First post & so many questions
Well let me start out by giving you my background.I have been a tool maker
most of my life "ole school" & I'm retired.
I have a small shop at home mill,lathe, ect.In all my years I never got into
CNC.But now that I have the time & place I would love to learn & get into
I have no desire to do anything but play & thats why I retired.Now reading
post after post I have given up the thought of a retrofit to my mill.There
are so many used cnc mills I no not were to turn.
I need something that I can learn with out a whole lot of trouble.I'm not
a computer guy at all.I have seen retrofits with ole Anilan & protrack for
What about the Tree jounerymans made in the 1990s.I know Tree was
a great mill, but are they user friendly enough for someone like me?
I guess it comes down to this.Can I get into this for around $5000?
A Couple Thoughts
If you make your thread heading a bit more specific you tend to get more answers...
Some of those old CNC's like the Tree are really nice machines, but the problem is, unless you are an electronics tech you might have problems keeping them running because of the age.
Little Machine Shop (and others) has the Seig KX3 for just over 5000, it still needs a computer for the control as it uses Mach3 which you can look up and download to look at. It is a solid machine, but only has like 11" x 5" x 7" work envelope. You would have to learn some CNC programming (not so hard, just a but of X Y Z positions where you want to end up) and it does have some wizards for some operations. If you learn a little CAD (there are several inexpensive programs out there) that is the first step toward some sort of CAM program to simplify the CNC coding.
What kind of parts do you want to make? how big are they? What other skills do you have that you might need if you get into some type of automation?
What other skills?Well I weld tig mig, ect.I have done most things in a shop
from grinders to edm.But not CNC.Parts I plan on making, well some gun
parts motor cycle parts & street rod stuff.
The problem is with some of those hobby mills is the distance from table
to spindle limit you.
I know in the 1980s Anilan & Protrack made user friendly retrofits & there
still around.I don't know how good they are but I found a mill with a
1100 Anilan control for about $5000.
But 5000 bucks is alot of money for me.I may scrap this idea altogether
for I see lots of problems people post with there buys.Maybe I should stick
with what I have.
For this post
The trees are very good machines.
Just keep an eye out in the local craigslist. I see machines pop up here all the time.
Heck, there is a chance you will even find a machine with a working control. I was looking at a Fanuc robodrill last year that would fit nice in a garage with a good control for about your price. Machines are out there and if you can use the original control all the better. Mach is great but you just cant beat a real control.
One choice might be to get an old machine with a dead control and retrofit it with EMC. Often the motors and screws are fine and it's just a blown board that's hard to get a straight replacement for. It is not the easiest way to go but you will learn the machine inside and out. 5k is doable if you get the base mill dirt cheap, which often you can with a dead control.
A couple of years ago I went to a shop closing auction in a rural area near where I live. Long story short there were three operational CNC mills that sold for like $500 ea. A big modern machining center went for like $35,000. There were not many in attendance. I felt sorry for the owners. Keep your eyes open and be ready to act If a good deal comes along.