CNC or manual milling machine?
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  1. #1
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    Default CNC or manual milling machine?

    I'm going to eventually need a milling machine to assist me in my metal fabrication shop and since I am new to milling, would it make more sense to get a CNC machine or a manual one?

    As I will not be doing production runs but instead one offs, the CNC machine may be overkill but then again as it is a one man show and I only have two hands, there is only so much I can do at a time.

    I'm very familiar with 3D printing/3D design in Fusion 360 so and would much rather get myself a budget but quality CNC milling machine as It would make me more productive and I can put my skills to better use. Also, the learning curve will be much steeper with a manual machine.

    That being said, what would be a quality 3 axis machine for small parts-medium sized parts that wouldn't break the bank? I'm talking sub 20K $ here.

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    A used beefy machine, a type that has service close by.
    10 large, another 5-10 for tools and support equip. would be real sweet for ya,maybe,,,,
    whatever u due
    good luck!!!
    Gw

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    Nothing wrong with a conventional (manual) machine, but I'm partial to CNC. My reasoning is that if you get busy and more than a handful of parts, the conventional machine tool is going to take up a lot of your time. I know a lot of CNC shops that still use engine lathes and Bridgeport mills for the one offs and fixtures, but to me, CNC is the way. Just my 2c.

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    Around here a clapped-out manual machine with a DRO and some tooling are almost as expensive as a decent used CNC machine with an obsolete control that will still make good parts. but maybe I've just got bad luck finding the deals.

    My vote is CNC. You can always use a CNC like you would a manual machine. Just know that on older controls you're going to have to be careful about how your toolpaths are smoothed and your post-processor works. HSM/Fusion have a good post for older FANUC controls that limits spline count and attempts to use G2/G3 when possible to keep programs short.

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    To say the cnc learning curve would be shorter then that of manual I think is a pipe dream. While I understand you've used fusion for design and printing, it doesn't sound as if you have ever worked in the manufacturing space. That is a massive learning curve alone. Add in machine tool deficiencies for using modern toolpaths and it can be a real nightmare.

    My vote, manual. Once you understand how to make what parts you need to make manually, you can decide if cnc is worth if for you.

    Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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    Why not have both in one I have an old Trak DPM bed mill that works fine both ways. It is easy to learn for a beginner and makes good parts. It works great for one off stuff. A straight manual mill sucks for cutting a radius yes you can set up a manual rotary and do a bunch of setups but with CNC it is a breeze. I use my Trak in both manual and CNC mode. Many times I setup the Trak to drill a single hole for a pin and drill 200 pins, it is faster to clamp pull the draw bar unclamp then the next part. If I run the same parts using CNC I have to hit 3 buttons and wait for the machine.

    This was my first CNC metal working machine and I made a lot of parts with it. I bought a VMC a couple years ago and there is no comparison to the Trak for running in CNC mode but I still do simple operations manually with the Trak. There maybe other machines that work like my Trak that are better I don't have experience with any other machines than the ones I own.

    I had a manual Wells Index knee mill prior to my Trak. I was and am a hobby machinist I have never been employed as a machinist. I have been doing it now 15 years so I have learned a bunch but when I started with my manual mill I ruined a lot of tooling. I seem to always keep pushing feeds and speeds until I ruined the cutting tools. When I went CNC I had to learn feed and speed basics you can't just wing it and see what happens or you end up with a mess real fast. Learning how to calculate feeds and speeds and adjusting by surface finish or sound made me a much better manual machinist. Taking some classes would help you skip some pain in learning you pay for your education one way or another I paid for mine by ruining parts and tooling and reading forums asking for advice and watching videos. I also spent time reading manuals.

    I still don't consider myself a pro machinist although I do make a living at it. I make parts for my own business I learn to make what I need and learn new things all the time. I have built a very successful business making stuff and I really like what I do but plan to stop doing it full time soon. I will always make stuff because I like too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg White View Post
    A used beefy machine, a type that has service close by.
    10 large, another 5-10 for tools and support equip. would be real sweet for ya,maybe,,,,
    whatever u due
    good luck!!!
    Gw
    I never buy used things so a used CNC machine would be the last thing I would buy especially since I don't know what to look for in one.

    Another issue is there are no local suppliers of said machines that can provide service/parts (third world country) so it would have to be bought online and shipped so customer service through online communication would have to be top notch.

    I was thinking something like an entry level Tormach fully optioned out would be a perfect fit for my needs. Maybe someone here has experience with them and would like to share them with me.

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    Eh had a tormach sold it and got a used Fadal.
    Tormach is slow toolholders tend to pull out,
    Glitchy controller really need to watch what it is doing.

    If all you need to do is simple facing and hole patterns a manual
    With a good dro will serve you much better.


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