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Fadal Purchase Guidance Wanted

chris.sallis

Plastic
Joined
Aug 6, 2020
Sorry for the long post ahead. I’m looking for purchasing advice and want to provide a background first. I’m a research engineer at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. Most of my machining background is CNC routers, 4-axis hot wire CNC (designed and built myself), and manual knee mills. Our research center has a machine shop with all the standard equipment: manual knee mills, lathes, saws, etc. We also have a 94 Lagun KMC 250 that hasn’t run in over 10 years and a 2001 Victor 1654 DCM that lost is parameters and barely works as a NC machine. We have traditionally used on-call machinist for our work, but they have recently left. I plan to take over all the CNC machining operations if we get to replace our machines with something functional. I’m wanting to make a sales pitch to our center director to remove both of those machines and replace it with something functional. I started down the Fadal path based on what I’ve learned due to my own desire to eventually put a 4020 in my garage one day.

The only machining work we do is prototype work or very low volume production to support our research contracts. We will never do high volume machining and don’t have the desire to do that. Cycle time is not a big concern because of the low volume and one-off operations and even a slow cycle time would be faster than doing it manually. Most of the parts we make are plate type parts and brackets. 90% of the parts we make are aluminum, the rest being steel or plastics. My area of research is unmanned aircraft and I want the ability to do lots of 3D machining to make aluminum molds for composite parts.

The machine shop probably gets used on average 1 day a week averaged over the year, therefore we won’t be putting a lot of hours on the machine annually. The appeal of Fadals is the vast majority of information available that makes the learning curve not as steep. Additionally, the large availability of parts and the low cost of parts compared to other machines makes it easier to keep the machines serviced. This is a big factor because we haven’t paid for a service tech ever, so I will also assume that role. Calling out a service tech would exceed the cost of any one of our machines, which is why they have largely degraded over the last 20 years.

For the most part, the working volume of a standard knee mill allows us to produce 80% of the parts we make, which is why I’m leaning toward a 4020 over a 3016. Although a 6030 would be even nice, but I’ve heard there are no additional supports for the longer table on the 6030 and as a result causes problems, not to mention the higher base price. Generally speaking, +/- 0.005” tolerance would suffice for the majority of our operations. Therefore, some wear and backlash are acceptable.

So here’s my wish list: must be a HT model with at least 10k spindle, must have rigid tapping, carousel type ATC, already setup for 4th axis would be nice, must be a model with AC servos, needs to have 88HS control because we will be doing the Calmotion 527F retrofit. I prefer a model with linear rails on all 3 axes because it’s easier to service myself than the turcite on box ways. I understand this affects rigidity when taking big bites out of steel, but I can afford to not push so hard due to our low volume operations. We will exclusively be using Fusion 360 for CAM. Based on that information:
1) What years and model (dash number type) should I be looking for, or am I looking for a unicorn?
2) Were linear rail and HT model combinations even an option? If not, can linear rail models run the 10k spindle?
3) What is considered high and low hours respectively on these years 95-2001?
4) I am budgeting for replacing the spindle, at least 1 ball screw, axis thrust bearings, and possibly new spindle vector drive (Glentek amp from Calmotion). What other expensive maintenance parts should I consider?
5) We get an educational discount from Calmotion, fyi. I don’t know that I’m at liberty to discuss, but it helps significantly.
6) I realize machine prices varies by location and condition, but was is a reasonable price for a well taken care of 4020 that may need some minor maintenance, excluding rigging?
7) If I end up with a box way machine, what’s a reasonable cost to have the turcite replaced?
8) I realize rigging prices significantly vary across the country. What would be considered low vs high cost for rigging at both ends (pickup and delivery).
9) Is it reasonable to think that a $20k budget, excluding rigging, would get a machine and bring the maintenance up to spec is achievable?

I appreciate any and all feedback. If you happen to know of a unicorn like this for sale, feel free to put me in contact.
 

Bobw

Diamond
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Location
Hatch, NM Chile capital of the WORLD
You aren't going to find a 10k with linear rails. I've never seen one,
maybe there is a special order one or two floating around out there.

There apparently was a single speed 15k spindle.

If you are looking at ±.005, why are you so worried about turcite?
Adjust the gibs, make sure you are getting plenty of oil and keep
going until it falls apart.
 

greggv

Hot Rolled
Joined
Feb 15, 2006
Location
so cal, usa
If you're looking to do a bunch of 3d stuff, I'd seriously consider a Haas VF3. A much better machine than a Fadal, unless you're set on one just to practice for your home machine
 

DouglasJRizzo

Titanium
Joined
Jun 7, 2011
Location
Ramsey, NJ.
I've come to see linear guides as not as much a limiting factor as in the past. Modern cutters have much less force transfer so unless you're taking HUGE bites in hot rolled steels, the linear motion ways shouldn't hinder you too much.
 

Cole2534

Diamond
Joined
Sep 10, 2010
Location
Oklahoma City, OK
I paid $2000 to get my Fadal on the truck, $2200 to truck it from San Fran to OKC, then $375 to get it off the truck.

A heavy wrecker, (2) 1" lift eyes and some good chain are all you need to pick it.

Sent from my SM-G981V using Tapatalk
 

Bobw

Diamond
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Location
Hatch, NM Chile capital of the WORLD
I've come to see linear guides as not as much a limiting factor as in the past. Modern cutters have much less force transfer so unless you're taking HUGE bites in hot rolled steels, the linear motion ways shouldn't hinder you too much.

They aren't, if they are done right.

I've never run a linear Fadal that was on a casting. 3016L or A or what not. But I do have a VMC15,
and its linear, but its made from weldments. It is NOT a rigid machine, its pretty damn accurate though.
I think that a lot of the loss of rigidity is the weldments, not the ways.

One thing I noticed recently, while looking at machines is that the 3016L is over a ton lighter than
the box way 3016... How the heck does that happen?? I figured it might be a few hundred less,
but over a ton? No wonder they only sold it with the wimpy little spindle.
 

Delw

Stainless
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
If you're looking to do a bunch of 3d stuff, I'd seriously consider a Haas VF3. A much better machine than a Fadal, unless you're set on one just to practice for your home machine

Chris
I Gotta agree with gregg on older boxed way fadals, surfacing beast the shit out of a fadal. I'm not talking a little bit here and there I am talking about alot. my one fadal ran 8-12 years doing nothing but surfacing both g18 and g19 on molds. if you go over 75IPM forget it.
Yes size will be perfect and repeat. however it takes a toll on the thrust bearings. its a constant jackhammer effect when it switchs direction unless you can slow it down. the older motors also go out alot with surfacing, as resolvers. has alot to do with the weight of the table a 40x20 is way worse than a 16x30 your 30x60 you want would even be worse.

I dont know why anyone would want to do a calmotion upgrade on a older fadal, theres nothing wrong with the hs88. and again if its to go faster on surfacing read above. I have a -5 and 16 fadal meg ram card on mine.
your budget is way low in my option. a 10-12k machine will be just that one thats needs lots of work. if you cant replace and fix things on your own your bills will eat that up soon.
personally I would never buy a fadal or any machine for that matter sight unseen, unless you know the person selling it and have seen it run. if not add another 10k. I bought a ton of machines sight unseen but everyone i bought from them I knew and or saw them run.
one I did by sight unseen was one of my fadals many years ago. it was bought from a company that completely rebuilt it to new(right across the street from the fadal factory) took about 8k and 5 months to actually run to hold + or - .010 tolerances, anything better than that forget it. that took an additional 5-7k. 15+ years later it holds + or - .001 or less all day long. spindles wearing out but with a few tricks it should last a few years longer. its a 1996 fadal 40x20

Aside from the revolvers and 2 motors 1 spindle drive 3 relays I had not had one electrical problem
mechanical Ive replaced the belts a few times(when running a 3" face mill all day everyday they were replaced once a year coolant mist screws them up), 3 oil lines one drawbar 2 belt change actuators, 4 solenoid valves( due to shitty incoming air) all thrust bearings twice,.
its been run at 9k every day since 2001. it has its bugs here and there but I usually know how too fix it. and also have a ton of brand new parts in stock to change it if I ever get time instead just mickey mousing it. i am sure theres a few other things I might be missing

if you dont know anything about machines have someone ball bar it,and fix anything thats needs fixing. keep your gibbs/straps adjusted(only had to do it once)



ya gotta buy a good base machine to begin with then might have to add some after that
 

gregormarwick

Diamond
Joined
Feb 7, 2007
Location
Aberdeen, UK
Why not just get the Victor fixed up? Seems like it would be a pretty decent machine for your requirements if it was running.

Getting the parameters from Victor should be a pretty trivial thing.
 








 
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