Time to buy a CNC lathe
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  1. #1
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    Default Time to buy a CNC lathe

    I think it's time to buy a CNC lathe. I have a CNC mill (Trak FHM7) and an engine lathe currently. We make custom ground support equipment, fixtures, and lifting hardware. Almost all turned stuff gets farmed out. The quality and price are good, but it's a hassle to not just be able to make something when I need it, and it decreases my ability to try out new things and iterate. I will probably never make more than 10 of something at a time, usually just one.

    What I want:
    Easy to use
    Parts available (i.e. not a boat anchor if something breaks)
    Tailstock
    2" + bore
    16"+ turning length

    Things I'm not picky on:
    speed. This isn't going to be running flat out production work. I'll spend more time programming and futzing with it then it'll actually spend in the cut.
    Control. I'm not hugely familiar with any of them, except the Prototrak. I'm not a huge fan of the prototrak control, but I'm told the newest version is better (it'll actually store a tool table).

    Given my low duty cycle, a used machine would be nice if I can find one that's a good fit. The flat bed lathes give you a lot more size for the footprint/cost, but don't usually have a toolchanger. On the mill, lack of toolchanger is a pain, but on the lathe, one tool accomplishes a lot more.

    New options:

    These pencil out to $45k-$55k:
    Haas TL2: Pros: everyone knows the Haas control, I can get a 3.5" spindle bore (3" through the chuck).
    Trak 1630
    Romi C420
    Smart SL20L: Pros: good price, turning center as opposed to flat bed. Cons: Not as well known a brand.

    Doosan Lynx 2100LB: Pros: very good machine. Cons: quite a bit more expensive $72k


    Used options:
    I'm not seeing a great selection of used lathes that meet my requirements. Most stuff seems to be either smaller bore and without a tailstock.
    I've seen a few Okumas, especially the Okuma Cadet LNC-8, that look interesting.

    A few questions on used stuff:

    1) What generation of Okuma controls should I be looking at? Most seem to be either 700 or 5020.
    2) Are the Bridgeport/Romi EZ PATH's still repairable? I know they're old, but everyone I know who had one liked it.
    3) Looking at ebay pricing, lathes seem to have much less depreciation than mills. Is everyone just listing prices high, or do lathes really depreciate less?
    4) How old is too old? Most of the used equipment seems to be 15-25 years old.
    5) How are the Nardini Fast-trace lathes? It's older (1996 with a Fanuc 20T) but looks to be in good shape.

    Thanks,
    Daniel

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    Check out the service centers in your area. For example, here in MN Haas support is great, but I keep hearing horror stories in other parts of the country.

  3. #3
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    If you don't like the Protrak mill stuff you will hate the lathe stuff. A friend has one at his work that they inherited from a sister division and its a true POS to program and he hates it and now knows why it got dumped in his shop. Just one data point for you.

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    Just my opinion. The time to buy was months ago. Maybe not your time, but months ago it was a better time. Things have changed in the marketplace.

  5. #5
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    Hard to go wrong with a Haas TL. Had one for over three years from 2012-2015 and sold it for 96 cents on the dollar.

    Drawbacks are the manual chuck and limited tool capacity. If you're doing one-offs and can get by with a QCTP, a non issue.

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    I have a tl2 I might be selling. Mostly just sets. I’ll post some pics tomorrow if interested.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orange Vise View Post
    Hard to go wrong with a Haas TL. Had one for over three years from 2012-2015 and sold it for 96 cents on the dollar.

    Drawbacks are the manual chuck and limited tool capacity. If you're doing one-offs and can get by with a QCTP, a non issue.
    In some ways, it seems like the QCTP would be an advantage. I can tool up more than 8 blocks and swap them in easily, I don't have to worry about boring bar clearance when I'm not using a boring bar, etc. Downside, of course, is speed.

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    The Doosan 2100 is an excellent value. I'm a little biased, I used to work for them, but for $72k you're getting a LOT of machine.

    For used stuff, Okuma is a bargain. I have several and they're ROCK SOLID. VERY expensive new, they make a great find.

    As far as age, it's like used cars. I've had 20 year old cars, well maintained that were just the tops. I've had two year old, off lease, rides that were awful.

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    Contact your local Okuma dealer, sometimes they have really good deals and might even have a floor demo at a great price.
    As for used Okumas, the P300 is the newest control. The P200 is what it replaced. Personally I wouldn't go older than the P200 control.

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    We used to have 4 Doosan lathes in our shop. (shop was shut down for 5 years previous management screw up) They were great machines and best of all the took a beating from new guys and kept going.

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    If you can find one, a Mori-Seiki SL3 with a Fanuc control, (preferably 0T) would be a good investement.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    Contact your local Okuma dealer, sometimes they have really good deals and might even have a floor demo at a great price.
    As for used Okumas, the P300 is the newest control. The P200 is what it replaced. Personally I wouldn't go older than the P200 control.
    I haven't gotten a quote in the last few months but generally you can get an Okuma Genos (Taiwanese) Lathe for around $55k bare bones but the tailstock may be an option, I can't recall. It should have a 55mm+ spindle bore and meet other requirements. I'm 99% hey also now come standard with some kind of conversational in addition to the fact that lathe stuff is pretty easy to just hand-CAM.

    Takisawa has some offerings in the $55-65k range sometimes as well.

    March was the time to buy - end of fiscal year for many machine tool builders/dealers. There are usually still some floor model closeouts around now, though.

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    "Haas TL2: Pros:"
    Cons: Although I like Haas mills, I think the lathes are garbage. Lacking rigidity, too many hassles with safety features, not very strong, piss poor
    programming (fanuc style). Fanuc and Haas have the worst canned cycles of any lathes I have seen.

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    I bought my first Haas lathe in 97, its still making good parts, I bought another in 17 as my 81 miyano died and I like having 2. they are both good machines as are my 5 Haas VMC's Factory support is awesome. People should not bad mouth them, they have been a good return on investment for me. There are bigger better machines out there but for us they have done a fantastic job.

    I'm 6'8", 340 lbs and don't fit in a smart car however I am not going to badmouth it because it doesn't fit me, I simply don;t buy one because it doesn't fit me, it really can be that simple.

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  16. #15
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    I too started off with a TL-1. Was great to get my feet wet with, but not great for production. That said it sounds like a perfect fit for your application. I bought it for $26k and sold it seven years later for $22.5k.

  17. #16
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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm currently looking at some used options and hopefully will find something soon.


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