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    Default Buying your first VMC

    Good day everyone. I am interested in purchasing my first CNC mill and looking for any advice.

    I have a quote in hand for a HAAS Mini Mill 2 with TSC, chip auger, and wireless probing.

    I have 0 experience running a CNC. In fact I have not touched a lathe or mill in almost 30 years.

    I am interested in buying a VMC for a hobby that I might turn into a side business and see where it goes. I have a full time job in the military and my wife is a successful realtor. I have decided to not buy a new truck and use that money for a VMC.

    Any advice would be appreciated.

    Scott

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    Just remember that you will need support equipment including a saw, drill press and maybe an engine lathe plus you will need to learn the intricacies of running a business.

    Unless you have a lot of spare cash to invest.

    If you can afford it consider a new machine (maybe a Haas) with warranty, support and reasonable resale value.

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    Thank you for the reply Jim,

    I do already have a full machine shop that I inherited from my father. A manual lathe and mill and everything else to go along with it. I used to spend hours in there with my dad when I was a kid, however when I moved out I stopped using any of the machines. Now that I am older and have a son of my own, I think it is time to pick the tools up again so I can pass on some life skills to the next generation.

    Money is not the biggest issue, I have saved for a new truck and have decided to invest in a machine and start learning. I can keep driving my old Ford. I will still keep my job and the wife can pretty much cover the bills on her own.

    This is a hobby at the moment and if I can figure it out how to do it well enough maybe make a little money on the side. But mostly something that I can do with my son.

    I guess my question is am I biting off more than I can chew with a HAAS Mini Mill?

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    Sorry, I forgot to mention that I am looking at a nee HAAS with support and a few days of training from a tech.

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    Well what do you intend on making? Material, volumes, precision? Hard to answer your question without knowing that.

    If you are going to sell your own product line, you should know why you need in house production. Either your sales volumes justify the capital expense or the nature of the product or required lead times require the capital expense.

    If it can be made cost effectively on a haas mini, there are a whole lot of other people who could make parts for you to get going. Start selling, run the business, get. A customer base, then go pull in the production when the numbers make sense.

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    Thank you for replying Newton,

    For the moment I do not have any one particular product I am looking to make. The start will be just playing to figure out how to use the machine and learn with the goal of hopefully getting my son interested.

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    How are you with programing in some sort of CAM? I've not run a Haas so I don't know how good their conversational programing is.
    I'm assuming that the shop you inherited is all manual. You may want to get something that can be run manually and program at the mill to ease you into things. Several brands have little tooling mills that are good for this. Trak, Milltronics, Atrump, and Fryer are a few you may want to look at, they are all about the same just different controllers.

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    To answer your actual question and not so much to critique your business plan the answer is yes a Haas is a good mill to see if you like the CNC life. They are easy to use, have tons of support and if you don't like it they have great resale value.

    Really no downside if you want to have some fun and see if it's a life change you want to pursue. Certainly better than buying a new pickup with an insanely inflated price tag. Was watching standard size trucks running toward $70k and dually diesels, forget about it.

    You might make some money with a Haas, you won't make a dime with a new pickup. Go for it, have fun, expect it to cost at least double what you think...

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    Something like a 325 Tree will get your feet wet for a hell of a lot less money. You could probably just drop the heated driver seat option off the pickup and get both

    I think moonlight machine had one for sale for $5000 ? And it does all the same stuff as a $50,000 Haas (except change tools, not that big a deal for a beginner).

    Speaking logically, I am not so sure that an nc mill is the way to go. There are thousands of shops out there with them already. And they have years of experience using them as well as tons of expensive tooling and last but not least, the whole cadcam software learning and buying schtick. You'll be starting at the bottom, only to enter a race to work for the cheapest price.

    If'n I wuz to start over at this time, I'd pick a field with little to no competition and focus myself there. And preferably with manual machines, electronics cost big bucks and they always break. I'd look at something like thread grinding or bevel gears or cam grinding or making special pistons or something that not very many people do.

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    Always my suggestion is buy a used fadal. It won’t be fast and flashy but for 10k you can get a small machine that will be similar in rigidity than that haas mini mill and after a bit of a tune up similar in accuracy.

    I havent been all that impressed with the quality of machines from haas. (Not saying a fadal is high end either though)

    Also consider something newer used. I saw a 2013 Mazak vcn 530 sell for 65k with all the bells and whistles. That machine would be a world ahead of a haas and for similar money.

    Maybe look for something in the 40k range and put 20k in the bank for in case it needs repairs.

    Used machine is not for everyone though and sometimes you just need something that works.

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    How do you plan on programming it? You're going to want a cad/cam program if you really want to get anything done on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    How do you plan on programming it? You're going to want a cad/cam program if you really want to get anything done on it.
    Isn’t fusion 360 still free for hobbyists? Or have they already started the price increases?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ianagos View Post
    Isn’t fusion 360 still free for hobbyists? Or have they already started the price increases?
    I have no idea. But it's probably his best option currently.

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    I was told by a friend that it won't output M06 and other features that they deem as commercial.

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    I would get the new Haas. You don't know anything about CNC machines, so a used VMC is risky.

    A lightly-used newer Haas will resell for very close to new price. I'm always shocked by the high price of used Haas's.

    Since you have no idea what you will use the machine for, chip auger seems like not a wise spend. Auger can be added down the road if you get into production work.

    Regards.

    Mike

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    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I am leaning towards the new machine with warranty and training. I see the savings made buying used but I am leery of taking on something that might have problems without tech support.

    As for the CAD/CAM i plan on learning fusion 360. It’s still free for hobbyists. I have taken a few Autocad courses in the past and I feel like I can learn it. I plan to buy the machine next May and I want to learn and build my first projects in the computer between now and then.

    Once again I appreciate the input. I am reconsidering the auger and possibly adding ridged tapping.

    I plan on buying a Kurt or Orange vise and a Sandvik starter tooling package.

    I have all the hand measuring tools already.

    What else should I be considering?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott9805 View Post
    Once again I appreciate the input. I am reconsidering the auger and possibly adding ridged tapping. What else should I be considering?
    Rigid tapping is an option? OK, well, definitely get that.

    You'll need nice dry compressed air. Get 3-4x what the machine says it needs. DAMHIKT.

    Regards.

    Mike

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    Compressor... Check. That is on the list. Any brand recommendations? I would like to keep it as quite ad possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott9805 View Post
    I have a quote in hand for a HAAS Mini Mill 2 with TSC, chip auger, and wireless probing.

    I have 0 experience running a CNC. In fact I have not touched a lathe or mill in almost 30 years.

    I am interested in buying a VMC for a hobby that I might turn into a side business and see where it goes. I have a full time job in the military and my wife is a successful realtor. I have decided to not buy a new truck and use that money for a VMC.
    The Haas Mini is an excellent platform to start out out on. It's ready to make you money on day one, and even if it doesn't, it'll hold better value than any truck ever will, as well as most other machines.

    Like all newer Haases, it's got the F3 "Safe Mode", which crash-proofs your machine while in G00 rapids, jog, and handle modes.

    I'd skip the TSC and auger unless your HFO is giving you a special deal on them. You have higher priorities at the moment than TSC. As for the auger, we have one on our VF5 and it's woeful. The $3K saved can go towards a nice 55 gallon drum vac.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott9805 View Post
    Compressor... Check. That is on the list. Any brand recommendations? I would like to keep it as quite ad possible.
    Can't go wrong with a Kaeser.

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