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Best machine for someone who really wants learn and become a machinist

alexprz

Plastic
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
Hi, I've never ridden a motorcycle, but I've ridden a bicycle. I want to be a professional superbike racer. What bike should I buy?

Seriously, CNC machining is a very cut-throat and competitive market. You will not turn a profit machining until you have at least a few years experience in it, and even then, many don't. If you're doing this as part of a business plan, job the parts out and forget about making them at all. Guys with decades of experience and hundreds of thousands if not millions in equipment will easily beat your best price on those parts.

On the other hand, if your actual goal is to learn machining and start a shop, then go ahead, but first make sure you have enough in the bank or coming in from other sources that you don't have to turn a profit for at least three years.
Thanks for the advice, definitely looking forward to opening a shop one day and for now i will consider it a hobby/side job. I still have income but like you said keep my daily job until im proficient on whatever machine i get.
 

alexprz

Plastic
Joined
Jun 11, 2022
The fastest way to absolutely hate CNC machining is to put yourself in a do-or-die situation with no experience to fall back on. That's not to say you can't take on any side jobs, just that you shouldn't count on them to make payments if you've never done it before.

Nothing wrong with keeping a day job and running the mill nights and weekends. That's how a lot of successful shop owners got started.

As for the machine, it's hard to go wrong with the entry level Haases. A Minimill or Minimill 2 with probing will do everything you need to get going. The ability to run these on single phase is a big deal, and resale value is high with these machines, if you decide to upgrade down the road or simply decide it's not for you.
Thanks, as others mentioned i'll be keeping my main job but putting a lot of time into this before going head first.

The mini mill is something id like to get and its relatively inexpensive compared to the vf1 but i'm also looking into the tm-1p as well.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
I definitely don't want to be a machine mechanic. I prefer new because i don't have to focus too much on refurbishing anything but as others mentioned there's the cost factor.
Might want to rethink that whole Fadal thing then.

The itty bitty garage size Haas's are a little sad if you're looking to make chips at a reasonable rate.

If you are quick to figure stuff out I would buy a higher quality machine used for a tiny fraction of $60k. Tool it up and hire a programmer to get you going quickly. There are repair techs to fix shit when it breaks. Every machine needs work now and then new or used.

Don't take in outside work unless you are a machinist. That will take a few years after you start making your own parts to get there. There's a massive breadth of knowledge you must have to make parts for others. To make your own parts it's different.
 

MCritchley

Hot Rolled
Joined
Mar 22, 2007
Location
Milwaukee
Any specific tooling I should look into to cut aluminum 6061(initially)?


You should really do the homework and do some research on your own if you want to succeed.
You will find that YouTube is a great resource for such broad topics.

Or just search this forum, your the 90th guy this month to ask how to start a shop.

Personally I would send the work out.
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
Might want to rethink that whole Fadal thing then.

The itty bitty garage size Haas's are a little sad if you're looking to make chips at a reasonable rate.

If you are quick to figure stuff out I would buy a higher quality machine used for a tiny fraction of $60k. Tool it up and hire a programmer to get you going quickly. There are repair techs to fix shit when it breaks. Every machine needs work now and then new or used.

Don't take in outside work unless you are a machinist. That will take a few years after you start making your own parts to get there. There's a massive breadth of knowledge you must have to make parts for others. To make your own parts it's different.
You can get a Super mini Mill or super Mini Mill 2 with 15K RPM, but then it needs 3 phase and is getting awful close to a VF-1 in price. The Mini might shoehorn into a tight garage where the VF wouldn't though.

I've got a CM-1 with 50K RPM as my starter, but I specialize in small medical device parts. It's happy with cutters down to .005", but struggles with a 3/8" endmill.
 

Freedommachine

Hot Rolled
Joined
May 13, 2020
Thanks for the advice, definitely looking forward to opening a shop one day and for now i will consider it a hobby/side job. I still have income but like you said keep my daily job until im proficient on whatever machine i get.

If you're looking for something small, these guys might be worth looking into. I've heard good things about them so far. A 12k rpm spindle is standard and the Siemens control option is pretty nice too.

If you are cutting aluminum, you definitely want a spindle that will run over 10k rpm.

That said, a used machine wouldn't be a bad idea either. Something at least equivalent to a haas mini mill or vf1 vf2 though.
 

Toolmaker51

Cast Iron
Joined
Jan 13, 2009
Location
Central West Missouri
Hey everyone, I’m currently looking into buying a cnc to produce some brackets for a product I am going to be selling soon. I currently have zero experience using a cnc mill and the only thing close enough to that type of machine I could compare it to is 3D printer(which I would say I’m fairly knowledgeable about m-code, g-code programming). I’m not certain what exact machine I’m going to need. The parts are max 10” x 10” x 4”, min 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/2” . I’d like to start a machine shop and having some work on the side to help pay off the machine, would be something I’d like to do eventually as well . My budget is roughly 60k and I would do this from my home garage initially. I was looking at a HAAS mini mill but the tm series looks like a good choice too. What would be some recommendations, as to what machine would best or what tooling will be needed. I’ll mainly cut 6061 aluminum but eventually be cutting harder materials.

Edit: My budget could extend to 75k if needed.

In advance thanks for the help and knowledge.
So far, a best machine never existed. For a start-up join a maker lab or trade school to sort out bugs; sell a few items to build your capital. Just because a garage has a roof, doesn't make it a shop; ample electrical supply, solid floor footing, headroom for machine spindle/ motor housing, oblivious neighbors, delivery and material handling, equipment to saw blanks, process 2nd op's, chip and coolant disposal, space to package and ship. A single CNC doing all the op's is not efficient spindle time.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
I don't think one can become a good machinist by buying a machine. Most techniques are learned by working under a skilled person, taking an apprenticeship, and or going to a trade school or college.
*likely better to farm out a part and see how the experience might do it. Perhaps put a drawing here on PM and ask how it might be done...and hope to get answers from manufacturing guys, not hobby guys.
Perhaps draw up a proper print and have 1000 made up by a well-rounded shop
and you may get some good processing ideas. you may find that your 70k should go to advertising, not machines..

You may even find a standard part or altered standard part that can be had for a very low price.
You may find to (have) cast a simple part is better than machining one.

Makeup a prototype by hand and proving its design is one first thing to do.

I just tried out a design/prototype last week and it didn't work. Go figure, good thing I did not set up production on it.
 
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Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
I don't think one can become a good machinist by buying a machine. Most techniques are learned by working under a skilled person, taking an apprenticeship, and or going to a trade school or college.
Some people can. It just takes awhile. You get the great joys of doing jobs you have no idea how to do for rent money. When you don't have someone to ask how to do it you figure it out or you starve.

I felt like there was a definite change after machining my own parts for about 2 years where I had a reasonable grasp of what a job would entail.

I've rebuilt well over a thousand transmissions. I was thrust into owning a transmission rebuilding business for almost 3 years. I had rebuilt one transmission, a TH400 when I was 17, before I was doing it for my livelihood at 23. Some people are pretty good at figuring things out without going to school or watching Youtube.
 

snowshooze

Hot Rolled
Joined
Sep 15, 2010
Location
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
Don't buy anything new.
Go with good iron, Haas Fadal, Makino... so many others.
Industrial stuff.
I picked up a Fadal off base for 13 grand, threw another 10 grand at it..
204028 and 20 HP at 10,000 RPM.
Bought a Clausing Storm slant bed running Fanuc 21 for 5 grand.
Goes like hell.
Forget all the conversions, the entry level rigs.. all that or you will learn what I did the hard way.
Call your local shops and ask them if they have anything they are going to sell first.
 

snowshooze

Hot Rolled
Joined
Sep 15, 2010
Location
Anchorage, Alaska, USA
The fastest way to absolutely hate CNC machining is to put yourself in a do-or-die situation with no experience to fall back on. That's not to say you can't take on any side jobs, just that you shouldn't count on them to make payments if you've never done it before.

Nothing wrong with keeping a day job and running the mill nights and weekends. That's how a lot of successful shop owners got started.

As for the machine, it's hard to go wrong with the entry level Haases. A Minimill or Minimill 2 with probing will do everything you need to get going. The ability to run these on single phase is a big deal, and resale value is high with these machines, if you decide to upgrade down the road or simply decide it's not for you.
That is the way I learned.
But, I never hated it.
Bought the machine, said " Self, we gonna learn or die "
I was ok with that.
I learned.
But I already had a full conventional machine shop.
 

Plane Parts

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 21, 2019
Are there any "Maker Spaces" where you can rent machine time?

But I agree with many here. Get a used Fadal, (I have 6). A nice small 2016 can be had for under 10k easy. And they are light enough not to hire a rigging outfit to move it. They run on linear guides, don't have a cooling system, so no worry about terkite box ways and all that stuff. They aren't the fastest but they make me money. Parts are available next day and they are super easy to fix yourself. And after that then get yourself some nice holders and cutters. Cutters I buy from Onsrud. You can find endless variety of insert holders and fly cutters on ebay. I WISH I had $75k to start my shop but I scrounged one old machine after another beginning with a 1973 Tree Journeyman I got for free at an auction. I retrofitted it with a homebrew Mach3 controller and started taking jobs from other shops no one wanted.
 

gcodeguy

Cast Iron
Joined
Jun 17, 2007
Location
Easton, PA
Our shop is hiring. May have to start on a lathe. Last guy hired didn't even know he was running a drill backwards on a knee mill. Had to ask our top tool room guy why the drill wasn't cutting. He's currently working on cnc lathes making about 20% production between spending over an hour a day in the bathroom, and watching movies on his phone. Kind of hard to tell when an insert goes when your back is to the lathe and you have earplugs in both ears watching cartoons. Last week he admitted to falling asleep in the bathroom. Said he was feeling a bit nauseous. Haha.

Kid told my top set-up guy the reason there were chip marks on the part (1st side) was because the chips from the rough turning tool (2nd side) were getting between the part and jaws while running. My guy told the kid to get the hell away from him. LOL He'd already re-bored the jaws twice because the kid wasn't blowing out the chips good enough before loading a new part.

The vast majority of machining is commonsense. Which seems to be a rare commodity these days. Doesn't hurt to watch what the machine is doing while following along with the written program if you are really interested in learning. Most aren't. It's enough to know how to hit the Green button.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
Guess the first thing is to dimension all the features of your parts.
Think about where you might sell the parts, and who might buy them.

I would say list the machining needs like drill, mill, grind. measure, heatreat,surface finish, package, shipping, but at this stage I don't you are ready to start thinking all of that.
 

rk9268vc

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 2, 2021
Location
Minnesota
consider getting a tormach
doesnt take up too much space or $ but still pretty capable for the size
i would get their 1100MX, servos and BT30. dont screw around with the stepper driven ones
get the tool changer, enclosure, and flood coolant. add a 4th axis later

NYC CNC has a bunch of videos on youtube to help get you going

crashes are a lot less painful on a smaller cheaper machine. Especially one you can still get parts for.
 

mhajicek

Titanium
Joined
May 11, 2017
Location
Minneapolis, MN, USA
consider getting a tormach
doesnt take up too much space or $ but still pretty capable for the size
i would get their 1100MX, servos and BT30. dont screw around with the stepper driven ones
get the tool changer, enclosure, and flood coolant. add a 4th axis later

NYC CNC has a bunch of videos on youtube to help get you going

crashes are a lot less painful on a smaller cheaper machine. Especially one you can still get parts for.
No, don't.

I know a guy who spent $30k on a Tormach 1100MX with options. The machine was struggling to take baby cuts in aluminum, while shrieking like a banshee. Far better to get a used Haas, Fadal, or other industrial machine, or put a down payment on a new one.
 








 
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