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    Default Hmc questions

    Hey everyone, my shop is currently looking at possibly purchasing our first horizontal machining center. We have some verticals now but we’re getting into jobs that require multiple set ups and we’re thinking a hmc could really help with cycle time and save on setups.

    I know there are a ton of brands out there and I know a lot of people are going to say something like “get a machine that has great local service” or “the right machine really depends on what mat’l your cutting”. There is a local dealer who does most service and I mostly cut steel like 1020, 4140, 4340 with the occasional 40+ Rockwell thrown in.

    We’re looking at all the big brands with 400 or 500 mm pallets Okuma, makino, doosan, dmg-mori. As well as some “lesser known” brands like kitamura, okk, kiwa,toyoda and even grob.

    My main question is does anyone have much experience with Kitamura? They are box way machines with rapids just as fast as most linear guides and claim tolerances about as good as a jig bore all with a 12000 rpm geared head(cat 50) or a 20,000 rpm geared head (cat 40) both are big plus…… almost seems to good to be true…. The thing is that I don’t know anyone that has one, most guys I know with hmc’s have makinos, okumas, Mori, or doosans… there is a part of me that wonders why more people don’t have these when the pricing is equal or less then the high end brands like makino or okuma.

    If you have any experience with any of the other machines and would like to share that would also be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

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    I was at a company for five years that had 5 Kitamura horizontals of various sizes and ages. When new, they're great. As they get old, the Turcite will wear, and they'll get sloppy. The old ones also had a problem with the pallet retention system; I could push the tombstone at the top .005" by hand on the oldest, which was I believe around 25 years old.

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    I have a Kitamura 2001 Mycenter 1 that ran 24/7 for it's first 10 years before I bought it that I love. It is their BT30 machine but it is very robust and dead accurate in all axis. The ways are still in great shape, although I do need to "fit" the head straps to take up the wear. It has 2000 ipm rapids but also has big fat fine pitch ball screws, they don't cheat and use coarse pitch screws to attain those rapids. Whenever I have needed parts they were always in stock and appropriately priced. There are no cheap parts on the machine to fail prematurely so reliability has been flawless in the 10 years I have had it. Phone tech is good and free even though I bought it used.

    I have heard that the extra tools on the horizontals can have real slow change times and that their chip-to-chip tool change times are not quite as fast as they say. It would be a good idea to have them run a part of yours to see it in person but that goes with any machine. I would say they would be high on my list if I were looking for a machine like that.

    I love box ways and think they are far superior to linear. They are far more durable in a crash but do use a lot more way lube. Some will talk about stick-slip being a problem but I can't get my mill to do it at all, not even letting it sit for an hour then manually moving it a tenth at a time.

    Anyway, that's my 2cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidScott View Post
    They are far more durable in a crash but do use a lot more way lube.
    This is true. Those old Kits went through a huge amount of oil. They had to fill them up every night.

    Box way machines are great for old fashioned programming with heavy cuts. I'd much prefer a linear way machine with modern programming; it'll last longer. As long as it's rollers instead of balls, the load capacity can be pretty close to that of box ways.

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    We have a new Mazak HCN-5000 and have been really happy with it. It's a big machine with lots going on, so there's more maintenance, more little things that can crop up, etc. But Mazak support has been great thus far and the machine itself is great -- rigid, accurate, fast, great control.

    I have no direct experience with any other horizontals, so take this only as a single piece of anecdata.

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    A friend has a Kitamura and it's done very well for him. With that said, machine construction has its pros and cons.

    Box way is great for heavy cutting, interrupted cuts, and high torque applications. Roller guides offer more speed, lighter weight and great accuracy.

    I used to work for Doosan and we offered both designs on HMCs as well as the other machines, and both had their following.
    If I were doing a lot of heavy hogging in stainless or tough steels, and running large insert drills, I'd probably go box construction.

    I'm partial to Okuma, but the other guys have their following as well. Mazak makes a gorgeous mill as does Makino.

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    If rigidity is a major concern, consider a 50-taper 500mm machine.

    We just got a 21-pallet DMG Mori NHX5500 (CAT50, 500mm), our fourth horizontal from them. All our NHXs are roller guide. The spindle makes a much more noticeable difference than the slideway type.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhajicek View Post
    Box way machines are great for old fashioned programming with heavy cuts. I'd much prefer a linear way machine with modern programming; it'll last longer. As long as it's rollers instead of balls, the load capacity can be pretty close to that of box ways.
    Don't tell my box way machine, it doesn't know it's not supposed to run "modern" programming. What do you think 2000 ipm rapids and fat fine pitch ball screws mean?

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    I think Kitamura is probably a big step above Mazak, but not in the same league as Japanese designed and built Mori or Okuma's and Makino is what the rest wish they could be. I have only seen one new 400MM Doosan HMC and the company that ran all Haas's said they loved it, but it looked like a pile of shit to me and I think they just didn't know the difference.

    I have a big Kitamura vertical and I own it because I got great deal on it. I feel like there must some Germans working at Kitamura. Lots of things are way more complicated than they should be- Way more complex than better machines. The toolchanger is wildy over thought. It works well because I can fix it, it's very accurate, Kitamura customer service is great.

    I know that the place I got it from has several 4 year old Kit HMC's around 600 MM that eat steel all day. I don't believe they are disappointed with them, but if they could go back in time I get the feeling they'd have bought something else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhajicek View Post
    Box way machines are great for old fashioned programming with heavy cuts. I'd much prefer a linear way machine with modern programming; it'll last longer. As long as it's rollers instead of balls, the load capacity can be pretty close to that of box ways.
    Gotta call you out on that one. Nothing wrong with a box way machine doing HSM work. Most premium verticals are boxway, and have no problem hauling ass. I'll take a box way DMG MORI NVX over the linear way CMX any day for any application.

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    Okay, we have a 2000 makino a88, and a 2005 kitamura hx400if that I can compare. I CAN'T give you an idea of how the machines and manuals are designed in the last few years, but I would imagine both have improved.


    Manuals:

    The makino's manual is immaculate when it comes to service. The manual is HUGE, we have a PDF of it. Any alarm or limit switch number you have trouble with? They have it listed, easy to find, and diagrams and pictures of how to adjust or replace just about anything. The programming manual is decent. The amount of m-codes is huge. Switch numbers and alarm numbers seem to be standard across makino machine model numbers (as evident by some posts I've chimed in on answering others' makino questions). The parts manuals are very thorough.

    The Kitamura's manual is a joke. This is the third kitamura we've had, the first two were mid 90's machines. This one being 2005, we thought they'd have figured out how to write a manual. They have NOT. There's very little information about servicing the machine, including switches and signal names. Only things they talk about fixing are really complicated things, like how to re-home pallet change servos or what to do if the tool changer get stuck. The parts manual is pretty good though. Keep reading, we do have one beef with kitamura's parts manual.

    Machine dependability and serviceability:

    The makino is way more machine than the kitamura. There are so many more bells and whistles to break. But after 13 years on our floor, very little has gone wrong. It is actually EASY to fix (kinda). Makino has a PARTS WEBSITE YOU CAN BUY PARTS FROM. YES, SEARCH, POINT, AND CLICK. IT IS AMAZING. The kitamura is simpler. It has only been on our floor for a year. It was well taken care of before it got here and not much has gone wrong with it. The only complaints I have are the x and y way covers were kinda shot. We swapped the left and right roll up way cover (reinforced rubber roll up), they were expensive if you wanted to buy from kitamura. The Y way cover is telescopic, and the "arms" of the telescoping mechanism were worn out (there are pins retained by snap rings). That was also very expensive so I replaced all the pins and snap rings with bigger ones. Our local distributor is meh, and you have to order parts thru the distributor. There's no website like makino has.

    If I wanted to buy new parts for the telescoping way cover for the makino, I can look at the manual and find each pin, each washer, each bar, and find the part number for it. The kitamura's manual only lists the whole way cover, and there was no way to buy a single part for said way cover. If you trash it, they want you to buy a new one.


    Accuracy: The kitamura is more accurate, but it has finer encoders. It was spec'd with accuracy in mind, even has options like nurbs and others. The makino was spec'd with production in mind. Both machines are pretty damn accurate anyway, there's not much of a difference between them.


    What I like about the makino more: the spindle load monitoring on our 2000 makino is great. I would imagine nowadays it's even more slick. This is basic spindle load monitoring, and also adaptive control. You can do either or. The Kitamura has "K-monitor" that pretends like it will work, but I haven't gotten it to work out very well. The manual on using the makino's tool monitoring is decent, the Kitamura's manual is standard engrish and simply doesn't work like I would expect, seems cumbersome, and not sure it actually will do what the makino will do with ease.



    Sorry if that doesn't answer the question of how the machines compare with each other nowadays. I hope both brands have improved in the last 15-20 years.

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    I agree Kitamura manuals are horrible. No rhyme or reason to how it's organized. The only way to find most things is to read through it cover to cover and put sticky notes on any page that might be relevant to what you're doing. Kitamura is helpful if you call them though. You'd sure think they'd figure out how to make a better manual so people didn't need to call so much.

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    We scanned the manual and made the pdf searchable. That helps.


    Another issue. This 2005 machine has a chip control issue. There are traps by the operator and tool change doors that get filled with chips. Also the sides of the rotary table also get chips packed in. The older makino has no chip traps in those places. Again, this might not apply to newer machines. It is worth looking at how it will handle chips. Both machines are dual ballscrew with a trough in the middle under the spindle.

    My boss posted this to the machine early last year as a reminder:

    20220114_164935.jpg


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