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  • Who here has something CNC?

    What do you have and what do you do with it?

    I'm mainly asking about, for want of a better phrase, "real" machines- that is, more of a "production" level machine than a shop conversion. I have and use both- a Centroid conversion of a Logan lathe, and an OmniTurn GT-75 gang-tooled turning center. Both were and are intended to make my short-run retail products, the same stuff I've been making for many years using purely manual machines.

    I suppose the real question here is, does anyone do actual production in their shop, whether it's fifty parts or five thousand?

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  • #2
    I have 2 Milltronics mills. One is an MB-11 with 24 x 12 x 20 XYZ travel and one is an MB-18 with 30 x 18 x 24 XYZ travel. They are both 2001 vintage with 3 HP R8 BP type heads. They both have Centurion 6 conversational control. I make production tooling and do maintenance and repair for other local shops, and make prototypes of new inventions for myself and others. There are some jobs I could do on a manual mill, but it's easier on these guys, and some jobs that just couldn't be done or would take forever without CNC. I bought them to do prototypes, so got the quill head with R8. That has worked out very well. So far in 20 years there hasn't been a job that the R8 tooling couldn't handle. These are bed mills, where the head travels in Z and the table is at a fixed height. This way is far better for my use than a knee mill would have been. I ran manual BPs for 25+ years at other shops (and every other kind of manual machine) before I went full time at home in 2006. Both mills still work as good as when they were new.

    The great thing about these mills is they are super easy to use manually or CNC, and I can program a part right off a print without having to make a computer model first. I can drill & tap a hole without writing a program. I do one or two of something and short run production up to a few hundred. Tool changing is manual, but quick and easy with the air powered drawbar. The R8 toolholders are light and easy to manage all day without getting too worn out.
    Last edited by Toolguy; 10-30-2021, 02:49 PM.
    Kansas City area

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    • #3
      I have ran CNC lathes for a decade or more.
      The most important criteria for selecting a machine are part size, material, part geometry and throughput speed.

      In order to make parts in a One and Done fashion a lathe with a sub spindle and live tooling is required in order to avoid a second operation.

      If you only produce hundreds to thousands of small and short parts a gang tool lathe is your least expensive option, if the parts have off axis features then live tooling is required.
      Gang tooled lathes also do not require a tool changer.

      If the parts are simple OD turning, boring, drilling, threading and tapping a 2 axis lathe with c axis control is all you need.

      This is a new TRAK entry level lathe that my employer bought for less then $60,000 this year, 2 axis with spindle encoder, 4 position ATC (not enough) and no other frills. I gang tooled the drill and boring bar in one block.
      I have been running it for 6 months or so, it will hold <.001" diameters all day long.

      Face, turn, drill, bore, thread then part off 1 1/8" hex stock in under 3 minutes which is not bad for a low cost machine. A high end chucker lathe would do it in under 1 minute.
      This is one of the first parts, after tweaking the program they were at 90 seconds per part.

      https://photos.smugmug.com/My-First-...rning-1280.mp4
      Last edited by Bented; 10-31-2021, 08:03 AM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Toolguy View Post
        I have 2 Milltronics mills.[snip]
        So it's mostly one-offs? With only a few multi-part runs?

        I'm nowhere near experienced enough with programming even a simple part, to do it for one offs. For me, it'd be faster to cut it by hand, even if it is complex.

        The first part I "wrote" for the Omniturn took me about two days to get to the (incomplete) point you see there. (Of course, four days before that, I wouldn't have been able to write 90% of that program, so progress was made. )

        Doc.
        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bented View Post
          In order to make parts in a One and Done fashion a lathe with a sub spindle and live tooling is required in order to avoid a second operation.
          -In my case, it was both an issue of cost (like, frayed and knotted shoestring budget) and complexity. I have all of thirty-seven minutes of CNC operation and programming experience. It was tough enough getting a grip in this fairly simple and straightforward OmniTurn programming, let alone throwing a C-axis in there.

          This was kind of the cheapest "good" machine I could get, considering speed and other abilities, as well as weight. (Keeping in mind I had to ship it to Alaska, also on that ratty shoestring budget. )

          If the parts are simple OD turning, boring, drilling, threading and tapping a 2 axis lathe with c axis control is all you need.
          -This machine can optionally be fitted with a C axis, and it's possible I may do so at some time in the future, but really, the majority of the products I have to start with are pretty straight turning exercises. (Keeping in mind that prior to this Omni, my fastest machine was a 1939 Warner & Swasey turret lathe. )

          One of the biggest challenges I've had to this whole program is simply that there is NO hands-on training of any kind anywhere in Alaska. The manual machine shop class at the local Community College closed down and the machines were sold off a decade ago. So it's just me, some books, and YouTube. I learn a lot better hands-on, and preferably with somebody experienced enough to explain it to me two or three different ways until I "get" it.

          And asking stupid noob questions on PM invariably get a "go 'way kid, ya bother me", and on CNC Zone, at best, get one reply, which doesn't actually answer the question, and only comes six to ten months later anyway.

          Doc.
          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

          Comment


          • #6
            I can write a simple program in 5 minutes or less. More complex ones take longer, but most of them are under 20 - 30 minutes. Even for 1 or 2 parts it's usually time ahead to program it. The 1st part takes the longest, any more than one is much faster per part.
            Last edited by Toolguy; 10-30-2021, 05:32 PM.
            Kansas City area

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Doc Nickel View Post

              -In my case, it was both an issue of cost (like, frayed and knotted shoestring budget) and complexity. I have all of thirty-seven minutes of CNC operation and programming experience. It was tough enough getting a grip in this fairly simple and straightforward OmniTurn programming, let alone throwing a C-axis in there.

              This was kind of the cheapest "good" machine I could get, considering speed and other abilities, as well as weight. (Keeping in mind I had to ship it to Alaska, also on that ratty shoestring budget. )



              -This machine can optionally be fitted with a C axis, and it's possible I may do so at some time in the future, but really, the majority of the products I have to start with are pretty straight turning exercises. (Keeping in mind that prior to this Omni, my fastest machine was a 1939 Warner & Swasey turret lathe. )

              One of the biggest challenges I've had to this whole program is simply that there is NO hands-on training of any kind anywhere in Alaska. The manual machine shop class at the local Community College closed down and the machines were sold off a decade ago. So it's just me, some books, and YouTube. I learn a lot better hands-on, and preferably with somebody experienced enough to explain it to me two or three different ways until I "get" it.

              And asking stupid noob questions on PM invariably get a "go 'way kid, ya bother me", and on CNC Zone, at best, get one reply, which doesn't actually answer the question, and only comes six to ten months later anyway.

              Doc.
              Keep plugging away at it, one day the light will come on and you will think, damn it, I have been struggling through this for 6 months and it is now easy, go figure (-:
              It took me 2 full months to get a grip on the programming of the new machine pictured above, on the other hand programming this part on a lathe that I have run for 10 years took about 2 hours at the machine. 250 parts in black POM.
              https://photos.smugmug.com/My-First-...B1%5D-1280.mp4


              Last edited by Bented; 10-30-2021, 05:45 PM.

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              • #8
                I've got a Tormach PCNC1100 at home. I don't do production, and don't wish to (no toolchanger). Mostly for personal projects, but I have done some paying work on it. I've got free reign to use the shop at work (haas mills, nakamura lathe) for anything I want, but I get tired of staying late or going in on weekends to do personal projects, so I started building the shop at home. I'd like to pick up an old Hardinge tl or similar collet nose machine to build a CNC conversion on, but I don't really have room at the moment, or the free time to take on a project like that.

                I would have loved to have a different more industrial machine, but honestly the Tormach has been pretty pleasantly surprising, and it couldn't be more at home in a small garage shop. I have my gripes about it, but if you stay within it's limitations it works just fine. For the projects I have in mind for it, I won't bump into it's limitations very often.

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                • #9
                  Keep plugging away at it, one day the light will come on[.]
                  -It's getting there. The main thing is, I'd never so much as even pressed the "start" button on anything CNC, up until just a few years ago.

                  I understand the concepts, it's just tough matching up the commands, and in the exactly correct sequence, to make the thing do what I want it to.

                  I've got a Tormach PCNC1100 at home.
                  -I very nearly bought a Slant-Pro, in large part because it was basically the best machine I could buy new. Being in Alaska, there are no service techs available- I'm it. If I can't fix it or program it, it's dead weight.

                  Nearly pulled the trigger a couple of times, and long story short, a friend pointed me at this Omni. The OTs are well-regarded, considered accurate and reliable, and considerably faster than a Tormach. Not that I was overly concerned with ultimate speed- anything's faster than making 30 parts on an engine lathe- but it was also $10K cheaper including shipping.

                  I did have to do a few minor repairs and other maintenance to it, but it's largely in very good shape, holds tolerances well, and the manual is very well written, for a noob like me. (It's worth noting that the Centroid manual for the Acorn is terrible for the beginner. That one assumes you're already an experienced user- which, admittedly, makes sense as Centroid makes retrofit kits for large, professional, industrial machines. But consequently, doesn't really help me.)

                  Doc.
                  Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So to heck with the commands (g-code I assume?). I have an Accurite Millpwr3 equip'ed BP - 3 axis. I love it. the conversational mode is so damn good and quick I never go to g-code. I can import dxf as needed also. Production? na, but 1 to 10 and prototypes is a dream. Did 100 once... boring, but profitable.

                    Made some pretty nice and complex parts over the 10 years I've had this. Limitations? I can't really do 3D curves without 3d cad and G-code, so I don't. A buddy of mine borrowed time on it and import a 100,000 line g-code mess of 3d complexity; worked fine. No multi tool changer so plan ahead. I do have a Kurt changer so swapping another tool is quick and painless.

                    Oh, it's made me a bunch of money too.. lol One day I'll buy a brand new hass mill and lathe. one day...
                    Last edited by lakeside53; 10-30-2021, 10:00 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Cambam for my home built CNC and used it on a big Servo 5000 bed mill with a cat 40 spindle. Simple and quick for 2d and can do 3D shapes from STL files. $149 with 40 sessions free, a really good deal. Lots of user support on the forum and lots of user written scripts and plugins that greatly extend the program. I’ve done threadmilling some fairly complex parts with it. Has a basic drawing capabilty so you don’t need a Cad program for relatively simple stuff. I have Autocad and Solidworks and often just draw it in CB.

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                      • #12
                        Got a bridgeport Boss3, retrofitted to servos, linuxcnc, 4 axis and a 24Krpm second spindle.
                        Also a 18x40 CNC engine lathe, dynapath 40 control, Taiwan import. (very similar to haas TL2)
                        Also have a RF 45 that is in process of a cnc retrofit to linuxcnc, brushless servos etc.

                        All for my entertainment and hobby use.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by lakeside53 View Post
                          So to heck with the commands[.]
                          -The Centroid has a pretty good conversational, one of the main reasons I switched, mid-build, from Mach 3 to them. My complaint is that the manual is very poorly written for someone with very little of the background, like me.

                          The Omniturn is far simpler software- few or no bells and whistles- and the manual is much better written. There's no conversational at all, and only a few "canned" cycles. ("Box" roughing, threading, etc.)

                          And they are not interchangeable. The OT will not understand, for example, single digit G-codes. You can't use G0 or G1, it has to be G00 or G01. You can't use commas anywhere, you can't number the lines, you can't put comments in their own line, you can't have a blank line, etc. Centroid, especially their conversational, uses several 'canned' cycles the Omni won't understand, and so on.

                          Basically I have to hand-write for the Omni, there's no other choice. I know CNCCookbook has what they call a "universal conversational", but I haven't tried it.


                          I can import dxf as needed also.
                          -At least as far as the Omniturn is concerned, you can't import a thing. It reads everything as a text file, regardless of what it actually is.

                          I've done some dinking around with Fusion360, but not in more than a year. I know Omniturn has been around for a while, and there's a ton of the converted Hardinges out there, so I'd be surprised of there's not an OT-specific post-processor, but I haven't had the time to crack that one back open, either.

                          Doc.
                          Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

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                          • #14
                            Trak lathes and old Bridgeport EZ Path lathes have fairly simple conversational controls.
                            Describe the part in incremental or absolute coordinate points, enter the DOC, feed rates and spindle speeds and let it eat.

                            Bridgeport lathe threading 1998.
                            Trak lathe threading 2021.
                            Very similar, the 20 year newer machine has a # of starts field, the old Bridgeport control would require offsetting the Z axis start position for each thread so a 4 start thread would require 4 simple programs.


                            Last edited by Bented; 10-31-2021, 08:22 AM.

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                            • #15
                              The omniturn sounds like a nice little machine. I'd love to have a CNC lathe about that size. The tormach slant turn would probably work great for my needs too, but the chances of finding one used around here are slim to none, and I'm not buying one new. I seen a few benchtop training lathes for sale every once in a while, but i'm not really interested in one of those. I want at least a 5c collet closer machine that I can feed 3ft bars.

                              After I bought my Tormach mill and put myself out there for work the first job I got was a CNC lathe job lol. I'm still waiting for the customer to release the product, and we're figuring it'l be a good seller, but one just never knows. It could potentially pay for half a tormach lathe in a year, but for now I'm running them on the Nak at work. If I came across something used and small like that under 10k I'd pick it up.

                              My motivation towards CNC is simple. I like to make stuff. The "stuff" is the goal/destination, and I don't care about the journey at all. I dislike cranking handles aside from very simple milling and turning. If I'm doing multiples I want a machine to do it if I can. If I have to crank handles and make multiples of parts I lose interest very fast. I also like curves and rounded shapes in stuff I design. It becomes very expensive and time consuming to machine stuff like that by hand, but with CNC it's trivial. Sometimes it's actually faster to machine stuff with curves because machines can maintain acceleration around corners better than stopping and starting.

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