Getting serious about a cnc vmc
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  1. #1
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    Default Getting serious about a cnc vmc

    Guys/Gals Iíve been dreaming about owning a cnc mill since the first time I seen one making chips on American chopper,like from the first season,when I could still be called a kid. Well, all the dreaming has paid off ďwish it was that easyĒ and Iím seriously for the first time looking into purchasing one. I canít buy new and wouldnít since it will be my first cnc machine donít have any experience with it except for reading so, whatever I get I donít want to have to learn hieroglyphs to run the damn thing.So that brings my first questions:

    Do all cnc milling machines whether bed or knee type share common symbols/icons for commands?

    There are so many different brands,Hass,Okuma,Milltronics,Hurco,Tree,Fadal,and then all of your retrofits. Some of those might be the same brand,I honestly do not know but, out of the brands listed from me reading I have seen Hass talked about more than any but that could be bc of the way I worded my searches. I have no loyalties to any brand and if I mentioned a brand that canít be talked about on here just let me know and I will edit my post. So this brings up my next question.

    I would like to hear from the people with experiences with any of these or other brands not listed and get your honest feedback on which one not to choose and which to choose and why on both?

    I do not want to buy a machine thatís manufacturer has gone out of vusiness Or is looking like they are about to go out of business so if you have any knowledge about that Iím all ears?

    I want to ask which will be the most simplest but none are going to be simple and there will be a learning curve so Iíll ask are some harder to learn than others? Iím sure itís yes but if you can explain?

    I planning on using the machine for one offs and maybe even small production runs but can really say for sure what they will be except for possibly ratio controllers for the company I work for now. I would love to be able to cut 20Ē wheels but that might be a reach bc I would have to find a 5 axis at an unheard of price even though I did come across a 5 axis Hass vf3 I think the guy told me for 40,000 but thats over my budget which brings me to my next question.

    Whatís the lowest price you would willing to pay for a used cnc vmc?

    I know that question doesnít sound right but thereís gotta be a point where you say itís too good to be true like a very large machine I come across with a video of it running and it had long axis travels and large table and was 2,000 usd. And there is no way itís too good to be true unless the owner is like me and and just wants it gone to make room for a more technically advanced machine but than I would just say come get it itís hits bc 2,000 dollars is chump change to a person who could afford a new machine of that stature.

    Thanks

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    No matter the price, a used VMC can be great or a trashed POS. The majority of $2k-$3k VMCs are ready to be scrapped, but the occasional gem can be found. You have to know what to look for, check, and test and even then it is still a bit of a crapshoot.

    I fairly recently helped a little start up operation get a machine going that they paid a bit over $2k for. Once they had it in production they showed me some Ti parts that they were milling some round bosses on and holding .0005" roundness.

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    Parts and Support... If you can't get parts and support, you might as well just
    buy a boat anchor and have the rigger drag it straight to the scrap yard..

    On the parts, you also have to be able to afford them..

    My recommendation is just go buy a Fadal.. Yes, the original Fadal is out of business..
    BUT!!!!! They made an absolute shit load of machines and they were all essentially the
    same from the mid 80's up into the 2000's...

    That also means that you can get PARTS!!!!! Not just from one place, but many. Any part
    you need, its sitting on the shelf and can be at your shop tomorrow morning.. And they
    are affordable as far as machine tool parts and boards go.

    Support, free tech support from almost everybody that sells Fadal parts.. And here.. Lot
    of people here have them.. You run into a problem 2am on Sunday, you can come here and
    you will probably be back up and running by 2:30am.. If you need parts, you can order
    them Monday and have them Tuesday morning, without having to mortgage the house or sell
    your first born...

    Asking about controls.. You don't get much easier than a Fadal.. Its menu driven.
    You tell it what you want to do, and it LITERALLY baby steps you through it. There
    are some fantistic fixture offset utilities in there. There are no control options,
    it comes loaded able to do everything.. Parameters are a breeze, 3 short pages written
    in english... Example. You buy all the goodies to add a 4th axis.. Then you go in the
    parameters and simply turn it on. Axis 1)X,Y,Z. 2)X,Y,Z,A. 3)X,Y,Z,A,B. Hit #2 and
    you're all set. No binary or hexadecimal bullshit. 3 pages written in english..

    And if you can't quite remember the exact syntax of a G74 or a G81.. No need to pull out
    the manual. There is an abbreviated manual right in the control that can give you those
    simple answers.

    *All standard Fadal Disclaimers apply:
    Its not a Mazak, its not a Mori, its a dirt cheap,
    simple machine tool.
    Tool changes and rapids are not lightning fast
    It will not interpolate a bore within .0002" at 120ipm.
    Its a simple machine tool that is very capable when MAINTAINED.



    Just my 2 cents.

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    I have bought 7 used CNC machines over the course of being self employed. 6 of them I bought in person after they were demonstrated running parts. I would say 3 were pretty good, 1 of those I sold and the other two I still have.
    They all ranged from 8-20 years old. The most expensive of the lot, a 7 axis Swiss turned out to be a money pit, it ate parts and circuit boards like a kid eats candy on Halloween. One of the machines I bought that I actually set-up and ran one of my parts on before buying didn't even survive the trip to my shop. I wired it up and it was alarm city and I never was able to get it going. Buying used CNC equipment is a crap shoot, no matter how well you inspect it a breakdown could be hours away or it could run years trouble free.

    Obviously the newer a machine is from a reliable manufacturer the better chance of a long trouble free run. The cheaper a machine is the more likely it will be problematic. That being said I bought a PC driven CNC Mill for $3500 that made mounting plates for limo ac compressors daily for years and the only thing I replaced was a fan in the control cabinet.

    I don't know anything about Fadals, my preference with my B grade machine tech knowledge would be to buy something with a Fanuc controller. They appear to be the most popular and parts are readily available for models that go back 40 years. Also there are a lot of places that specialize in repair of various generations and can test components sent to them on simulators. Also due to popularity it will be easy to get assistance with running and maintaining them right here on PM. If you buy some oddball machine with an orphan controller and need assistance you will have trouble getting help whether it be free of charge like here or finding a repair tech.

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    Given that it sounds like (initially at least) you have no revenue stream for a machine, it might be a good opportunity to go for a 'fixer-upper' and learn a bunch about CNC machines on the way... I am biased towards Fadals because I own a few and I've been happy with them. Not the fastest or best machines in the world but they're dependable and easy to work on.

    I bought my first Fadal without really knowing how to inspect a CNC. It turned on and they showed it cutting so I bought it. Turned out that all the ballscrews needed replacing as well as the thrust bearings and the spindle. Even in it's original state it did run and make parts though and I ran it like that for quite a while! That machine cost me $8k (which is overpriced given it's condition) and then I spent about another $8k on it over a couple of years to get it up to 'like new' condition. That machine has paid for itself many times over.

    More recently I bought a pair of Fadal VMC15s for $4k each. I know more about inspecting machines now and these machines are both in great shape mechanically. The ballscrews have very little backlash, spindles run well, spindle tapers are clean and so on. Issue is these machines had both been used to machine graphite which tends to cause lots of electrical issues. I am nearly done rebuilding the first of these machines and I figure I have about $6k into it so far, but I have rebuilt/replaced a lot of stuff and that machine is on it's way to being very pristine indeed! Lots of time cleaning to get all the graphite out of the machine! Again, this machine will pay for itself very quickly once it's up and running, and I don't owe any money on it because I bought it cheap and fixed it up as funds allowed.

    The original Fadal company no longer exists but there are plenty of companies still supporting these machines and selling parts for them. It's actually much easier to get parts for a Fadal than many more modern machines as you can simply buy them online from a company like ITS.

    Honestly working on a CNC machine can be a lot of fun! Kind of like working on an old car, and like an old car it can be worth more than you bought it for when it's done. Unlike an old car they can also end up making you money in the meantime! Folks on here are always happy to help, just make sure to post as much detail as you can when asking questions (you've done well on that so far!). I had a lot of help from this forum along the way as I worked on my machines so I'm certainly happy to help pay it forward as you look at yours.

    If you want to see a bit of the work I've done on my machines and get a look at the guts of a CNC while you're at it you can check out some of my rebuild videos:



    The rest of them: YouTube

    Buying a used machine is by no means a 'sure thing', but used machines have made a lot of people a lot of money and if you pick the right one you'll do fine!

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    To the OP Shawn ..
    forget 2000$ and a practical machine.

    Because You are not an experienced cnc owner, probably not well versed in old electronics, and need actual use of the machine, then probably the only clever practical choice for you is a fadal of some type.

    You will need to add about 5000$ low end, to get any practical use from the machine.
    Toolholders, collets, pullstuds, tools, inserts, metrology.
    Compressor, air cleaner, filters.
    Stuff.

    Many here could take most-any cnc machine and make it work, or refit it, so it makes parts.
    They can all charge 100$++ for their time, and the time will be 100-1000 hours to make machine x run decently.

    Where people here show fantastic recovered machines, the total economical cost if paid for would be 50.000++$ and up.
    It is not exactly "hard" on any part but you need to learn how, hours, and have the tools, $$, and do so, time..
    xx 30 parts and assemblies and stuff.

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    I was just literally in your exact position. After not finding any independent repair services near me in central VA, I just went with a Haas Mini Mill 2. It was 43k but on my first rodeo I couldn't justify the risk of a problematic machine. My next machine will be a lathe and am hoping I learn enough to buy that used.

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    Yeah one thing to be aware of for sure: if you buy a used machine that isn't 100% and have to pay someone else to fix it for you, that is going to get expensive *real* quick. I would only go that route if the machine was known good in most aspects but had some single issue that needed fixing... However in that situation ask yourself why the shop would be selling it if they can fix it easily.

    If I'd had to pay someone else to do the work on any of my machines just the labor would have cost me many, many, thousands of dollars.

    Working on your own machines is certainly doable, but you need to have a head for working safely. It would also help if you had some electronics knowledge/experience and have worked on some mechanical stuff like cars. If you haven't done any of that then I'd definitely recommend starting with a machine that has been well vetted at the very least. Find a machine that looks good, pay a tech to come inspect it for you and then go from there I guess.

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    All of y’all make great points and I thank everyone one of y’all for help bc it every single reply is helping me decide The direction I will go and also thank you guys for the encouragement and not discourage.I will reply to each persons comments separately so I don’t mash and mix everything up so, since some made similar comments there will be similar replies.

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    Vancbiker, when I see a cnc anything for 2 grand I start to have cold sweats bc the only thing comes to mind is why is this machine only 2000 dollars, especially when the machine looks like a 100,000 dollar mill and has a video of it cutting parts and looks good.It’s just hard to believe it’s anything but too good to be true. I also understand gems can be found and I’ll take a gem as long as it’s not in the rough. I hope I’m not hoping for too much.

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    Bobw,this is what I’m talking about, excellent post. See I didn’t know fadal was out of business and if I wouldve known they were,without knowing how available parts and help are to come by I would’ve passed that brand straight on up but now I’m very curious and will strongly consider. Thank you again

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    Bobw, also those controls seem to be inline with what I need to start with being that I am beginning.

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    Dualkit, I have many times asked myself what if I purchase a mill and it turns out to be a money pit that never works properly? That’s a scary thought bc I have one shot at this and it will probably be my only shot. Scary but like the lotto if you don’t play you can’t win.

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    As mentioned if you watch for a while you can find a Fadal for under ten grand. They are easy to fix and have available parts.

    I periodically see twenty five year old high end Japanese machining centers for that same price. The companies are still in business, but replacement parts are incredibly expensive.

    There are tons of open Bridgeport style machines with retrofitted CNC controls on the used market. Iíve heard the the Dynapath Delta control is virtually bulletproof. Centroid controllers are also very well respected and still supported.

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    Aarongough, I’m subscribed and pretty cool how they grind in a spindle while installed on the machine. And cool video period rebuilding the fadal,nice machine. I respect what you said about buying a fixer upper but I would like to get a decent/good running machine to start off with so i know what needs fixing when it breaks. In other words if I buy a machine that is no working there’s no telling what it will take to get it proper. That makes me think of another question I meant to ask. Would yall buy a machine that wasn’t under power,one that you couldn’t see go through powered travel and spindle speeds? I have so much to spend on a machine but don’t want to be able to buy enough tooling and good cad cam software to get me going but that’s probably a whole never post. Thank you again

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn_Laughlin View Post
    Dualkit, I have many times asked myself what if I purchase a mill and it turns out to be a money pit that never works properly? That’s a scary thought bc I have one shot at this and it will probably be my only shot. Scary but like the lotto if you don’t play you can’t win.
    How big are the parts?
    What material?
    $2,000 won't cover most shipping costs for a machine.
    I would ask that you get to be a bit more realistic about your actual budget but that does not seem to be in the cards at the moment.

    If your parts are small, buy a new or even used Sherline or Carbide 3D machine. Learn to machine in that parameter.

    Let's see.

    What costs $2,000 on a machine tool to repair?

    A new motor for an axis? Probably more
    A new spindle? More than $2k
    A new Spindle motor? More
    A master board for a Fadal? Maybe used for $2k
    Lube line and fittings? $2k maybe
    Turcite repair? Junk the machine if you have $2k for the whole project.

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    Plastic I’m so surprised you are the first to mention a hass, very surprised. Fadal and hass are the two I see talked about the most but hass I’ve seen mentioned more in my searches and was why I was leaning towards them. Also I’ve read that a lot of people love the controls or operating system of a hass.

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    Hanermo I agree with you and I havenít even thought of considering a 2000 dollar machine and just pass right over them. 8 to 9 is the lowest I want to go but would like to be in the 15 to 18 thou range. That would leave me money for tooling and misc things. Now this is just from comments Iíve read in the past but I figure I should be able to get a working machine for that. I know I wonít be spitting out 22Ē custom wheels with it but it might make enough money to buy a machine that will and thatís what I want to build up to. Hell,I seen a hass 5 axis for around 40,000 that I beleive had enough travel for making custom wheels but thatís a bit out of my range for right now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn_Laughlin View Post
    Hanermo I agree with you and I haven’t even thought of considering a 2000 dollar machine and just pass right over them. 8 to 9 is the lowest I want to go but would like to be in the 15 to 18 thou range. That would leave me money for tooling and misc things. Now this is just from comments I’ve read in the past but I figure I should be able to get a working machine for that. I know I won’t be spitting out 22” custom wheels with it but it might make enough money to buy a machine that will and that’s what I want to build up to. Hell,I seen a hass 5 axis for around 40,000 that I beleive had enough travel for making custom wheels but that’s a bit out of my range for right now.
    15 to 18 will get you a decent machine. Spend 15 and save some money for repairs. Again, if the parts are small and plastic, don't pass up the thought of a desk top new for well under $10k.

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    Fadal is not fully out of business FYI.


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