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    Default Small mill selection

    Hi all,

    My company is searching for a small milling machine to make mainly aluminum parts with the odd stainless and steel part. It would not be a production machine, but rather used for R&D. Things that are important to us are surface finish, accuracy, and speed. We did a pretty big deep diving into the Datron Neo and we like the compactness of it and it appears to be easy to use. But there seems to be a lot of chatter on the forums about the Neo not being a "real mill". I'm not sure how much this has to do with the actual functionality of the machine or are those comments coming from "purists".

    The other machines we've looked at, although not as deeply, are the Brother Speedio S300X1, Haas CM-1, Fanuc Robodrill and Willemin-Macodel 308S2. These machines are harder to use than Neo, but we do have a trained CNC operator in-house and two "hacks" (myself and another guy) who could figure out how to get by.

    A lot of members speak highly of the Speedio. It appears to be able to work with a broader range of materials. And some members claim it has better accuracy and surface finish than the Neo. Is this true?

    The Neo seems like it can be put anywhere, 2nd floor, on carpet, whatever. A Speedio seems more sensitive, but I don't actually know. Will it need to be in a temperature controlled room, smooth concrete floor? Will it have to leveled? The flooring really isn't an issue, but temperature control may be depending on where the machine get placed.

    Thanks for any feedback!

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    The Speedio S300X1 is solid. Weighs about 5000 lbs. Stocked with 16K rpm spindle and 21 Tool ATC. Brother recommends 17-25 deg C (63-77 F) operating temperature range with an acceptable operating range of 0-40 C (32-104 F). Temperature fluctuations are ideally 2 deg C per 8 hours or 1 deg C per hour is recommended. We have installed them in above ground floor situations.
    Last edited by BROTHERFRANK; 07-06-2021 at 04:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BROTHERFRANK View Post
    ideally 2 deg C per 8 hours or 1 deg C per hour is recommended.
    Well shit. My garage swings that by the second

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrewblob View Post
    Well shit. My garage swings that by the second
    Key words 'ideally and recommended' ! I am sure many shops are operating just fine outside of those 'recommendations'.

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    Which is better will depend on your parts. I've got a CM-1 arriving in a week or two; got the 50K RPM and five axis. Runs on single phase power, fits in a garage pretty easily. They used to call it the "Office Mill". That said, many of my parts are very small. If your parts are larger it won't be your best choice.

    From what you've described, a Mini Mill would probably suit. Only 6K RPM, unless you go to the Super Mini Mill which is 10K, but if you're just doing occasional R&D parts that shouldn't slow you down too much. You can get it as a 4 or 5 axis as needed. IMO the Haas controls are pretty user friendly. Oh, you will want the probing option no matter which machine you get. It saves so much time it just doesn't make sense not to.

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    So you have about a $200K spread from the high to low on that shopping list. What's the realistic budget number including tooling?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dakeddie View Post
    The other machines we've looked at, although not as deeply, are the Brother Speedio S300X1, Haas CM-1, Fanuc Robodrill and Willemin-Macodel 308S2. These machines are harder to use than Neo,
    Harder to use? How?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dakeddie View Post

    ... and two "hacks" (myself and another guy) who could figure out how to get by.
    That 'brashness' sounds like a very expensive accident waiting to happen...Twice!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    Harder to use? How?
    +1
    If you consider those hard, you probably need a 3d printer.

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    What are little parts in your world? Do they fit in a thimble or are they the size of a deck of cards?

    There is this state of mind I see over and over here on PM and else where when someone wants to make small parts they run straight to a small tiny machine...............do you want to make crappy small parts or do you want to make high quality small parts?............If'n they are super tiny.........that lil CM mill would be a good choice, but for anything bigger I'd go Speedio..................nah scratch that...............after owning a Speedio for only a few months(and owning Haas machines for close to 2 decades), I'd go Speedio.........................

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    Which is better will depend on your parts. I've got a CM-1 arriving in a week or two; got the 50K RPM and five axis. Runs on single phase power, fits in a garage pretty easily. They used to call it the "Office Mill". That said, many of my parts are very small. If your parts are larger it won't be your best choice.

    From what you've described, a Mini Mill would probably suit. Only 6K RPM, unless you go to the Super Mini Mill which is 10K, but if you're just doing occasional R&D parts that shouldn't slow you down too much. You can get it as a 4 or 5 axis as needed. IMO the Haas controls are pretty user friendly. Oh, you will want the probing option no matter which machine you get. It saves so much time it just doesn't make sense not to.
    Congrats on your incoming CM-1, that's exciting!

    I don't think the Mini Mill is the right fit for us, but a CM-1 could be. We will be using small end mills (~1mm) on almost all of our parts and hoping to take advantage of MCD tooling for finishing so we'll need a high spindle speed. I don't rightly know what the minimum RPM I should be looking at though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TKassoc View Post
    So you have about a $200K spread from the high to low on that shopping list. What's the realistic budget number including tooling?
    The Willemin-Macodel 308S2 is out of budget but the rest are within.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    Harder to use? How?
    The Neo has "protected areas" software which is a second layer of defense to prevent crashing the spindle. It also has a pretty slick touch screen GUI that is intuitive to use. I encourage you to check out the NYC CNC video on the Neo. Hardened CNC operators would probably hate it, but those new to the game might appreciate the ease of use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by david n View Post
    What are little parts in your world? Do they fit in a thimble or are they the size of a deck of cards?

    There is this state of mind I see over and over here on PM and else where when someone wants to make small parts they run straight to a small tiny machine...............do you want to make crappy small parts or do you want to make high quality small parts?............If'n they are super tiny.........that lil CM mill would be a good choice, but for anything bigger I'd go Speedio..................nah scratch that...............after owning a Speedio for only a few months(and owning Haas machines for close to 2 decades), I'd go Speedio.........................
    Our parts would be around 30mm x 150mm with some very tiny features measured in the tens of microns. The size of the machine is not driven by the part size but rather the budget and space available. We want to make good, high accuracy parts and that's why we are asking if a Neo can do as good as say a Speedio or Haas or what have you.

    It's good to know you'd prefer a Speedio over a Haas. What was it about the Speedio you liked? Or Haas you disliked?

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbter View Post
    That 'brashness' sounds like a very expensive accident waiting to happen...Twice!
    Yes, I'm worried about this! If we didn't have the trained CNC operator in-house, we would not be looking at other machines than the Neo.

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    I know these people personally and the OP is selling himself considerably short. The trained CNC guy they have there is super good, and in fact trained me how to use our then TM-2 a decade ago to the point where I made numerous parts via MasterCAM and never crashed it before I got kicked farther into management. I consider him pretty much the numerically strongest non-engineer I've ever met. The OP himself is an excellent design engineer with a ton of manual machining and fabrication experience. These guys are as good as the engineer-machine operator interface gets so don't worry they will be fine.

    Lots of people have used Super Mini Mills for machining microfluidic type structures with sub millimeter tooling so it can work. We have become pretty big fans of multi-axis machining, so in my view being able to upgrade to a trunnion like Haas's TRT-160 would be cool. So basically what I'm saying is you guys should get a Kern. Seriously though, I'm guessing the Speedio is outside office floor load ratings as that 5000lbs is not over a large area so the location and the single phase issue may be the key driver. Never forget access, I just went thought this again with a local hospital where the machine choice is driven by one stupid small door they need to get through.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dakeddie View Post
    Our parts would be around 30mm x 150mm with some very tiny features measured in the tens of microns. The size of the machine is not driven by the part size but rather the budget and space available. We want to make good, high accuracy parts and that's why we are asking if a Neo can do as good as say a Speedio or Haas or what have you.
    A Speedio is leaps and bounds beyond a Haas....................I would not put them in the same class of small machine.

    The Neo is a whole 'nother animal and I will admit, I don't know much about them...............but as far as a real vmc, they will fall short. They seem more of a piece of "lab" equipment. Very light, very fast, very user friendly(I guess?).................but every vid I've seen of them is just cringe worthy though.............fast(but slow cuz every cut is very very light), long flimsy tools, and parts are always aluminum or plastic...........................and ignore NYC CNC................seems like a good guy, but c'mon.......he's always sponsored by someone....................

    But if floor space is an issue? It's your call..............it's sucks if that is the deciding factor................

    Quote Originally Posted by dakeddie View Post
    It's good to know you'd prefer a Speedio over a Haas. What was it about the Speedio you liked? Or Haas you disliked?
    Haas machines have their place...............easy to run, easy to fix(and you will have to fix).............a Speedio is just a step or two above a similar size Haas. Fit and finish is superior. Speed is mind boggling.............and accuracy is better. The control interface is on par with a Haas once you get comfortable with it.............

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    Quote Originally Posted by dakeddie View Post
    Our parts would be around 30mm x 150mm with some very tiny features measured in the tens of microns. The size of the machine is not driven by the part size but rather the budget and space available. We want to make good, high accuracy parts and that's why we are asking if a Neo can do as good as say a Speedio or Haas or what have you.

    It's good to know you'd prefer a Speedio over a Haas. What was it about the Speedio you liked? Or Haas you disliked?
    There are a lot of Haas haters around here. IMO that's an opinion that was justified a decade ago, but Haas has really upped their game since then. The new UMC lines still have significant quirks to be ironed out, but the lines that they've been developing for decades are pretty solid. I have a 2015 VF-3SS here with a TR160Y that I've been using for Titanium bone plates and 17-4 H900 surgical implements, and it's done everything I've asked of it, including a production push running 24/7 for three months.

    With your part description I think either a Speedio or a CM-1 would be a good fit. The Speedio can get up to 27K RPM optional. The CM-1 is 30K standard, 50K optional. Speedio is 3 phase only, CM-1 can do either. The Speedio is a 30 taper, so can handle larger tools and heavier cuts than the CM-1's ISO 20, which you'll have limited holder options for (ER-11, ER-16, and ER-20 are the only options I've found).

    I think it comes down to this. If you want to be able to run cutters from 3" down to about .020", get the Speedio. For 1/2" down to .001" or smaller, get the CM-1.

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    I might just be my perception, but it seems like the Neo and to a lesser extent the CM-1 are very niche. If you're parts are inside that niche then great, but you don't have much wiggle room.

    I like Brothers, the Speedio koolaid is great and everyone should drink it, but that's already been covered well by DavidN. One question- why aren't there any rabid Robodrill fans?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dakeddie View Post
    I encourage you to check out the NYC CNC video on the Neo.
    You couldn't pay me enough to watch that hack's videos. So I'll take your word for it.


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