Page 3 of 29 FirstFirst 1234513 ... LastLast
Results 21 to 30 of 282

Thread: Why even bother anymore with manual machines?

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    454

    Default

    I don't like computers. I put up with them because of the information easily available and ease of communication. I like mechanical things. Antique tractors, manual machine tools. Friend has a 110 years old shingle mill. Love it, no computer. With care old machines will still be running and useful years from now when all the computer stuff will have "crashed" into the landfill to be replaced with more stuff "newer and better". This stuff is OK for production, but for my fun/hobby I don't want anything to do with it. The way it was figured out to do things mechanically is fascination. Just check out any old machine like a steam engine valve mechanism, a shingle mill, cutting helical gears on a milling machine, how a shaper works, things like that.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    31,502

    Default

    it's really a silly question.

    The means depends on what you want, what you need.

    There is the "practical" side of it, where you want the part, and need the best, easiest way to get a good part.

    CNC is the way to go for almost any sort of repetitive production. You have a process that you "qualify", and then it pretty much just "happens" if you set it up right and do not break tools.

    For one very complex piece, it may make good sense to use CNC, given that mistakes are easy to make. On the other hand, they are easy to make in programming as well, so one may have a tossup of sorts, depending on one's experience level with CNC.
    .
    .

    There is the "other" side of it, where you are not simply interested in "making these damn parts", but are looking to enjoy the process as much as get the result.

    For one simple piece, it is probably more trouble to deal with the CNC even if you do a drawing from 3D CAD. It can end up being a case of squashing a bug by using a backhoe.

    If you do the design in CAD and run on CNC, the design is just as much "yours" as if you ran it on manual machines. But it is of course, not your "craftsmanship" in the same way, and that can be an important part of the process.

    There can be some satisfaction in getting the CNC machinery to work right and do the part, of course. But there is a good deal of satisfaction in using a manual machine as well.

    Manual machines can be a good way to relax, even though you are being very careful and "meticulous"....

    There is CNC and there is CNC. to really do a lot of the things done with manual machines, you want more than 3 axis CNC, and that gets you into even bigger money.

    And, of course, there is the point you can spend $2500 and with that set up a whole machine shop, with tooling. I do not think I spent that much on 3 lathes, two mills, and three drill presses. Cutting that down to 1 lathe and 1 mill plus drill press, there would be a grand or so left for tooling.

    As pointed out, that gets you zip in CNC, unless you buy some old junker from the 1990s that parts for are NLA, manuals ditto, and the firmware ROMs are failing.

    I can use CAD without problems, and have done a lot of parts that ran on CNC, designed entire products in CAD which were built without problems. And I design things on CAD that I make with manual machines. Usually I am making one example of each part.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 12-28-2018 at 10:52 AM.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,848

    Default

    Another thing about CNC machines vs. manual, there is a lot to fail. The controllers and drives fail and become obsolete. Spare parts can be scarce and very expensive. They can also be very difficult to diagnose. Can't identify find the failed fifty cent component? Sorry, swap very expensive boards.

    As a result, CNC machines tend to lose value, quickly. They fail just sitting, with no use.

    I bought my first home CNC, a Tree mill, back in 1997. Great machine. If it had been a bridgeport, it would still be completely useful and retain value (possibly even appreciate). But now, in storage, to return it to use the drive will all need to be replaced. Aftermarket solutions are better than ever, for sure. But who has time for that? And the drive you end up with is likely to be a kludge. Homespun drives scare people and often have little resale value.

    My 1951 10ee? No reason it won't still be going strong in 2051.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Minnesoa
    Posts
    1,417

    Default

    Hi,

    It will be a decent while yet before CNC becomes common in home shops.

    As others have mentioned, cost is a big barrier for most. A decently functional CNC of a size most here will find useful, will cost many thousands of dollars even used, (and that leaves out the cost of tooling which is more costly than manual machines as a general rule). The little Taigs are cute, but expensive for what you get and their capacity. If you can get beyond the expensive toy aspect for the work you want to do with them, then perhaps they are OK.

    I have seen some here just recently claim that you could just buy a CNC with dead/obsolete controls and redo it. Just as if that is a simple everyday job. Not to mention the added cost for those new controls, (and often less than reliable and satisfactory replacements - been there, done that and learned valuable lessons not to be repeated. MACH on it's best day is merely a kludgy adequate replacement). And what happens when you discover that OK, I got the controls running, but now the machine shows a lot of wear? I need ballscrews and the ways are worn out. Hint: A good quick test for ball screws is to machine an arc or better, a circle. If you feel little flat spots at the quadrants, your screws are junk. I can and have dealt with manuals that have had several complete turns of backlash and I can still make good parts. But .005" backlash on a CNC scrapped every part it made. Rebuilding a CNC costs $1000's over and above the initial purchase price. Even simple repairs cost a lot more than manual machines.

    The learning curve is also steep and the chance that a mistake can be far, far, more costly than any you can make with a manual machine. End mills are cheap, a new spindle to replace the one you just augered into the table under rapid is not.....

    I started decades ago with pencil, paper, and a calculator. I wrote programs by hand, which after a year or two isn't as bad as it sounds. I remember punch tape loading and how fancy it was to finally get a 5 1/4" floppy reader. And while modern CAD/CAM is pretty reliable, you still need to know the G/M codes to understand what you are doing to get the best from it. And things still can go wrong even with CAD/CAM, it just goes wrong much faster.

    Speaking of learning, these days the youngsters that are going to school to learn to be machinists, spend most of their time, if not all of it, learning to master CAD/CAM and the different from manual thinking that you need to become proficient. And I'm not talking about feeds and speeds, which is like learning to read the sentence "See Spot run". It's a far different world, ranging from tooling selection to tool path optimization, to fixturing. And after 20-25 years of hiring and firing, I find guys who have spent many years as manual machinists are no better than fair CNC machinists at best. Tool path optimization and fixturing is their downfall as a rule. And their ability to control 4 axis machining operations is pretty dismal also. But the youngsters take to it far easier and faster because they have no preconceived ideas and habits to break.

    That said, there is really nothing like the feeling you get when you program, setup, and run something like an impeller or injection mold that took 6 hours of actual machine run time to complete successfully. CNC does open a wide world of possibilities and of making the difficult routine. It's even economically viable for one-offs, you just need to be good at it.

    I don't get the opportunity to program and run machines much anymore. Them youngsters are often better at it than me anyway. Kind of miss it on those days when I have a carp tonne of emails to answer and phone calls to make though. And perhaps oddly, I only have interest in manual machines for my personal use. Simply because I want to put my "hands on the steel" when I make things for myself.
    If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    In the desert
    Posts
    1,339

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RB211 View Post
    Did not want to derail another thread, but my Taig CNC mill pretty damn quickly opened my mind about things. I want a serious discussion on this.

    1. People often say that CNC machinists are just operators, not machinists. I call bull. It's very apparent that a CNC machinist must know his speeds/feeds, optimal chip loads, and individual machines to a level greater than a manual machinist who can react to feel by turning the hand cranks, greatly reducing the need to machine by numbers.

    2. Extended tool life with using CNC. With Fusion, I can create tool paths that put a constant load on the endmill that utilizes more of the cutting edge, with out straining the system, because I can set the feed rate and chip load to be constant and within the machines capabilities. Opens the door to using carbide endmills.

    3. Advanced techniques easily implemented. You can use thread mills, so no more broken taps, and unlimited thread sizes and fits. Chamfering, cutting bevels, 3d surfacing, probing, curves, etc.

    4. Repeatability. I got into machining to build large scale model trains. Making one train wheel is fun! Making 18+ is torture! Time is money to most people. To me, time is fleeting, rather give more of it to my family when I can.

    5. Earning potential. Let's face it, if you're selling a product you produce, it's either a turret lathe, or CNC.

    6. Is turning dials really the fun part? Or is it really the road from initial design to holding a tangible part that you designed/created?

    7. CAM is free now, and top quality with Fusion360. Don't care for it? Conversational programming exists too.

    8. CNC can be a new hobby for you, or your next career, or both.

    That little Taig really opened up a new universe to me. I secretly desired all of the above in the worst way but stuck to manual due to price and macho attitudes masking my true feelings.

    Manual seems useful for prepping stock quickly, but no reason CNC can't be either.


    I started (mostly) as a CNC machinist with a little background in manual turning. I believe most big jobs can be done faster by CNC, but often for small jobs or single one off parts it is faster (I mean takes less net time from concept to creation) to just manually machine what you need. This is particularly true on the lathe, but also applies on the mill. Even with a CNC machine I often find myself pseudo manually machining a part with the jog wheel. Or coding one line at a time at the MDI command line. Effectively manually machining. I'm getting it done faster than if I sat down at my desk and CAD/CAMed the job. In those cases it would usually be even faster if I had a manual machine for the job.

    In any shop that wants to produce repetitive parts or one off parts there may be a place for both manual machines and CNC machines.

    In my shop I have 2 manual lathes and one that started life as a manual lathe. I use them manually atleast a few times per week, and one of the two I use almost every day for a short simple operation. To be fair a CNC lathe or a screw machine could do the job much faster, but not one I could afford. I also have a manual mill drill, and three drill presses. The three drill presses get used nearly every day for drilling and tapping. They are much faster than a single form thread mill, and a little faster than a TC tapper or rigid tapping on middle to light weight machines. If the part doesn't need to go on the CNC mill or it has to be moved for a final operation anyway, its faster to use a tapping head in a drill press, but if I have 100 holes to tap I'd use a TC tapper in the Tormach or on the Hurco. Just because I don't want to stand in front of the drill press for an hour.

    Anyway, I am happy to see you recognize the value of CNC, but don't dismiss the value of manual.

    As to the machismo bullsh!t. I had somebody tell me once that every man in a room thinks in some way he's the smartest man in the room. "Oh, you may have book smarts, but I have street smarts." "He's really smart, but I am clever and tenacious." "Oh, you can figure out how to let a computer do the work for you, but I don't need a computer." I think its the same garbage that had professional welders telling newbies that auto set welders weren't as good or as flexible a decade or so back. Still do to some degree. They would say, "Oh, I just turn all that stuff off and set it manually. You don't need that garbage." Basically, "If you don't do it my way there is something wrong with you. If there is something wrong with you then that means I am superior." Its all bullsh!t and a total lack of respect. It often breeds disrespect in return.

    Anyway, there is great value in manual machining. Two local fabrication shops I have worked with do manual machining every day. Big shops with lots of employees (big for a locally owned sole owner shop). One has no CNC machines at all. In fact the owner was just over at my shop last night to pick up a complex part I machined for him. The other bigger shop (100 employees give or take) has one CNC mill, some manual mils, and two manual lathes. I always see the manual equipment being used, but have only seen the CNC mill in use one time. They run a set of parts and shut it down. I asked both the owner and the shop foreman (has his own shop now) and they both said they will run it all day about once every week and a half. Come to think of it that shop foreman has about 25 guys working for him in his new shop, and he doesn't have any CNC equipment. Now a fabrication shop is probably not a good comparison because they are always making stuff that doesn't lend itself to "machining or CNC machining" anyway. Bend, Roll, Shear, Weld, Grind, etc, etc. A "real" machine shop with "real" machinists might say, "Well those guys aren't real machinists anyway." The thing is their manual machines do serve a purpose and have value in their shops. If CNC was inherently better for the job they need done right now they would use it.

    Don't treat manual machining like some of those old manual only machinists treat CNC machinists. Its narrows your options and can be less efficient.

    No I didn't apprentice in a steam powered line shop for a decade before having the gall to dare touch a machine handle unsupervised. I have respect for those who did because their skills were earned a different way, but they should have respect in turn for those who learned in a different age. The old way isn't "just better" and neither is the "new" way. They are different and even today they each have their areas of efficiency.
    *** I always wanted a welding stinger that looked like the north end of a south bound chicken. Often my welds look like somebody pointed the wrong end of a chicken at the joint and squeezed until something came out. Might as well look the part.

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    WI/IL border
    Posts
    2,269

    Default

    Just a few random thoughts.

    Hobbyists often enjoy the process more than the results. Similar to sex. The rest is the matter of taste: some prefer dealing with real objects, others do it virtually.

    Sparky said that he progressed from being a manual machinist to becoming a CNC one. I wonder how a person who only had CNC experience under his belt would feel if he wanted to move into manual machining. I suspect that for him it would be a progress too. Learning new skills and overcoming challenges is always a progress.

    And finally, as one comedian said, "let's argue about the taste of oysters with somebody who has never tried them".
    Last edited by MichaelP; 12-28-2018 at 02:47 PM.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    15,081

    Default

    you have to go with the pro's and con's

    the general consensus is that CNC machines can do everything that a manual machine can do and more, but this is not true, a manual machine leaves your wallet allot fatter and that's not just to start with but as the years go bye,,,

    I like em both, but only own a manual - have access to CNC anytime i want it but rarely ever have to use it...

    still you have to give credit where credit is due and there's just some things that my manual cannot achieve so I use a CNC once in awhile...

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    1,848

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob La Londe View Post
    Basically, "If you don't do it my way there is something wrong with you. If there is something wrong with you then that means I am superior." Its all bullsh!t and a total lack of respect.
    I very recently read somewhere online that is merely a medical condition called Assburgers.


    Quote Originally Posted by A.K. Boomer View Post
    the general consensus is that CNC machines can do everything that a manual machine can do and more, but this is not true, a manual machine leaves your wallet allot fatter and that's not just to start with but as the years go bye,,,
    Gonna take a really massive wallet to buy a CNC that will do the work of a 20" Pacemaker, etc. Same goes for many large and long lathes. Is someone really going to spend on a CNC to cut the weld off a hydraulic cylinder? How about weld and straighten a motor shaft or axle, including the interrupted cuts?

  9. #29
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    15,081

    Default

    true story Glug and good point

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Chilliwack, BC, Canada
    Posts
    5,445

    Default

    I keep seeing references to "graduating up to CNC" or "progressing to CNC". For HOME shop folks that do this as a hobby I call BS on the idea that a CNC in the shop is progress or graduation. Rather it is a choice of direction each of us makes. Nothing more, nothing less. If our shop is being operated as a hobby then there's no need to progress other than in a direction that makes each of us happier in the time spent in the shop.

    For me it's a case of why should the computer and machines have all the fun? And I mean that seriously. I enjoy working with the hand tools and manual machines and developing the skill set that is needed for that style of shop. I enjoy the feel of the cuts being made by the machines that I can feel telegraphing back through the hand wheels.

    Yes, I find that some of the abilities offered by CNC would be nice to have. Engraving and surface texturing in particular. And perhaps if I had a small machine in the corner I'd find it handy. But If I were faced with the total loss of my present shop and was handed a stack of large bills to replace it I would still rebuild with much the same manual machines because it's the way of working the metal that I enjoy. My shop has reached (near enough) my own personal pinnacle. And if a fancy 5 axis machining center is your personal pinnacle then that's great for you.

    But does it make one of our shops better than the other? If moving product out the door is the goal perhaps it does. But if it's about a place to go where we can create things in a way that we enjoy? Then each of us progresses in the direction makes us smile. And in that case CNC may well be a regression than a progression.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •