Seeking Advice, Garage Mill for Prototype and Short Run Production?
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  1. #1
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    Default Seeking Advice, Garage Mill for Prototype and Short Run Production?

    Hello,

    I'm looking for a CNC Mill for use in my detached garage (home shop). It's primary purpose would be small production runs and prototyping.

    A little back story,
    I'm not new to CNC, but not very experienced either. In my late teens I built a little CNC router which I have used primarily to limp by with cutting aluminum. Now in my mid 20s, I'm a CS designer for my day job, first learned CAD on SolidWorks and now use Fusion 360 for my home projects (I've been using F360 CAM for a while too), So I'm not concerned about the CAD/CAM side of things.

    I started a company about 8 months ago manufacturing and selling a product I designed for the shooting sports industry. I've got a small fleet of 3D printers churning out parts, and I use my little router to cut a few aluminum components to the product. I'd like to phase out the 3D printing on some parts and I've got a few ideas for new products, but they are not products I would want to print.

    Use Conditions,
    • Single Phase machine - I only have 220V 100A service to my shop. So I don't believe I even have the wattage to run a VFD/Phase converter to power a 208/480 VMC, considering I also have lights and an air compressor to run at the same time.
    • Production size - I'm estimating my production output would be 50-300 parts a week roughly 2-4" cubed dimensions.
    • Materials - Nylon and Aluminum would be the primary materials, but also need speeds/feeds/torque for SS, mild steel, and hopefully Titanium.
    • ATC is a must.
    • Minimum of 20" on the X axis for some potential longer parts.
    • I do have a day job, and don't want to dedicate my entire free time to manufacturing, so large bed size and reasonably fast feed rates are important to me.


    Questions,
    • I've been looking at the HAAS Tool Room and Mini Mills. And I'm leaning towards the TM2P or TM3P because of the bed size and increased feed rates. Do these sound like reasonable machines for my conditions?
    • I haven't been able to find any other VMCs that have similar specs which can operate at either the voltage or the wattage of the TM and Mini Mills. Are there other manufactures or machines I'm overlooking?
    • I'd like to spend less than 30K (the cheaper I can find one, the sooner I can buy one as I'm using company generated revenue to fund this), so I'm looking at the used market. Are their important things to keep in mind with a used machine, like spindle hours, material it was used on or anything like that? Additionally, is this a purchase where it really is best to buy new?


    Thanks

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    Sorry I don't have any machine specific suggestions, but I do have this. - You have 100 amps. That's plenty to do plenty with, especially as it sort of sounds like you'll mostly be working alone. Meaning other then the air compressor at times, only one machine will be running at any given time. I ran a shop in my garage for many years. Granted I had 150 amps, but never blew the roof off the main or any lesser breaker. That was with a 40 taper VMC and big knee mill, a lathe, grinders, saws, shaper, you name it.

    I think limiting yourself to single phase machines will severely limit your machine tool choices. The ancillary equipment not so much. Just sayin...

    30K does sound serious enough to get you going. Oh... watch out for machines that have run red metals and/or cast iron their whole life. Yikes!

    Dave

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    Paging Bobw to copy and paste the Fadal manifesto in this thread...

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    I think getting a tool changer is almost as big as getting into CNC

    The used HAAS market has enough in it that you should find something in your budget, as unimpressed as I am with them, if you are not removing a ton of material, they will do fine

    Avoid unsupported machines, older iron that no one supports can be really cheap, but if it breaks you can be screwed

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    Bobw will be here shortly to give you the rundown on Fadals and he speak a lot of truth. I would recommend watching craigslist and the location auction sites for examples. I just saw two 1999 2016s go for 10K each in the Portland area that were under power and running parts.

    They come up down here all the time in various conditions. Plus other machines from the mid 90s pop up that can do the same job. Somebody on here just picked up a sharp(?) in the same price range and got it running parts for the marine industry.

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    Another brand to look at is Brother. There are tons of older ones out there.

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    Thank you everyone for your replies!

    In regards to power, I was using the HAAS VF series mills power requirements (70A at 220V 3ph), but have not looked closely at any other machines. Granted, I know they spec'd 70A as a full load current and I would likely not see that much, but regardless, that's the number I ran with just in case. That would equate to a 26.674KW load using phase to phase voltage and assuming a perfect power factor. At 220v single phase that would mean I'd need 121A and likely a bit more assuming some losses in phase converting and PF imbalance.

    Someone please correct me if I messed up in my above calculations.

    I have heard good things about the Fadals, but I couldn't find power requirements on Fadal's website or on the machine datasheets, perhaps I overlooked them.

    Thanks again everyone for your replies, you guys have already provided me with a lot I was unaware of.

    I'll do a little more looking into Fadal machines as I await Bobw's input.

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    Fadal 3016 (30x16 work area)is 40/45amps 230VAC(3ph)

    If you find one single phase it is 60amps 230VAC

    Far as I know, this will cover mid-90s on.

    Fred

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    I have run as many as three Haas machines simultaneously on 100 amp service... and an air conditioner, tumbler, air compressor, lights and a beer fridge. I never tripped the main breaker. I actually like the little Haas machines. I run them non-stop to the limits of their capabilities. I also program and setup the bigger Haas machines and a variety of Mori, Brother, and other "real" machines. I don't feel overly limited in comparison until I start running production that involves large amounts of metal removal... then I have a little spindle envy.

    I've had little single phase Haas machines since the day they were introduced at Westec, so I understand the limitations and have tailored my programming to suit their anemic nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhrider123 View Post
    Are there other manufactures or machines I'm overlooking?
    You probably won't consider this because people get wants in their heads that overpower needs. It's kinda like the small-head big-head deal. But ...

    An older Hurco - the ones that look like a Bridgeport - will do what you want and cost five to seven thousand. Yeah, you gotta swap tools. Oh my, with a kwik-switch spindle that takes ten seconds. And you have to watch it. Oh my, you're making parts in the garage, really need those production numbers up there, maybe Chryser will call next week.

    The twenty thousand dollars you will save are not easy to come by. Having 20k to play with is worth a lot more than a tool changer or an enclosure at this stage. I can buy a broom for five bucks.

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    My take on the power available.

    With a mill, it really doesn't matter as much.. The spindle and tools are
    small and spool up really easy... You can run a 20hp machine on less than
    30amps. Where the big power #'s come in is when you are taking a big cut,
    and that doesn't happen often, and you can calculate how big of a cut you
    can take, its not hard, and its something you occasionally have to do
    even if you have the power and the machine doesn't.

    If we are talking lathes, Big heavy spindles, big diameter, and a big ass
    honking chuck hanging off the end, plus material.. That takes power, you
    could probably get a 40 taper spindle moving with a 9 volt battery if you
    had to.


    Without giving any specific recommendations (y'all know my recommendation)...
    Parts and Support.. If you can't get parts and support, (And AFFORD them),
    you might as well just buy a giant boat anchor and have the rigger take
    it straight to the scrap yard.

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    Good Insights.

    My thoughts with the ATC is (and this is probably a terrible habit, but I'm likely to do it anyways) I can load the stock, press "play" and walk away. Either using that freedom to package products for shipping, or spend time in the house with the family.

    I totally understand an ATC is not a need, but seeing as this is a week nights gig after my day job, I really want to maximize my free time to keep my sanity and maintain family time.

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    Congrats having a part/product..seems a few nice machines in the San Francisco bay area,,

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    Sharp SV-2412 worth looking at. Mid-2000's era should be less than 20K.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhrider123 View Post
    Hello,

    [*]Single Phase machine - I only have 220V 100A service to my shop. So I don't believe I even have the wattage to run a VFD/Phase converter to power a 208/480 VMC, considering I also have lights and an air compressor to run at the same time.
    My whole house has a 100amp Panel and I am running a 3 phase 10hp (real 10hp not Haas HP) machine plus everything that goes along with it, compressor, lights, wife watching tv.....

    Don't believe the Haas numbers, thats assuming you are taking a huge cut thats about to stall the spindle. Average machine use is using less than 20amps single phase.

    My opinion: If you have a day job, and a product ready to machine on day 1, consider buying new. Don't know about you but for me, trying to juggle service techs and trouble shooting stuff outside of working hours isn't worth it. When I get home at night I don't want to fix the machine, I want to run parts. For that reason I bought new.

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    These machines Freds is selling are to big for you?
    Son of Fadals for sale (Nor. Cal.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhrider123 View Post
    Good Insights.

    My thoughts with the ATC is (and this is probably a terrible habit, but I'm likely to do it anyways) I can load the stock, press "play" and walk away. Either using that freedom to package products for shipping, or spend time in the house with the family.

    I totally understand an ATC is not a need, but seeing as this is a week nights gig after my day job, I really want to maximize my free time to keep my sanity and maintain family time.
    Based on my past experience (run of 400 parts,using 7 tools), I will never by a machine without an ATC again.. Human ATC's are expensive

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post
    Without giving any specific recommendations (y'all know my recommendation)...
    Parts and Support.. If you can't get parts and support, (And AFFORD them),
    you might as well just buy a giant boat anchor and have the rigger take
    it straight to the scrap yard.
    Assuming I go the Fadal route, are there any years I should avoid? or years I should look for?
    How much maintenance should I expect? How much should I expect to spend over a 5-10 year service life?

    Thanks for your input!

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    Thanks again everyone for the input!

    This machine is about 3 hours away from me, Few questions on it.
    FADAL VMC42 CNC Runs Great!!! - heavy equipment - by owner - sale

    1) Running with the prices Freds has listed on the above linked thread and a few machines on ebay, I would expect roughly 12k sale price, does that sound reasonable?
    2) Should I expect some sort of documentation on the "inspection" and "ball testing?"
    3) Should I request the hours on the machine? or do they not really matter?

    Any considerations I'm not thinking about?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhrider123 View Post
    Assuming I go the Fadal route, are there any years I should avoid? or years I should look for?
    How much maintenance should I expect? How much should I expect to spend over a 5-10 year service life?

    Thanks for your input!
    All depends on the previous usage. Buy one of the ones from Freds and you can expect low cost for many years. Buy one pretty painted from a dealer and you never know.


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