world! Now, I wouldn't mind having a smallish cnc mill or lathe for project blockers that are simply not reasonable for general purpose HSM type machines. But you can have my Bridgeport when you PRY MY COLD DEAD FINGERS OFF IT! ;)

lazlo
10-30-2007, 05:56 PM
I spend all day every day, and sometimes into the night, in front of a computer. I do the machinist stuff to get some "hands on" time in the physical rather than virtual world!

Likewise -- I drive a mouse for a living, and chose metalworking as the farthest possible hobby from my day job.

I've cobbled together a couple of little CNC projects (rotab and dividing head), but I really like driving a manual lathe, getting blue chips on my hands, and stinking of burnt metal and coolant after a long night in the shop ;)

S_J_H
10-30-2007, 06:02 PM
I enjoy the cnc aspect a lot. Heck I just built a cnc lathe and have converted 2 small chinese mills to cnc. But I also equally enjoy older manual machines, maybe even more so. The old early 1900's Artisan lathe I recently became the owner of is a good example.
I would toss my import cnc machines as well as the little cnc lathe I built in the trash before giving up that old beauty. But that's because these newer cnc machines can be easily replaced. The old Iron can't.
As a hobby, I think manual machines will be around for a very long time. I just watched an older nice looking 12" Craftsman lathe sell for 921.00$ last week on Ebay.
Steve

tony ennis
10-30-2007, 06:19 PM
relegate our prized Southbends, Monarchs, Bridgeports, to the dust bin of history?

Absolutely. There are still people out there doing woodworking with only hand tools. You'll be one of those people. Everyone will point and laugh. I already feel bad for you. ;)

CNC is going to be dirt cheap before long. My friend CNCed his lathe for about $300. Currently the software is difficult for normal people.

I'm with the previous posters - I do computers all day. I don't want to programa lathe too. I would like a "computer assist" on occasion - for example, the equivalent of change gears etc with the push of a button.

bob ward
10-30-2007, 06:42 PM
I really like driving a manual lathe, getting blue chips on my hands, and stinking of burnt metal and coolant after a long night in the shop ;)

Hear hear, and long may it continue. (What is it about watching the chips come off? There is almost a primeval satisfaction there, like staring into the fire or sitting on the beach watching the waves.)

But I can see lots of projects for a plug & play CNC mill. For instance carving blocks of aluminium into replacements for rotted die cast tail light housings and trim parts for old cars.

The programming for such items would not be a trivial exercise, but the potential of an HSM being able to machine very low volume complex parts of that nature is very attractive

John Stevenson
10-30-2007, 07:04 PM
At the recent Ascot show in the UK we [ myself and small son on the overhead ] gave a talk on CNC in the home workshop. This was a 1 hour talk originally over two days but we were asked to do the Sunday as well.

We split the talk into two 20 minute sessions with questions after each section.
The first section was why and the the second section was how.

The Why part I identified 8 sectors on why CNC would be an advantage and asked the punters to see if any of these sectors applied to them and if so could they make use of CNC.

The sectors, in no order were as follows

[1] Less quality time to spend in the home shop.
[2] Lack of formal training for someone coming into the hobby.
[3] Newcomers with plenty of computer skills but no mechanical skills.
[4] Ease of setting jobs up, minimum of special jigs needed.
[5] Affordable
[6] People to whom the workshop is a tool to support another hobby
[7] People to whom the end result is more important than the doing off.
[8] People to whom CNC has now become their hobby.

Judging by the nodding heads and I don't mean dropping off :D , the age of the punters, the questions asked and the fact we filled the lecture theatre on two days and 3/4 filled it on the Sunday and only one other guy did that [ Chris Vine on painting locomotives ], then I now feel more so than before that CNC is here to stay.

It won't take over from manual machines but will support them.

In recent years they have become very popular and now that the secret is affordability they will become even more popular.

Next year we aim to run a monthly training class for CNC, it was going to be 3 monthly but it seems that popular that to fit everyone in who has expressed a wish it will have to be monthly.

.

John Stevenson
10-30-2007, 07:09 PM
But I can see lots of projects for a plug & play CNC mill. For instance carving blocks of aluminium into replacements for rotted die cast tail light housings and trim parts for old cars.

The programming for such items would not be a trivial exercise, but the potential of an HSM being able to machine very low volume complex parts of that nature is very attractive
This is where the crafty bit comes in :D

Because Gert is giving you an elbow bashing for being out in the shop all hours you now get to spend two nights indoors with her.
So you spend two nights doing your programming on the laptop whilst watching Dallas reruns, West Wing, come dancing [ delete as required ] then shoot outside and set the machine running.
You can't be accused of being outside if you are inside :D

This way you get two extra nights on shop projects and when you are out there you are doing something else whist the CNC does in one night what would normally take you a week to do..........

.

Alistair Hosie
10-30-2007, 07:19 PM
John as an middle aged man who came to this about a decade ago , I still feel I have so much to learn with my own lathe mill etc that I enjoy renewing my brain cells by reading and making as much as I can when my ability prevails.I am fascinated by c n c but I can't see it completely taking over the hobbiests who enjoy the manual side of things.It's a bit like the new technology in camera development ,do you really think all the lifelong film buffs suddenly dropped of their film cameras in the bin because the more clever advanced digital cameras came along? I was a bit like that too now I love them both.For serious photography I would rather rely on film .Likewise with c n c I enjoy the old technology so much I don't want to give it up for c n c .I suppose I am still too new to all this and you may say the old tecnoplogy is the new technology to newcomers like myself.I fully understand John why you and many others see this new technology as a must for the future and if I were in competition for jobs work etc I would be thinking exactly the same .However I really don't see the need to do one or the other as a hobbiest.Alistair love you guys like brothers.

Mcruff
10-30-2007, 07:24 PM
I don't think that CNC will take over manual machines completely by any means. I build and repair plastic injection molds for a living. I remember when I got started in the trade 26 years ago, CNC was still young and I did a mountain of work on K&T rotary heads milling cavity's and making electrodes to EDM them. I embrace CNC's for certain jobs but I still do a mountain of work on manual machines and enjoy doing certain things that way only. I think there will always be a place for manual machines and the old world way of doing certain things. It keeps the mind sharp and the fingers and hands nimble. I am currently building a bench top CNC that weighs about 550-600lbs total, but I won't give up my old manual mill when its done and running in 3-6 months.

dp
10-30-2007, 07:53 PM
My wife likes it when I putter with the machinery because it gets me away from the keyboard. I work in a data center 50 hours/week, come home and run my own ISP bidness, then take some time for email and education stuff. No way I'm going CNC until I'm too stove in to stand up.

I can program fine - been doing it for decades, I can watch machines run but don't much enjoy it, so damned if I'm going to do either as a hobby. There is one exception - I do like rose engines :). I still have a darkroom for photography, too, because sometimes digital photography seems soulless, like Big Ben tolling the hour behind a big digital clock face.

I think it amounts to my not having any particular need to make something so much as needing to do something where that something is diverse from my daily grind. Another parallel: I don't ride my Harley in order to be somewhere - I ride it to go somewhere.

oil mac
10-30-2007, 08:05 PM
Last year, I sat through a lecture, given by two model engineers, on model loco building, this talk was given to my technical society of present and ex works managers, technologists, foremen, heads of firms etc, During the lecture our worthy speakers, gave a talk on how they were going to set up a trust to school youngsters in the art of model engineering, One of the old buffalo,s present on seeing the slide show of the machinery used, asked the relevant questions
1/ how much was the cost of your machinery? Answer £40,000 Approx!
2/ Will the kids have that much pocket money to spare for their hobby?
3/ Do you do this for profit? Ans no _ Response whats the point!
I thought to myself, model engineering/ home shop machining is a strange ideal like a trail of smoke, mysterious, and yet only in a few mens hearts and not most mens hearts.

Fortunately in this mortal state we have freedom of choice, to either go down the path of complete c.n.c. or part c.n.c. in our shop at home,or status quo, loving our old manual hand operated machines Whatever turns us on, or suits our ability Fair Do,s

For the average bod in western industry, fighting to keep earning his daily crust in an ever more agressive market, if he does not go down the route of faster more efficient methods, he goes the way of the Dinosaur
Back to the c.n.c. point, i have a friend of many years, a turner to trade who has completely changed his machines at home to c.n.c. and thoroughly enjoys the experience of making his model loco components P.D.Q. for myself i would rather twiddle knobs on my conventional machines, I always think for my model engineering, and general light machining work it is nice to use the basic ways and gentle old machines of a quickly vanishing age, I can still hone my skills, on the most traditional and elegant examples of good British/ American & German machine tools & measuring equipment, Then again i am an ageing dinosaur!

Carld
10-30-2007, 08:17 PM
I am 66 and have no interest in learning cnc or owning any. All my machines are manual.

speedsport
10-30-2007, 08:23 PM
I think this has to do with a couple of viewpoints, some of the older guys that scoff at CNC because they either think they can't learn the computer skills required or are not willing to put the time in to learn, or maybe they feel threatened by the new technology.Some people like the relaxing nature of turning handles and "being at one" with their machines. I think a lot of it depends if your goal is running the machines or having the finished part, if the goal is to have the finished part in your hand then CNC is gonna win everytime, personally I can't wait to get everything converted to CNC, it's only going to get cheaper and the satisfaction of being able to write the programs is just as good as being able to run the machines.

wingnutt
10-30-2007, 08:56 PM
Hell, i just got my 1964 INDEX 645,
and got her all cleaned up, my 3Axis DRO's and VFD's just showed up,
i guess im lagging behind the times,
"I could have bought a small CNC with what cash i had"
(Key-word, had)
But i like my anteque-iron, hell even the power-feeds old,,like me,
,
wheres the "joy" in pushing a button, having it pop out, and drop into a bin,
compared to turning those handles by hand,

someday, just like in the wood trade, (Real,hand-crafted furniture,
not wall-farts, fiber-board, cnc'ed, junk)
,
itl come back to, hand-machined, not CNC 'ed,
and people will apriciate the time and effort for something "custom" built,
,
for someone whos doing it for a living,,ok,,,
i can see why theyed want a CNC machine,
,
me,,i like the feel of it all,
just like when i used to work with wood,
,
JMO,
Its all "art" till the computers get ahold of it,
then,
its just another,
of many of the same
,,,"borg",,,
assimulate, or die,
but die-free,,

EI,

J Tiers
10-30-2007, 10:43 PM
The issue with CNC is the upfront stuff....

I tend, in the shop, to work with NO plans.... or a small sketch to guide me as to what I've decided.

CNC would force me to 3D model, then post process, etc, etc, etc.

I'd do it 3 days ago for a "product", but I'm danged if I'll do that for "fun"..... It would, frankly, turn my "fun" into an extension of work.

Plus, it really takes away from my "I made that" jollies...... "I programmed that part" just isn't the same................

Keith Krome
10-30-2007, 11:13 PM
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but HSM and CNC are not mutually exclusive. The CNC just has to be located at the home shop.

I learned on manual machines and I appreciate them, I view CNC as just another tool in the chest. I'd love to have my own CNC equipment as I find it most useful. But manual machines are also most useful, as J Tiers points out. Sometimes I don't even get a sketch of what is wanted, so to CNC it would take even more time.

I've "hand" coded in G code, and let me tell you, I'm just as proud of my programming as I am of my manual work. They both require skills. Until the replicator of Star Trek fame gets here, there is plenty of room for manual and CNC home shop machinists. Things don't get made just because there is a computer hooked up to a machine, it still takes a designer to make it all work out, and a machinist to set up the CNC.

dp
10-30-2007, 11:43 PM
I think it's going to be a while before a Mazak is affordable enough for an HSM shop :). It might happen, though.

I agree with the idea that they are not mutually exclusive but if that recent miniature rifle project had been done on CNC I doubt I'd have had any interest in it. I already know computers can make that stuff by the jillions. And not to take a thing away from the skills required to do that with CNC, just like there's a difference between a Van Gogh painting and a photoshop job, these machine classes are for me clearly differentiated so far as the interest they generate.

If I had a need for product vs a need for spending time at a rewarding and interesting pasttime I'd definitely go CNC because I'm also a very pragmatic guy. If I had a need for extreme accuracy and repeatability I'd also swing CNC. I suspect too if I did a lot of modeling before production CNC would be the only way to go.

A few days ago Evan was showing his dual arm camera mount for celestial photography. I immediately wondered if, using his under construction CNC setup, if he would have been able to extend the tracking time by ramping the roller guide vs machining it optically flat. Not difficult with CNC to get very accurate curves.

What is interesting from a people watching point of view is seeing somebody get their panties get in a knot over this stuff :eek: . It's sure to happen before this thread gets too much longer.

jeastwood
10-31-2007, 12:08 AM
Nothing against it; I'm just another SW weenie that has no use for computers in his shop.

After 20 years or so of having electronics and SW be both my hobby and my living, I now am no longer interested in programming on my off time. The challenge of figuring out how to do something manully is an attraction; keeps my brain active in a field that I'm not semi-bored with.

For those that go the CNC route: more power to you; that's a fine way to go too. You'll be able to make things I can't, and that's just fine. I'm more interested in 13th-19th century technology (clocks and steam engines) so don't need to make turbine blades and the like.

My unscientific sample of watching attendence at the GEARS (nee PRIME) show over the last 5 years make me think that our hobby is in pretty good shape. With at least five magazines I can thing of (Neil's 3, Model Engineering, Model Enginner's Workshop, and Model Engine Builder [OK, 6]),
Sherline, Taig, Prazi, and Wabeco making small hobby class machines, HSMing is going pretty strong.

Regards,

Jeff E.

Ed Tipton
10-31-2007, 12:23 AM
Personally, I enjoy my manual machines, although I do appreciate the feeling of being able to accomplish the "unthinkable" that can be done with CNC. I simply enjoy the slower and more deliberate pace that is part and parcel of the manual world. As far as I'm concerned, I've already lived too much of my life trying to meet some deadline. I hate deadlines, and I hate having to live a regimented lifestyle where I have to live in acordance with someones elses idea of what is or is not a realistic timeframe. I'm not out trying to set a world record in production. If a part doesn't get finished tonight, there is always tomorrow or next week..month, etc. I enjoy dedicating my time to my hobby, and the pace of my clunky old manual lathe suits me just fine. There is something too frenetic about CNC for my taste, and it seems to perpetuate the very thing I'm trying to get away from when I go to my shop. I like my shop because it is a FUN place for me to spend my time. It's a place where I can do it my way...in my time...on my money...on my schedule, without having to listen to the dictates of some outside source. If it stops being fun, then it takes on an entirely different meaning. Although I've never been accused of being a speed demon, I am more than ready to s-l-o-w things down and smell the roses ...so to speak....and there will be no CNC's in my rose garden.:)

torker
10-31-2007, 12:49 AM
I really enjoyed building the CNC rotary table last winter. I'm still not done with it and won't have time to touch it in quite some time.
Two of my best memories in my shop...building that lil' cnc rig and restoring my 1930's Ohio Universal mill. Both where amazing. The CNC was so cool! Watching it whir and click....watching it do most of the work. Slowly learning something about computers and electrics. It was great!
Then the Ohio restore. It's amazing...seeing it much out a 6" wide swath @ .150 doc...without so much as a wimper! I love the big ol' gear handles...the oil drippin out of everything. The massive solid feel.
No...I'll never get rid of the manual machines but I will build more cnc stuff....I love it.
Russ

oldtiffie
10-31-2007, 12:58 AM
I have enjoyed this thread as there is a lot of sense and sentiment in it - and I am quite amenable to both.

I have good "manual" work-shop and enjoy it. A lot of the tools are digital - and a lot of "hand" tools as well.

"The bloke in/and his shed" are an icon in Australia. We all not only want one - we need one!!

I have a quite open mind on all things so far as I am able. I try not o be biased or too sentimental or intolerant of other's ways and preferences (doesn't always work out that way - but I try!!).

My idea of using "digital" on my mill and perhaps my lathe is to fit my DRO's to them and use CAD to model it and enable me to get the ordinates of any points relative to any others and use those points to set my mill using DRO. I can get the off-sets and set it on my mill and then set the feed or what-ever going.

My 3-in-1 machine might get the treatment later.

I have had a top of the line "Eason" 3-axis DRO sitting still in its box for about 6 months and it will probably stay that way for a while yet.

How will I use it?

Well, one of the PIA's of milling with a conventional screw set-up is back-lash and perhaps the screw not being as accurate as it might be.

So I intend draw the job in CAD and set my manual tool path. I can just locate a reference point in any way, zero my DRO's and then "get going" until the DRO registers the "end/change" figure/s and then got going again. "Going back-wards" is no trouble as back-lash can be reasonably ignored as I can rely on the DRO's.

Me? "Draw" in CAD?

Well, I've had AutoCad on my machines since ver 2.17 and DOS 2.2 - and I've hardly used it as I prefer to draw by hand. I was at an AutoCad group committee meeting a week or so ago and had to get someone to give me a "run-through" on drawing a basic line!!! I hadn't even started ACAD for about 10 years and used it. (I have ACAD 2004 on my machine). My wife and I ran a very successful "Building Design" business for over 25 years and we did very well out of it indeed and it set us up for where we are today - all hand drawn - clients and Builders loved it. We only had to quote a job once - all the rest were on a "pay what-ever it costs" basis.

Yes it was an "after-hours" job was while I was working for Defence. I was employed there in a "Facilities Management" function so I was at "arms length" and Defence had an "insider's" out-look for working with Contractors and Consultants as well as having a very good handle on the "Regulatory" aspects. It was a classic "win-win" for everybody. Those Contractors and Consultants who "did the right thing" loved it - and those that didn't hated it )and me!!).

So I am well aware of the uses and limitations of CAD and computers.

I can see no reason what-so-ever that "manual-traditional" cannot sit quite comfortably side-by-side either in the small home HSM shop or "jobbing" shops. John Stevenson would be a good example - albeit perhaps on a larger and commercial basis.

I don't see that it should be one at or to the exclusion of the other.

I'd love to get and be able to use one of those Seig CNC units that John showed in the last day or so.

There is a third way or consideration which I referred to in in the title to this post: "Both plus one".

And what did I mean by that? Are there three and not just two (CNC and "manual")?

Yes.

And what is it?

Bench-work!!

It is surprising how much "machine work" is actually almost "bench-work" transferred to a machine and how much "bench-work" there is to be done before and after "machining".

I suggest that a lot of what is done by way of "machining" is only another stage in "bench-work". In other words a job starts "off-machine", gets machined" and then its "back to bench". Dismantling, machining and re-assembling an engine is one case in point. A lot of "hobby" and "model-making" is another. There are many more.

Welding is a case in point where a machine is only part of the "hand" process.

And FWIW I class "Computing" as - "off-machine" and therefore as "bench-work" as a machine (mill, lathe etc.) is not a pre-requisite to using the computer.

Setting up a machine and "bench" (type) work is very similar.

I cannot see "hand" work and skills disappearing any time soon - or at all.

It is surprising how many "go CNC" and need to find some way of using the machine in a "non-CNC" (ie "hand" mode) and actually have a real need for a manual lathe or mill. I can't see that changing anytime soon either.

There will always be a need for both the specialist shop for "manual" machining on the one hand and "CNC" on the other.

Some of the old "sweat-shop" "skills" need to be brought into the modern age as well.

John Stevenson
10-31-2007, 04:47 AM
There was a recent turn of letters, both posted in and by email from readers of Model Engineers Workshop recently, [ I hate that title, it infers that everyone with a workshop builds models ]

A large consensus of the readers pointed out that they had no interest in building models but that their workshop was there to support another hobby, in a lot of cases restoring vintage cars and motor cycles.

Recently there has been a couple of issues where there has been a motorcycle or vintage car on the cover, these have gone on to outsell all other copies.
Lets face it only an anorak can spot a dividing head at 20 paces in W H Smiths :D

Staying on this track there was recently an article on wheel building and the jigs needed, possible fringe content for MEW but again letters poured in, can we have more off please ?

At the recent talk I asked people to identify what reasons from the 8 above suited them, lets face it not everyones interest are the same so the reasons won't be.
Personally If I had to choose I'd choose 4 and 5.
Ease of setting up and affordable. Affordable doesn't really need explaining other than what cost industry $10,000 can now be bought for $200 in many cases.

I feel ease of setting up suits me the most. As an example at the talk I held up a camshaft out of a racing bike gearbox.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/stevenson.engineers/lsteve/hidden/rotary%20cam1.jpg

This was machined on the 4th axis with no jigs or any other setup.
The next job after this was an engraved dial with 125 divisions for a mill attachment.

To do this cam by manual means would have meant master tracks, roller followers and to be honest a lot of heartache.
Now some get a kick out of doing this by hand , other just want the bloody cam.

I'm not pushing CNC to people who don't want it. My big CNC hasn't turned a wheel in over a week, everything has been done manually but later it will run for about 3 days just churning bits out.

All I want to point out is that it's now affordable, here and of interest to a lot of people.

.

hdj80
10-31-2007, 05:39 AM
Such a fascinating and worthwhile thread. Everyone has said what "they" get out of it. Not what "others" should.
I think like many here the journey is just as important as the destination. Yes I am a tinkerer.
Like Oldtiffie said "Sheds and blokes" are quite embedded in the Australian psychy. I know my wife resents not 1 minute I spend in the shed doing my thing. She realises I get something from it regardless of the eventual output.

I love technology and a CNC mill would be a fun thing to tinker with - but to me, the lathe and mill are high tech as well. You can make complex mechanical parts, need real skill and knowledge to achieve the ultimate goal - all things that mean that regardless that the machine was built before the oldest on the list it is still relatively high tech. CNC on the other hand is like rocket science :D

Thanks all for a great read that shows that we are all pretty much on the same plane - we just love doing our "bloke" stuff.

Your Old Dog
10-31-2007, 06:07 AM
I think whether one embraces CNC or not depends on whether they are "result" orientated or "process" orientated. In my particular case it's all about the work that I remove from the machine.

I'd give my eyeteeth for CNC but recognize my mental horsepower leaves a lot to be desired when dealing with new software.

CNC would also allow a person to do "what-ifs" for experimenting without tying up a summer of evenings into a project only to scrap it.

Gun Engravers faced the same question over 20 years ago. Use the chasing hammer or buy a new pneumatic Gravermeister. Many guys who had the Gravermeister hid them from their clients until a noted successful artist (Lynton MacKenzie) said "it doesn't matter how the chips get on the floor as long as the right ones get there".

I had a Gravermeister but later sold it in favor of the chasing hammer. I found the hammer (when used with a foot operated rotary vice) was faster and more satisfying.

Charles Ping
10-31-2007, 07:11 AM
Aside from the financial aspect I only have room for one mill in my workshop. At the moment it's a manual mill but I can see the time when that one mill will be replaced by a CNC mill if I can be convinced that the "quick and dirty" manual jobs can be done on the same machine as the CNC jobs.
Also for my sort of hobby work it needs to be robust and probably Bridgeport size. I've yet to see BP Interacts coming in at the same price as manual machines.

Charles

J Tiers
10-31-2007, 08:22 AM
JS:

When a shop supports ANOTHER hobby, then it is a "production" facility, and CNC is quite normal and useful.

If I have a product that needs a part made, I'll get CNC "in a second" to do it.

When you WANT TO DO SHOP WORK, you are not interested in ways to "make it easier and more repeatable", you just want relaxing shop work. With a specific goal or product no doubt, but "the means is the message", if you will.

I say those are two DIFFERENT things, and it is merely a matter of which is what you do.

oldtiffie
10-31-2007, 08:41 AM
JS:

When a shop supports ANOTHER hobby, then it is a "production" facility, and CNC is quite normal and useful.

If I have a product that needs a part made, I'll get CNC "in a second" to do it.

When you WANT TO DO SHOP WORK, you are not interested in ways to "make it easier and more repeatable", you just want relaxing shop work. With a specific goal or product no doubt, but "the means is the message", if you will.

I say those are two DIFFERENT things, and it is merely a matter of which is what you do.

Thanks JT.

Agreed - again.

If both options are available - even better - and if a machine (say mill or lathe) has the option of being used as either "manual" or "CNC" - a "2-in-1" if you like - better still.

But - either, neither or both will ever eliminate the "bench" work (see my previous posts) - I hope - as I really enjoy that part (as well).

My shop also supports a good "wood-work" set-up as well as "general buggerising around" (lots!!) as well and as they all have their own "languages".

I guess it qualifies me and my shed/shop as being "Multi-cultural".

Hey - I could get a Government Grant for that!!!!

John Stevenson
10-31-2007, 09:02 AM
I'm trying to be very careful here to stay on the fence and not push either operation just point out facts.
This morning I have resleeved two motor end caps, built a rotor up, remachined it and keywayed it and welded 3 broken mounting lugs on a damaged end plate and dressed them up with files and the dremel.

All the other jobs have been done on two manual lathes and a Bridgy manual mill.

Other than the keyway having cnc wouldn't have helped at all.

Now if todays jobs had been a new large rotor shaft and say a new brush box holder for a big DC motor then the CNC's would have won hands down.... horses for courses.

One point I have noticed, people say when converting can I fit handwheels so I can do the odd job manually. Yes you can but most use the keyboard to work manually.
"Oh I couldn't do that and for the odd job this will be quicker"

Later on down the line when you talk to these and ask about the hand wheels the reply is "oh I took those off, as you say once you are used to it the keyboard is just as quick."

Lew Hartswick
10-31-2007, 09:09 AM
This is a great thread. I just realized something about my "working
life". I'm an electronic engineer and my working period spans from
vacuum tubes to LSI chips. It just occured to me while reading this
thread that my decreasing satisfaction with my work was a result of
the process of more and more of the circuit design work was being
done by the "chip" designer and fabricators and left less and less for
me to do. When I had to figure out what needed to be done and
then sort out what components to use and hook up to do it it was
a lot more intresting than finding an LSI chip to do the job. So it was
the "process" not the final "product" that was the enjoyment.
For machines I want nothing to do with computer controled things.
I don't have a machine shop ( I do have a woodworking shop) but
I volunteer at a high school metal shop (where I do some hobby
metal work) :-) and trying to get the kids to operate a manual
lathe or mill is a lot of fun.
So I agree it depends on wether it's the "result" or the "process"
thats important.
...lew...

DickDastardly40
10-31-2007, 09:18 AM
No axe to grind either way, though I have absolutely zero experience with CNC, but from demos etc that I have seen, CNC milling appears to be an easy way into self manufacture of highly complicated parts precluding having to buy castings.

If the HSMachinist has access to this sort of ease of manufacture it can only add to the hobby. Those that like to turn handwheels and have the mental puzzle of lots of processes to complete a job will continue to do so, but those that like to push buttons to get a similar outcome may become more prevalent.

Everyone is more IT literate, look at how we're communicating, would the 'average 50-60 YO gent' frequenting this site have believed he'd be having an instantaneous conversation via an electric typewriter 25 years ago. The programming will become a doddle for many who dip their toe into the water for that reason. As the cheaper far east machinery has made HSM more accessable then I believe the natural progression to HSCNC will continue to do so, perhaps more as an allied trade than a takeover.

Just my £0.0097

Yours Aye

Al

oldtiffie
10-31-2007, 09:24 AM
I'm trying to be very careful here to stay on the fence and not push either operation just point out facts.
This morning I have resleeved two motor end caps, built a rotor up, remachined it and keywayed it and welded 3 broken mounting lugs on a damaged end plate and dressed them up with files and the dremel.

All the other jobs have been done on two manual lathes and a Bridgy manual mill.

Other than the keyway having cnc wouldn't have helped at all.

Now if todays jobs had been a new large rotor shaft and say a new brush box holder for a big DC motor then the CNC's would have won hands down.... horses for courses.

One point I have noticed, people say when converting can I fit handwheels so I can do the odd job manually. Yes you can but most use the keyboard to work manually.
"Oh I couldn't do that and for the odd job this will be quicker"

Later on down the line when you talk to these and ask about the hand wheels the reply is "oh I took those off, as you say once you are used to it the keyboard is just as quick."

John, that makes sense.

Re. the "hand-wheel" bit. I had exactly that situation when I put the "X" power feed on my mill. I had to stick to one end of the mill. Actually the PD decided it for me - it was the left end or nothing. But even with PD my remaining hand-wheel just "free-wheels".

Now if I put PD on my "Y" screw I won't have a hand option at all!!.

I've looked closely at every CNC set-up lately and none seem to have an extension or facility for a hand-wheel.

I take your point about using the PC for "feed" in all axis to emulate "hand" control - and it is a very good point. I could get used to that.

If the CNC "fell-over" and was not available, can I quickly remove the CNC drive/s and use it "manually" and restore the CNC when it become available?

That is probably hypothetical as I would still have my existing lathe and I'd buy a CNC similar (the same if its Sieg) to the one you posted and that way I'd have all options open.

I don't anticipate too many problems with programming as I've done a bit of "AutoLISP" in AutoCAD - even when it was "expressions and variables" - a long time ago - and HP RPN on my HP41CX calculator ( a great machine).

I'd have to get my finger out again as regards AutoCAD or the installed soft-ware.

I really did like the fully integrated "turn-key" set-up.

I know that one of our members in OZ is keen on Seig - so when I get around to getting a bit closer to it I'll ask him re. Seig supply, support and service.

lazlo
10-31-2007, 09:44 AM
I'm an electronic engineer and my working period spans from vacuum tubes to LSI chips. It just occured to me while reading this
thread that my decreasing satisfaction with my work was a result of the process of more and more of the circuit design work was being
done by the "chip" designer and fabricators and left less and less for me to do.

When I had to figure out what needed to be done and then sort out what components to use and hook up to do it it was a lot more intresting than finding an LSI chip to do the job.

Lew, that happened 15 years ago :) I'm one of the "chip" designers, and what happened to the discrete components years ago is happening now to the VLSI components: because of transistor scaling, multiple chips have been consolidated into one to reduce manufacturing costs, which means that there's very little product differentiation anymore.

So when you go to Fry's, Best Buy, etc and look at the wall of graphics cards, sound cards, network routers... -- they all have the same features, because if you open up the box and look at the printed circuit board, they all have one chip on it: the same chip.

Like you say, that's a great analogy with the canned CNC machines: how much creative differentiation will we have when everyone's shop has the same Sieg CNC machine? :)

You can have my old American Iron when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

I've put a clause in my will that the kids don't get their inheritance if they sell my machine tools ;)

oldtiffie
10-31-2007, 10:15 AM
Lew, that happened 15 years ago :)
.......................................
.....................................
.......................................
........................................

You can have my old American Iron when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

I've put a clause in my will that the kids don't get their inheritance if they sell my machine tools ;)

Hi lazlo.

I wish you luck.

Here they'd get a smart Lawyer and unless you had a signed "Certificate of Testamentary Capacity" they'd "bust" your Will on the basis that you were ........... well .....................

How do I know? 'cos it'll sure happen to me if I don't find a good home for my '"iron" before I "cark it".

Otherwise the "cold dead fingers" would be pried open and this is what might happen.

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/morbidbastid.jpg

http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa294/oldtiffie/puter.jpg

Carld
10-31-2007, 10:16 AM
As John is stating, each machine has it's nitch. There are many things that are imposible or near imposible to do on manual machines that is a cake walk for CNC. I respect that but to me, now that I am retired, the fun is in the process and doing, not the finished product. A business has to look at all posibilities to stay in business and some hobbyists feel the same concerning CNC and their hobby.

In the repair world I don't think the manual machines will ever die out. There are some jobs that are just to easy to do manually when programing and tooling a CNC would be costly.

However, with limited CNC knowledge I may be wrong and I am sure someone will point that out if it is so.

Techtchr
10-31-2007, 10:30 AM
I have both CNC and manual machines at home and school. I use both frequently, but in different ways. The manual stuff is quicker for me when all I am doing simple things where I don't have special setups. The CNC machines are much faster and easier to use on items that may need special setup or if I am milling some kind of complex curve. I built the conversion parts for my CNC machines on my manual machine tools.

My main use for my manual machines at home is for musical instrument repairs. It would be much more complex to setup the CNC to do the things I do. I did find a cool use for it one time when I had to cut a new tone hole in a wood instrument. It would have taken me many more hours to create the tone hole cutter on my manual machine tools then cut the tone hole.

Lastly...just a comment from a proud teacher. One of my former high school students who will be graduating from an Engineering school this year was involved in a rocket club at college. The club was going to build a rocket engine and had to turn a hunk of graphite into a nozzle. The group of future rocket scientists stood around looking at each other wondering who was going to turn the nozzle on the manual lathe when Eddie volunteered. He was the only one that had ever made something on a lathe...MY CLASSES!

Matt

tattoomike68
10-31-2007, 10:36 AM
I love to run a manual lathe, its my favorite tool. Milling sucks , thats where I would like to have a cnc mill.

lazlo
10-31-2007, 10:44 AM
Otherwise the "cold dead fingers" would be pried open and this is what might happen.

Now that's funny Tiffie!

I've got a large Pink Granite Starrett surface plate I want to use for my headstone. I need to think of something pithy to put on it... ;)

Malc-Y
10-31-2007, 10:44 AM
I try to keep an open mind on advances in technology and am sure that they all have their place. At the present time though, that place isn't in my workshop! This is because in my everyday job (I am a train driver, or 'engineer' in US parlance) I have never had any technical training at all, I am entirely self taught as a machinist through trial and error (a lot of the latter :D) and reading books and magazines on the subject. Likewise I am at a complete loss as to how to use a CAD programme so would not have a clue on how to programme a CNC machine. Maybe sometime in the future things will change and someone will show me how to undertake programming and CAD, but until then i will keep on enjoying myself with my Colchester and my Bridgeport.
I have seen demonstrations of small CNC milling machines at Model Engineering exhibitions and find them most impressive but when I ask the person doing the demonstration about programming they always say "Oh, it's easy", well it probably is to them but I don't think it would be so easy for me!

Malc. :cool:

Spin Doctor
10-31-2007, 11:02 AM
If CNC hasn't eliminated the manual machines from the professional shop environment it certainly isn't going to eliminate them from the HSMers shop. Believe CNC is nice but for some stuff it is overkill. What is nice is if the CNC machine can also be used as a manual mill or lathe. And that is the direction I think we will see the home shop CNC go in the future.

lazlo
10-31-2007, 11:06 AM
If CNC hasn't eliminated the manual machines from the professional shop environment it certainly isn't going to eliminate them from the HSMers shop.

But it has! Virtually no one makes manual machines anymore, except the Chinese -- there's just no market for them.

Spin Doctor
10-31-2007, 12:14 PM
But it has! Virtually no one makes manual machines anymore, except the Chinese -- there's just no market for them.

Yet the manual lathes and mills are still out there and will continue to be. For doing repair work often a CNC just doesn't cut it. Try chasing threads on an existing shaft on a CNC lathe. They are damn near impossible to pick up. And if you screw up the part is now completely ruined. One of jobs that can be done simply in a BP mill can be a PITFA on a CNC mill much less a machining center. Hardinge still lists the BP Series 1 and the HLV on their web site. Though admitidly how many they sell a year is most likely pretty low. Jones & Shipman may still be building machines in the UK. The machine tool business is alive and well in Eastern Europe. The business of making and selling manual machines in the US may be pretty well dead but if the dollar keeps going down hill it may come back somewhat. But will the skilled labor be there to support it.

toastydeath
10-31-2007, 12:39 PM
I don't have a hobby to support, I just love machining and managed to swing a job in the field. I use and love both manual and CNC machines, and I always try to reach for the appropriate tool for the job.

One of the big differences that hobby-oriented people may not be familiar with is the variance in control units. Some controls are aimed at making 4000 parts an hour, and some are better suited for repair-type work. And in that vein, the big misconception that I take issue with is "CNC isn't fast for small jobs." I'd argue that's specific control's fault, not all of CNC in general.

With a control that allows for it (good MDI support) a person can use a CNC with the same speed of setup (and satisfaction) as a manual machine. Write quick blurbs in MDI to take a pass, retract the tool, and return to start. You don't need a 0,0 or anything else, as long as you practice using the machine that way. At school, that always some faculty out (who insist on using Mastercam for everything). You don't need the whole program to make a whole part, or even a couple parts.

DR
10-31-2007, 02:27 PM
CNC in the home shop........if you want to call those little Sherlines, etc CNC.

A guy asked me for some advice on pocketing a piece of steel on his home built conversion. His step depth in the pocket was .010" per step at about 2 ipm.

Now that would be worse than the worst manual machine.


My point is, I don't call these "real" CNC's. They're toys which would be torture to use. The one John posted will be a slight cut above a Sherline.

lazlo
10-31-2007, 02:38 PM
My point is, I don't call these "real" CNC's. They're toys which would be torture to use. The one John posted will be a slight cut above a Sherline.

True, but starting with the X3, and increasing to the RF-45 clones, and then the Tormach, you're getting a pretty substantial machine, capable of milling mild steel.
I think Sieg is probably getting their feet wet with a Turn-key X1 CNC setup, but wouldn't be surprised if that's followed by a canned X3 CNC system.

Syil is already selling pre-made X3 systems at a very competitive price-point...

ptjw7uk
10-31-2007, 03:13 PM
Lets face it a CNC'd mill is still only a tool at the end of the day!
So if you want the experience of doing it by hand then do it that way always supposing you have the necessary knowledge to do it. To my mind the CNC part makes up in part for a lack of experience and knowledge.

To me CNCing a mill is like when I built my workshop 4x2 bearers with a 22mm ply covering. I could have done this using the preverbial hammer but the simple thought of all those nails forced me to buy a nailgun.
So simple bang bang all done(well not quite that quick)

So I vote for the CNC as a tool along with all the rest including digital micrometers all to make life easier I just dont have the time to learn a lot of manual tricks!!

Peter

Peter N
10-31-2007, 03:41 PM
CNC is a wonderful tool, and for the record I'd love to have one, but still keep my manual mill as well.

As others have said though, manual equipment is far from dead in the professional environment.
In the toolroom where all our moulds are made - and these are *far* from simple mould tools - there is a old bridgie interact (CNC) and a slightly younger Mazak (CNC),
5 manual step-pulley bridgies, a cincinatti, 2 colchesters, 3 J & S manual grinders, and 2 sink sparkers.

The interact is used almost solely to generate the electrodes for the sparkers, and the mazak is used for roughing and pocket milling, and for leader/guide pin holes.
Everything else is done on the manual machines, except for a little bit of hard milling on the CNCs.

However, at the end of the day this is a toolroom, not a jobbing shop, and there's not quite such a need for speed or taking huge cuts,
it really doesn't matter that much if the job takes an hour or two longer.
In more price-conscious production enviroments it would probably be quite different.

Peter

miker
10-31-2007, 04:42 PM
Heck, I have just progressed to enjoy and prefer using the 4 jaw chuck. Thanks to all the fine advice here.
Could I just CNC the 4 Jaw so all those little jaws wind into where they should be by pressing a button?? :)

Rgds

matador
10-31-2007, 06:07 PM
I don't think I could be bothered to learn CNC,just to use in home workshop.
It would probably be useful for doing menial tasks,like running up 100 items of one particular part.But I don't need 100 of anything.The most I ever made of 1 part was 8,and I did manage to get them all near enough for guv'mint work.That in itself made me happy,cause it meant my skills are improving.
I'm sure that no engineering business could survive without CNC these days,but I'm also sure there will always be a place for a man with the required manual machining skills.

dp
10-31-2007, 06:55 PM
I don't think I could be bothered to learn CNC,just to use in home workshop.
It would probably be useful for doing menial tasks,like running up 100 items of one particular part.But I don't need 100 of anything.The most I ever made of 1 part was 8,and I did manage to get them all near enough for guv'mint work.That in itself made me happy,cause it meant my skills are improving.
I'm sure that no engineering business could survive without CNC these days,but I'm also sure there will always be a place for a man with the required manual machining skills.

Here's a little job I did today in maybe half an hour - an alignment pin for my Harley. This is probably the 10th one I've made because I keep losing them or giving them away. A CNC candidate, for sure.

http://TheVirtualBarAndGrill.com/machinery/alignmentpin.png

This was done in such real time that your post is in the background :)

tony ennis
10-31-2007, 07:30 PM
I think once you make the same part about 100 times you'll be looking for CNC or some manner of computer assist. There are different levels of CNC that are useful in the home shop. For example, an indexing table that's computer controlled would be quite useful, even if all it did was rotate x.xxxx degrees every time you pushed a button. Sure you could do the same with an dividing head and its sector arms.

If I had to do a few parts, I'd do them manually or find an assist. If I had to do a lot of relatively simple parts, I'd consider an assist or CNC. If I had a lot of more complex parts, I'd job it out. It will be a while before most home shops see a 4-axis CNC machine.

S_J_H
10-31-2007, 07:37 PM
I don't think I could be bothered to learn CNC,just to use in home workshop.

And why not? It's not that hard to learn. I don't work with computers for a living, as so many seem to do here. I'm a painter! I'm not that young either. I learned cnc pretty easily. It was a very steep learning curve at first but once you get the hang of it..

As has been said, There seems to be some misconceptions about cnc. You can do anything on a cnc mill using software such as Mach3 that you can do on a manual mill. So you are not giving up your manual capabilities at all! The very very least a cnc mill offers for manual duty is full programmable power feed on all 3 axis.

But once you learn a little what the cnc control offers, you can quickly work manually with a cnc mill with great control and IMHO faster. I probably use my x3 mill with is cnc converted "manually" 95% of the time. Early on I thought I needed to retain my handwheels. It took me a while as anything worth learning usually does take some time.
Already on the little cnc lathe I built I can zip through "manual" operations very fast.
It seems to be a situation of people saying they do not want to try something before even trying it.
I don't like Tuna fish; I get along just fine with beef. Yet I never tried tuna fish.:D
No, I am not a " cnc only" hobbyist! Not hardly! I was off today and spent 8 hours on my old Artisan lathe scraping 90-year-old grease, grime etc. Every single part is dismantled. I look forward big time to using this old machine manually! Would I toss some steppers on this old Iron, oh hell no! Blasphemy! But it's a lot fun as well to make some parts on a generic cnc import machine. Or heck, just make your own cnc machine from scratch. You’ll get plenty of manual machining fun making a cnc machine.

There is a place for cnc in the hobby. I don't care how good you are turning hand wheels. CNC opens up a whole New World of metal working capability. It is not just about making 100 of these or that.
What you can do in just a few minutes with cnc might take a week manually or just be down right impossible for you manually, unless you are one of those incredible ambidextrous artists that can use a etch a sketch and draw the Mona Lisa. Example, Take a photo scan it, now with a little software you can mill out that photo as a lithograph for example on your mill.
CNC is now affordable; Software such as Mach3 is affordable. Give it a try if you wish but don't blindly snub your nose at it.
IMO it is real nice to be able to do both and not be limited. Your manual skills will carry over very well into cnc. You'll already have a very good understanding of depth of cuts, feed rates and cutting situations that should be avoided when you setup your cnc programs. Please do not think Joe Schmo who never operated a mill goes out and purchases a little cnc machine and cranks out beautiful parts. No it still takes skill and knowledge. Setup, the knowledge of what the machine can handle ect. Read some of the cnczone posts from guys with no prior manual experience. Many of them are lost, have no clue what they are doing. IMHO it's the old dogs that are experts already at manual machining who could easily take on the cnc aspect and do incredible work.

Steve

dp
10-31-2007, 09:36 PM
Give it a try if you wish but don't blindly snub your nose at it.
Steve

Good comments, Steve - but do take note that some of us are trying to avoid more computer time. It hasn't anything to do with the machines at all, at least for me. I just need to get away from computers on a regular basis. They have consumed my life for going on 30 years and I am enjoying my "analog" experiences with machinery. One reason I opted to not get a fuel injected engine on my Harley is because I didn't want yet another computer defining my life.

What I would like and enjoy is motor drives for cross-feed and lead screw as that operation does limit how much time I can stand over the machines and that is due to a twice ruptured disk from 10 years ago or so. So give me NC but keep the other C :)

moldmonkey
10-31-2007, 10:07 PM
I run a CNC knee mill with a conversational control (Aniliam) making one-off and short-run parts for the day job. It is just as easy, sometimes easier, as a manual for this type of work. To face mill a block. Just hit the X-button and type the position you want it to feed to and hit Cycle Start and off it goes. Just like power feed but it comes to it's stop point and stops. Or feed all 3-axis at once. Need to drill a bunch of holes, just disengage the quill from it's servo. Type in the X & Y, hit Cycle Start, it rapids to that point and you drill manually. I am used to the control and can write a program very quickly. CNC doesn't necessarily mean CAD, long runs of parts, or lots of set-up.

I would love to have a CNC knee mill in the home shop but would never get rid of my 1939 Kearney & Trekker. Both manual and CNC require skill, often the same skills. I like both the process and the finished product. CNC takes a lot of the drudgery of cranking handles out of the equation.

J Tiers
10-31-2007, 10:48 PM
Well, dunno about the 50-60 yo gent....... I went and checked my driver's license, and found to my surprise that i WAS one of them.

But..... techie-phobic I am not. I have had computers since the SWPTC 6800 came out (still have that one), use computers at work, program micros, design analog and digital circuits, switchmode power supplies, etc for a living. I'm even working in the "green" biz, as we do mostly alternative energy stuff

I have the choice of buying CNC or designing it from scratch, but I don't do either, simply because it makes no sense for me now. Not because I can't learn, but because I don't NEED it, and enjoy the other way better.

You-all who DON'T work with that stuff all day can have it at home..... While I worked for the music company, I hardly ever played any of my instruments.... same deal, dealt with it all day. The mechanic's car is never fixed, you know......

I see no "conflict" at all. You want one piece, turn the handles. You want 5 pieces, you have a choice. You want 10 or 20 all exactly the same, CNC sounds pretty good.

oldtiffie
10-31-2007, 11:00 PM
Heck, I have just progressed to enjoy and prefer using the 4 jaw chuck. Thanks to all the fine advice here.
Could I just CNC the 4 Jaw so all those little jaws wind into where they should be by pressing a button?? :)

Rgds

Miker,
if the 4-jaws presses your buttons, you've got it made.

daryl bane
10-31-2007, 11:20 PM
Here is a aspect of this discussion that I sorta was trying to make. Lets say you walk into a model convention and there's all of these tables filled with examples of workmanship. None of this stuff is for sale, strictly hobby. You stop at this table, and here is an elderly gent with a some beautiful working aero engines. He has some pictures of his shop of mostly older manual machines and some he even built himself. You think, "gosh, this guy is something, very impressive, wow". You move on down the the aisle and come upon a gentleman with some spectacular steam engines. You find out they are all done on CNC, and the guy just started doing this last year? He says" I just don't have the time to learn, I let the software do it for me". Me, I know I'm stick-in-the-mud snob/jerk, I think, "yeah great, when's lunch" and move on. How would you think about this, really? Now I know this is a fantasy concept, but, could it be that far off?

mochinist
11-01-2007, 12:05 AM
Here is a aspect of this discussion that I sorta was trying to make. Lets say you walk into a model convention and there's all of these tables filled with examples of workmanship. None of this stuff is for sale, strictly hobby. You stop at this table, and here is an elderly gent with a some beautiful working aero engines. He has some pictures of his shop of mostly older manual machines and some he even built himself. You think, "gosh, this guy is something, very impressive, wow". You move on down the the aisle and come upon a gentleman with some spectacular steam engines. You find out they are all done on CNC, and the guy just started doing this last year? He says" I just don't have the time to learn, I let the software do it for me". Me, I know I'm stick-in-the-mud snob/jerk, I think, "yeah great, when's lunch" and move on. How would you think about this, really? Now I know this is a fantasy concept, but, could it be that far off?CNC doesnt do everything for you, you still need some machining knowledge and mechanical knowledge to build a nice working assembly like a steam engine. If you are finger CAMing it you need to know g code, realistic speeds and feeds for your machine, material, available tooling, and you might want to brush off your old math books. An actual CAM package will make life easier(maybe), but I have played with some of the hobbiest priced CAM packages and the learning curve can be pretty steep. A true CNC machinist is no less talented than a manual machinist, their talents just lie different areas.

Me I think I am happiest when I am working on a manual mill, but I also enjoy the CNC mill programming, setup and initial run , after that pushing a button and watching a machine run while you deburr parts sucks.

moldmonkey
11-01-2007, 12:15 AM
daryl-

I would have to ask how he programmed the part and how complex the part. Without CAM or conversational programming, straight G-code programming of a complex part takes a lot of knowledge and skill and is a quick path to a killer headache. Also, model/hobby work may not be the best example as it's not held to a tolerance.

If it's a complex part made to a tolerance, I would rank the skill level as:

1-all manual
2-G-code
3-conversational programmed
4-CAM programmed

I would consider the conversational programming I use as "CAM-lite", it will generate tool paths for simple features. To make more complex features you combine the canned cycles or revert to straight G-code programming.

Edit: Upon some reflection I have to say I have no experience of CAM other than the finger variety and the "CAM-lite" conversational programming, so my automatically dismissing it as less skilled is as bad as others dismissing all CNC work as unskilled. I do know from personal experience that conversational programming is usually easier than G-code programming. Manual vs G-code isn't always so clear cut. Manual with form tools and good accessories and set-ups can be easier than trying to write the code to do the same features without the same tooling.

Keith Krome
11-01-2007, 12:28 AM
To answer Daryl Bane's question:

While I respect the craftsmanship that can go into models and such, to me it is kind of like the "old school" German machinist apprentice stuff you hear about (how much truth there is to it I don't know). The ones about the apprentice being given a file and proceeding to make a cube accurate and square to .001" all by hand. While I can't say that I can duplicate such a feat, I really fail to see much utility in it. Sure, it can instill discipline and make one an expert with a file (which again, I can respect) but I can't help but think what a waste of time, when there are much more capable machines out there that can make short work of such things. I'm sure there were some smart people out there who were turned off due to the rigid structure of the "old school" system. But again, if that is where one's interest lies, then knock yourself out.

I would argue that such a theoretical encounter with a gentleman who CNC'd everything and says "I don't have time to learn" is far fetched. Either the work speaks for itself, or it doesn't. Personally, I have no interest in miniature guns or some of the models that people make, all the while I can respect their craftsmanship. On the other hand, I can also appreciate Bathsheba Grossman's sculpture, which is actually fabricated by a machine, with some finishing steps done by hand. http://www.bathsheba.com/ Which I can also understand if others don't appreciate it. I know I've seen art which was full of craftsmanship and took hours to complete, but was completely lost on me. It cases like that, it doesn't really matter how it was made, the end result still doesn't impress me.

Again, it boils down to a process vs. result aesthetic. Try making ellipses on your manual machines and you might understand my point. It is possible, but very difficult. The ornamental turning lathe is a work of art in itself, but accessible to a very few number of people. I can appreciate my friends Rivett 608 lathe, but when it comes to making certain things, I'll take my 2007 vintage MSC "Prince" lathe I have at work. I'm starting to ramble now. I learned a lot of my machining skills from a guy who was Navy trained. While I'm quite sure he can also appreciate craftsmanship, he also had instilled in him a get it done attitude which I'm sure can be most useful in combat. He could also be quite frugal with time and materials. The bigger question is: is the HSM an artisan, or a machinist, or both? Or does it depend on the project at hand? I do have a soft spot for the old machinery, with the nice curves and graceful construction. They look much nicer than the boxy lathe I have at work. But they both are able to make parts. The beauty of CNC is that you can use simple cutters to make complex parts. The human brain is the most creative tool out there, and from it has sprung both wonderful manual machines and the computer, without which, we probably wouldn't be having this discussion.

oldtiffie
11-01-2007, 01:16 AM
I have thought a lot about the Forum and whether it will or should (Or could?) continue as it is.

My answer is:
1.
don't know;

2.
as its doing a huge lot of good and no harm at all and attracts plenty of custom, comment, members etc. why "fix" it (yet anyway) as it doesn't appear to be "broken"; and

3.
leave "as is" unless or until there is good reason to change it.

I have enjoyed the discussion on this thread - immensely.

I put a post on another thread that is perhaps (more?) relevant to this thread. I have copied it into this thread.

************************************************** *
Open mind

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

I am keeping an open mind here and trying not to prejudge or condemn anything until I've seen it - "it" being CNC - on a mill.

I have a HF45 "clone" - if you will - mill which is quite sturdy and does a good job - a real good job. But the only "digital enhancement" it will get is the Easson 3-axis DRO when ever I get around to fitting it.

I have another very good smaller mill on my "3-in-1" which has a very good 250-900 lathe on it as well. I also have a very good "mini-lathe". None of these will be CNC-ed - "DRO-ed"? - maybe.

I am interested in the concept of the "turn-key" job that John Stevenson showed us as I'd like to be able to "put my toe in" and "dabble" with a dedicated CNC set-up which I'd like to use as CNC should be used for lighter jobs.

I trust John's advice - all the time - every time.

My days and need for smokin', smellin' "blue-chip" production are dead and buried and that's how they are staying.

I can see the need for CNC and I'd like to try it and get some-thing useful done that might be better made on non-CNC or even do some stuff on CNC that is a "CNC only" job and some of either. Perhaps do a job several times in different ways, - CNC and non-CNC and learn a lesson or two and if that's it - scrap it. If its usable or useful - use it.

I've got stuff in my shop that I've either never used (never will?) or has not been used for quite a while that I like to "brush up" on.

I like to "make" or "do" things when ever I have the time and a need to do it.

Sometimes my Shop doesn't see me for weeks. That's fine so long as its there when I need it all is well in the world.

Whether there is use or rhyme or reason for what or how I do things is of no consequence.

I just like to try things out and keep old skills up and try new ones.

If I ditch everything that I did a for a year and had nothing of substance to show for it - so what? I've enjoyed the ride. (AutoCAD is a prime example - see a previous post).

If I get bored shi*less in my shop - I just clean it up and leave it until I want to use it again.

I utterly respect how anyone else deals with matters pertaining to their shop.

I enjoy this forum as it is a huge asset in many ways - some tangible, others not. It sure helps me in my shop and new ideas and approaches that I need to think about and perhaps "try".

CNC is very much in this category - if the time, cost, specifications and need are all OK at the time.

dicks42000
11-01-2007, 04:23 AM
This is one of the better threads of late. I really enjoy and agree with what several have already said. (KeithKrome, Tiffie, J Tiers, John S. etc.)

Like many of us, I mostly do this as a hobby to escape to after work, to support other hobby stuff and incidently for income. Like others, some of my stuff is larger industrial machines. Sometimes I find myself building a tool or some such just because I have some scrap, time, and I saw someone else do it (particulary on here). Eg. this weeks project, a digital height gauge.

I have worked as a lathe operator years ago in production and jobbing shops, but I have no industrial CNC experience. My exposure was in school in the late 70's and it was still NC using paper tape.....Like some others, I'm from a family of metal workers and had a shop at home when I was in my 20's (mostly to support the motorcycle-racer-boy habit...). Got away from it as I got older and aquired the usual trappings of adulthood...(house, mortgage, etc.) but kept & lugged around most of my machines....Now as I'm older, more settled and have a garage, I'm getting back to it, and it's growing in scope. For example, I've just started exploring CAD drawing seriously.

The possibilities of CNC amaze me. What my father would have taken hours or days to do one of on a manual mill, a CNC mill can do in an hour or two, once programmed. It can also do dozens....Some parts I've seen my neighbours shop produce are truly mind boggling. Also the precision & repeatability are big factors. This is a reason why industrial production is still strong, but fewer machinists have been needed.

If things are headed the way John S and others say they are, CNC will probably be like computers were....first it was only a few "professionals" or crazy hobbiests (like some of us ???) that understood them and spoke DOS or BASIC. Then as the software and operating systems improved, the machines became easier to use and publicly acceptable. Think of all the users and uses of a PC.....

Not that metal working has ever been a socially acceptable hobby like wood working or photograpy...I don't expect that everyone will have a Seig CNC mill in the corner of the garage, but I can see a time when some artistic types will explore the use of similar tools. Thats what it is, another very flexible and adaptable tool whose uses are evolving and adapting as the concept becomes more user-friendly.

As for it's space in my life, well I'm interested...and the relevence of the HSM site ? Well, it's the forum for discussions like this, isn't it ? A few arguments and the odd troll aside, this web-site adds a lot to the hobby. Pictures and discussion are great. Experience of others and project ideas too. I'm glad I discovered it and thanks to Village Press for supporting it and us.

Rick

John Stevenson
11-01-2007, 05:09 AM
This is one of the better threads of late. I really enjoy and agree with what several have already said. (KeithKrome, Tiffie, J Tiers, John S. etc.)



The possibilities of CNC amaze me. What my father would have taken hours or days to do one of on a manual mill, a CNC mill can do in an hour or two, once programmed. It can also do dozens....Some parts I've seen my neighbours shop produce are truly mind boggling. Also the precision & repeatability are big factors. This is a reason why industrial production is still strong, but fewer machinists have been needed.

If things are headed the way John S and others say they are, CNC will probably be like computers were....first it was only a few "professionals" or crazy hobbiests (like some of us ???) that understood them and spoke DOS or BASIC. Then as the software and operating systems improved, the machines became easier to use and publicly acceptable. Think of all the users and uses of a PC.....


Rick

Well said Rick.
I have just read this board here in the comfort of my own home half a world away from most of the contributers of this board.

For my next reply I have loaded Mach3 up which has come electronically from a guy I have never met in Canada.
I have then gone into Mach3 took screen shots of 4 pages, resized and reduced them, saved them on my web site and are now in the process of sending these all round the world, all with 10 minutes.

When I first stated with computers it took me longer then that to load the tapes to get started.

Inside Mach3 is a selection of routines they call wizards, I prefer to call it conversational programming.

Here is the first screen, the menu screen for want of a better word.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/stevenson.engineers/lsteve/files/wizard1.jpg

Due to space limitations of 4 pic's per post I have omitted the first screen in which you selected material from a database so it linked to speeds and feeds relevant to your machine.
I have also omitted screen 3 in which you select your tool as this post is not a how to but jut an overview.

In this screen you get to see many of the daily operations carried out on manual machines that until recently would have been too time consuming to program. Clicking one of these operations gets you the tool screen [ omitted ] and them onto the screen of your choice, in this case a very popular application, surface material, a job done 1,000's of times a day.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/stevenson.engineers/lsteve/files/wizard2.jpg


It already knows the tool diameter to take into account, you click on a corner as a start point and basically fill in the boxes, press Post Code and it generates the code, takes you back into Mach3 with it already loaded ready for you to position the tool, press go and get another coffee.


http://homepage.ntlworld.com/stevenson.engineers/lsteve/files/wizard3.jpg

Another popular one is cutting a circle, think about it, any size circle with virtually any cutter. You can even machine 'O' ring grooves.
Again fill in the boxes, post code, return, set tool and go.

The operations on the main screen have been chosen to represent most of the repetition jobs done daily.

As a last pic and a taster, - Thread milling.

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/stevenson.engineers/lsteve/files/wizard4.jpg

Grab an old tap of the required pitch, grind all the flutes off except one and you have a thread mill. Now you can mill any size thread internal or external, left or right hand provided it will fit on the machine.

Someone remarked that when they went to shows the people demo'ing these machines said "It's easy" It is to them as they are used to it but it IS getting easier by the day as software progresses.


Which leads to my next question.

Does anyone want to go thru a demo of manually machining on a CNC in their own home ?
You don't need an experiance of CNC, or a machine, it can be done on the computer.
You will need to load the demo version of Mach3 from http://www.machsupport.com
This will only run on W2000 or any version of XP.

.

DickDastardly40
11-01-2007, 05:20 AM
How easy does that look? I'll be trying that at home later I think.

Thanks John

Al

ptjw7uk
11-01-2007, 05:50 AM
Well said sir John
A balanced review as always, and were is your web site - this I must see!!!

Peter

oldtiffie
11-01-2007, 06:08 AM
The title of this thread is: Future of the HSM

I thought it should have a "?" after it so that it was question.

Bu as the thread had progressed - in every sense of the word - especially after the last few posts - I've changed my mind.

I would pre-fix the heading with "This is the" and suffix it with "!!!!" so that the heading would now read:

"This is the future of the HSM!!!"

QED

Thanks one and all.

Ed Tipton
11-01-2007, 08:16 AM
A really great thread! I am just thankful that I have a hobby that is interesting enough and diversified enough that each and every opinion expressed here is relevent and justifiable. My earlier response probably sounded as though I'm closed minded and not very flexible in my thinking. In reality, I do recognize that there is certainly a place in the HSM environment for both the CNC and the manual world to co-exist. Indeed, there many places where either metheod could be used with equally good results, and there are many places where either metheod would be preferred over the other. The point for me is that I consider my shop to be a place of enjoyment. It can be, and often is, also a place of frustration. Part of the enjoyment for me is in working through a problem and in reaching a solution to that problem that results in an end product that is functional and serves it's intended purpose. I enjoy and eagerly accept the challenges that I encounter every time I enter my shop. I am not a skilled machinist, and what little I know has been mostly due to observation, trial and error, and the result of having made many, many mistakes along the way. In a somewhat perverse way, I even get enjoyment from my mistakes since I view each one as a learning experience. I guess in the final analysis, it pretty much boils down to me wanting to learn as much as I can, and striving for each piece to be a "personal best". I enjoy my time with my manual machines, and feel that there is much more to be learned and accomplished in the "manual world" than I will ever be able to master, but I intend to keep on trying to find new and better ways of doing things, and I enjoy my
'pursuit of happiness".

Boomer Mikey
11-01-2007, 03:21 PM
I consider the CNC machines as an extension of the Home Shop Machinist and the Home Machine Shop. Like any other specialized tool it requires one to learn how to use it. Some will learn how to do things with it that would require a warehouse of machines to accomplish with years of journeyman experience while some will only use the machine for fancy engraving. CNC is challenging for some with manual machine technology skills as manual machine technology skills are challenging for some computer professionals. The CNC can't make perfect parts without the machine's operator/programmer's knowledge of manual machines and metals characteristics; however, it does remove the tedium of making 23 identical parts.

http://www.cnczone.com/gallery/data/505/medium/Mini_Mill_4_1_1_1.JPG

http://www.cnczone.com/gallery/data/505/medium/Mike_s_R8_Mini_Gantry_Mill.JPG

For me the fun was making a CNC MiniMill from scratch with my manual machines; using it as a training vehicle to learn the technology, and the enjoyment of completing that first long term project.

Machine Technology is a large field with room for more than one speciality; there's no need to choose sides, you can enjoy as many areas as you wish to or just one area as well.

Boomer

BadDog
11-01-2007, 03:25 PM
If things are headed the way John S and others say they are, CNC will probably be like computers were....first it was only a few "professionals" or crazy hobbiests (like some of us ???) that understood them and spoke DOS or BASIC. Then as the software and operating systems improved, the machines became easier to use and publicly acceptable. Think of all the users and uses of a PC.....

Hey! I still use a DOS (ok, Cmd) prompt for LOTS of stuff! You can have my DOS/Cmd prompt when you pry my cold dead...... ;)

topct
11-01-2007, 05:11 PM
I have played with the DOS stuff and can get some of the programs to work. I know it's my lack of knowing the ins and outs of the working of it that is hard, for me anyways.

DOS is not DOS dummy friendly.

I have not downloaded and looked at MACH 3 because i do not have an XP machine.

I think there might be one here in a couple of days though. :D

Thanks John.

oldtiffie
11-01-2007, 06:25 PM
Hey! I still use a DOS (ok, Cmd) prompt for LOTS of stuff! You can have my DOS/Cmd prompt when you pry my cold dead...... ;)

Thanks BD

You have nailed one of the hidden gems of "Windows" - the Cmd (aka the "Command" feature).

I use it for Marv Klotz's utilities (http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz/) as they are one of the great resources available to all in general and this forum in particular. With a few simple "ie DOS-talk" "Command line" commands the whole beauty of the utility is there to use.

The "CMD" or "Cmd" feature is a way of gaining access to the "DOS" part (or an emulation of it) of/in Windows. Command line work is very cryptic and is totally unforgiving as regarding "typos" and there are a few things to remember but its lightning fast with little or no "over-head".

The "Cmd" has a few things in it that can be quite damaging if tried without knowing the consequences - there are few if any warnings.

I still use "Norton Ghost" ver 3 on my W2K computer for imaging and restoring my drives and files. G3 operates on either MSDOS or IBMDOS and it works very well. I use Ghost 10 - which does not operate on DOS - on my XP computer as it enhances the "restore points" very well. All versions of "Ghost" are still quite cryptic and not at all "user-friendly" - but I am used to them and they work.

Using the Windows "Cmd" feature and Marv Klotz'a utilities makes so many things a lot easier than they might otherwise be for the HSM.

And FWIW, I certainly do not think that "more DOS" is a good idea in the general sense - but it DOES have its uses.

I may be wrong here, but I thought "Windows" up to and including 98SE and ME were operating on a DOS shell.

I had no way of understanding how IT people used UNIX - at all!!

Anything is better than using DOS and a 1,100/300 (or slower) primitive "dial-up" modem and the older "Kermit" and similar utilities for Bulletin Boards. They were SLOW!! - but they opened up a whole new world. And don't ask what they cost!!!

I do like "Windows" as its real advantages far out-weigh any real or perceived "problems" with it.

"Windows" and the HSM forum have made life a whole lot better and enjoyable and have opened up access to the whole world and the people in it - as on the HSM BBS - in "real time".

It doesn't get better than this.

dp
11-01-2007, 06:38 PM
Tiffie:

I don't use Windows for much as I have several Sun servers running Solaris Unix, and two Mac workstations to keep me busy. I've not tried to run a true DOS application in XP. That is to say, one of the .com programs, so don't know if they work or not there. DOS also has .exe programs and I don't know if these work in XP or not, either. But - the reason I'm curious is because I use the VMWare Fusion product on my Mac to create virtual Windows, DOS, and Unix/Linux systems, and recently I discovered a freely downloadable FreeDOS vm appliance that includes Turbo Pascal which produces DOS .exe programs. TP was one of my favorite programming tools before Windows came along and if the executables will run in XP I'd like to pull out some of my old Pascal code and try it.

Long prelude to the question but it's finally here :) Do DOS .exe files run in XP?

topct
11-01-2007, 07:15 PM
Again, thank you John. :D

J Tiers
11-01-2007, 09:05 PM
I am perfectly certain that just as there are folks who do work on their manual machines that you "can't believe", there WILL be work done on CNC that good CNC folks "won't believe".

Just as there are tricks with manual machines, there are, and will be more, tricks with CNC to get results that seem impossible.

Many tasks on CNC are about as exciting and interesting as a cylindrical turning on a manual lathe, even though they might be difficult to do manually. To be impressive for CNC, there will be stuff that not one of us here knows how to do or has even thought of.

oldtiffie
11-01-2007, 09:17 PM
Deleted - duplicate post

oldtiffie
11-01-2007, 09:18 PM
Tiffie:

I don't use Windows for much as I have several Sun servers running Solaris Unix, and two Mac workstations to keep me busy. I've not tried to run a true DOS application in XP. That is to say, one of the .com programs, so don't know if they work or not there. DOS also has .exe programs and I don't know if these work in XP or not, either. But - the reason I'm curious is because I use the VMWare Fusion product on my Mac to create virtual Windows, DOS, and Unix/Linux systems, and recently I discovered a freely downloadable FreeDOS vm appliance that includes Turbo Pascal which produces DOS .exe programs. TP was one of my favorite programming tools before Windows came along and if the executables will run in XP I'd like to pull out some of my old Pascal code and try it.

Long prelude to the question but it's finally here :) Do DOS .exe files run in XP?

Hi dp.

Answer: Yes there sure is.

At the XP opening screen use "All Programs>Run and there is "Cmd" all ready to use - as in W2K. If "Cmd" does not "come up" either "browse" for it in the "Run" window or type it in - and there it is - same "DOS" window (ouch) as in W2K.

My Ghost 3 files at least on my W2K machine are all *.exe so I guess it works on *.exe (DOS) files.

Marv Klotz is quite definite that his utilities DO run under and were designed to run under DOS.

See his "intro" at:http://www.myvirtualnetwork.com/mklotz/

You might like to look into and perhaps expand his *.zip archives in the files as you will see that his "executables" are *.exe.

I have expanded many of them into my C:\Shed folder (directory??)

I have tried most of Marv's utilities and with one exception (a "calculator" as I recall) all of them worked a treat.

In most of Marv's utilities, if you try to "click" on the *.exe file under Windows it will just "flash and disappear" - but use th "Cmd" facility and its a whole new brilliant ball game.

Not only that, in most cases Marv explains the the "need" for the utility and how he developed it - often with a scanned sketch in a *.jpg file.

So.

As Marv has utilities designed for DOS - and as you say, they would have to be *.exe, *.com, or *.bat to work under DOS - and they work very well, then it seems that your TP *.exe files will work as well. Why not load them into a folder on your HDD, then go into "Cmd" and try them?

I will be interested in the result.

If it "works" then you may have a whole new "ball-game" available.

You can always PM or email Marv whose HSM forum ID is "mklotz"

I have extracted and copied Marv's advice re. emailing from his web site:




Extracted from Marv Klotz web site:

E-mail: mklotz@alum.mit.edu

If you email me use a meaningful subject line - including the program name is a
good idea. Unexplicit subjects such as "I need help" or "can't make it work"
will end up being trapped by the spam filters.


I hope this helps.

dp
11-01-2007, 09:22 PM
Something you can get by twisting handles:
http://www.gvetchedintime.com/Personal/aboutpersonal/aboutpersonal.htm

Something you can get by telling a computer what to do:
http://www.chris.com/ascii/

Here's the hard part: Find objective values for the product produced.

BadDog
11-01-2007, 10:33 PM
Many DOS programs will run under later Win OS versions, but not all. DOS programs are given a lot of latitude to support backwards compatibility, but some still run afoul of the hardware abstraction and will fail to function. However, most anything you would likely have written in TP will run just fine. Technically, these are more correctly called "console applications" now, rather than "DOS applications". Joe Public still tends to call it a DOS application, but I just threw that out in case you might run across the term somewhere.

dp
11-01-2007, 10:39 PM
Technically, these are more correctly called "console applications" now, rather than "DOS applications". Joe Public still tends to call it a DOS application, but I just threw that out in case you might run across the term somewhere.

I figured the "DOS" was a legacy term for the current cmd tool. I'll light up the virtual DOS machine and write a "Hello, World!" exe and see how it goes in Windows XP.

dp
11-01-2007, 10:41 PM
I hope this helps.

Thank you, sir - it does completely. I didn't realize Marv's proggies would run in a Windows environment so hadn't tried any. I think I'll try to resurrect my old Pascal coded Morse code practice program I wrote.

motomoron
11-01-2007, 10:46 PM
I think I have a nice balance: Solidworks on my workstation in the office and at home, and full size manual machines at work in the prototype shop and in my shop at home. One of the younger engineers at work is desperate to convert the (my) Bridgeport to CNC, and I've told him that when he can make a part that checks to the print, repeatably and with correct surface finishes, I'll look into getting a VMC for the shop. 'Til then, I'm turning cranks, unless the power feeds are doing the work.

oldtiffie
11-01-2007, 11:08 PM
Thank you, sir - it does completely. I didn't realize Marv's proggies would run in a Windows environment so hadn't tried any. I think I'll try to resurrect my old Pascal coded Morse code practice program I wrote.

Thanks for the response as regards how ir went dp - appreciated.

Glad it "worked".

This is what the HSM forum is all about.

TECHSHOP
11-02-2007, 07:59 AM
I always find this "philosophical investigation" of the state of the art in home shops interesting. I think that CNC will become more common in in the home shops, if only because "younger people" will view it as an "extension" of their computer skills, not as a "continuation" of "shop class" that prepared them for "a job in industry". CNC in the "homeshop size" has always lacked "support after the sale" or was strictly "do it yourself". With the "saturation" of the "manual" market, I think the manufactures (CHINA) will try to fill the "void" . I hold out the possibility that the machines they export may still become "orphans".

I have owned/used the ol'nerican cast iron and the Far East imports. Started learing on my old mans machines circa 1973, gained a little bit of education in CAD/CAM/CNC circa 1990 (that never went anywhere). I took to CAD right off (no more erasures!), CAM (G-n-M coding was a headache), and the CNC (never did get the feel for a CNC lathe).

Locally, due to the "never ending war" most of the "pro" machine shops here are "kicking to the curb" their manual machines and going CNC (get them BIG Gov contracts/subcontracts). This is combined with the passing of many "olds" (and the selling off of his lifetime's work) has resulted in a "glutt" of old (used&abused) manual machines.

Norman Atkinson
11-02-2007, 08:48 AM
I have 2 small Myford Lathes and a Chinese Mill Drill and these are used in a hobby environment.
When CNC came in for the home workshop, I bought a cheap laptop, three stepper motors, a set of wheels, pulleys and belts which would not hasve been out of place in a coal mine. I bought what was then the only computer programme available at a sensible price to what could have been my needs.
Adding it all up, it proved a highly expensive and time consuming- flop.
The lot went into the trash can. I have done the same with a purportedly all singing and dancing tool and cutter grinder. This, too, is now in its third or more mark and people are still printing developments.

I was not a happy bunny! I reverted back to the old ways becuse they actually worked.

Obviously, this is all fairly recent. What guarantee is there that CNC for the little man in his shed is going to be better? Moreover, if the answer is 'Yes' what will it actually cost?

John Stevenson
11-02-2007, 09:24 AM
Norman,
There is no defined answer to this one as it depandant on many factors.

What does it cost to setup to do manual machining, vises, RT's, tooling etc.? Most people agree that the cost of the machine is only a part of the whole.

Just because you have been out and bought everything you have been toldto, read all the books does this mean that you are now fully skilled to make virtually anything to fine tolerances ?

Going the CNC route isn't the imediate answer, it could develop into one or it could be a flop.

I know one guy who has bought an ex-schools CNC mill and hasn't a clue how to use it even though he's been shown many times.
He has all the instructions written down as he's been shown by many people but he will never master this. He has manual machines he can use but he just can't get his head round CNC.

Rest assured it will always be a divided camp.

.

Norman Atkinson
11-02-2007, 10:21 AM
Of course there is always the ability or inabilty to use what is bought.
Quite frankly, the whole programme was unstable and frought with 'bugs'
Today, I 'Googled' the firm for the first time since the dumping. There is Mark 2 or whatever and new bits just like the tool and cutter grinder referred to earlier.

Bearing in mind that I can and have put numerous computers together- and solved all the glitches which have occurred since the Acorn and the Clive Sinclair- and professionally, long before, I feel reasonably clued up.
Going back to things which work and things which don't, there is an element in statistical analysis when the 'sample' shows crap the first time,and then the second time. And then warning bells begin to ring.

The question that the statistician will ask is 'How many others have had similar experiences?'

The question still remains of how much will it all cost. I did cost accountancy as well. Somehow, I feel that I am not alone in searching questions.

oldtiffie
11-02-2007, 05:14 PM
Of course there is always the ability or inabilty to use what is bought.
.........................................
.........................................
........................................

The question still remains of how much will it all cost. I did cost accountancy as well. Somehow, I feel that I am not alone in searching questions.

Hi Norm.

Cost is an issue - no doubt about that.

"Benefit/s" is another.

As the HSM environment may not necessarily be "commercial/industrial" a full-on cost-benefit analysis may not necessarily be required or if applied agreed and the results applied.

"Cost" and "benefit" in a HSM shop would be fairly or very intangible and most items required to be "objective" can or will revert to be be/ing "subjective".

The answer to the "hard-nosed" "on what economic criteria do or did you justify this (what-ever)?" may well be "Because I bloody well wanted to". End of story.

There are benefits in and for a HSM shop that are not quantifiable - but they are all too real and evident none the less.

For some its homes or cars, bikes, planes, making models, holidays, photography, gardening, computers, home theatre, going to sport with your kids, (for some its even "going shopping with your wife!!!) etc. etc. - you name it its there.

All of these are "over capitalised" or a "dead loss" - which they are - so what?

My shop is the place to "get away from it all and into another world". It is "therapy" - mostly - though sometimes I come out of it worse than when I went in!!!.

I like the idea of CNC as it is something I'd like to dabble in. If it never does anything useful and if I feel that just trying it (and myself) out was "worth it" then I'd do it. Providing of course that I had the mental, physical and capital resources and the justification for it at the time.

This "turn-key" integrated approach that John Stevenson has shown us is looking very good indeed thus far.

I am just waiting for more details and informed discussion/advice as there is on this forum before I decide to "go for it" or to leave it alone.

It is an enjoyable journey thus far but although I am considerably more inclined to "go for" CNC than not, I have reached neither destination nor a decision in that regard - yet.

I've made damn sure that any of my wife and I's "dependents" or "beneficiaries" are in no position to resent us (wife and I) from "spending their money".

I am awe-struck at the vast array of interests and talent on the HSM forum and it is a huge asset in many ways.

The forum is really a means of people having such a resource to use. I daresay it will change and develop as the interests and needs of the members require.

I will not stand in the way of change or progress as that is what has got the HSM forum to what and where it is now.

I am not so supportive of "change for the sake of change" but I will keep an open albeit cautious eye open before I make any commitment or decision one way or another in that regard.

On with the journey.

speedsport
11-02-2007, 08:29 PM
Oldtiffe,
Excellent post.

nheng
11-02-2007, 09:12 PM
One neat thing about DOS and ASCII based output under Windows is that if you do need an ASCII terminal to talk to something (micro, dsp, controller, machine,etc.) you can now pull one up in a small corner of the screen that blows away most of the best old terminals ... especially with the characters per line, number of lines and the sharpness of the text. Too bad that Windows text absolutely sucks for older eyes.

The old fonts on the limited character matrices were designed for the eyes. Today's fonts and colors are designed to be pretty but your typical Windows user has the machine set up with that sicko white background and fine stroke Windows fonts that are all but invisible to the 40+ naked eye. IMHO, the colors and fonts used by this forum are a prime example of poor contrast and readability.

I think that CNC is fine for the HSM as long as you are reproducing parts. For one up use, it's not going to be much fun unless you have a higher end machine with the "simulated" fine manual controls. So for me at least, the question is how many or, will I make these again in the future. Manual machines will be around for a long time, with remaining popularity probably scaling with the size of the machine. Not doing this for a living, I can't imagine hoisting a 3 foot x 12 foot roller onto a CNC lathe and having a crash at some point.

How big of a lathe (for non-production use) would you expect to find CNC controls on? Are there large oil country type CNCs out there? I could Google this but some of you are probably sitting next to one ;)

gmatov
11-02-2007, 11:49 PM
If you do this for a hobby, as I do, why would you WANT to program the thing to make a part, one off, while you go watch the rest of "Dancing With the Stars"? Or whatever?

If you are machining one offs for your own enjoyment, you NEED to go CNC?

If you want 2 of that piece, you have to attend the machine, feed the second piece of stock to it, unless you go way overboard, for a Home Shop, and add a stock feeder to it.

If you can't crank the handles to cut it yourself, it is probable that you can't use a mike or a caliper to check to see if the piece that your CNC program has turned out is within spec.

Never have run CNC, so am not an expert, or a creditable critic.

Cheers,

George

dp
11-03-2007, 12:22 AM
There does seem to be emerging, predictably, a difference between the home shop hobbyist machinist (such as myself) and the home shop sole proprietorship machinist which I hope to never be because I'm too old to begin a new career, but which honorably feeds a lot of families. Clearly if you do this as a living you need all the efficiencies you can gather. Were I to do this for a living there is no doubt I'd use CNC, and lots of it. I'd also farm out a lot of work to Asia and Mexico. In fact, if I were to do this for a living I doubt I'd ever go near a machine. I'd hire experts to do the work and spend all my time drumming up business to keep them busy. Then I'd need a hobby...

It all seems very circular.

mechanicalmagic
11-03-2007, 12:44 AM
I've been watching this thread for a while, just can't stay out.

I programmed a CNC (not the name then) in ~1967, paper tape. Circles were point to point, letters done by hand coding. Competancy in a machine shop was required during my employment. Cranked handles for several decades, I'm now retired.

(Milling project) First off, the myth that it takes longer to program a CNC, than do it manually is bull****, in many cases.

When we got a Hurco in my shop, the old machinist was TOTALLY against it, took too much time. One of the young kids went to Hurco school, came back knowing it all. Challenged the old guy.

The project: a square plate, with square (threaded) bolt pattern, center hole, with a shouldered bored precision hole for a bearing.

Kid kicked his butt. Old guy went to school. Abused the Hurco just like he did all the other machines.

I don't have a CNC mill, or lathe. (Yet, still looking)

In my oinion, there are various grades of machines, AND HOBBY requirements.
Some folks wish to emulate the Dark Ages.
Some the Industrial Revolution.
Maybe the 50's.
And the 90's.
Or top 2000's tech.

All are GREAT HOBBIES. Give it a break.

oldtiffie
11-03-2007, 12:52 AM
I cannot and will not speak for others.

My approach is that CNC is something that I'd like to have ago at if and only if the circumstances are right at the time.

I don't intend to make big parts - or even many parts on a CNC machine (probably a mill).

I might just try it out and see if I can get the feel of and for it and then run some representative parts, most of which will be consigned straight to scrap.

I am more interested in the process/es than achieving a tangible useful "product" or "outcome". If it is useful, that's a bonus.

I have had some instances on my lathe or mill where a CNC machine/mill would have been very handy to have as part of the process.

The CNC - if I buy it - will be very much "second string" to my mills, lathe and grinders as they are my main interest in the "metal-machining" part of the work-shop.

The CNC will obviously have no use for welding or "wood-work" (which I thoroughly enjoy and DO use use for useful purposes).

I am going on 71 and actuarially have a fairly limited time to go until I am not able to do what I can now. At that stage I will either have to reduce my interests and what I do as age catches up with me and death ends my sojourn on the planet - and it won't be a the hands of a jealous husband/partner/de- facto/"live-in" - or what-ever!!!

I am neither omnipotent nor immortal - never have been.

My luck and my time have to run out very shortly.

I'd like to do what I can while I can.

Cobbling a CNC machine of any type together is on the "no-no" list as I don't have the skill-sets required and I have a lot to do on my "older type" machines as they are more fun.

So - the CNC machine is a case of "all or bugger all".

And how does all this relate to the HSM and its future?

In my case in a word: Lots!!!

Without the HSM forum I won't get the CNC "done" as I rely heaps on this forum as I hope others do and I hope they get and keep getting as much as or more out of it than I do.

Its a great asset and to survive it must be relevant, useful and meaningful to its current and future members.

I hope this helps.

John Stevenson
11-03-2007, 04:55 AM
Still trying to sit this out on the fence, I don't have an axe to grind as I still use manual machines more than CNC.

I have always been interested in making things in metal and went to a very good school that catered for it. We had two woodworking shops and two very well equipped machine shops with 7 lathes, 2 mills, shapers and even a cylindrical grinder. This school was geared up to train 11 to 16 year old lads for the large manufacturing base we had locally, getting a job at any of these place from our school was never a problem. You were asked where you wanted to work and they took you into their apprentice school our record was that good.

I went to work for 38 Base Workshops, REME, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
For the first year we were kept away from the shop floor and all the silly games that are played on apprentices :D and were in a training school.

30 lads, 4 instructors and the boss man, one day and an extra night release to college to get up to Technicians Certificate or a degree if you were good enough for it [ I wasn't ] Think for a moment what that sort of training cost. We did absolutely no production work for that first year. We learnt scraping, bench fitting, tin bashing, welding, screwcutting, milling, grinding and basic automotive electrics to prepare us for the 4 trades that were available at the end of the year, Machining, Welding, Fitting or Electrician.

At the end of that year you then moved onto the shop floor and spent 6 months at your station getting to know the ropes. After that six months you then spent 2 years moving around the shop from job to job before you went back to specialise, so every sprog did every thing in the shop from taking tank engines out, stripping them, inspecting the parts re machining and rebuilding the engines, stripping hulls and turrets, making new wiring looms etc, etc.

It was a fantastic experience as cost was no object, the object was to train you up.

After that period you went back to station with a lot of experience and were trained up on your specialised trade, in my case machining.

I then spent two years working on the de tuned version of the Rolls Royce Merlin engine that was fitted in the Centurion tank, grinding cranks and general machining, before I finished my time.

I feel very grateful for this training and it has stood me good so far thru my life.

Later as a hobby I got involved in racing motorcycles which due to the fact I am a crap rider and spent more time in Louth Accident and Emergency eventually moved onto making parts for the same bikes. This was still a hobby to be done at home as I was working in a heavy goods truck garage at the time.

Eventually commercial jobs occurred and as lease hire was killing the truck garage I made the move to do commercial machining which is where I am today.

The problem is my hobby has now become my work and the line is blurred that much that am I working, repairing or making parts for work or doing hobby bits ?

To me CNC is one way I can split my hobby time and work time up.
Just as I had fun making my first dividing head and milling machine, remember no cheap imports then, I now spend time building new control boxes and making things move on their own, it's a whole different world.

At one time the home workshop had a lathe, full stop. Everything had to be done on this lathe, that's why Myfords have the reputation they have today because of the range of attachments that enabled different operations to be done on this one machine.
Today things are a little different as most shops also have a mill, releasing the lathe from a task it was never really meant to employ.

The mill is there to supplement the workshop.

I can see the time where a small CNC can fit the same spot.

Some will never take to one thru choice, some will po-po anything with no handwheels, and some will embrace the technology as what it is - another tool.

Mills will be more popular than lathes because of what they can do, milling, engraving, simple turning even and the ease of setting these up.

Setting up is getting easier day by day as new software comes about or more to the point more users are sharing their findings with others and getting help from the software writers who recognise advances.

One thing that has come to light recently is tool setting. At the moment you have to jog down and trap the cigarette paper, zero the tool and back off.

Some people have found that if you put a piece of single sided printed circuit board material on the work, under the cutter you can get Mach3 to run a routine where it jogs down on it's own,touches the circuit board, sends a signal back to Mach as the tool touches, saves the information and backs off. It also takes into account the thickness of the board and enters the correct figure into the tool table.

http://vectric.com/forum/files/thumbs/t_plate_761.jpg

This is how fast the technology is progressing. Bang a tool in ,put the plate on the job, press Zero Tool on the screen, let it run the operation,remove the plate, press Go.

.

Norman Atkinson
11-03-2007, 05:02 AM
I think that my reluctance to go CNC or whatever is because I have been 'taken for a ride' so many times by those who purported to be experts and trustworthy.This does not merely apply to a few notes and coins but to much more serious outlays of money.

Finally, and I have complete agreement with my wife, we simply chose to ignore proferred advice from professionals.

We were in our Stockbrokers recently( Oh, yes) and were talking about money( oh, yes) and what we had( Oh, Yes) and what our plans were. The credit market in both the US and the UK was going arse over tit( Oh yes, it still is)
'But you have property, Dr Atkinson? How much is it worth?' My wife tritely replied 'One bit is worth********* which is 400 times what we paid for it. Better than the Stock Exchange' To which the top broker in the best office in the UK had to meekly agree.

Today, well, they are jumping off the the 4th biggest bank in the UK.
I can hear the screams. After all, it is within a stone's throw from me.
Stone's throw, it's called Northern Rock plc.

The market isn't finished its cavorting. I am far from climbing up onto an unfinished headquarters- to join the lemmings. I would get dizzy! The last thing to think about is CNC.

Have a nice day?

Peter N
11-03-2007, 05:42 AM
I suppose that I am very much an in-betweenie at this stage.

My little workshop was set up for hobby use and fun and making a few bits for bikes, as I wanted to get back into machining after very many years not doing it.

However, I started my own small injection moulding business about 18months ago after we closed down the factory I had been running for the past 8 years,
and now I end up making quite a few jigs and fixtures and prototypes for my customers as new projects develop.

Very often the prototypes need CNC as the numerous setups mean that manual milling is either too difficult or too laborious, and they often need a fair bit of logo engraving and similar.
As I don't have CNC these jobs get farmed out, Sir John has even had a look at a couple of them for me.

If I had the space available here I would have a Tormach PCNC over this side of the pond as fast as I could ship it.
With the current £/$ exchange rate it would have paid for itself on just 3 of the prototype jobs done this year.

I also have new product ideas for which I plan to make prototype single impression mould tools. These have a number of compound surfaces which would be almost impossible to cut on my manual bridgie, and so full 3D CNC would be the only way to go.

I really enjoy manual machining on the equipment I have, I find it very relaxing and lots of fun. But commercially, I could really, really, do with a nice medium sized CNC mill.

Perhaps I just need to move to a smaller house with a bigger workshop.

Peter

TECHSHOP
11-03-2007, 05:50 AM
John Stevenson:

I agree with you that the times are changing, and the "ease of use" will bring the CNC into the home shop. I don't entirelly agree with your "market research", but allow that you are there (UK) and I am here (USA). I think that in the States, it will be the "youth" and not the "olds" that will be driving the "homeshop CNC" market. Here the "youth" have grown up in the "personal computer age", and when they "feel the need" to make something "real" they tend to look for the "new way", will seach for it on-line, and "down load it" to run.

I do argree that a CNC mills will be an "easier sell" than a CNC lathe and that a "turn key" set-up and run with after-the-sale support will be the key to opening the homeshop market.

I am not a "machinist" by schooling, experiance, or trade. For the most part, I am self-taught by a poor teacher, gaining "1st year" knowledge for ## years. What really "gets my goat" is that a year or so back, I was looking for work (any work), but "nobody" was willing to train a "new hire" on their specific machines (manual/NC/CNC). Today (REF prior post this thread), they are "scrapping" the old machines, and "crash coursing" their workers in the "latest and greatest". Ah, the American Way of life...

Norman Atkinson
11-03-2007, 06:13 AM
Unlike some of us, I did math or arithmetic or something which was a bit more advanced than taking shoes and sox off to get to 20. I'll not bore you with the past because it was 22 years ago. Nevertheless, adding up to 20 or whatever hasn't changed. One buys something for 1000 but has to earn 1400 which is tax and has to add credit terms which are way way beyond the bank rate. But here the cost accountant sleepily wakes like Rip Van Winkle and realises that the written down value of the thing is the square root of bugger all. It ain't like a car. It will have some value but a CNC machine which is out of date and will not work is going to cost more money- to scrap it.

Unless someone can tell me that a lemon has value, that is what my teacher taught me. Spelling is one thing which causes me some difficulty. I keep getting 'sceptic' wrong and I only type 'Septic'

oldtiffie
11-03-2007, 07:00 AM
I'm not so sure that the "young'uns" will be leaving the "olds" in their dust or at the kerb.

First an opinion on what constitutes "old" and "older" and by inference "young" and "younger".

A bit of back-ground.

In Australia not so long ago they had a "Year of the Aging" (and "age-ed"?) - "aged" was an arbitrary 55 years old - and what a discussion there was!!!

Anyway.

It seems that 15 years is the bench-mark at which one person is "old" as perceived by someone who is 15 years younger. The converse also applied.

So.

"Old" and "older" on one hand and "young" and "younger" on the other are similar for this discussion.

Anyone who is 15 years younger than you regards you as "old" the same as you will regard anyone older than you as "old" - again the converse applies as regards "young" and "younger".

And it seems that its not too far from the truth at all.

To a 3 year-old an 18 year-old is "old" just as a 33 year old is "old" in the eyes of the 18 year-old etc. etc. through 33, 58 and 71 etc.The same applies in the reverse re. "young/younger".

I will be 71 in January so I am somewhere between "older", "old", Bloody old", and "ancient" - but I am going to make the best of what's left. So I need to "get my finger out" and get going!!

I still recall my first Leave from the Navy - age 21 and as fit as a trout as you'd imagine with the world at my feet - only to have my younger brother at age about 3 tell me: "Gee, Mike, you must be OLD (his emphasis)". More than somewhat taken a back I asked: "How's that?" to which the answer was that: "Susan (a younger sister about 10) told me that you are nearly 20 YEARS OLDER THAN ME!!! (again, his emphasis)". I was flabbergasted!!

So let's get real and not get too hung up on the "old" and "young" bit and all of its variations and connotations.

It is generally the middle and older age groups that have the most time and money to indulge a hobby like metal and wood-work and all their derivatives.

Many dedicated younger people are well into these pursuits as well but they have more family, time and financial commitments and obligations to meet.

I would guess that 50 and over is not a barrier or reason not to "do it" but a time when it is the time to make the commitment while you have the faculties and ability to get started and the time ahead to enjoy it.

I started on computers over 20 years ago and it was shock and a grind - but like a lot of others - got there (more or less).

I only bought my first computer with AutoCAD on it in case my eyes failed me. We had a very successful "part-time/after-hours" Building Design business to keep going. The computer was to stay in the corner unless or until it was needed - and there it stayed for a while as my eyes were OK.

Then I heard a lot about computers generally and CAD in particular - and then I took my first hesitant steps - and the rest, as they say, is history.

I don't see that any interest or hobby - in our case Metal machining - in all of its manifestations and allied pursuits and interests - "manual/traditional" and "CNC" included - is much different at all.

The older members probably see themselves as in a rut. Not necessarily so. Perhaps its just in their mind or its a problem of their own making.

They are not doing it any harder than some of the younger/newer members who are starting from "square one" are.

I daresay some who are quite competent computer users now were the same when first confronted with a blank computer screen, a modem, a key-board and a printer. You wanted to do it then - and did it and are rightly quite pleased with yourselves.

Why is CNC any different?

You don't have to dive in and get one - at all - but taking an interest will be enough.

As many posters on this and other threads have said, the "traditional/non-CNC" and "CNC" can live in harmony and should complement each other and neither should nor will operate to the exclusion of the other.

I am a member of the CNC forum but hardly read it as its way out of my competence at present and its all CNC to the exclusion of anything else - which is fair enough.

So I feel MUCH better and very much more at home andcomfortable on the HSM forum to the extent that if it were not here I'd be lost without it.

And that, in my mind, above anything else will not only be the best of all reasons for this HSM forum but the best way of ensuring that both the HSM forum and ourselves and future members progress through whatever changes there will be - and change it will - and us with it.

I hope this helps.

Your Old Dog
11-03-2007, 07:43 AM
I think we should all chip in to buy our friend Norman a CNC setup for grinding tool bits. There couldn't be a better way. It would give him something to do and take his mind of his money! I think he's found a way to take it with him and don't want to part with any of it. :D

PS. Norm, can I get the plans for the pine box you plan on using? I got a few things I want to take with me too but it ain't money!

All the best and stay healthy!

lazlo
11-03-2007, 08:24 AM
in the States, it will be the "youth" and not the "olds" that will be driving the "homeshop CNC" market. Here the "youth" have grown up in the "personal computer age", and when they "feel the need" to make something "real" they tend to look for the "new way", will seach for it on-line, and "down load it" to run.

You see that in a big way at CNCZone: it's a much younger crowd than the average Home Shop Machinist.

In fact, when's the last time you've seen a young Home Shop Machinist?

Norman Atkinson
11-03-2007, 08:40 AM
Deleted as inappropriate

TECHSHOP
11-03-2007, 09:42 PM
aviemoron:
Sorry, but I missed your post, so I have no judgment as to its suitability.

oldtiffie:
I wasn't thinking so much in "years past since birth", but in the starting point of their "manner of looking at anything" (boy, that don't clear nothing up...)

I am thinking more of a persons "aim or intention", and what they are likely to "take into consideration" based on their experiance (or lack of experiance as it may be).

Before it dig a deeper hole, I'll go back to sorting bent nails...

Norman Atkinson
11-04-2007, 10:39 AM
Sorry Techshop,
I was 'going on a bit'- and that is not me. Go on, agree and tell lies!

I like HSM, there is an interchange of ideas and sometimes an opportunity to pass on a view point.

Actually, I was 'sounding off' on about the state of the economy in both countries and how it affected you- and many others.

I only have health and old age to worry about.
Not really suitable topics here.

My apologies----------------------------------------so there!

Norm

lazlo
11-04-2007, 10:48 AM
Funny, I've been watching the ratings, and people either love or hate this thread:

The first vote was 5 stars.
With 2 votes it was 3 stars (so the second person voted it a 1 star: "Terrible")

Now it's 3 stars with 4 votes...

Keith Krome
11-09-2007, 01:17 AM
(Milling project) First off, the myth that it takes longer to program a CNC, than do it manually is bull****, in many cases.

You're right, in the perfect world, where your CNC has a tool changer loaded with a nice selection of preset tools, and you have a competent programmer/operator/machinist working it, they can bang out some parts from scratch.

In my case, the CNC I've used were these "hybrid" CNC's which were either automated Bridgeport clones, or a funky hybrid lathe with handwheels that turned encoders. On both machines, the tool changer was the operator. Better than a purely manual machine for complex parts, somewhat useful as a manual machine for very simple parts, but really they are a half-assed solution. The upside is the machinery was less expensive than a VMC or another "pure" CNC machine. Of course, most likely you will need a CAM package to complement your super deluxe CNC, add some more zeros to the check you cut.

Rework, repair, and prototyping where one doesn't have a proper print to work from in certain environments (like where I work) a manual machine with a competent operator (Me) can do wonders for my "clients". The guy wants a simple spacer to fit a shaft, or duplicate a broken item. I can often work without prints to duplicate one off parts. I'm working with ~$20k worth of machinery and tooling (brand new). Give me a CNC package and a CAD/CAM package that can compete with that situation and I'm all for it. I also work in a research environment and often times my "client" doesn't actually know what he wants (partly because that is the very nature of research) or what the shop is capable of. The guys I work with are smart guys in their respective fields, but when it comes to making things that is where I come in. Some of the most basic things that I can do impress them, because they aren't aquainted with the basics of machining. I also have access and privileges to CNC equipment, but for a lot of tasks (primarly one-off parts), it isn't worth my time.

In a production environment, CNC all the way. In certain niche industries, manual machines still rule, if they didn't, they wouldn't still be making the machines.

Sometimes I have to be a bit of a mind reader, as I'm not given a design. Personally, I can often do simple designs as I make the part. For me to sit down in front of a computer, draw what I want, then set up tools, I'll lose time on simple parts. I work with a calculator, some measuring tools, and a selection of cutters and bits, and sometimes some pencil and paper. Complex parts I'll CAD out first, to get my end points and details and such.

All this falls under your "out" of "many cases".

Not trying to be argumentitive, just illustrating an example of where manual machines can compete with CNC.

Here is a recent example of a part I needed to make. Simple part, a 3" NPT internal tapered thread. The new lathe I just got at work, I neglected to get a taper attachment option, as in the past, I use them once every couple of years. I thought I'd save some money and buy more tooling by omitting the taper attachment. I also figured that if I needed to do taper work, I'd do it on the CNC I have access to. Ok, fine, I'll do it in house (so to speak) I'll go over to the other shop on campus and run the part on the CNC lathe I'm qualified on, the "hybrid" machine. Said machine has been a dog from day one, but I have made good parts on it. Program the machine (on the machine, they don't have a Mastercam post processor for the machine yet). Proceed to try to run the part. Machine is out of tune, has no problem dry running the program in software, but when it tries to coordinate the axis, it give an error. This machine has had problems with the servo driver cards. Boss wants part soon, doesn't want excuses. Ok, the guy in charge of the shop has a nice new Haas CNC lathe, but I'm not qualified on the machine. So I'm "given" a grad student to actually run the machine. Problem, they just upgraded MasterCam, and don't yet have a proper post processor for said machine. The grad student has no experience running the machine without MasterCam. Ok, give me the manual, I'll try to program the part. Problem, different control, I'm not familiar with, different G codes for threading than I'm familiar with. Don't have the patience or the inclination to figure out the control as it doesn't seem to have a nice system like the CNC I'm familiar with to simply program a degree of taper and a pitch with a starting point. Wants to know the start point and end point. Getting more frustrated by the hour.

Option two: No problem, I'll sub it out to a local shop I have a good relationship with. They only have CNC mills, no CNC lathe, I figured they could thread mill it. Problem, the CNC's they have are so old, they won't do a spiral helix (within the control and they aren't set up to "drip feed" from a CAM package) and the operators have no experience with milling tapered threads, only straight threads. This shop I like dealing with, they have clients and presumably make money doing what they do, they just have never been asked to mill tapered threads. I think that their manual lathes also were lacking a taper attachment. HSM content: this shop I'm refering to is a home based machining business.

Option three: take it to another local shop that has the capability. They do a lot of production items. They quote me a lead time of 3 weeks or so (basically told me that they don't want the job because it is for one part, and it is small potatos to them)

Option four: take my job over to the Art Department's shop on campus. Yes, the Art department (thankfully they have a guy running the sculpture shop who is into metalwork, he's also a friend of mine). They have a ~70 year old South Bend with a taper attachment (Ironically, the same lathe used to belong to our department) Problem is, the chuck is also 70 years old and severely bell mouthed. Solution, convince my boss in Engineering to buy a chuck to give on indefinite loan to the Art Department. Now I've got to fit a chuck, and then proceed to make the part.

Disclaimer, I don't claim to be especially fluent in CNC. I learned to operate the first machines by reading the manual (with errors in it) and through baby steps, proceeded to become competent enough to make accurate parts. I've got CAD experience, but no CAM experience (but would like to learn it).

So I end up making a simple part on a 70 year old lathe, after fitting a chuck to it. The part worked, but the process to get there was a complete excercise in frustration and with a lot of Murphy's law thrown in.

Now, if I had a CNC that was properly maintained and worked like it should, with the tooling already preset and calibrated, the part could have been made in no time. If I had a manual machine with a decent taper attachment (the telescoping cross screw style) the part could have been made. I might have saved a little time on the CNC, but for one part, it would have been a close call.

In the end, we also bought a taper attachment for the new lathe. However, it is the super basic style where the cross feed screw is disconnected, which is fine for turning basic tapers, but I'm still at a loss as to how I'm supposed to cut a taper thread with one, without plunge feeding the thread tool (as opposed to feeding the thread tool at the ~30 degree angle (29.5 or so if you want to split hairs). Now I don't claim to be an expert machinist, but I've got ten years under my belt, with a variety of experience. This particular part would have been a cinch on a properly working CNC system that I'm familiar with. It would have been a cinch on the really old Monarch in the shop with the CNC, but they took the taper attachment off to put a DRO on it (nobody consulted me about it, but it isn't my shop).

Sorry for the long rant, but if you can't tell, I was very frustrated with what should have been a simple job, on either CNC or manual machines, but I was stymied by a combination of lacking manual equipment, deficient CNC equipment, unfamiliar CNC equipment, and inexperienced CNC operators.

I hope I didn't stray too far off topic, my main point is that I'd consider HSM grade CNC equipment to be in its infancy, CAM software is $$$$ and unless one has the $$$$$$ for a nice production setup system, there is still a fine place for good manual machines.

oldtiffie
11-09-2007, 01:47 AM
Funny, I've been watching the ratings, and people either love or hate this thread:

The first vote was 5 stars.
With 2 votes it was 3 stars (so the second person voted it a 1 star: "Terrible")

Now it's 3 stars with 4 votes...

Does that mean that we are operating in a "Star Chamber"?

I couldn't help myself here as I can just about see you and Evan "out there" and "consulting the stars" - or should that be "seeing stars" (again)?.

Sorry.

The "stick men" lurketh - just in case!!!

oldtiffie
11-09-2007, 02:04 AM
Originally post by Keith Krome:
You're right, in the perfect world, where your CNC has a tool changer loaded with a nice selection of preset tools, and you have a competent programmer/operator/machinist working it, they can bang out some parts from scratch.

and



Originally post by Keith Krome:
Sorry for the long rant, but if you can't tell, I was very frustrated with what should have been a simple job, on either CNC or manual machines, but I was stymied by a combination of lacking manual equipment, deficient CNC equipment, unfamiliar CNC equipment, and inexperienced CNC operators.

I hope I didn't stray too far off topic, my main point is that I'd consider HSM grade CNC equipment to be in its infancy, CAM software is $$$$ and unless one has the $$$$$$ for a nice production setup system, there is still a fine place for good manual machines.

Thanks Keith - well thought out structured meaningful post.

It was a "Reality check" and a blast of cold air - very welcome.

I agree with you pretty well, but I suspect that we differ only slightly.
My posts and that of some others at;
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=26141
generally support your points.

If the price and performance is right I will get a "turnkey" CNC-ed small mill to "play with" if it is as good as it seems. If it is then my reservations about CNC at all, let alone CNC-only will have been largely dispelled. I intend the CNC mill to be a "try it out" effort whereas my main "making stuff" activities will be on my "manual stuff" as advised at:
http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=26141&page=5

ckelloug
11-09-2007, 03:10 AM
I think that there are roughly two types of HSM, those who make stuff for the sheer joy of making it and those for whom making stuff is a means to another end. The former wish to use manual machines while the latter will use any means they can acquire.

Both groups are well served by the fact that as production shifts from manual machines to CNC, more used manual machines become available on the secondary market. These machines would be out of the price range of individuals as new equipment but as used machines they are of high quality, moderate price, and will work well. Anybody with enough practice can make simple parts on a manual machine purchased for a price within human comprehension.

Now consider a 5 axis Mazak like the ones you tube videos that have been posted here. The machines cost way more than most houses. (oversimplifying)They're new enough that none have depreciated to the point where companies want to get rid of them. Even when they get to that point, I suspect the high complexity will mean that HSM's more likely will never be able to afford even the maintenance of a fully depreciated machine. Add to that that the CAD/CAM software used for production on them likely also costs more than a house and we see that the barrier to entry for any type of machining has been raised immensely as some day there will be next to no machines leaving industrial service for the HSM market.

This doesn't factor in the idea that to make a simple part with CAD/CAM appears to take an order of magnitude more overall knowledge of divergent topics about computers and the process. As a result, I think that stuff like big Mazaks will never fall into the hand of HSM's.

Eventually, I'd guess that HSM style manual machining will be a lost art/ specialty discipline as it diverges farther and farther from an actual production process. I suspect CNC will be pervasive in almost all new HSM machines within a hundred or so years as the idea of manually making anything is lost to our society. But, unlike the revolution now as industries switch to CNC; HSM's will never again have machines equivalent to what industrial users are replacing.

All told, I think the first class of users wants manual machines, the second will take whatever they can use to get the job done. The choices will eventually be machines purpose built, CNC or otherwise, for the HSM which are not like their industrial bretheren. At this point however, I'd say that manual machines that have retired from industrial service are still the most broadly applicable equipment for both classes of users when a bigger machine is required than something like an X1.

Oh well,

There's 2 cents worth from the 32 year old on this board. (I do have a real Bridgeport and a Taiwanese Birmingham lathe. I just need to sling electrical wire over to them and my shop will have a semblance of doneness.)

--Cameron

Keith Krome
11-09-2007, 03:29 AM
ckelloug,
But I'm the type of machinist (not so much HSM, yet) that enjoys making things for the sheer joy of it and making things as a means to an end.

I enjoy machining. For now, I mostly get paid to do it, but I do have a lathe of my own (a manual one at that). Sure, sometimes I'm making a widget that I have no idea what it is for, but I still like making it, plus I get paid.


I agree with you pretty well, but I suspect that we differ only slightly.

oldtiffie, I don't think we differ at all. I'm not trying to convince anyone that CNC or manual is "better". CNC will migrate into the home shop. Manual machines will still be used in industry. I think the future is bright, no matter what your style is.

Have fun making parts and chips with those machines. They are all "digital" (they call fingers digits, right?)

oldtiffie
11-09-2007, 04:00 AM
Thanks all.

This is a great thread and getting better as regards content and sticking to the theme and intent of the thread as OP-ed.

It is both progress and progressive in developing and discussing very relevant issues as regards the HSM in general and it's likely outlook - in the short, medium and longer terms in particular.

It doesn't get any better than this.

John Stevenson
11-09-2007, 04:38 AM
Cameron mentions the 5 axis Mazacs as shown on U-Tube in that they will never see light of day in a home shop and I agree with him on this.

However CNC has now got to the point as I have stated in my lectures at shows, that for some CNC has now taken over as a hobby.

We only have to look at CNCZone with it's close to a 1,000 posts per day to realise just how popular this is.

It's at all levels as well, roll your own , turn key and even the brave who want to experiment.

Take a look at a web site run by Rab Gordon here in Scotland.

http://www.rainnea.com/cnc_machinery.htm

Rab and his wife run a thriving business making Celtic goods from their farmhouse. A lot of the fancy work is machined on a converted Taig mill made by Rab and converted to 5 axis.

For Rab this is a means to an end but for others it's the journey.
I have a friend here in the UK who has a very small workshop, only room for a small mill and lathe. Over the years he's got that interested that he now runs a CNC SX3 and a Myford ML10 converted to CNC, he has nothing with handles on but still puts out one offs and does sterling work.

.

oldtiffie
11-09-2007, 05:47 AM
Originally posted by Keith Krome:
Have fun making parts and chips with those machines. They are all "digital" (they call fingers digits, right?)

You're right Keith.

It's nothing new. I suppose that little if anything really is.

Accepting that digital = finger:

One of the more memorable quotes in my early workshop experience at age 16 (nearly 55 years ago) was the Foreman yelling: "Get ya bluddy finger out!!" at which all those bluddy fingers of mine started acting as digits - just as the Foreman said!!! ipso facto - I was working digitally!!!

If I hadn't I'd have got another digital experience - 5 of his toe/digits in a size 12 boot right up my you know what right where he said my finger/digits were!!!

I told my Dad and got no sympathy there as he said if he'd known what was going to happen he'd have had me Apprenticed there at age 6 for 20 years!!

Wasn't game to tell me Mum - 'coz she'd have agreed with me Dad!!!

lazlo
11-09-2007, 09:03 AM
I think that there are roughly two types of HSM, those who make stuff for the sheer joy of making it and those for whom making stuff is a means to another end. The former wish to use manual machines while the latter will use any means they can acquire.

I think the hobby CNC crowd (the young guys that hang out at CNCZone) are a uniquely separate group from home shop machinists. But they also have the same two groups that you describe: the guys who just build home-brew CNC machines for the sheer love of it, and the guys who need an inexpensive CNC machine for some business endeavor.

The former group, the guys who build CNC machines for the joy, don't seem to make stuff with their machines: they finish their first gantry mill (usually), post videos, and then they're off building the "Mark II" machine, based on their learnings from the first machine.

Those guys, like drag racers, seem to thrive for maximum IPM (without cutting :) ).


Eventually, I'd guess that HSM style manual machining will be a lost art/ specialty discipline as it diverges farther and farther from an actual production process. I suspect CNC will be pervasive in almost all new HSM machines within a hundred or so years as the idea of manually making anything is lost to our society. But, unlike the revolution now as industries switch to CNC; HSM's will never again have machines equivalent to what industrial users are replacing.

That's happening now Cameron. I'd be willing to bet that the average age here is in the 50's, and there are very few young home shop machinists replacing them.

Peter N
11-09-2007, 09:09 AM
I'd be willing to bet that the average age here is in the 50's, and there are very few young home shop machinists replacing them.

Hey! I've only just turned 48, you're ageing me before my time! :D

Peter

lazlo
11-09-2007, 09:12 AM
:) I'm 41 Peter, but based on the pictures and comments about Grand Children that have been posted, I'm one of the younger members here.

John Stevenson
11-09-2007, 09:17 AM
I'm 59, going on 18 or so Gert says ?

.

Peter N
11-09-2007, 09:19 AM
You're probably right.
When ever I go to one of the model engineering exhibitions in the UK I always feel like the youngest one there.
And you need to be a bit nimble on your feet there to avoid all the motorised wheelchairs that barge down the aisles scattering everyone left & right.
The traffic jams that arise when the meet the zimmer frames can be quite horrendous :)

Peter

Keith Krome
11-09-2007, 09:23 AM
Yeah, I first had a chuckle with regards to calling fingers digits when I was reading a heath insurance plan that my employer at the time brought in for us employees to read. Of course, the insurance plan was to be paid for by the employee. (they were working us as "independant contractors" but the reality was they were such a small time operation, they didn't want to hassle with taxes and such, but I digress...)

One item that stuck out was the "Digital rectal exam" -I kid you not. I showed it to my co-worker while I was laughing. He wondered what I was laughing about. The insurance ad copy makes it sound like a fancy thing involving computers or robots or something (which in my mind translates to $$$ medical procedure, better get that insurance...). I held up my fingers to my co-worker and said to him, "they call these digits, you know". "Digital rectal exam" is nothing more than a fancy phrase for the Doc to stick his gloved finger up your you know what and probe around for anything unusual.

I know that the medical industry needs specific terms to describe procedures, and the insurance guys were just using the proper medical lingo, but in this day and age anything "digital" usually implies "computer" or "microprocessor" or 1's and 0's :D

You can sure tell that here when the topic is calipers (which in that context, they are correct, except some have mechanical "digital" readouts).

Again, apologies for getting off topic... Delete as needed if this was inappropriate for the HSM board.

Keith Krome
11-09-2007, 09:26 AM
I'm "only" 34. But thank god I had some "old" guys show me a trick or two. Or three..., or was it four? I'm starting to lose count.:D

Cameron, I'll try to look you up next time I'm in HSV.

Bob Farr
11-09-2007, 10:10 AM
I have enjoyed reading this thread. Obviously many here have spent a lifetime in the trade and have an insider's view of the transition from manual to CNC, so I hope you don't mind the comments of a new guy who doesn't make his living shaping metal.

I don't think that "process" and "product" motivations are incompatable. I really enjoy the process of making a quality product, and personal satisfaction with the end product lives on long after the tools have been laid down. While my lathe will be used to support another hobby, it is not just a means to an end but is itself something I am going to enjoy learning to use. The mental challenge of that learning process is a third element that I am going to enjoy quite a bit, and I sure do have a lot to learn!

I think that all of those elements can be present for someone in either manual or CNC workshops. But I doubt that I will ever have any CNC equipment. While I certainly admire its abilities, I feel like too much of a spectator. This type of equipment just seems too detached from the process phase for me, and leaves me cold:

http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g272/frankenglide/CNCmill.jpg

Now this is something that stirs me to want to make something. Tactile, hands-on from start to finish, and purty too. Ohhh, ahhh:

http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g272/frankenglide/CraftsmanLathe07.jpg

Ok, enough rambling from the noob.

Bob

lwalker
11-09-2007, 06:09 PM
A hundred years? Try 10-20 at the most.

The "new thing" now in DIY CNC is Rapid Prototyping machines using wax/glue/melted sugar to create a part from nothing as opposed to taking a block and removing the bits you don't need. The co. I work for has one of those cool RP machines in the lab. It costs tens of thousands of $$$. There's Open Source software and hardware to build your own (much simpler version of course) for $200. When they get to depositing something with more structural strength: watch out!

I'm in the group that has a mill to make parts as opposed to just playing/restoring the machine itself. If the volume of the parts I need to make rises to a sufficient level, I'll CNC my HF Mini-Mill in a second! I have fun making chips, but I have even more fun when those chips are making money.




Eventually, I'd guess that HSM style manual machining will be a lost art/ specialty discipline as it diverges farther and farther from an actual production process. I suspect CNC will be pervasive in almost all new HSM machines within a hundred or so years as the idea of manually making anything is lost to our society. But, unlike the revolution now as industries switch to CNC; HSM's will never again have machines equivalent to what industrial users are replacing.

Michael Moore
11-11-2007, 11:32 PM
I'm 54 and I did IT stuff prior to retirement. I'm not in any way a computer hobbyist. I want a computer to be an appliance like a toaster (one that hopefully gives me my data only slightly burnt).

I started with a 9x42 clone mill and a 10x24 bench lathe. I now have an MS850 Mori Seiki manual lathe and a Tree 325 CNC knee mill (photos available on the tool pages at my www.eurospares.com website).

I like to make stuff, but I'm one of those people that avoids using nails in wood because I can only properly hit the nail about 40% of the time. Metal is nicer than wood because sometimes I can weld bits back on and try again. :)

I got my lathe first, and it was to support my motorcycle racing. Getting parts made was expensive, and machine shops weren't typically open the night before a race.

If I'd had space to keep my manual mill I'd have done that, just because I wouldn't have to wait a minute or two for the control to boot up if all I want to do is "just drill a hole". I should probably get a drill press with a small XY table for those quicky and not terribly precise jobs.

I can work from a quick sketch on a scrap of paper but I like to do a real drawing with a CAD program if for no other reason I than I don't have to decipher my handwriting on the dimensions. And I may want to make that part again some day or pull up the drawing and modify it a bit. That's way easier to do with CAD -- pull up a fresh copy and make a new version, don't like it, pull up another fresh copy and repeat. For most of what I do I can do a drawing with CAD faster than I can manually.

Anyone who thinks that you just buy a CNC mill and hit "make the part" button has obviously never used a CNC machine. You don't just pull up a drawing in the CAM software and hit the "generate all the code automagically" button either. I don't think it is any harder than doing it manually, it is just different.

CNC actually forces me to be a better at machining as I have to figure out feeds, speeds, DOC, IPT load etc. The mill won't do anything without those numbers, and as a self-taught manual machine operator (I don't claim to be a machinist) I generally just took whatever speed the mill was on and cranked handles until things sounded bad and then slowed up a bit. IPM meant nothing as I had no way of measuring it on the manual mill.

Drilling a single hole on a CNC is no faster than a manual mill, but it needn't be any slower either. What is a big speed up are the canned cycles like facing, boring, drilling, BHC etc.

Instead of dragging the 12" rotab up on the mill, centering the part on it, centering the spindle to the rotab so I can do offsets, counting turns of the handles, etc I can pull up a BHC menu, input the coords for 0,0,0, number of holes, starting angle, any holes I might want to skip and have the BHC in progress in about 60-90 seconds. I've got a digitizing probe which makes finding a center, corner or side a snap, and I don't even have to worry about trying to align an edge to the table as I can rotate the coordinate system to match the parts alignment.

What is really liberating is that with the CNC mill I don't have to largely do straight lines. Yes, I can differentially crank the handles on the manual mill and generate a smooth curve. But there is no assurance that it is even approximately the smooth curve I'd like or where I'd like it. :) With the CNC if I can draw it I can cut it. Too many rotab jobs were "set up, rotate around one location, reset the part on the rotab, cut the next small section, reset the part for the next corner, etc etc".

Even after 15+ years in industry before I got it the Tree will reliably move to a spot within .0002-.0003" and that's plenty accurate enough for my purposes.

I don't have a tool changer but I want to sit and watch it cut anyway. And it cuts for hour after hour if I need that. I did a stamp for embossing some foam and that was the first time I'd ever used a 1/16" EM in metal. I couldn't have manually profiled all those letters with that tiny EM for hours at a time and had a smooth feed that eliminated broken tools.

The CNC is really handy for fixturing. With the manual mill there were some parts that I didn't attempt because they really needed a fixture to hold them and I didn't want to try and do that as well as the part. But now I can take a part profile (which is already available to me) and cut that into a set of soft jaws in the vise and securely hold some oddly-shaped part. And that only takes a couple of minutes to do.

Sure, some parts take me longer with CNC because I'm still in the steep part of the learning curve. But for me CNC means that my machining horizons are greatly expanded as it makes it possible to contemplate making some items that I'd never have attempted on the manual machine.

Handles vs keyboard is just a user interface issue. With either CNC or manual I still am the one who has to make the machine do what I want it to do, otherwise it just sits there and does nothing.

Sure, it is cool to see those horribly complicated parts that were made on complicated manual machines with compound rotabs driven by a PTO on the mill and things like that. My hat is off to the people who did that kind of work. But when I have a finished part in my hand it doesn't matter if I did it on a manual machine or a CNC machine. Either way I'm the one who made it. CNC is just another tool.

I'm sure there must be some "old school" folks that scoff at anyone who doesn't mine and smelt their own metal. They probably think everyone who uses a manual mill ought to hang their head in shame for using a machine tool instead of just taking a hunk of metal and using their teeth to gnaw it into a finished part. :)

I guess I'm lazy because deliberately doing something the hard way just so I can say I did isn't a common practice for me. If you start with a chunk of metal and end up with a part and it was all done in your home shop, it looks to me that whether you used manual or CNC (or your teeth) you've still gone through the same basic creative process and created a part and a pile of chips.

Oh yes, I do have a Rhodes shaper I've restored. I'm afraid it is just a garage queen so far as it isn't generally as useful as either a manual or CNC mill. But I can still appreciate the people who made it or watching it shave some chips off a piece of metal "just for fun".

Tools are tools. Math is a tool, a hammer is a tool, a computer is a tool, and a manual machine is a tool. You use whatever tool you have that is best for the job. As with most things, it isn't the tool but the person that is using it that makes the biggest difference.

I'd encourage anyone who wants to give CNC a try to do so. Maybe take a course at your local community college and see if you like it. If you can learn the often arcane stuff necessary to make a part on a manual machine (much of which you still need to know for CNC) you should be able to learn CNC. You may not be programming a 5 axis machine, but 2 or 2.5D CNC isn't any more complicated than the manual stuff.

And having parts with those smooth curves sure is nice.

cheers,
Michael

jkeyser14
11-12-2007, 12:58 AM
And having parts with those smooth curves sure is nice.


What's even nicer is when you make those parts with complex curved 3d surfaces that you just could not do on a manual machine without days spent changing setups. That being said, most of the time I use manual machines. I mostly find myself using a cnc mill when I need to make runs of 10+ parts, or if a part has any complex curves, lettering, pockets, etc. And the first time you have to drill and tap 70+ holes in a plate, you'll be glad you know how to use a CNC machine.

The first cnc program I wrote was a .75"x3" 2.5d relief of my name using a 1/16" endmill. It's something I would have never wanted to even try to do by hand (who really likes to do tedious work). It was definitely a fun project and something to be proud of. I gave it to a friend to anodize, before I had started anodizing, and unfortunately, he never gave it back :(

oldtiffie
11-12-2007, 05:03 AM
I thought that the posts lately have been excellent - Michael Moore's and CKelloug's in particular.

The points they make are quite valid and to the point.

As with many others, they are in the same vein as regards appraisal and objectivity.

I am busting a gut to have a closer look at CNC and am seriously considering buying one as advised by John Stevenson in another recent thread.

I will probably go for the mill with the Sieg x4 option.

I can see that a CNC mill will do all and more than I can do on my HF-45 vertical mill - but that's fine as I will retain that mill as it is.

I will retain my 3-in-1 (excellent) and my micro-lathe (very good) as they are.

I watched the U-tube videos as advised by John Stevenson and have a few questions in that regard.

I have no real problem with AutoCAD although I will need a good "brush up" due to not having used it "in anger" for a while - but I can get over that.

I see CNC as both a challenge and an opportunity - no more and no less.

I am enthralled with automated work-centres. I'd like to know more about their operations and to perhaps try some simple varaitions of them for myself in my HSH shop - hence my interest in CNC.

I like to try processes and the application of principles.

Just about all the stuff I make is for making something else. The rest is just to try something out for myself - either something I've seen, read or thought of myself. The end result is that if it's OK and has a future need I keep it - if not I consign it to trash or the spares bin.

I might not touch any machine or tool or equipment in my shop for weeks or some for months - but they are there if, and as, I want to use them.

I like the tactile feel of a machine or any tool - mechanical, motorised or "hand" on any material - metal and otherwise.

I saw or sensed the coming of CNC when I was on turret and capstan lathes, copying lathes, panto-graphs, gear-generators and tool-setting both in the Machine Shop and the Tool Room - over 50 years ago.

Stuff advanced to "auto-matic" to "robotic" and "hands off". This particularly applied to Navy weapons and other control systems on ships which could be "conned" and "fought" from the ships Control centres or from other ships or other places.

Back to "automatic" and CNC.

I read of a lot of "auto-feed rates" and "making chips" etc. on this forum.

Perhaps CNC is the inevitable outcome and requirement there.

Not only can CNC do things that other control systems on mills, lathes, grinders etc. - manual/non-CNC - not do but quite often it can do those "do-able" things that non-CNC machines can do even better.

There has been some issue as regards setting feed rates and speeds. The way it has been "put" as regards non-CNC machines seems to be that there is no "trial" - just "knowing".

I "try" and "get the feel" of the machine on a scrap similar part/job and then when satisfied, set the "auto" feed to the same or a lesser rate. I still "sense" the machine during its processing of the cuts. I note down the settings that things perform best at - just as I do with welding and pure "manual" tasks and processes etc. (And then I lose the bloody notes and have to start al over again!!)

There is no denying that CNC has not only "arrived" but it has been here in one form or another for quite a while and will be here and changing for a long time yet.

There will always be "room" for the "conventional" machine and Machinist albeit in perhaps different ways to now.

Both the human operator and the machines are "cost" items and perhaps "commodities" that "need to earn their keep" - or be replaced. Both require significant risk, commitment and investment from an owner/employer.

Decisions have been and will continue to be made by the "hard-heads" and "bean-counters" to see it the investment is both feasible and with a good chance of making a required level of return on investment.

I suspect that a lot of HSM-ers do a similar thing even if sub-consciously.

All my life I have seen far too many otherwise competent people finish a course or training of one sort or another and think that as soon as they've finished that course that "That' it!!".

Wrong. Dead wrong. Very very wrong.

Life is always about learning of one sort or another - both by choice and necessity - including employment and careers and ultimate retirement.

There is only one thing worse than denying that change is inevitable and that is resenting or resisting it.

Sometimes things that we have "learned" and become used to or "comfortable" with have to be forgotten, "stored away" or even "unlearned". This is probably part of why children and younger people adapt so well.

People and government in Scandinavia and other progressive countries have seen the "writing on the wall" a long time ago. They encouraged change - not just for "up-skilling" (in the same sphere) but "re-skilling" (in new spheres) to the extent that changes to disciplines are quite normal - even at the post-tertiary and professional levels. They regard education as an investment and not as a "cost item". And it shows!!!!

Perhaps all that is needed is either a change in attitude or a change of mind(set) to see that this is inevitable and not necessarily a threat - but it can be - but as an opportunity.

I am almost 71 (January next) and have hopefully got 5 or more years to go at this "caper".

I'd like to give it a go and see what its like and how and whether it might or can or will be relevant to me in the meantime.

I think we all have a lot to give and a lot to learn.

I envisage that the HSM shop will be either all "traditional", all "CNC" or a continually changing mix or "cock-tail" of both.

I likewise envisage and hope that the HSM and this forum will face the future (and the past?) with confidence and relevance to all of us.

John Stevenson
11-12-2007, 05:57 AM
Two things in Michael's post stood out to me

The first was:-

"CNC actually forces me to be a better at machining as I have to figure out feeds, speeds, DOC, IPT load etc. The mill won't do anything without those numbers, and as a self-taught manual machine operator (I don't claim to be a machinist) I generally just took whatever speed the mill was on and cranked handles until things sounded bad and then slowed up a bit. IPM meant nothing as I had no way of measuring it on the manual mill."

And the second was :-

"The CNC is really handy for fixturing. With the manual mill there were some parts that I didn't attempt because they really needed a fixture to hold them and I didn't want to try and do that as well as the part. But now I can take a part profile (which is already available to me) and cut that into a set of soft jaws in the vise and securely hold some oddly-shaped part. And that only takes a couple of minutes to do."

Now Michael did mention using soft jaws in a vise but if You envisage the work held between centres on a 4th axis or on an angle fixture, in a lot of cases two or even 4 sides of the same part can be machines at one setting. Something that you never think to do manually because of setups etc.

.

oldtiffie
11-12-2007, 06:54 AM
Two things in Michael's post stood out to me

The first was:-

"CNC actually forces me to be a better at machining as I have to figure out feeds, speeds, DOC, IPT load etc. The mill won't do anything without those numbers, and as a self-taught manual machine operator (I don't claim to be a machinist) I generally just took whatever speed the mill was on and cranked handles until things sounded bad and then slowed up a bit. IPM meant nothing as I had no way of measuring it on the manual mill."

And the second was :-

"The CNC is really handy for fixturing. With the manual mill there were some parts that I didn't attempt because they really needed a fixture to hold them and I didn't want to try and do that as well as the part. But now I can take a part profile (which is already available to me) and cut that into a set of soft jaws in the vise and securely hold some oddly-shaped part. And that only takes a couple of minutes to do."

Now Michael did mention using soft jaws in a vise but if You envisage the work held between centres on a 4th axis or on an angle fixture, in a lot of cases two or even 4 sides of the same part can be machines at one setting. Something that you never think to do manually because of setups etc.

.

Thanks John.



Originally Posted by John Stevenson
Now Michael did mention using soft jaws in a vise but if You envisage the work held between centres on a 4th axis or on an angle fixture, in a lot of cases two or even 4 sides of the same part can be machines at one setting. Something that you never think to do manually because of setups etc.

Exactly.

One of the projects I have in mind is to mount an angle plate on my larger (8") rotary table (rotab) set "upright" with the angle plate at or below rotab centre height but supported as for but not necessarily by the rotab tail-stock.

The "top" face of the angle plate is to be a "table" that can be rotated and have angle plates/vices etc. mounted on it for compound angles as well. It is a variation of the "dual-tilt" angle vice. I can envisage one rotab mounted on another as well. I saw a set-up like this on the web somewhere where both rotabs were concurrent CNC axis.

Another variation I had in mind was to mount a rotab onto an adjustable angle-plate which is fitted to the mill table - (like a Dividing Head set up I suppose).

I have a few other queries that I'd like to address to you on the thread for the Seig CNC of which you gave us a sneak pre-view.

I avoid tilting the head of my HF-45 vertical mill as its a real PITA to set accurately as it is so out of balance past 30 degrees and it has no worm and wheel adjustment - and its another PITA to re-set the "tram" as well.

I noticed that few if any CNC mills have heads that tilt "left-right" (or "forward-back" either for that matter) under CNC control. All motion other than on the "X"-"Y" planes seems to be in "Z" only on the basic CNC (vertical) mill.

I have no problem setting my feed rates as I do what Michael suggested but I "count off" my "hand-feed rate" (seconds per turn of my hand-wheel) and then set that on my power feed using the same method in reverse - works fine (I only have power feed on my "X" screw).

"Compound angles" are best avoided in their purest terms if possible as they are "difficult" at best. Even "Machinery's Hand-book" only gives them "passing/cursory" mention at best. I get on better by "reversing" them and just finding a setting that either "works" or sets a plane to match an existing one that I need to work on or duplicate. I would envisage that if I can draw them in CAD or a model that there is a very good chance that the CNC software and control can "make" it for me with no further input from or by me.

I do agree with Michael regarding cutting a profile into soft jaws as a clamping fixture or jig as it reduces what might be otherwise difficult or awkward to "grab".

I notice that throughout this thread and other simlar threads that "fabrication" by welding, cutting, drilling and grinding etc. "off-(CNC)machine" is not addressed in these matters. Thet seem to be seen as seperate issues or methods. I can see no good reason why they cannot be used in conjuction with and to complement each other.

This sort and level of discussion about anything in the HSM shop - whether CNC or not - is what the future of the HSM and this type of forum is all about.

Michael Moore
11-12-2007, 01:40 PM
http://www.elrodmachine.com/Videos/Route%2066%20Compu-Cut%20Full%20tvideo.mpg

is probably best viewed if you have a fast connection as it is about 214MB.

http://www.elrodmachine.com/Videos/Route%2066%20Compu-Cut256.wmv

is a shorter version (15MB) if you have a slower connection. I watched these when I started thinking about converting my manual mill, and I think they give a good basic view of some of the capabilities of a CNC mill.

I have a nice 4th axis rotab and my Centroid control and VisualMill software both support a fully-controlled (not just indexed) 4th axis. I have plans for making a table for the rotab (supported by a center at the far end) that will let me bolt things to it so I can do more than just hold something in a chuck on the rotab. I hope to use that for duplicating cylinder head ports. It won't be as effective as a 5 axis machine (where the rotab is mounted on a tilt table) but it should be "good enough" for my workshop.

The control also supports digitizing which I am hoping will let me copy and duplicate things like engine covers and cylinder ports. Once I get a surfaced point cloud I can scale that up for an appropriate shrink factor and make casting patterns. I'll also be able to modify the solid model if I want to incorporate extra lugs or things like that on the new part.

http://www.eurospares.com/graphics/Benelli/250%20cylinder%20head.pdf

is a pdf of a "getting close" model of a 250cc Motobi cylinder head. If you have a late enough version of Acrobat Reader you can click on the cylinder head and you'll be able to rotate or zoom in on it. This was done with Alibre and I hope to eventually make one of these cylinder heads.

http://www.eurospares.com/graphics/metalwork/spearlabstamp.jpg

is the aluminum stamp I made for one of the local HSM guys. The bottom is a bit rough where I misjudged a little on some of the settings, but that portion never contacts the foam as the ledge around the outside of the stamp is what limits the depth of the stamp. IIRC that took about 2.5 hours of cutting (which could probably have been optimized and shortened), much of it with 3/16, 1/8 and 1/16" EMs. I can't imagine how many hours it would take to try and do something like that by hand or how many EMs would have been broken.

http://www.eurospares.com/graphics/metalwork/accelpumpcover.jpg

are some covers (before any deburring) I made for a friend to use to blank off the accel pump on Dell'Orto motorcycle carbs. I did those as a reasonably simple learning piece, and I wanted a few for myself. But once I had a couple for me it was pretty easy to add the little engraved logo for my friend's shop and run some off to give to him.

This is a part where I cut the outer profile into the vise soft jaws to let me flip the cover over to do the blind holes in the back. I'd made this before by sawing/filing a piece of plate to shape, drilling the three through holes and just snipping the little brass tubes for the fuel off the carb. These CNC parts let me avoid modifying the carb and they look a lot more like "real parts".

http://www.eurospares.com/ewheel.htm

towards the bottom there are some shots of some bulkhead plates I made for an English wheel frame I'm building. Making an ellipse that exactly matches the slash cut on the pipe is easy with CNC, and no angle grinder action was needed.

As I said in the earlier post, CNC opened up a whole new area of items that I could make that would have never been considered when I had my manual mill. And not only can I make the parts, I can also make what I think are nicer (more sophisticated shapes) parts.

I've only done 2.5D stuff so far. But I've got parts that need 3D contouring and while I don't expect that I'll be whipping those out without a fair bit of study and backtracking as I learn the ins and outs of 3D, I do expect that I will eventually have a part that satisifies me. All in good time.

cheers,
Michael

Blacksmith
11-30-2007, 11:00 AM
I don't personally have any problem with CNC versus manual machining as far as whether one is hands on or the other too digital. Certainly touch typing is a pretty decent hand skill, and as a woodworker who can cut dovetails by hand (and all the less well known joinery), I realize that "manual" machining is the 150 years of high tech progress that followed my trade.

The biggest problem with computers for me is that they don't output in useful DIY ways. I can design all kinds of things in CAD, but getting them even onto paper plan stock, let alone directly into a finished product is not easy or cheap or space saving. A printer is just a CNC machine for whatever you want to put on paper. It's a pretty cool tool. I would love a CNC router, or mill, or lathe. It seems, though, as if much of the Hobbie there is building the system. There are many CNC workshop/businesses at a certain level, but a lot of the DIY craft seems to be just building systems. If I buy a Bosch Jigsaw, one moment I can cut out one of those signs that says "The Flintstones, 1215 Smith Lane" and the next moment I can cut a 12' wide bulkhead for an ocean going yacht, and then rip a 2x4 of sitka spruce for the spar of an aircraft. CNC just doesn't scale like that.

I wonder when Homeland Security is going to get onto CNC. If I wanted to buy a front sight for a gun, it would generate about 200 buck of paperwork to get it from the US to Canada. Same review process as for sending fighter parts to Iran. The G codes for that sight to my mini mill just aren't a problem.

John Stevenson
11-30-2007, 03:42 PM
I wonder when Homeland Security is going to get onto CNC. If I wanted to buy a front sight for a gun, it would generate about 200 buck of paperwork to get it from the US to Canada. Same review process as for sending fighter parts to Iran. The G codes for that sight to my mini mill just aren't a problem.

Why bother about the CNC aspect.
There is nothing to stop paper prints being mailed anywhere in the world to be made on manual machines.
Let's face it all the WWII weapons were made this way.

.

toastydeath
11-30-2007, 04:29 PM
Why bother about the CNC aspect.
There is nothing to stop paper prints being mailed anywhere in the world to be made on manual machines.
Let's face it all the WWII weapons were made this way.

.

And the internals on a lot of those weapons looked GOOD and were just as fancy.

Blacksmith
12-01-2007, 03:53 AM
The difference is that mailing plans anywhere, doesn't get you parts, it gets you instructions, for say the 1911 pistol, not a dramatic technology transfer in anyone's book.

Somewhat after all the nonsense about Glocks, the plastic guns, etc... in other words before glocks were all that popular with the police etc A US pistol company prototyped a large magazine capacity (for IPSC shooting) frame (grip mag well rails etc...) in plastic, it had metal rails attached to it. The frame was designed in CAD, and exported to a medical valve prototyping machine, that somehow uses lasers in "soup" to form 3D plastic parts.

That plastic grip assembly was with the hardened metal "gibs" tested for 10 000 rounds of (probably 45 acp at the time, maybe 38 super), and did not fail (which I assume was not expected or they wouldn't have chosen that material for a test). Anyone who knows the restrictions on interstate commerce in guns; international commerce; The characterization of what separates semi auto and full auto versions of stuff like M16/AR15 by the receiver. Would note this potentially frees stuff up a lot. And that was quite a while back, goodness knows what the capability of current desktop tech would permit.

I'm not worried about this, if anything I find the idea liberating that 19th century and early 20th century physical stuff is as exportable as email.

There are possibly some worrying examples. I don't really know the area, but the sub props, and friends to the east, several decades back.

I realize having pounded the above out, it may seem like this is a gun control topic, and that was not my intention. In Toronto where I grew up, they banned skateboards, and hula hoops, just to mention some regulations of the day. The are all kinds of limits around ojects be they regulation, or scarcety or distance, etc...

I think it's common to look at the net, and speak of how words, travel without border, or certainly lessened borders. Conceptually, digital stuff creates the opportunity for a similar distribution of some wider range of physical objects. Maybe one day I won't have to worry about finding some odd part on ebay for my SB lathe, I will be able to find a G-code for it, and have it pounded out by my local CNC shop. It won't probably be as cheap as an ebay firesale, but like jurasic park the DNA of the lathe may well survive. So perhaps there will ultimately be harmony between the CNC and manual parts of my hobby.

John Stevenson
12-01-2007, 04:58 AM
Just an update on the original title of this post.

Well my machine has been packed up and shipped up north to David Clark the new editor of Model Engineers Workshop.

David recognises that these machines do have an interest with newcomers into the hobby and it is his idea to do a series of articles on the actual use of these machines as opposed to show and tell type articles or "How I converted my ABS 123 to CNC" which has been done many times.

There is no "How do I use this or set this up" book or article out there at the moment and hopefully this series of articles will address this, possible as a lot of these do, to spin off into a book ?

David thinks that these articles will run to about a two year stretch given that MEW has now moved to a monthly issue date.
Now it looks as if an affordable turnkey machine is due to be released and this series of articles is the last hurdle for the non technical [ or even technical :D ] person to get a rung on the ladder.

There is a market for these machines, there is a market in every sphere however limited. When the little CO lathe came out many thought it was a joke but railway modelers are buying these up by the 100's as they are right for their application, a Myford or SB is just far too big.

.

crrmeyer
12-01-2007, 11:27 AM
I just watched an older nice looking 12" Craftsman lathe sell for 921.00$ last week on Ebay.
Steve

If you were referring to this lathe (which sold for $1,054.67):

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170171432406

You we supposed to bid on it, not watch it! :)

Charles (who is waiting for someone to pick up that lathe this weekend)

Ed Tipton
12-01-2007, 03:02 PM
To many responders on this thread there seems to be the idea for many that "machining" falls into an "either/or" category. For anyone who is considering the purchase of CNC equipment, I offer this for your consideration: Having the necessary skills to program, read prints, work to tolerances, push buttons etc. is all well and good, but it will not be of any use to anyone who is without a well based foundation in basic manual machining. It is not simply deciding that you would rather fall into the CNC category. To be able to take advantage of what CNC is, and what it can do for you, it is necessary that you first understand basic machining, and at least some of the mystery of metallurgy. To think that anyone would consider purchasing a CNC machine without training in these fundamental fields is folly. A five axis CNC machine sitting in the corner because nobody can run it will collect just as much rust and dust as a manual machine will.
I, for one, do not feel that my skill level would support the purchase of a CNC machine. There is far more for me to learn about the basics of machining that I feel a need to learn about before trying to conquer CNC.
To me, it's not unlike giving a kid a new drill driver when he hasn't yet mastered the screwdriver. It is true that CNC is really nothing more than an extension of our tool inventory, but it is a tool that cannot be used effectively without having first paid your dues standing at a manual machine.
My .02 FWIW.

John Stevenson
12-01-2007, 03:32 PM
To many responders on this thread there seems to be the idea for many that "machining" falls into an "either/or" category. For anyone who is considering the purchase of CNC equipment, I offer this for your consideration: Having the necessary skills to program, read prints, work to tolerances, push buttons etc. is all well and good, but it will not be of any use to anyone who is without a well based foundation in basic manual machining. It is not simply deciding that you would rather fall into the CNC category. To be able to take advantage of what CNC is, and what it can do for you, it is necessary that you first understand basic machining, and at least some of the mystery of metallurgy.

Sorry Ed but I have to disagree with you on this one.
First off I'm not for pushing CNC against manual machining just pointing out there are two parallel paths.

Just up the road from me is an aerospace company making parts for all types of planes. They only run CNC machines, there isn't a manual machine or handwheel in the place.
All the operators have to program and operate their own machines and there isn't a guy in then place over 30.

None have operated a manual machine in their life, some have been to college and done courses on CNC machines but mostly they have gone on a weeks training when the company have bought a new machine and that's their 'experience'

The ones that did get college training freely admit it was a waste of time as they were trained on machines that had been scrapped by industry many years ago. They have been at this location for 12 years and the oldest machine is 4 years old.

The only college locally still teaching CNC has a Denford desktop mill that at least 20 years old and still uses G70 /G71 for inch metric commands.

Occasionally they do me the odd job if I have run on something that involves a CNC lathe. The last job they did for me was some special ER20 collet nuts with a weird outside.
I supplied the material and a print and the guy, about 25, stood at the control and punched the code in reading from the print.
The first one off was too tight on the thread so he had to tweak the tool offset, the next 120 were bang on.

.

wshelley
12-04-2007, 11:37 AM
Fascinating thread, lots of good comments. Just one more perspective to share. I fall somewhere between the "old" and "young" at 43. I am a firm believer in that if you aren't learning new things, you may as well lay down and die. As a result, I have many hobbies. Over the last year I've purchased a mini lathe, a mini mill, and more recently built a small CNC router. I also have my own foundry. The CNC was originally planned to help create patterns for foundry work but has turned into a hobby all its own.

So, to throw in my 2 cents about CNC. Why did I build one? Well, the cost to purchase one ready to run was a significant hurdle. I also think probably the best way to learn (or in my case, relearn, I worked for an industrial automation company about 20 years ago) something is to jump in and do it. While the route I picked wasn't plug-n-play it was pretty close. Anyone capable of reading and following basic instructions could replicate it. The software side is a bit more difficult as many have mentioned. There were bits where scratching my head was in order but help is available through forums like this one, the cnczone, etc.

So, in short, if it is of interest, pursue it. The journey is as important as the destination. The process of learning is immensely satisfying. If you are interested you can see pictures on my website www.wardscorner.net

Ward

Optics Curmudgeon
12-04-2007, 01:13 PM
My shop is used entirely for hobby purposes, and every machine in it is computer controlled. Even the drill press. Sensitive optical input devices get dimensional info directly from drawings (often made on old envelopes, etc.), the computer analyzes, and complex servoes operate the machine controls. Of course, it's all biological in nature, and since it's getting on in years there is some noticable decline in performance, particularly the optical detectors. But for a shop that rarely makes more than one pert of a kind it's just the system.

Joe

lwalker
12-04-2007, 03:55 PM
I wonder how many times over the millenia discussions like these have come up.

We did the same thing 20+ years ago when I was in Merchant Marine officer school. Below decks we bitched about having to learn on a 30 year-old steam engine and manually controlling everything when the "real" industry had moved on to big thumping diesels and computer control. Topside, the military had something called a Global Positioning System and we had Loran and SATNAV, but were still forced to be out there at twilight with our sextants, struggling to keep them level on a rolling, pitching deck, bringing stars down to the horizon. All the while the instructors tried to convince us that once we got jobs on modern ships with all new equipment, our experience on the old stuff would make us better seamen.

While it may make for interesting conversation, knowing how to use a sextant (what little I still remember!) and an alidade is of no use as I push buttons on my GPS receiver.

Back to machining: for me, I made the decision that when I have to make so many curved sections that it's worth purchasing a rotary table, I'll spend the money on converting my mill to CNC instead. I have no biases either way -- I just want to make parts.