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Small CNC Lathe w/ Power Chuck/Collet?

Automaton

Plastic
Joined
Feb 11, 2022
Location
California
Hello,

I've got a regular job cutting short lengths of 1/8" OD rod. I'd like to automate a small dedicated machine to it.

The job would run fine on a sherline, but in order to automate the material feed I need a power chuck or collet, and I don't see an easy way to hack one on to a sherline.

It looks like a Taig with a 5c collet headstock might be an easier hack, but I haven't been able to get any pictures or drawings that are detailed enough that I can tell if it would work.

Anyone know of a small lathe that can support a power chuck or collet?

Suggestions appreciated.

Bill
 

Automaton

Plastic
Joined
Feb 11, 2022
Location
California
Ah... okay. I get it.

That sticky is new since I was really active on the list, 2001-2007 under "Billy Boy". Lost that email and couldn't remember the password, so new account. Man, the forum was really great back then. I learned *so* much from Forrest Addy, Millicron, Matt Isserstadt, etc.

After reading the sticky, I realize that I should not have mentioned "sherline". I've never actually fiddled with one, though I'm told they are not as bad as those grizzly (on down) mini machines. Mainly I was trying to show scale.

While I'm looking for small (ideally inexpensive) machines I can gang up, this is most certainly a *job*. We are producing around 3k/month right now, but projections are that we are going to have to scale to 150k/month if this product line this widget goes into keeps doing well. Volume like that would be a new kind of thing for me and I'd like to see it happen.

I used to think it was blowing against the wind, but with all this supply chain tom-foolery I might actually be able to keep this job from going to Shenzhen if I can get my ducks in a row. The thing is that this job might go on for years, or it might evaporate at any time, so I'm not trying to get tied up in a new Haas lease if I can avoid it.

So, I'm trying to think outside the box... hence the question... is there anything out there that is small and capable and is fully automated or can be hacked into full automation?

Used to be that the forum would have a field day with a question like that. But if you insist, I'll move my small high volume parts questions on down the road.

Bill
 

Vancbiker

Diamond
Joined
Jan 5, 2014
Location
Vancouver, WA. USA
A small used swiss type screw machine would get you the automation and be reliable for high volume work. Might not make your price point though. The toy machines are focused on hobby stuff.
 

Clive603

Titanium
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Location
Sussex, England
Methinks Vancbiker doth protest too much.

The OP proposes to use readily available, relatively inexpensive off the shelf components as the basis for a special purpose, essentially one job, machine. Where the parts come from and what they were originally intended for is of no matter so long as they are up for the job. Obviously a complete Shereline or Taig is completely inappropriate but if the headstock and bed will provide an adequate chassis for the special bits then its stupid to waste time, money and effort re-inventing the wheel.

The issue is whether the parts concerned are up for the job and, if not, what is a similarly economical source for something that is.

Reminds me of the discussions when we were looking into introducing COTS (Commercial Off the Shelf) equipment as an inexpensive replacements for specialist military equipment.

Historically jobs like Automation is interested in were frequently done on capstan and lever collet fitted bench top machines like the Pultra, its bigger brother the Smart & Brown L series or small autos like the ingenious (and arm aching) Britan. Many breeds of such machines were made and the number of parts made on them over the years is well beyond convenient or even inconvenient counting. I'd be looking at such machines for inspiration.

I've long felt that the ability of modern production technology to mass produce machine components of sufficiently decent precision at reasonable prices has made it possible to consider several small, relatively inexpensive, slower running spindles as a viable alternative to a swiss or similar machine running at 96 to the dozen.

For suitably small work of course.

I've amused myself for several years sketching out several variations of what I call my "credit card lathe". Basically cheap enough to go on a credit card, £1,000 - £3,000 maybe, small enough to go in a rack and slow enough not to need exotic tooling. If it lasts a year its more than paid for itself. Want more capacity just buy another machine and stack it on the next shelf up. Bar handling for a vertical rack full is the problematic issue but I don't see anything too hard there. If a weight and chain worked for grandad...

My current favourite concept for baby work is Britan style reworked as a sliding head machine with the rotating tooling carrier fixed and vertical acting cut off slide. Control concept is basically that of a plugboard auto, drive to a stop, rather than sophisticated swiss. Sliding head makes it easy to release the collet by pulling back against a stop to drive the release. Simple bar feed against a stop plate that swings away before the next head stroke.

Around 3 minutes cycle time would get 3 K parts per month. A swiss would die laughing at the idea that such speeds could be acceptable but perfectly practical cheaply, probably 1 minute cycle time is in reach before you have to get serious about machine engineering.

Clive
 

adammil1

Titanium
Joined
Mar 12, 2001
Location
New Haven, CT
What about going on eBay and picking up a used Brown and Sharpe screw machine for $1000. If you don't know how to set one up maybe you can pay someone on here to come over and get you started?

Only possible issue is the dreaded cutoff tits. I think B&S used to have an attachment to deal with that too, but when I used to work in the screw machine shop that used to be my job removing all of them on a hand chucker.

Talk about a nasty job the tits would poke all sorts of tiny holes in your fingers till you built up a good callus. Come to think about it I always loved playing with tits till I worked in a screw machine shop! :)

If you don't want to buy a Brown and Sharpe maybe you can find a local screw machine shop. Last I knew we still had them here in the USA.

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Nmbmxer

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 22, 2008
Location
VA
What work besides cutoff do you need to perform?

Sherline has a 3c lever closer you could fit an air cylinder onto.
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
What about going on eBay and picking up a used Brown and Sharpe screw machine for $1000. If you don't know how to set one up maybe you can pay someone on here to come over and get you started?

Only possible issue is the dreaded cutoff tits. I think B&S used to have an attachment to deal with that too, but when I used to work in the screw machine shop that used to be my job removing all of them on a hand chucker.

You can get a screw machine with a front drilling attachment and feed in a half round cut-off support. Which way the OP goes should depend on volume that hasn't been mentioned yet.
 

DocsMachine

Titanium
Joined
Jan 8, 2005
Location
Southcentral, AK
Another inexpensive option might be to find a Hardinge DV series lathe with an Omniturn CNC attachment. I've seen those in the $5K range, can be had with, or fitted with, a pneumatic closer, and the Omni setup is fairly quick and accurate.

Doc.
 

Automaton

Plastic
Joined
Feb 11, 2022
Location
California
Awesome!

That was exactly what I needed.

For sure a swiss cnc screw machines would kill this job. Agreed on the price point. Could be the right way to go regardless.

A brown and sharpe would also make short work of the job, and the capital cost for a decent looking machine is not much higher than scrap, but I'm afraid of the specialized skill that would be required to get the job running and keep it maintained. I'm pretty sure I could pick it up in a few days, but those learnings would be very hard to transfer to other work. It seems like computers are the way of the future!

For some reason I didn't see the sherline 3c headstock & collet closer. With an actuator that should fit the bill. It might be interesting to see how long the sherline would hold up?

The Hardinge DV is such a beautiful machine. I will have to do some more research on it. Looks like there are a few with Omniturn attachments on ebay right now... though the one for $6k is a bit of a heap in the pictures, perhaps it is all there, or there enough to make a go of it?

Thank you so much for the suggestions.

Bill
 

Ox

Diamond
Joined
Aug 27, 2002
Location
West Unity, Ohio
That's ... sorta ... a Swiss lathe, but not in the conventional sense.
This one is coil fed with an on-board straightener.
So now you don't have to worry much about overfeeding (thrust) and puting a whopper in the bar.


---------------------

Think Snow Eh!
Ox
 

adammil1

Titanium
Joined
Mar 12, 2001
Location
New Haven, CT
A brown and sharpe would also make short work of the job, and the capital cost for a decent looking machine is not much higher than scrap, but I'm afraid of the specialized skill that would be required to get the job running and keep it maintained. I'm pretty sure I could pick it up in a few days, but those learnings would be very hard to transfer to other work. It seems like computers are the way of the future!


Maybe others could correct me but I thought once you get a Brown and Sharpe all set up with the cams all you need to do is keep your tooling sharp and feed them more stock. They're also a lot of fun to watch.

There's a lot of niches where B&S machines and old cam driven machines still earn their keep and you only have one part which helps even more as the key thing that really did them in was lack of experienced setup help.

There has to be a local guy who you can hire to setup to run the machine for you and if not, I bet you could find someone on this forum who can buy one for you set it up and ship a turn key machine setup to run nothing but these parts.


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