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Business growth, machines purchase to grow.

Eleven71Cutters

Aluminum
Joined
Mar 26, 2021
I have been in business just short of 2 years. First purchase was a Speedio S500x2. The first year was a mix of my own designed products and job shop work. As I am approaching 2 years, my own product line is growing and the Speedio is running 15-20 hours a day with a lot of lights out time. It has worked great and been incredible for someone with zero previous CNC machining experience. My products all start from 6al-4v stock that is roughly 1.15" x 2.15" x .250". I am using Orange Vise Co. 17.5" and 20" vise with their pallets. I use Pitbull clamps for Op1 and a reverse impression with 6-32 screws to hold down from the bottom or a Dovetail made from 4140 for Op2. I am getting order increases and large bulk purchases and can see a time in the near future where this single machine is not able to keep up. I take pride in the suface finish I am getting and will not sacrifice the finish or tolerances for an increased production number.

Machines considered.
-Brother Speedio S500xd1: One for Op1 and one for Op2 or use both to ramp up Op1 which is the far longer run. Low cost ($120ish with options)
-Brother Speedio R450/650xd1: twin table ($180-200ish with options)
-Kitamura HX250ig: Heavier and twin pallet with more tools and ability to field expand to 10 pallets. ($200-220ish with options)

These are the main machines I am looking at. Benefit of either Speedio is ease of use and programs with ability to use same pallets/fixtures and tooling.

Kitamura I see as easily justifiable if I consider the 650 as it appears to be a clear step above for a small amount more and able to grow down the road.

The main thing that brings me back to a S500 though is the cost. I would love to make my own screws (Swiss Lathe purchase) as I include a lot with my products and cannot find screws I am content with.

Being so new to this I know my opinion or view is a bit flawed as I know there is a lot I am missing or not considering. Just trying to get a better view or opinion of what should be considered for a companies growth for the future, not just to meet the demands of right now. I prefer Just in time or one piece flow as compared to having a lot of finished parts sitting around but do usually make a few extras if making one. Large orders are typically 100-2000 pcs.
 
Where are you leaning?, Depends how much $$$ you have already in my opinion, debt is outrageous now, what can you afford?
Economy should be in a recession historically by summer to end of year 2024.

I would say since its a new small shop, and a machinist should be able to run 2-3 VMC,s
cut your cost's, get the cheap machine, get 2 spindles running, get the parts done, get more money in your pocket,
this will allow you to get to the 3rd machine faster, or if things don't work out, you have less $$ on the line.
 
-Brother Speedio R450/650xd1: twin table ($180-200ish with options)
What options are bringing that price tag up that high?
We have the R450X1 and it was nowhere near that much money at the time if anything it was about half that give or take (about 4 yrs ago) but then again I haven't priced them lately.

Adding the R450X1 seems like a good fit given your situation. Hell, you can even add their robot to have even more unattended machining time. No clue how much that system is though.
 
Where are you leaning?, Depends how much $$$ you have already in my opinion, debt is outrageous now, what can you afford?
Economy should be in a recession historically by summer to end of year 2024.

I would say since its a new small shop, and a machinist should be able to run 2-3 VMC,s
cut your cost's, get the cheap machine, get 2 spindles running, get the parts done, get more money in your pocket,
this will allow you to get to the 3rd machine faster, or if things don't work out, you have less $$ on the line.

Heavily leaning to another 500 but more options, Chip Conveyor and a few others. I have zero debt, paid cash for this machine and will do the same for another one. I do not want to get into a hole and will wait to purchase until I have the cash for it. I was fearful about a recession or something but as long as business is growing, I will try to keep it growing. If I have a paid off machine sitting idle, at least I am not worried about a payment.
 
I own 3 R650's and for my work, will probably never own anything else.

Did you get quotes for the two Brother machines in your list? Last time I looked (years ago), the R series added roughly $30k to the price of an S machine. You're talking about adding double that. Is it really that big a gap now? My R650's were right at $180k loaded with vise risers, vises and all the custom junk I add on to them. Newest is from early 2022.

Also, if you go to an R machine, your existing programs will NOT work unless you can load your fixturing backwards from how you have it in your S. Or maybe you can G68 R180. the entire thing, not sure.

You mention single piece flow and being a one-man shop. That's good, single piece flow has worked very well for us, and I suggest staying by yourself for as long as possible. One thing the R machine will change is the amount of time you have between cycles to do other stuff, though. Example, cycle is 4 minutes and change over is 2 minutes. On the S machine, you've got about 4 minutes between cycles. On the R machine, you'll have about 2 minutes between cycles. The upside is that your total cycle time went from 6 minutes to 4.
 
What options are bringing that price tag up that high?
We have the R450X1 and it was nowhere near that much money at the time if anything it was about half that give or take (about 4 yrs ago) but then again I haven't priced them lately.

Adding the R450X1 seems like a good fit given your situation. Hell, you can even add their robot to have even more unattended machining time. No clue how much that system is though.

I am looking to get laser tool setter, chip conveyer, mist collector and figuring that would be tooled up as well.
 
I own 3 R650's and for my work, will probably never own anything else.

Did you get quotes for the two Brother machines in your list? Last time I looked (years ago), the R series added roughly $30k to the price of an S machine. You're talking about adding double that. Is it really that big a gap now? My R650's were right at $180k loaded with vise risers, vises and all the custom junk I add on to them. Newest is from early 2022.

Also, if you go to an R machine, your existing programs will NOT work unless you can load your fixturing backwards from how you have it in your S. Or maybe you can G68 R180. the entire thing, not sure.

You mention single piece flow and being a one-man shop. That's good, single piece flow has worked very well for us, and I suggest staying by yourself for as long as possible. One thing the R machine will change is the amount of time you have between cycles to do other stuff, though. Example, cycle is 4 minutes and change over is 2 minutes. On the S machine, you've got about 4 minutes between cycles. On the R machine, you'll have about 2 minutes between cycles. The upside is that your total cycle time went from 6 minutes to 4.
I had rough base pricing and then looked into the options. That is what I keep looking at the 450/650 for is that guys always stick with them once they have them. My roughing tool is 1/4" with the majority of machining time being .0625-.125" tools. I am sure the traveling column will be fine. I guess I am always trying to look beyond and seeing something that is slightly more rigid leads to even more browsing of other machines and brands.
 
Heavily leaning to another 500 but more options, Chip Conveyor and a few others. I have zero debt, paid cash for this machine and will do the same for another one. I do not want to get into a hole and will wait to purchase until I have the cash for it. I was fearful about a recession or something but as long as business is growing, I will try to keep it growing. If I have a paid off machine sitting idle, at least I am not worried about a payment.
Yeah I would do the 500 then, I did the same thing, just buy what you "need" at the beginning, and have those machines buy the big boys "you want" later if all works out.
I'm on my 5th cheap spindle and a saw that costs as much as a machine.
All my machines are paid for, house is paid for...each paid in the same year bought.
Now its time for big boy machines, larger pallet loading 5 axis and horizontal with pallet pools.

I need to buy a 5 axis currently, but with the economy slowing, and a forced recession by the fed to lower inflation, I am going to wait a year or two.
 
Think twice about the laser tool setter. I have no personal experience, but a lot of guys have complained that they will pick up a coolant drop from the tool and be a general nuisance. I'm not sure which machines get the coolant wash for tool changes, but my two newer R's have it, and there's fucking coolant everywhere, always. The Blum Z-nano tool setters are really fantastic. Delicate enough to set .007" endmills on (my experience... they claim down to .004"), hardy enough to slam a 1/2" endmill in to at full rapid and not break (dun did it), and very accurate. The Blum spindle probes have been good for us as well.

I wouldn't worry about rigidity with these. At one point, I had an '07 Haas VF-2ss sitting next to my 2016 R650. The Brother absolutely EMBARRASSED the Haas in all ways. Now I'm not saying that an Okuma won't take a bigger cut than both of these, but I am saying that the 30 taper machine that's supposed to be all noodly cuz 30 taper, is much more stout than they have any right to be. My Haas was in good shape, but the Brother left less wall taper no matter what I did.
 
Think twice about the laser tool setter. I have no personal experience, but a lot of guys have complained that they will pick up a coolant drop from the tool and be a general nuisance. I'm not sure which machines get the coolant wash for tool changes, but my two newer R's have it, and there's fucking coolant everywhere, always. The Blum Z-nano tool setters are really fantastic. Delicate enough to set .007" endmills on (my experience... they claim down to .004"), hardy enough to slam a 1/2" endmill in to at full rapid and not break (dun did it), and very accurate. The Blum spindle probes have been good for us as well.

I wouldn't worry about rigidity with these. At one point, I had an '07 Haas VF-2ss sitting next to my 2016 R650. The Brother absolutely EMBARRASSED the Haas in all ways. Now I'm not saying that an Okuma won't take a bigger cut than both of these, but I am saying that the 30 taper machine that's supposed to be all noodly cuz 30 taper, is much more stout than they have any right to be. My Haas was in good shape, but the Brother left less wall taper no matter what I did.

Main reason for looking at a laser setter is that my Blum does not trigger if I chip an endmill flute off. If i load up a pallet with 12-24 parts, I tool check between each WCS. It has smashed into new stock with a half broke endmill that was still good in lenght.
 
Heavily leaning to another 500 but more options, Chip Conveyor and a few others. I have zero debt, paid cash for this machine and will do the same for another one. I do not want to get into a hole and will wait to purchase until I have the cash for it. I was fearful about a recession or something but as long as business is growing, I will try to keep it growing. If I have a paid off machine sitting idle, at least I am not worried about a payment.
I’m familiar with a shop that worked somewhat the same way in its earlier years. No debt and also always set aside a portion of profit into a “Capital Equipment Fund”. That company used recessions to grow by acquiring machines at auction from places going under, and on a few occasions acquired the entire failing company. By getting machines during recessions they paid quite a bit lower prices whether those were from auctions or even new. This left them well positioned to pull in lots of new work when things started going again.
 
Similar to what Matt said, we found the R series increased our spindle uptime significantly essentially adding not 1 but 1.5 spindles. All depends on how you manage loading parts...
Could you trade out your S for an R series and use the extra money/floor space to add your swiss machine?
 
I would love to make my own screws (Swiss Lathe purchase) as I include a lot with my products and cannot find screws I am content with.

There's a couple of late-model brownies listed here on PM, in pennsylvania, for almost nothing. You should grab them. They don't take up much space, just set them in the back corner until you have time to play with them and learn how to make screws.
 
Similar to what Matt said, we found the R series increased our spindle uptime significantly essentially adding not 1 but 1.5 spindles. All depends on how you manage loading parts...
Could you trade out your S for an R series and use the extra money/floor space to add your swiss machine?

Selling my 500 just to get an R will not benefit me much. I have had several weeks where it ran 20-24 hrs a day for 2 weeks. Swapping out pallets every 14 hrs. I would need another spindle to increase production. But what spindle/table is my main question. For a Swiss Machine, I am not opposed to finding one at auction or something that is gently used. I would try to save the money there and make sure the money was spent where I get the most from it.
 
I’m familiar with a shop that worked somewhat the same way in its earlier years. No debt and also always set aside a portion of profit into a “Capital Equipment Fund”. That company used recessions to grow by acquiring machines at auction from places going under, and on a few occasions acquired the entire failing company. By getting machines during recessions they paid quite a bit lower prices whether those were from auctions or even new. This left them well positioned to pull in lots of new work when things started going again.
Recessions are a great time to grow a business if you can manage it and have good cash flow and low liabilities.
 
Unless the screws you are talking about are really long and spindly, swiss is probably not the way to go. A regular screw machine is easier and faster and much more common for screws. That's why they call them screw machines ...

I highly doubt really Long and Spindly screws are the only reason to get a Swiss. Plenty of shops run short stubby screws on Star, Citizen, Tornos..... making small screws with several head designs (Flat, oval, socket, torx) along with different shoulder sizes, making custom shoulder bolts. I am not making a million basic screws, I am looking to make custom screws for my products and have yet to find what I want in anything other than a Swiss with a sub spindle, live tooling, ect.....

No, I am not looking to outsource to China or buy a Chinese made machine. Please, no pictures.
 
I highly doubt really Long and Spindly screws are the only reason to get a Swiss. Plenty of shops run short stubby screws on Star, Citizen, Tornos..... making small screws with several head designs (Flat, oval, socket, torx) along with different shoulder sizes, making custom shoulder bolts. I am not making a million basic screws, I am looking to make custom screws for my products and have yet to find what I want in anything other than a Swiss with a sub spindle, live tooling, ect.....

No, I am not looking to outsource to China or buy a Chinese made machine. Please, no pictures.
You mean your not gonna get a new Mazak swiss lathe with tool probing, WTF!
 








 
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