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Used Robodrill vs Brother

Minimal.ltd

Plastic
Joined
Apr 25, 2022
Hi, I have read through nearly all of the posts on this topic but I'm looking for a little more clarity. I have a business doing special effects/prototyping for commercials/film/tv/artists. I do not rely on machining but I do it a lot. Most parts are smaller one-offs or small runs in aluminum but I end up with really random projects so materials and size can vary.

I feel that a 700mm Brother with a 4th axis would allow me to do nearly everything I need, although the limited Z travel concerns me a little. I am thinking about a used machine in the ~$25k range (without tooling/workholding, etc). I have a sense of what I can get as far as a used brother but what would be comparable in terms of a robodrill? I don't really understand the models and generations of robodrill and I am trying to figure out if could get more for my money. My understanding is that robodrills seemed to have transitioned from drill/tap machines to more of a VMC before brothers did, if that makes sense. I do want the ability to run 3D/HSM toolpaths and I like the idea of having a simultaneous 5 axis option on the robodrill although I'm not sure if that is an option in this price range. I would obviously be looking for machines that are not beat to hell from production. I am not looking for a project but I am also not afraid of doing some work on a machine. Any suggestions would be appreciated, particularly models to seek out or avoid, cutoff years, etc.
Thanks
 

gkoenig

Titanium
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Location
Portland, OR
Any Robodrill made in about the last 15 years is going to suit your needs. Full 5 axis is probably not within your budget, but 3+1 is going to do 95% of what you need, with a little smart fixturing and the like. My first machine was one of the black Robodrill Mate models Methods imported in the mid 2000s, and it was an excellent machine that was totally capable of everything I asked it to do - decent surfacing, very accurate, wood-burning stove reliable. I upgraded to a Speedio for more speed, slightly tighter accuracy, but also just to jump into things like a 4th axis, probing, and the faster/more rigid spindle.

Like you know, the Brother window of smart used machine purchasing is far narrower. They incrementally got into more milling capability, culminating in the Speedio. Yes, the S2Dn and other machines are on-par with Robodrills of the era, but there are about 10x more Robodrills in circulation than those Brothers - it was the Speedio that turned these machines popular, and most of them are still new enough that they aren't going to hit your budget quite yet. You occasionally see the entry spec S500s with 14 tools and the 10k spindle selling for under $50k, but these machines are in such good shape and are so reliable, it is 10+ years before you need to start cycling them out of the fleet.

Personally, I would be on the hunt for a 2008+ Robodrill. The non Mate/Eco models come well equipped - Fanuc usually options out the controls on their own machines.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Is there a requirement for a small footprint? Is that why the Brother/Robodrill?

They're great and all, but there's a bunch of other machines that can kill at one off/mix type work. They just aren't usually 30 taper and take up more room. I'd think you'd need to broaden your search criteria to find a nice newer machine under $25k.
 

Minimal.ltd

Plastic
Joined
Apr 25, 2022
Size is a bit of an issue, it's going into a 1400 sq ft space that is going to quickly fill up. The whole small/fast/relatively precise package is appealing but not totally necessary. I also know that it's easy to maintain an old one and it is possible that I would upgrade to a speedio in the future and be able to reuse the tooling. Any other suggestions would be appreciated though.
Thanks
 

triumph406

Titanium
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Location
ca
Size is a bit of an issue, it's going into a 1400 sq ft space that is going to quickly fill up. The whole small/fast/relatively precise package is appealing but not totally necessary. I also know that it's easy to maintain an old one and it is possible that I would upgrade to a speedio in the future and be able to reuse the tooling. Any other suggestions would be appreciated though.
Thanks

Fadal 3016?
 

BROTHERFRANK

Stainless
Joined
Dec 20, 2013
Location
SoCal
I know of a very nice low hour TC-S2B-O that one of our clients will be selling soon. They purchased it new and want to get a new S700X2 to go with their S500X2 they added last year. The S2B-O is a very capable machine. Has 21 tool magazine, similar travels as S700. Just add a Calmotion (or similar) USB box to run programs from a stick. Should be around your price range. Control functions/navigates similar to a Speedio so when you get into one of those you will hit the ground running.
 

LOTT

Hot Rolled
Joined
Nov 28, 2016
Brothers are awesome and I have no intention of buying anything else as long as our parts fit, but for occasional random use on a budget not sure they're the best option. An S700 with 4th is likely to be three or four times your budget.

Maybe find a Haas TM-1? Slow and floppy, but lots of travel for weird stuff. And you're much more likely to find one in good shape that a shop has out grown (which is what we did) for cheap.

Since you said you don't depend on machining you can probably risk the occasional Haas hiccup.

The irony is I love our Speedios and didn't like the TM-1 we had, but we were running lots of small parts. Horses for courses.
 

MachineAmateur

Plastic
Joined
Jan 11, 2021
I know of a very nice low hour TC-S2B-O that one of our clients will be selling soon. They purchased it new and want to get a new S700X2 to go with their S500X2 they added last year. The S2B-O is a very capable machine. Has 21 tool magazine, similar travels as S700. Just add a Calmotion (or similar) USB box to run programs from a stick. Should be around your price range. Control functions/navigates similar to a Speedio so when you get into one of those you will hit the ground running.

When buying older models, the 3D paths might be slightly limited. For example i have TC-S2B-O and it supports only 3 axis simultaneous movement with 3+1 config. The additional axis is meant to be used for part flipping essentially and the Z axis limitation will affect the work holding principles or work piece sizes when used in the fourth axis. It has also some limitations regarding to the fidelity of the toolpaths, lookahead and buffer is not that deep and it can starve if paths are very fast and high fidelity.

The chips come out so fast that the machine operation reminds shoveling operation. Btw tool holders and tools (as the suitable end mills are about 1/2" or under) are cheap and available. It is perfect for neglible value or internal production jobs. I paid about 20k for it with no regrets.
 

Minimal.ltd

Plastic
Joined
Apr 25, 2022
Thanks for the responses...
Regarding the Fadal 3016, I was looking at those to begin with, I figured that I could get a pretty nice 3016 within that budget.
As far as Haas, I am open to them, I feel like the TM1 is just a bit too limited but I would consider them.
I do recognize that Brothers in this price range have some limitations, I might have to go see one first hand to get a sense of whether it is a good fit.

Re: BROTHERFRANK, that definitely interesting and based on what you have told me in the past, the TC-S2B-O is about as far back as I would go with a Brother. I am in the process of closing on a property which has the shop on it. Once I close I will definitely reach out to you and see if there if this machine or something like it is still available.
Thanks,
Mike
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Thanks for the responses...
Regarding the Fadal 3016, I was looking at those to begin with, I figured that I could get a pretty nice 3016 within that budget.
As far as Haas, I am open to them, I feel like the TM1 is just a bit too limited but I would consider them.
I do recognize that Brothers in this price range have some limitations, I might have to go see one first hand to get a sense of whether it is a good fit.

Re: BROTHERFRANK, that definitely interesting and based on what you have told me in the past, the TC-S2B-O is about as far back as I would go with a Brother. I am in the process of closing on a property which has the shop on it. Once I close I will definitely reach out to you and see if there if this machine or something like it is still available.
Thanks,
Mike

Fadal and Brother can't be compared.

When I read your requirements and I suggested something other than a Brother, spending $25k on a Fadal or a used Haas wasn't even a thought in my head.

I would be looking for something from a top Japanese MTB with a top level Fanuc control no older than late 1990's. I would buy on condition and capability. Haas and Fadal wouldn't even be on my list.
 








 
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