What's new
What's new

Siemens vs Fanuc, what would be the best Controller for a CNC?

I'm glad somebody does because American Tool and Cincinnati kick that shit's ass like Dre Greenlaw whups a fatboy rentacop :D
First CNC lathes I learned on where old Okuma lb's and cadets. They was made in the 80's and where built to last. New stuff I am not as crazy about.
 
First CNC lathes I learned on where old Okuma lb's and cadets. They was made in the 80's and where built to last. New stuff I am not as crazy about.
My first nc lathe was from American Tool, was their lowest-priced model. Friend worked at Renstrom, they bought one of those Okumas you describe from Ellison, maybe Vanc worked there then.

The American Tool kicked the Okuma's ass in every feature and every way and was nicer to use, too. And it was the cheapest ATI they made. We don't even want to talk the more expensive models, of American or Cincy or G&L or Warner & Swasey. Kind of tired of this adoration for jap stuff. Generally speaking, it wasn't that good. With one or two exceptions, it was just cheap.

Kirk Kerkorian and his friends were no help, either :(
 
My first nc lathe was from American Tool, was their lowest-priced model. Friend worked at Renstrom, they bought one of those Okumas you describe from Ellison, maybe Vanc worked there then.

The American Tool kicked the Okuma's ass in every feature and every way and was nicer to use, too. And it was the cheapest ATI they made. We don't even want to talk the more expensive models, of American or Cincy or G&L or Warner & Swasey. Kind of tired of this adoration for jap stuff. Generally speaking, it wasn't that good. With one or two exceptions, it was just cheap.

Kirk Kerkorian and his friends were no help, either :(
The old Cinncy Acramatic was a multi tasking control long before Fanuc and Okuma discovered it. And I'm an Okuma guy. The G & L was way beyond its contemporaries as well. So much so, that the DoD wouldn't allow its export to many countries.
 
The American Tool kicked the Okuma's ass in every feature and every way and was nicer to use, too.
........ Kind of tired of this adoration for jap stuff. Generally speaking, it wasn't that good. With one or two exceptions, it was just cheap.
Honest question, not trying to argue here- This came up before and I remember you saying the electronics were the weak link. What doesn't make sense to me is that all the '80's lathes I see on the used market and hear talk of on PM are Japanese, with the one exception of Hardinge (which incidentally is also the only 80s CNC lathe I've used).

USA manual equipment, screw machines, gear machines, etc, I see around. There's a 1942 Pratt & Whitney still getting used back home at the farm.

So what happened to these well built old US CNC lathes? Where are they?
 
All in the scrapyard where they belong. EG has rose tinted glasses on about old American CNC iron. They were beefy yes, but unreliable as hell IME.

In the late 70s the Cinncy salesman would straight faced answer the question “How often am I probably going to need a tech to come in for issues?” with “Most customers need service only 2-4 times a year. The Mori sales guy would answer that same question with “Unless you crash it, you’ll go years before you need to call in a tech”.
 
All in the scrapyard where they belong. EG has rose tinted glasses on about old American CNC iron. They were beefy yes, but unreliable as hell IME.

In the late 70s the Cinncy salesman would straight faced answer the question “How often am I probably going to need a tech to come in for issues?” with “Most customers need service only 2-4 times a year. The Mori sales guy would answer that same question with “Unless you crash it, you’ll go years before you need to call in a tech”.

I'm 41. Been seeking out and buying and making a living with used cnc's for my shop for almost 20 years. The only usa made CNC lathes I've seen in the NW are a couple old monster Lodge and Shipleys with Fanuc 5T controls.

I have had lots of old Jap machines. For the most part the build quality is in a different league from any of the heavy 50's/60's American stuff I've owned/seen. I'd compare to early American cnc stuff, but again, never seen any. It's all been scrapped decades ago.

There's shops all over with 1980's Mori's and Okumas.

It's hard to believe anyone could say a bad word about a Mori SL lathe or MV mill. They are still the core machines for many businesses 35 years after they were built.
 
Honest question, not trying to argue here- This came up before and I remember you saying the electronics were the weak link. What doesn't make sense to me is that all the '80's lathes I see on the used market and hear talk of on PM are Japanese, with the one exception of Hardinge (which incidentally is also the only 80s CNC lathe I've used).

So what happened to these well built old US CNC lathes? Where are they?
How come you don't see BeOS, OS/2, Irix, AIX, HP-UX ? No, Mickey didn't "win in the marketplace". Nothing is as simple as people want to make it.

First off, you do see lots if you bother to look. Search Cinturn, Hawk, Falcon, and you'll find a bunch for sale. There's people here who have them, almost universally they say they are great. Mud, for instance. Whachamacallit, whom I haven't seen for a while, loved his WSC-6'es. Mr Rizzo above has acquaintance with US-built machines, still runs a Pratt & Whitney I believe. The people who owned them, liked them.

One thing is, there were never as many. They were better built, they cost more. A stinky Okuma was 80, a 10CC Cinturn was $130,000. They took a year to get, while the Okuma could be an impulse buy. Why were there so many Volkswagens ? Why were there so many Model T's ? How many 1916 Cadillacs are out there ? Something that's not as 'good' but does the job for less money, there's going to be a lot more of them.

Another thing is, them rose-colored glasses Mr Vanc refers to. Except he's got them on the wrong people. When someone asks about an old Jap machine here, what happens first ? "Fanuc or Yasnac control ?" If it's yasnac, nobody wants it. So maybe "japanese" isn't actually the criterion.

A big part of this equation is, fanuc does a good job of making parts available. Even more important, there's so many of them that you can get the stuff cheap on ebay. I'm not sure how many people actually buy old parts from fanuc when the part costs three times the value of the machine, but the perception is there.

Oddly, dynapath also supports controls that are forty years old with boards in stock -- but you don't hear about them so much. Personally, I'll take a Bendix over a Fanuc any day, it's a better control. But that's not the perception.

There was a whole lot of stuff going on in the US at the time of the death of the US machine tool builder. Some of it was the builders' fault - they were living in a world where people paid for quality and kept machines around. Unfortunately, electronics don't last like that - especially 1970 electronics - so no matter how great the physicals, if the spindle won't turn it's no good. I agree, transistors beat tubes. VLSIC's beat discrete components. There was a lot of progress being made in industrial electronics in the seventies. The plc came along in the late seventies - created IN THE US, not japan - but before that, you had hundreds of discrete chips in sockets doing the interface. Anyone who knows electronics knows that connections are the weak point. Stick 100 of them on a board and you're going to have fun finding that bad 7400-series NAND gate. Or the opto-isolator that messed with me for six months. Opto-isolators aren't supposed to do that ... yeah, well. This is not the builders' fault. Electronics improved.

There were basically no jap machines in the US prior to the plc. Should japan machine tool builders get credit for an improvement in electronics ? They started making their push at the right time - for them.

Not to be forgotten, starting in the mid-seventies people like Kirk Kerkorian discovered that these hundred year old machine tool builders had assets ! Like, three city blocks in downtown Cincinnati, that were on their books for fifty bucks. Do you know how much money you can make by putting a shopping mall up where American Tool used to be ? Just about every famous builder, no matter how good their stuff was, fell into this pit. Devlieg, who had no financial problems, built great machines (try to find anyone on this site who will disparage a Devlieg); third generation asshat cashed in and moved to Club Med. (Then he had a heart attack two weeks later, son of a bitch deserved it).

Btw, that still goes on. Just a couple years ago the worthless scumsucking bastards at Rexnord fucked over Falk, an old old old company with good financials and a great, capable, modern facility with a happy, skilled, capable crew. Why ? So some ceo accounting pricks and the "investors" could make a few bucks by goosing the stock. Fuck Rexnord and fuck capitalism. Fuck stockholders, fuck investors, fuck finance. They all deserve a perpetual hot pitchfork ass reaming by the devil, for all eternity. I hope the sons of bitches at Rexnord all get colon cancer.

There was a great deal of that involved in the downfall of US industry. Machine tool builders went first. You all snivel about that now but when it counted, let's buy some cheap jap shit ! Which kind of colors my view when you squeal about China.

Sure, they were not brilliant leaders who overcame an entire social transformation. But today's "truth" is not accurate. Vanc has an axe to grind and nothing but stories. Well, I've got stories too, except I actually owned some of this stuff. In ten years of Bendix ownership I probably bought three boards from George Miclea, and one crt. He was always available to help on the phone, for which he charged nothing. I can't remember buying anything for the accramatic or the c and d k&t. Probably some off-the-shelf electronics and breakers, switches, that type of thing. One K&T had an early AC spindle drive that they bought out from Louis-Allis, it was first gen AC and definitely had problems but there were plenty of jap machines that had early electronics problems, too. Gettys was bulletproof. American Tool had phone tech, who always spent as long as it took to find the problem, free. Sundstrand, didn't even buy new from them, same. None of this shit that mazak and mitutoyo pull. Had five K&T machines, I don't think i ever even called them, except maybe once about changing from 60 hz to 50 hz ? (Pulleys on the hard drive, definitely a trip :) Cincinnati, don't think I ever called them. Never had to call about the Actrion, which KICKS ASS over fanuc, as far as operator capabilities go. There was a place that specialized in those tho, so parts were yes available too. Maybe parts no longer but I know where an Actrion lives, if you need it (didn't you say you couldn't find old US stuff ?) :)

cyclone.jpg

Absolutely killer little lathe btw, fifty millionths resolution, accurate, capable, gone by the wayside ... for a lot of reasons but not because it was second-rate compared to anything jap.

One thing that maybe is underestimated is that big work, in the US, went away. For an example, between a cincy 10cc and an sl-3, for these parts

pulleys.jpg

sl2 or 3 is kickass but for these

hubs.jpg

cinturn would do a better job. But with heavier metal-removal work going away and smaller, more delicate work becoming the norm, which machine will you choose ? Cincy is twice as big floorspace, twice as heavy to move, more cumbersome to set up, really not as good for smaller stuff. You can take small cuts on a light machine but making delicate parts, you're always at a disadvantage in a bigger machine. So there's another reason for the fall of brute force ... which works better on a mill than a lathe, as we see by people crying that their haas can't drill a hole :) (Jap stuff likewise, and even the doosan that people think are so heavily built can't hold a candle to a Panther, Cinturn, G&L, Warner Swasey. But the market ain't there ...)

It's all water under the bridge now, none of those places is ever coming back and even if they did, how people cut metal now is different. But this stuff about how great the japs were and how bad the US, it just isn't true. Fanuc is not that great, and they are the best of the jap world. The rest of those bassackwards controls suck and the machines themselves can't hold a candle to good US stuff. Not even close. (With the possible exception of the SL series, but even there it's not anywhere near "this is indubitably better." The sl's are about as good as US iron. Not better. And the Okumas suck. They were junk. Flatbed chickenshit retros, junk iron with a junk control.)
 
Last edited:
Unfortunately this has happened with pretty much everything, most markets have reached their high point in "quality" of product, then comes technology, making it faster, lighter, cheaper, .....
and then so long to quality.
Old enough to have seen it in many fields.
 
Unfortunately this has happened with pretty much everything, most markets have reached their high point in "quality" of product, then comes technology, making it faster, lighter, cheaper, .....
and then so long to quality.
Old enough to have seen it in many fields.
Machines seem to be made to replace these days.
 
The insatiable demand for machines and electronics from China meant suppliers couldn't keep up. When they tried to up production quality went down.
 
Something I've noticed in the different Siemens machines I've run is that quite a lot is different between different builders, or even different revisions from the same builder. I've seen two Hermle C42s which drastically different HMIs built only two years apart.

Another thing I've noticed is how uncannily similar Fanuc controls can behave even if they're built decades apart.

I feel like if you learn Fanuc's approach, you can navigate Fanucs. I don't think the same is true for Siemens, but that's just been my experience. Maybe the Siemens I've been running were the exceptions.
 
Something I've noticed in the different Siemens machines I've run is that quite a lot is different between different builders, or even different revisions from the same builder. I've seen two Hermle C42s which drastically different HMIs built only two years apart.

Another thing I've noticed is how uncannily similar Fanuc controls can behave even if they're built decades apart.
This is both the strength and weakness of Siemens. A 1996 840D is dramatically different than a 2023 840D.

They also give the builder WAY more ability to fuck up the integration than most (perhaps all) other mainstream controllers.

Siemens is by far my favorite controller, with Heidenhain a somewhat distant second. However, with the former the user experience is much more dependent on support that comes directly from the MTB.
 








 
Back
Top