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  • Buying a CNC Lathe & CNC Mill - Need Advice

    Hello,

    I'm looking to make my first ever purchase of a CNC lathe and CNC mill.
    I'm new to machining but I do know how to use CAD software to design parts.

    I have been researching as much as I can about what to purchase.
    I've looked at Taig and Sherline's products.

    First a question :
    I'm also trying to find out what it would take to purchase a CNC-Ready lathe / mill and convert it to being CNC.
    This i imagine would be done either :

    a) using some "smart" controller card which would take G-code generated by the CAM software and control the stepper motors, limit switches, spindle..etc

    OR

    b) some computer based software like Mach 3/4 or LinuxCNC which controls some "dumb" stepper motor driver board.

    Is my understanding on the above correct ?


    Not having experience with the above conversion, I'm wondering if i should play it safe and purchase a CNC lathe from the manufacturer rather than trying to convert a unit myself.
    I'm leaning towards purchasing a Taig CNC lathe.

    Could you give me some advice on how you would go about things?

    I have a $10K budget to setup a home machinist workshop in which i plan to make small to medium sized parts in soft metals (i.e. aluminum & brass).

    Thanks.


  • #2
    You do not state anything about the complexity of the parts nor the speed and accuracy required in making them.
    Be more specific, such as I want a 3 axis mill with a minimum of 30" X axis travel, minimum of 12 Y axis travel and a minimum of 10" of Z axis travel that supports rigid tapping and has a tool changer.

    Haas manufactures low budget no frills machines but they would be well beyond your budget new. Look for a used Haas Office mill or a small Fadal mill.
    https://cncmachines.com/fadal-emc-20...CABEgLbw_D_BwE
    Last edited by Bented; 06-09-2020, 07:20 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well as mentioned, I am a newbie and this will be first time purchasing such a system.

      For the 3 axis CNC lathe, I'd like to make small parts on there - perhaps no bigger than 8 cms in diameter and likewise in length.

      For the 4 axis CNC mill, I'd be creating parts about 15 cms in length by 10 cms in width by 8 cms in height lets say.

      In both cases, the material would be aluminum or brass. i.e. soft metals.

      I don't need an automatic tool changer. I can tap the holes myself manually i guess.


      Haas and other stuff is way too expensive. I'm looking for a low cost, but good quality hobbyist machine.

      Does anyone here have a CNC Taig - either lathe or mill?

      If not what are you hobbyists guys using - in the "high end" hobbyists range of machines (i.e. around 2 to 3K). Did you build your own CNC or buy it?

      Thanks.

      Comment


      • #4
        DO NOT BUY a Taig or Sherline CNC mill!!
        I have a Taig ballscrew mill. The single biggest issue I have is that you need to spend a small fortune to convert it to a spindle that can have Z height settable tooling, like TTS with R8, or an ISO/CAT spindle, like ISO 30.
        So I spent 1300$ for a custom machined R8 spindle for my Taig. The Taig base has that stupid swing function, so I spent more money getting a steel weldment frame that enlarges the whole mill.
        I would of saved a FORTUNE had I just bought a PM30 or G0704 mill that already has an R8 spindle and converted it to ballscrews and CNC.
        I would of been money ahead had I just purchased a Tormach 440.
        With CNC, you want an automatic drawbar and you want to use the abilities of having a tool library so you don't have to touch off the Z axis every time you do a tool change, it also simplifies planning in CAM.

        At least I can say I have a USA made CNC mill.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by RB211 View Post
          DO NOT BUY a Taig or Sherline CNC mill!!
          I have a Taig ballscrew mill. The single biggest issue I have is that you need to spend a small fortune to convert it to a spindle that can have Z height settable tooling, like TTS with R8, or an ISO/CAT spindle, like ISO 30.
          So I spent 1300$ for a custom machined R8 spindle for my Taig. The Taig base has that stupid swing function, so I spent more money getting a steel weldment frame that enlarges the whole mill.
          I would of saved a FORTUNE had I just bought a PM30 or G0704 mill that already has an R8 spindle and converted it to ballscrews and CNC.
          I would of been money ahead had I just purchased a Tormach 440.
          With CNC, you want an automatic drawbar and you want to use the abilities of having a tool library so you don't have to touch off the Z axis every time you do a tool change, it also simplifies planning in CAM.

          At least I can say I have a USA made CNC mill.
          Now there is some excellent advise from a guy that has been there !

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mechanica View Post
            Well as mentioned, I am a newbie and this will be first time purchasing such a system.

            For the 3 axis CNC lathe, I'd like to make small parts on there - perhaps no bigger than 8 cms in diameter and likewise in length.

            For the 4 axis CNC mill, I'd be creating parts about 15 cms in length by 10 cms in width by 8 cms in height lets say.

            .
            You are unlikely to find a hobby priced lathe with a C axis that will do more then thread.
            The fourth axis on a mill can be any number of movements such as a rotary indexer, a tilting or nodding head for instance. The used Fadal in the link has a fourth axis rotary indexer included.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by RB211 View Post
              DO NOT BUY a Taig or Sherline CNC mill!!
              I have a Taig ballscrew mill. The single biggest issue I have is that you need to spend a small fortune to convert it to a spindle that can have Z height settable tooling, like TTS with R8, or an ISO/CAT spindle, like ISO 30.
              Thank you for your post.

              Not knowing R8 from a hole in the wall, i went down a rabbit hole researching what the heck it is.
              Turns out its some standard means of attaching tools to the end of a spindle.
              Apparently with this R8 standard, the tools end up having the same height or distance and thus are easy to swap in and out without fiddling with Z adjustments.
              Apparently this offers great convenience and speeds things up.
              Also R8 compatible tools are supposedly less expensive and usable on other R8 machines.
              And that's as much as I understood about the R8 issue.

              The Grizzly does have an R8 system.
              But i watched a video on converting the manual Grizzly G0704 to a CNC machine - and it looked like a pain.
              I would not mind doing it but - I have limited time.
              And if i spend it fiddling around trying to turn a mill into a cnc mill, i'm not going to have time to do what I'm actually supposed to be doing - which is making parts for the machine I'm designing.

              I did check out the Tormach website - for the bare bones lowest cost mill.
              It starts at $5.3K but the price climbs steadily as options are added on.
              Quite frankly, I was not budgeting for something that expensive.

              Guys... How much of a hassle is it to adjust the Z axis every time i make a tool change during a build?
              How long does it take, what does it involve?
              I ask because I really don't know as I'm new to this.

              Just to be sure, I'm won't be mass manufacturing anything.
              My needs are just for (very low volume) prototyping of parts with some level of accuracy.

              Thanks!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bented View Post

                You are unlikely to find a hobby priced lathe with a C axis that will do more then thread.
                The fourth axis on a mill can be any number of movements such as a rotary indexer, a tilting or nodding head for instance. The used Fadal in the link has a fourth axis rotary indexer included.
                My max price for the CNC lathe is $4K.
                Likewise for the CNC mill.
                I imagine that price is a little above hobby grade, but under business workshop grade.
                What brand CNC would you recommend in that price range?

                I might not need a 4th axis on the CNC mill right now.
                I imagine i could add it on later if i did need it so I'll skip that for now.

                Frankly I started off researching a 5 axis Pocket NC v2-10 and wondering if i needed a CNC lathe or mill at all.
                I've been thinking of whether a combination of a Pocket NC and a CNC lathe ....or a Pocket NC and a CNC mill might be the way to go.
                Not really sure what I'd be gaining or losing over a CNC mill and CNC lathe.
                Its confusing.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mechanica View Post

                  Thank you for your post.

                  Not knowing R8 from a hole in the wall, i went down a rabbit hole researching what the heck it is.
                  Turns out its some standard means of attaching tools to the end of a spindle.
                  Apparently with this R8 standard, the tools end up having the same height or distance and thus are easy to swap in and out without fiddling with Z adjustments.
                  Apparently this offers great convenience and speeds things up.
                  Also R8 compatible tools are supposedly less expensive and usable on other R8 machines.
                  And that's as much as I understood about the R8 issue.

                  The Grizzly does have an R8 system.
                  But i watched a video on converting the manual Grizzly G0704 to a CNC machine - and it looked like a pain.
                  I would not mind doing it but - I have limited time.
                  And if i spend it fiddling around trying to turn a mill into a cnc mill, i'm not going to have time to do what I'm actually supposed to be doing - which is making parts for the machine I'm designing.

                  I did check out the Tormach website - for the bare bones lowest cost mill.
                  It starts at $5.3K but the price climbs steadily as options are added on.
                  Quite frankly, I was not budgeting for something that expensive.

                  Guys... How much of a hassle is it to adjust the Z axis every time i make a tool change during a build?
                  How long does it take, what does it involve?
                  I ask because I really don't know as I'm new to this.

                  Just to be sure, I'm won't be mass manufacturing anything.
                  My needs are just for (very low volume) prototyping of parts with some level of accuracy.

                  Thanks!
                  It's enough of a pain that I spent 1300$ for an R8 spindle. Enough of a pain that I lost interest in even using the mill. It's a CNC mill, I expect to use it as a mill, not a router.
                  CNC is not cheap, you should budget another 2,000$ for tooling for the ISO or TTS tool holders, endmills, work holding, etc.
                  If what you're milling will only use one tool, you won't care.
                  Take your budget and multiply by PI to get an accurate answer.
                  Much cheaper to buy a used CNC mill that needs a controller retrofit.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Im gonna be the one to say it, if you have 0 experience with machining, then dropping $10k on CNC equipment is not the way to get into it, especially without even knowint what spindle tapers are. Honestly, you need to go back to the drawing board and learn about machining first, then look into computerizing it. Learn what tooling is, how to fixture things, how to run a lathe and mill, the basics. Heck, get a benchtop mill like the g0704, use that to make some parts, then worry about throwing electronics on it.

                    Just because something is CNC doesnt mean it makes parts. You have to know what tools to load it in, how to fixture the workpieces, how the tooling will behave in certain applications, how to design parts for manufacturing (which is different from just designing parts). CNC equipment is, at its core, very stupid. The brain comes from the operator, and if you dont know how to use the tool, youre just burning money. Start off with the basics. If you really wanna experiment with CNC, start with something that wont get you in much trouble like a 3018 kit off eBay. Youll be able to learn the basics of gCode without minimal monetary risk and without the risk of destroying a much more expensive piece of equipment

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RB211 View Post

                      It's enough of a pain that I spent 1300$ for an R8 spindle. Enough of a pain that I lost interest in even using the mill. It's a CNC mill, I expect to use it as a mill, not a router.
                      CNC is not cheap, you should budget another 2,000$ for tooling for the ISO or TTS tool holders, endmills, work holding, etc.
                      If what you're milling will only use one tool, you won't care.
                      Take your budget and multiply by PI to get an accurate answer.
                      Much cheaper to buy a used CNC mill that needs a controller retrofit.

                      I'm thinking your milling needs may be quit complex which is why you require so many tools.
                      I'm not sure.

                      But take a look at this video below.
                      If R8 is so important, why is this guy promoting BT30?

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1FTCmxOlA4

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by epicfail48 View Post
                        Im gonna be the one to say it, if you have 0 experience with machining, then dropping $10k on CNC equipment is not the way to get into it, especially without even knowint what spindle tapers are. Honestly, you need to go back to the drawing board and learn about machining first, then look into computerizing it. Learn what tooling is, how to fixture things, how to run a lathe and mill, the basics. Heck, get a benchtop mill like the g0704, use that to make some parts, then worry about throwing electronics on it.

                        Just because something is CNC doesnt mean it makes parts. You have to know what tools to load it in, how to fixture the workpieces, how the tooling will behave in certain applications, how to design parts for manufacturing (which is different from just designing parts). CNC equipment is, at its core, very stupid. The brain comes from the operator, and if you dont know how to use the tool, youre just burning money. Start off with the basics. If you really wanna experiment with CNC, start with something that wont get you in much trouble like a 3018 kit off eBay. Youll be able to learn the basics of gCode without minimal monetary risk and without the risk of destroying a much more expensive piece of equipment

                        I understand what you are saying.
                        If I had the luxury of time, believe me I'd do exactly that.
                        I'd buy a manual mill and spend months playing with it, then do a conversion on it to a CNC, ironing out all the bugs..etc.
                        I'm sure learn a ton along the way and have fun doing so.

                        Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of time.
                        I have to get caught up in a hurry and start making parts.
                        I'm going to have to learn this by doing.

                        I'm not completely clueless about CNC.
                        I have experience 3D printing complex parts in ABS and PLA plastics.
                        I don't have experience with CNC metal working however.

                        I have purchased a book for beginner machinists and I'm reading up as fast as I can.
                        I'm watching a ton of Youtube videos on the subject and googling away.

                        Maybe I am pushing ahead too fast, I don't know.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mechanica View Post


                          I'm thinking your milling needs may be quit complex which is why you require so many tools.
                          I'm not sure.

                          But take a look at this video below.
                          If R8 is so important, why is this guy promoting BT30?

                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1FTCmxOlA4
                          There are many spindle tapers (mounts), BT30 is a step up from R8. R8 is not all that desirable for CNC machines, its low on the list of being desirable but still far better than the standard Taig spindle mount.

                          I concur with what Epicfail48 posted, if you have no machining experience at all, cnc is not a good place to start. I am also wondering if cnc is even practical for the few prototype parts you need to make, manual machines just might be the way to go.

                          You might find a local hobby cnc machinist that could make the few parts you need. You might be able to hang out and watch and learn a bunch. The odds of you spending your budget and not attaining your goals are quite high I am afraid.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mechanica View Post

                            I'm not completely clueless about CNC.
                            I have experience 3D printing complex parts in ABS and PLA plastics.
                            I don't have experience with CNC metal working however.

                            I have purchased a book for beginner machinists and I'm reading up as fast as I can.
                            I'm watching a ton of Youtube videos on the subject and googling away.

                            Maybe I am pushing ahead too fast, I don't know.
                            I'm more of a novice with CAD but I can design and print with 3D printer. Going from that to CNC machining is still a fairly big step. Somewhere along the line you need to learn CAM which seems to me to be nearly as complex as CAD and has to fit between CAD and CNC. I converted a Harbor Freight mini-mill to CNC because I don't have the hand-eye coordination to make some of the cuts I want manually and because I wanted a challenge and the conversion was certainly a challenge to my ability. That might fit into your budget and there are numerous YouTube videos of how you can do it.

                            If you have sales for the parts and sufficient quantities needed and quickly, the best option might be sending the CAD files out to a job shop to get product out the door, then work on learning the machining and converting a manual mill and lathe.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nothing complex, even a simple part can use three different tools. Want to drill holes? That can be between 1 to 3 tools depending what you want. Spot drill, drill, chamfer. Threaded? Well... Make that four if you include a thread mill. You starting to see the dilemma with not having a tool library and having to reset the Z between tool changes?
                              R8 isn't the best but a BT30 spindle is too big for a Taig, like putting a V12 engine on a golf cart.

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