Southwestern Industries Bed Mills
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  1. #1
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    Default Southwestern Industries Bed Mills

    I wanted to ask anyone who has used the newest version of the smx control on the southwestern bed mills what they have found as not good. I like these mills for what I want it for. I know there not machining centers so I have less capabilities. What concerns me is annoying things about the new controls. For one I have heard there is an issue and a pain with editing for offsets and for memory of control to keep in the program. I would think if you write all the programs in cam and adjust there you should always have it. Again that's an assumption I never used any of southwestern industries machines or controls. I like what I see visually in the bed mill for my use.

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    I used to use the RX2 bed mill, the one with an R8 taper. The conversational control was decent for 2.5d parts with simple features. Even though the machine had glass scales, it would interpolate some holes out of round by 0.004" (wide along the X axis). Not sure if they're still building them with DC servos, but the Z would backdrive from a 3/4" drill in steel.

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    Default Southwestern control

    Quote Originally Posted by generic default View Post
    i used to use the rx2 bed mill, the one with an r8 taper. The conversational control was decent for 2.5d parts with simple features. Even though the machine had glass scales, it would interpolate some holes out of round by 0.004" (wide along the x axis). Not sure if they're still building them with dc servos, but the z would backdrive from a 3/4" drill in steel.
    thanks for input, it helps.

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    We have a lot of these machines. Infact everything but their 2nd op.

    What is your reason for choosing this machine? what are your intentions?

    For basic parts with loose dimensions programmed by someone with ZERO knowledge these are great. You already mention CAM so I think you're over qualified for this machine. If you have run a real VMC you will be displeased with this machine. If you score a good used one for the price of a coffee snag it. If you're considering new, reconsider.

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    Thanks Much, This is very helpful for me your experience with these machines. Are you speaking late model and controls, Or you feel they really haven't changed much?
    Thanks again

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Generic Default View Post
    I used to use the RX2 bed mill, the one with an R8 taper. The conversational control was decent for 2.5d parts with simple features. Even though the machine had glass scales, it would interpolate some holes out of round by 0.004" (wide along the X axis). Not sure if they're still building them with DC servos, but the Z would backdrive from a 3/4" drill in steel.
    .
    had a rep install new scale on old prototrak plus and he has a sheet of special modes on all their models. one special mode is backlash compensation. in general it will work much better at making round holes after the special calibration mode is done. unless a pulley is loose or some mechanical problem it cant compensate for
    .
    the other special mode is DRO calibration. you use special mode and a 4.0000 gage block up against a stop with test indicator at spindle you zero indicator and DRO, remove gage block and move til indicator zero on the stop gage block was against. basically if DRO says 3.9990 you tell it in special mode it moved 4.0000 and it adjusts the scale in control. you do this in X and Y and it will fix the DRO scale error. suppose to run scale calibration and backlash compensation check yearly. unfortunately its not in the regular manuals. its more a advanced maintenance repair thing
    .
    backlash compensation of .004" is not unusual.

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    Who old is the RX2? I can't find anything about it other than SWI has a line of DPM RX* machines with RMX controller. TRAK DPM RX2 Bed Mill

    I have a SWI knee mill with SM controller. The local sale engr. told me that the difference between the SM and SMX was the OS kernal and a few other items. The SM is Windows 95 based and SMX is 98. They may have upgraded the OS kernal to a latter version of Windows, such as 7. You would have to check with SWI for that. Do you have a SWI sales engineer in your area? Call and talk to them or call the factory, 310-608-4422.

    Tom

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    RMX is the latest and greatest control featuring touch screen operation. Looks like a HSM toolpath is now an available option too. Otherwise seems to be same as the SMX. Tool offsets are not stored with the program. You delete that program or load a new one and your offsets are gone. I think these are a good machine and have their place. I regularly calibrate mine with a 12" standard and .00005 indicator and have no problems with hole location or interpolation, usually get .0004 or better. Will say I think that new the mills are overpriced. Strongly suggest you visit your local dealer. Get hands on with a demo machine and make sure it will do 100% of what you expect.

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    Thanks I will look into that if I decide to continue for the SWI mill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sure View Post
    I wanted to ask anyone who has used the newest version of the smx control on the southwestern bed mills what they have found as not good. I like these mills for what I want it for. I know there not machining centers so I have less capabilities. What concerns me is annoying things about the new controls. For one I have heard there is an issue and a pain with editing for offsets and for memory of control to keep in the program. I would think if you write all the programs in cam and adjust there you should always have it. Again that's an assumption I never used any of southwestern industries machines or controls. I like what I see visually in the bed mill for my use.
    .
    older prototraks had a 300 line program limit and sometimes limit was in the 200-300 program lines. normally its not a problem
    .
    some prototraks have manual handles you turn by hand and feel cutting resistance. others have electronic handles you turn but feel nothing as its all electronic. just saying be aware of that if you want manual handles and want to feel resistance .

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    I run a 2016 machine with the SMX control every couple of weeks and I despise the control. That any company offers a machine that loses its offsets when you load a program is unthinkable to me. This is 2018 for god's sake!

    Running a Prototrak feels like running a machine from 1992.

    I think BSCustoms said it best:

    Quote Originally Posted by BSCustoms View Post
    You already mention CAM so I think you're over qualified for this machine. If you have run a real VMC you will be displeased with this machine. If you score a good used one for the price of a coffee snag it. If you're considering new, reconsider.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by register View Post
    I run a 2016 machine with the SMX control every couple of weeks and I despise the control. That any company offers a machine that loses its offsets when you load a program is unthinkable to me. This is 2018 for god's sake!

    Running a Prototrak feels like running a machine from 1992.

    I think BSCustoms said it best:
    THANKS RPI, Really good info!

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    I ran 3 or 4 versions of Prototrak mills over 15 years. I was happy with them for what they are designed for: low run production, onesie twosie jobs, non production stuff. We had some Cincinnati’s for production work, all the harder non operator work went to the trak mill department. The only problem we had was having to replace the entire control screen box every couple years. The last one i had had the sx control, and i really liked being able to import dxf files. We programmed them all at the machine. Cam is almost pointless with them, at least in my opinion. For most parts i could use the conversation programming and be ready to go in 5 minutes. I did save all my programs. Tool lengths were always saved in my programs, but if you had the glass scale on the quill i could reset all my tools in 2 minutes anyways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by evilusions View Post
    I ran 3 or 4 versions of Prototrak mills over 15 years. I was happy with them for what they are designed for: low run production, onesie twosie jobs, non production stuff. We had some Cincinnati’s for production work, all the harder non operator work went to the trak mill department. The only problem we had was having to replace the entire control screen box every couple years. The last one i had had the sx control, and i really liked being able to import dxf files. We programmed them all at the machine. Cam is almost pointless with them, at least in my opinion. For most parts i could use the conversation programming and be ready to go in 5 minutes. I did save all my programs. Tool lengths were always saved in my programs, but if you had the glass scale on the quill i could reset all my tools in 2 minutes anyways.
    Our Prototrak lathe has needed the screen/enclosure assembly replaced twice in the last 15 years. I guess it's par for electronics (?).

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    I have a DPM with the SMX controller and I love the machine. For what it is intended it is solid and fairly accurate. It will mill holes round within .0005" - .001". I use it for a lot of one or two piece 3D work and it is fantastic. I almost NEVER program at the machine - so as far as the conversational aspect - I couldn't care less.

    We have a couple of Cincinnati's that we use for production runs or where there are a lot of tool changes - but for onesie twosie stuff and for the job shop - I love them.

    I have run a couple of these DPM's and have had relatively few maintenance issues. I would buy another one in a heart beat.

    For the job shop or the toolroom I think they are far more versatile than a fullblown machining center. I love being able to get close to the vise without leaning way over and if we have a large part that we need to hang off the bed there are no issues with having to pay attention to crashing into sheet metal or breaking out a window.


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