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Discussion Starter #1
I have had parts machined for me for quite some time. As the parts have gotten more complex, and I have now wanted to produce them on a larger scale, it has become increasingly more difficult and costly to my company to "get the job done". It is for these reasons that I have started going to auctions and bidding on CNC machines and CAD software to come up with an end to end solution for my business.

So a few questions...

Does anyone have any knowledge of a used VMC with bed cutting dimensions of 20"X40" that is for sale? I need a relatively large machine for some of my parts. I only have about $20k to spend on the machine.

I have been looking at some 90s vintage Japanese machines that run Yasnak controllers. I need to find out if the i80m or MX3 controllers can handle modern code volumes and if SurfCAM post programs are compatible with these controllers?

I am pretty sure I will draw in Solid Works and then do tool pathing in SurfCAM. Anybody have anything used I might be interested in, or maybe a cheaper alternative? I understand that both these programs are subscription based, and therefore require a "seat" that is ongoing. I am just a little unclear if there is an initial package of software that I could buy used to get the base installed on the computer, or are these all or nothing types of packages where the software is part of the seat deal?
 

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Couple thoughts.

Machines: Do you need an actual VMC with that work envelope, or could you get by with a router? Not sure what you are making that large, but there are lots of options as far as routers go that will be a lot cheaper.

Software: There are lots of options for cam software ranging from cheap to really expensive. I am not 100% sure how solidworks subscription service is, but with inventor, you buy a liscense and have the option to go on subscription which will get you the annual update. You don't have to get the updates, you license is still valid on what you bought you just don't get the new one. But you really shouldn't need the new one every year.

If you are going to use solid works I would look at HSMworks for cam, it work directly inside solidworks, and they have a lite version which is free. It doesn't give you all the options but will let you test it out.

If you are serious about all of this, I would go look at this forum, there is a lot of information about all sorts of machines and software

cnczone.com


I hope that helps, if you have any specific questions, let me know and I will try to help you out.

Ryan
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks, I have been researching on CNCZONE about the post compatibility and it appears that the i80m will cross over to the HAAS code, but I haven't gotten any sense on memory size. Since this will be a production machine, I really don't need it to do all kinds of crazy stuff, just the same tool paths over and over again. At the same time, I don't want something that will be very limited to one task, so I am looking for something that isn't the latest and greatest, but that can keep reasonable tolerances, like .005, and be cheap enough that it doesn't "break the bank", while getting the job done.

A friend suggested a fourth access as he would send some drum slotting work my way if I had that capability, but it is not really a requirement for my companies needs.
 

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I would look at fryer machines with the anilam controls or the milltronics brand, milltronics is usa made and supported. don't look for a cheap machine, see if the contol is still being supported, anything older than 7 years may be out of business or no support. If something like that goes out it would cost ~$20,000 to retrofit or otherwise you sale for scrap price.
 

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One thing to keep in mind with an older machine, you can always update to a new control system, it will take a bit of work but there are lots of guys on cnczone doing some cool stuff with Mach3.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
One thing to keep in mind with an older machine, you can always update to a new control system, it will take a bit of work but there are lots of guys on cnczone doing some cool stuff with Mach3.
I looked into this, but there appears to be some issues in patented encoders and such that are propriatory to the particular manufacturers. In other words, sometimes the controllers can be updated, and sometimes it requires all the motors and scales to be changed as well, which pretty much means one may as well have bought a new, or almost new machine, as it ends up costing almost the same, and is a hell of a lot of work. Simply put, I am not knowledgable enough to know which models are good for upgrading and which would end in a total cluster.
 

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90's is too old.. and won't be able to get support.... We have some old cnc mills and are having to go to ebay to find boards and such.
Their are websites where you can submit your prints, machine shops look at them and bid on them.
Also... www.whitbymotorcars.com has their own in house machine shop. Call Jeff and chew it over with him. With EPA, regulations,and all the other crap that you MUST keep up with... machine shop establishment ain't as easy as one might think.
 

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I have used Surfcam for many years and know the standard post processor supports Haas. Going form Solid Works to Surfcam is not a problem I do it all the time. You might check with Haas I hear they are selling new machines at very reasonable prices. Or [email protected] for used machines.

Bill Lomenick
 

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2000 is the oldest machine you probably want to mess with for parts or to be competitive. Most modern tools are being designed for lighter depths of cuts and faster feed rates. Old machines just won't handle what even cheaper newer machines can.

Honestly, if you going to spend the money, buy something newer. It may cost a few more bucks, but when you can't find parts for weeks while the machine is down, it isn't such a good deal.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
OK so I am now looking at Fadal 4020 VMCs in the 2003+ range. WAY more than I wanted to spend, but I get the advantages of the newer machines. I will likely do nearly 100% aluminum work, so any suggestions on 4020, 4020A, or 4020 HT models?
 

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OK so I am now looking at Fadal 4020 VMCs in the 2003+ range. WAY more than I wanted to spend, but I get the advantages of the newer machines. I will likely do nearly 100% aluminum work, so any suggestions on 4020, 4020A, or 4020 HT models?
Be careful on Fadal. They went out of business a few years ago. Although you can still find parts, it will become harder and harder in the near future.

Haas is about int he same price range. You might be better off with those. Another option for machining aluminum would be to get coolant through the spindle. Cat40 machines are harder to find, but you will regret not having it if you drill a lot of holes.
 

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As far as software goes, search for a GOOD reseller. The reseller I work for often takes prospective customers to our in house CNC shop. They can model using SolidWorks, Cam using SolidCAM, then take the generated tool paths to our Hass equipment. The subscription fee will get you a post processor and the ability to have us remote into your computer to help with either cad or cam issues that may come up. BE SURE TO ASK FOR A DISCOUNT. I think you can save $1000 on SolidWorks right now.
If time is a big issue, look into getting SolidCAM with the imachining module. It is as good as they say.
SolidWorker.com is a good site to help with the "meat and potato's" of Solidworks.
 

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This is my educated opinion. Take it for what its worth. I have been a machinisht since 1985. Have run all types of machinery and worked a few different shops. I have lots of parts for my side business machined by job shops. Why? I simply cannot afford to buy and support a CNC machine. Especially the size your talking about.
CNC machines are very complex and very expensive to run. My shop has all Japanese machines, and although they are pretty reliable, the do break. We just replaced a power supply in our RoboDrill. $5000.00 The spindle in our Maatsurra was $15,000.00 installed. When buying a used machine, your going to run into these expenses. Parts are rediculous. Think Ferrari prices.
Also software to run it can be expensive. Tooling if not included will easily exceed the cost of the machine. You will need an assortmant of tool holders, collets, chucks etc.
Next you will need consumeables like coolant, air, and oils for the machine and a way to dispose of them.
Not trying to talk you out of it, but its not a cheap proposition.
Mike
 

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I would look at used Matsuura 1000s, late 90s vintage and newer. Yasnac 80i controllers typically. They are good, reliable machines. Too bad, I sold an older 1000 from my work team's area a couple of months ago. We have good experience with Matsuuras. (we were their largest VMC installation in the world actually) We now run custom-spec Hardinge/ Bridgeport VMCs also, with Fanuc 0iMD controllers. I would check the used equipment sites and Google alert them if that works for you. PM me if you need more info.

-Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you all for the replies. It has been very helpful, and I look forward to anything more anyone has to say.

I do understand the expense side. One of the things I have considered is a trade out scenario. I have 4 different friends that have very small machine shops. The problem is that none of them are set up for production work of this size. One of the solutions I have come up with was to purchase the machine, and then lease it to one of these shops for production work. It would be leased to them on an hourly basis, and they would be responsible for repairs. On the flip side, I would get all my parts, up to 100 pieces per month, run for free. The lease $$ would be below market so they get some advantage there. It would hopefully be a win-win for both parties. Besides that, I would have much less of an investment in tooling and software. Basically I would be fronting cash to allow them to expand, and I would be getting the parts I need out of the deal at a very reasonable rate. Two of the individuals have expressed interest in this type of arrangement.

I am now concentrating on the VF3 used machines, but have also looked at the Okura and Matsura machines. This stuff really isn't easy or cheap, and I want to make sure my goal of getting the right machine for MY parts is acheived. For my production work it appears that through spindle cooling and high speed machining is probably very beneficial, but, of course, adds a ton of cost.
 

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Crash, the Haas machines have a nice controller, particularly if you are doing simultaneous machining on multiple axes. It is their controller and software however so somewhat unique, but user-friendly. Okuma builds a good, reliable machine but a bit pricey. Definately go for the coolant through the spindle (1000 PSI preferred) and scraper-type chip conveyor if possible.
-Steve
 
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