Are there any small footprint but rigid CNC machines for prototyping?
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    Default Are there any small footprint but rigid CNC machines for prototyping?

    Hi,

    I'm a beginner when it comes to machining and so far I've been working exclusively with manual machines but I'm thinking about prototyping a product. A CNC machine would be great for quick iterations and I also don't want to outsource it because I want to minimize costs and a feedback loop. That's why I've been looking into CNC machines lately and I mainly found either somewhat big machining centers (like Haas or sth like that) or smaller machines that don't look very rigid. The ideal machine for me would be something that I would call "rigid table top CNC". For prototyping I don't necessarily need a tool changing carousel or a coolant system, but I don't want to waste time dealing with chatter or other problems that are common to small CNC machines. From what I've read a big difference between older very rigid machines and newer, usually Chinese, machines is the weight - heavy cast iron parts were replaced by lighter parts machined from steel and aluminum. So I was looking for a "small cast iron CNC machine", but I haven't found much, mainly Chinese machines or castings that were hard to judge because it's hard to find any reviews or youtube videos about them. For example something like this:

    machine-tool-mini-cnc-milling-machine-cast-iron-frame-metal-cnc-engraver-3-axis-wood-router.jpg

    Now the question is why is it the case? Is there no need for such a machine and that's why they're not really popular? Am I missing something?

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    I suspect part of the problem is that by the time you design, specify parts, and machine/build/support a machine of that nature your cost is close to that of a "full size" CNC, and so the market is likely limited.

    It's not zero, so perhaps someone could go through the full exercise and market such a machine. Maybe a full of energy youngster could produce a Generic machine, maybe even by Default...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    I suspect part of the problem is that by the time you design, specify parts, and machine/build/support a machine of that nature your cost is close to that of a "full size" CNC, and so the market is likely limited.

    It's not zero, so perhaps someone could go through the full exercise and market such a machine. Maybe a full of energy youngster could produce a Generic machine, maybe even by Default...
    Or their more pointy eared counterparts … / Greek Gods of fire

    The Most Capable Mill in its Class| Vulcan Machining Co

    ^^^ You can see what VulcanMachineCo. is getting up to these days.

    There are a few threads with the VulcanmachineCo. guys here on PM forum. ---> A new cast iron 3 axis challenger weighing in at over 600lbs!

    @Drogus they ^^^ seem to be addressing the problem you set out, whereas some more Generic offerings by default are focusing on 5 axis mill turn capabilities in Aluminum... Actually the machine IS made of aluminum !

    SwissMak - The Mill Turn Center for your machine shop by Overlord Robotics Corporation — Kickstarter

    ^^^ you can help "Kickstart" such a machine if you so choose to do so. but aluminum mill turn machine may not be what you are after judging by your first post.

    If you read Wayne R Moore's book of "Foundations of Mechanical Accuracy" you discover most of the reasons and techniques for close grained structure Meehanite / cast iron and methods for casting machining and scrapping etc. to not introduce stresses and heterogeneous warping of the cast iron under certain conditions.

    There are many deep and well researched reasons why cast iron is considered to be dimensionally very stable over the long term.

    Granite has better vibration dampening properties.

    Also from a mechatronics point of view check out the German Macroreps guy (he's doing a really good job IMO for a top drawer "Home-brew" machine. Seems it will be a LOT more accurate than Tormach, VulcanmachineCo and Swissmak.

    YouTube

    ^^^ Link to marcoreps channel... [Pretty decent 300KG machine built from tool steel .].

    One of the things that some of these nascent builders don't really want to get is the "Cubic" relationship between work volume and rigidity / deflection within the machine's structure. IF they made a machine that had a smaller working volume and much less Z travel then you could theoretically build a pretty rigid machine that would WORK on a "Bench" / stand.
    ~ Also spindle and spindle torque does not scale very well so a proportionately much bigger spindle relative to the machine's size is needed.

    Tormach --> easy to google (smaller machines ) not super precise.

    HAAS actually has a literal desktop machine : Desktop Mill | Training Mill | Compact CNC | Vertical Mills – Haas CNC Machines

    ^^^ Really for learning and cutting plastic or machinable wax, interesting layout though.

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    all the answers to OP "questions" are in the swissmak un "600 pound challenger" (I think the topic was named something like that) discussions , the is no reason to continue this one unless you want to discuss used machines, Fehlmann for instance has couple older machines that might be called "desktop"

    p.s. that haas desktop contraption has "chinese" written all over it, I guess they tried to equalize that with the US flag in the pictures....

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    Quote Originally Posted by jz79 View Post
    all the answers to OP "questions" are in the swissmak un "600 pound challenger" (I think the topic was named something like that) discussions , the is no reason to continue this one unless you want to discuss used machines, Fehlmann for instance has couple older machines that might be called "desktop"

    p.s. that haas desktop contraption has "chinese" written all over it, I guess they tried to equalize that with the US flag in the pictures....
    Some of the Fehlman machines I looked into (verticals) cost as much a Makino F3 and F5... I like their design for more hands on integration with CNC and high precision work but the price tags were off the map / sticker shock.

    Not to be picky but Swissmak and Vulcanmachine company are two different entities although people confabulate the two. Sometimes VulcanMachine company "Peeps" chime in to straighten out the distinction.

    The "600 lb contender" was VulcanmachineCo ----> 3 axis desktop.

    Swissmak thread(s)

    And

    SwissMak Anyone Know What Happened

    And There was the original Swissmak intro thread by Generic Default. That seems more difficult to find (will find it).

    Swissmak is / was / is ? made by "Overlord Robotics Corportaion " not...


    Vulcan Machine Co.

    __________________________________________________ _________________________________________


    Starting a small machine tool manufacturing business

    "starting-small-machine-tool-manufacturing-business"

    ^^^ this was the first swissmak thread from Generic Default (was quite well received initially).

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    "un" was meant to be "and", I meant to suggest to read both of those topics, they pretty much cover everything about this table top cnc subject, short answer is - it makes no financial sense to design and make one that will be good and hold tolerances in metals

    about Fehlmanns, yes, post 2000 VMCs are expensive, rarely there will be one for sale for less than 15-20k, and it would not be smart for a beginner to spend that much for old used machine, supposedly they are very capable and rigid machines though

    but by older I meant Picomax 51 cnc, there was also a bit larger one, started with 8x, they are round column machines that resemble chinese mill drills, but that is where the similarities end, sometimes they pop up for couple k on auctions, cnc versions are A LOT cheaper than manual ones actually, those old electronics scare people away... my Picomax 51 has been quite reliable so far though, after a fair bit of maintenance

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    Quote Originally Posted by jz79 View Post
    "un" was meant to be "and", I meant to suggest to read both of those topics, they pretty much cover everything about this table top cnc subject, short answer is - it makes no financial sense to design and make one that will be good and hold tolerances in metals

    about Fehlmanns, yes, post 2000 VMCs are expensive, rarely there will be one for sale for less than 15-20k, and it would not be smart for a beginner to spend that much for old used machine, supposedly they are very capable and rigid machines though

    but by older I meant Picomax 51 cnc, there was also a bit larger one, started with 8x, they are round column machines that resemble chinese mill drills, but that is where the similarities end, sometimes they pop up for couple k on auctions, cnc versions are A LOT cheaper than manual ones actually, those old electronics scare people away... my Picomax 51 has been quite reliable so far though, after a fair bit of maintenance


    So for this machine a few years ago I was quoted nearly $200K (new). It's a 'Swiss' + machine tool thing.


    I should check out the second hand market you are taking about , more relevant to OP as he/she is in Germany rather than the USA.

    In general some of the dealers of European high precision smaller equipment in the USA charge a LOT... So ironically production grade equipment is usually cheaper by comparison. (shrugging shoulders ).

    I'll check out the picomax 51 (thanks for the tip ).

    __________________________________________________ ____________________


    I google picomax 51 (top page) --> Fehlmann Picomax 51 CNC 2, reference info, pictures

    What-do-yah-know @Jz79 great looking thread , will dig in , nice pictures too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drogus View Post
    Now the question is why is it the case? Is there no need for such a machine and that's why they're not really popular? Am I missing something?
    It boils down to the cost of labor.

    From the buying side, one can finance a real machine, e.g. a Haas VF2 at $50K base price, for around $1K/month (60-72 month term). Add a couple hundred for options and a tooling certificate. Reduce a few hundred if buying used. This is cheap enough to where the cost of the equipment is already much lower than the cost of the labor. Reducing costs further wouldn't be a game changer.

    From the builder's side, the cost of labor for assembly and support is often underestimated in the case of hobby machines. Once you add all that up, you end up with a machine that isn't significantly cheaper than the $50K VF2, but significantly lower performing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drogus View Post
    Hi,

    I'm a beginner when it comes to machining and so far I've been working exclusively with manual machines but I'm thinking about prototyping a product. A CNC machine would be great for quick iterations and I also don't want to outsource it because I want to minimize costs and a feedback loop. That's why I've been looking into CNC machines lately and I mainly found either somewhat big machining centers (like Haas or sth like that) or smaller machines that don't look very rigid.

    Have you seen this video?

    YouTube


    PM

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    [QUOTE=cameraman;3420588So for this machine a few years ago I was quoted nearly $200K (new). It's a 'Swiss' + machine tool thing.

    [/QUOTE]

    This is a sweet machine and I'd never seen it before so thanks.
    But value for money - I'd be buying a Prototrak.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cameraman View Post
    I google picomax 51 (top page) --> Fehlmann Picomax 51 CNC 2, reference info, pictures

    What-do-yah-know @Jz79 great looking thread , will dig in , nice pictures too.
    that reminds me I need to update that thread, but no time for that now

    but in essence - that is a desktop machine, I had to remove mine from the table it was on to move it into the shop (it was too tall), and the table is just a weldment to support around 1100-1200kg of "round column mill-drill", had to cut around 300mm off of the bottom of that supporting table so I could utilize the full height of the Z

    with the stuff that came with the machine there was original quote for it of around 70k DM in 1986, adjusted for inflation that would be around 65k EUR, so that 200k you got quoted for P56, which is a LOT more capable machine, doesn't look too expensive now, does it?

    Picomax 51 needs relatively large floor space, like 2,5m width (that separate control cabinet, newer ones have it integrated into the machine), 1,5m depth, 2,5m height - now look at something like Chiron FZ08 - they are about 1,5m wide, 2m deep and 2,3m tall, XYZ 300/250/250, 10-15k HSK32 spindles with like 1,5sec chip to chip tool changes... I've seen those used (more likely - used up ) for as little as 10k

    as with all things used there is a risk that might result in expensive repairs, but the machine you can get for similar amount spent on new "desktop mill"...

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    Quote Originally Posted by barbter View Post
    This is a sweet machine and I'd never seen it before so thanks.
    But value for money - I'd be buying a Prototrak.
    Kind of on the Prototrak idea,

    FRYER* seem to have some interesting things going on... (Haven't run one though).

    Fryer Machine Systems Inc. - CNC toolroom lathes milling machines machining centers

    This ^^^ Seems very accurate, Siemens control and can move it about on a palette jack if you want.

    Good quality spindle bearings and options that you can get on a real machine.

    I think this is about 30K ish.

    So you can get like 30K rpm spindle scales and 4th and 5th axis if you want. (I believe / If memory serves me right).

    Fryer Machine Systems Inc. - CNC toolroom lathes milling machines machining centers

    ^^^ More generic Toolroom mills built around Siemens controls + interesting 4th axis Horizontal machine + accessories.
    __________________________________________________ _________

    But in the Prototrack* theme there is their 2nd Op's machine. The drinks cabinet style tool changer is a hoot :-) I like it.

    And then they hooked in a Hardinge indexer...



    I believe the Trak 2nd OPs machine is built like a bridge style rather than a C-frame.

    _____________________

    I think BOTH Southwestern Industries* / prototrack and Fryer are very aware of what HAAS has to offer and aim to provide something of a similar or better price performance ratio depending on what you are looking for. Still HAAS is hard to beat if that's where you are or at.

    __________________________________________________ ______________________

    * No affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drogus View Post
    Hi,

    I'm a beginner when it comes to machining and so far I've been working exclusively with manual machines but I'm thinking about prototyping a product. A CNC machine would be great for quick iterations and I also don't want to outsource it because I want to minimize costs and a feedback loop. That's why I've been looking into CNC machines lately and I mainly found either somewhat big machining centers (like Haas or sth like that) or smaller machines that don't look very rigid. The ideal machine for me would be something that I would call "rigid table top CNC". For prototyping I don't necessarily need a tool changing carousel or a coolant system, but I don't want to waste time dealing with chatter or other problems that are common to small CNC machines. From what I've read a big difference between older very rigid machines and newer, usually Chinese, machines is the weight - heavy cast iron parts were replaced by lighter parts machined from steel and aluminum. So I was looking for a "small cast iron CNC machine", but I haven't found much, mainly Chinese machines or castings that were hard to judge because it's hard to find any reviews or youtube videos about them. For example something like this:

    machine-tool-mini-cnc-milling-machine-cast-iron-frame-metal-cnc-engraver-3-axis-wood-router.jpg

    Now the question is why is it the case? Is there no need for such a machine and that's why they're not really popular? Am I missing something?
    There is one such machine. Its small. Powerful. Runs on single phase. Pretty rigid for its size. Its fast. It fits through a doorway. Its made by a respected name in the industry.

    A Haas Office Mill. It really just has one major draw back. Its TWICE the price of a larger machine like a Haas Mini Mill. Even the used ones are 60% more than the bigger NEW machine. I know. I have looked.

    Interesting that you pictured that neat little cast iron Chinese bridge mill. That basic design is liked by some in mold making, but you are right. You can't find any information or feedback on the Chinese ones. Its the main reason I don't own one. I'd like to, but I already have 4 Chinese machines in my shop and all of them required some work. 3 of them required a lot of work. I just don't have the time to rebuild another new Chinese machine. It would be faster to start with just the castings and build it from there myself. (I can, but many machine users might not be able to.)

    I would suggest that if you have the space or can make the space you look at a Haas Mini Mill. Its got a tool changer, its a professional machine, and its about the same price as a HIGH END similarly outfitted hobby mill like Tormach or Novakon.

    I can't speak for Novakon, but I don't think much of the tool changer on the Tormach. Mine is still laying on the floor where I threw it a year ago when I ripped it off the machine.

    I very much wish I had priced a Hass Mini BEFORE I bought the Tormach. I still consider my 35 year old Hurco KMB1 to be the only professional CNC machine in the shop.

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    IIRC Mori made a "phone booth" CNC mill back in the day too, like the HAAS OM-1.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob La Londe View Post
    There is one such machine. Its small. Powerful. Runs on single phase. Pretty rigid for its size. Its fast. It fits through a doorway. Its made by a respected name in the industry.

    A Haas Office Mill. It really just has one major draw back. Its TWICE the price of a larger machine like a Haas Mini Mill. Even the used ones are 60% more than the bigger NEW machine. I know. I have looked.
    I was thinking that exact same thing They weren't that price to start with, though. It was just such a success and so little competition that they doubled the price and still sell them. Looks like a pretty profitable sector, if you are young and have the energy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Harrington View Post
    IIRC Mori made a "phone booth" CNC mill back in the day too, like the HAAS OM-1.
    Really ? What model was that ? Might be an interesting thing to copy

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    .........Really ? What model was that ? Might be an interesting thing to copy
    Mori NV1500 is the smallest model that I know of.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vancbiker View Post
    Mori NV1500 is the smallest model that I know of.
    5,000 lbs, probably not what the op had in mind

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    There's actually one machine you can look at, the Southwest Industries 2op. While marketed as a "second operation" machine, it is a full mini-CNC, and has a small footprint and toolchanging capacity. While not a huge tool magazine (it's much like a router, with a protected rack of eight tools), you still have a reasonable selection without having to swap manually.

    Here's the brochure for it, not sure of the cost but you can contact SW Industries Monday. Don't know if they have market penetration in Germany, so that may make it impractical for you.

    https://www.southwesternindustries.c...r_Brochure.pdf

    Maybe look at the smaller Brothers or Robodrills?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EmanuelGoldstein View Post
    5,000 lbs, probably not what the op had in mind
    He did say rigid though.....

    Really not close at all to what the OP wants. That Mori was designed for ultra precision micro machining. I only tossed it out as the smallest Mori that I am aware of.

    The next smallest Mori that I know of is their TV30. ~4500 lbs, BT30 taper, super fast (for the mid 90s anyway). IMO, a near perfect home or garage shop machine. Fairly small, toolchanger, totally enclosed, and easily set up to run on single phase power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Milland View Post
    There's actually one machine you can look at, the Southwest Industries 2op. While marketed as a "second operation" machine, it is a full mini-CNC, and has a small footprint and toolchanging capacity. While not a huge tool magazine (it's much like a router, with a protected rack of eight tools), you still have a reasonable selection without having to swap manually.

    Here's the brochure for it, not sure of the cost but you can contact SW Industries Monday. Don't know if they have market penetration in Germany, so that may make it impractical for you.

    https://www.southwesternindustries.c...r_Brochure.pdf

    Maybe look at the smaller Brothers or Robodrills?
    ProtoTRAK 2-OP | XYZ Machine Tools

    XYZ* UK --->

    GERMANY/AUSTRIA
    OWS GmbH
    Im Lehrer Feld 24, D-89081 Ulm
    Contact: Mr Andy Ostheimer
    Telephone: +49 171 2705771
    Email: [email protected]

    Website: STRATO - Domain reserved

    ^^^ Website not up , *** disclaimer can't vouch for this / these people in Ulm.

    __________________________________________________ _________________________________

    * No affiliation.


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