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chopmeister

Buying a metal lathe, need help

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Hi all. Since I bought my UM 2 years back, I really got hooked on mechanical design, and it's been load of fun experimenting with upgrades for my printer. Now I'm trying to make something much more serious and I will need a lot of lathe/mill work, which is proving to be a big hassle where I live. All of the workshops I've contacted in my city only do huge series and large scale work, so nobody is interested in making one off prototypes. The obvious solution for me is to get a lathe and mill and do the work myself. I also enjoy learning how to work with new tools very much, so that's an added bonus for me.

What I want to know is if I bought something like this, which seems ideal for my home workshop, would I be able to machine... let's say a steel hotend or something like that?

http://www.bernardo.at/index.php?id=62&L=1&openuid=122&katid=4&groupid=176&product_id=5380&variation_id=5380

Most of the stuff I would be machining is 3d printer related (in brass, aluminum and steel) so you basically know what size and type of parts I have in mind. This machine seems really affordable in terms of price and space required. But having no experience, I don't really know if it's up to the task. Are there any accessories I would need which don't come standard on this thing? Any help would be much appreciated!

Cheers,

Chopmeister

 

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I've checked for used ones, but bear in mind that Croatia is only 4.5 million people, so a much smaller market that the US. There's no used lathes in the size I need, mostly huge industrial machines waaay out of my price range. I don't mind spending the money for a new one if it fits my needs. Typical usage scenario would be something like the alu plate on the ultimaker print head and stuff like the prusanozzle, or E3d hotend....

I don't buy much from the US ebay anymore, mostly from ebay UK (because then I don't pay customs and taxes) but I don't even want to know how much I would pay to ship a 150 kg monster half across the world. :)

 

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Hi Chopmeister,

I know the feeling of wanting to make stuff yourself.

I actually bought a Proxxon PD/230E "mini" lathe around Christmas for making stuff.

The PD400 would have been a nicer size for making say a hotend, but that was too expensive.

The problem with me is that I love tools. And 3D printing. So I end up buying a lot of tools and 3D print related stuff and then I lack the time to learn all it. Well ok, eventually I usually do learn and use most of my tools and machines - and it's such a good feeling when you finally do that.

My lathe has proven useful to me for exact hole drilling and so on but I haven't done any actual "lathework" on it yet.

I guess it will come in the future...

But I did spend hundreds of hours in research before I got mine, and after that I've also talked to people with a lot more experience.

What I do know is this:

The basic price of a new lathe will only be about half of the total price. You will most likely want to spend just as much - very possibly more - on accessories. Many of which would be considered "mandatory".

Of course, with a lathe it's possible - and fun - to make some of those accessories yourself. But accessories will be expensive.

That is also the reason why many people would recommend you to buy a used one. Good quality lathes can last many decades and many that was produced in the 40s/50s/60s still work or can be refurbished.

I think there are quite a lot of good lathes "out there". But there are of course a lot of things to keep in mind.

Some good references:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/

http://www.lathes.co.uk/books.htm

(I bought many of the books myself and much of the information is simply not available online)

http://www.mini-lathe.com/

http://www.frets.com/HomeShopTech/ShopTips/tiplist.html (not only lathe-related but still good).

Maybe that was not too much help but I wish you good luck!

Cheers

Daniel

 

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Thanks a bunch for the links Daniel! I already saw a dozen books I'm going to order. And I hope you will be turning metal soon! :)

I'm not that interested in refurbishing, because getting parts for various machines in Croatia is a nightmare. And I'm not really a very patient person. That's why I'm inclined more towards a new machine, to get started immediately. I'm aware that accessories are really expensive, but I hope not many are needed to start learning. What I need to make right now is really simple stuff, like expanding bore holes on gears and such, and machining simple aluminum rods. Nothing fancy. But I'm really excited about making my own custom cutters and stuff like that, I must have watched a million videos on YT about that kind of stuff and it's amazing. So I'm hoping the need for accessories will not be much greater than the time needed to save money for them. :D

The machine on the link I posted seems, at least on paper, just like the thing I need. I'd love for someone who is familiar with lathe work to look at the specs and tell me if I can expect decent performance from it.

 

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That looks like a nice machine and, given that your projects fall within its size constraints, it should work well for your plans.

I have highly a modified mini lathe and mini mill. Many forums and websites are devoted to improving these machines. Assuming you don't have a production schedule to worry about, machining is 90% machinist and only 10% machine! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do great work on inexpensive Chinese rigs. Doble Troble does amazing work--all on small Chinese machines:

http://www.sporterizing.com/index.php?showtopic=3939

http://personal.geeksnet.com/soderstrom/ReamerMaking/HowImakechamberreamers.htm

Good luck and have fun with it!

 

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That's what I needed to hear. :) Thanks. I hope I will be able to save up for that thing by the end of summer, so expect loads of questions around that time, hahaha. I always wanted a lathe, but it became serious a few days ago when I needed to enlarge a bore on a gear from 4mm to 5mm and have it really precisely centered. And it turned out I can't find ANY machinist here who will bother with such a 5 minute job. And then I went crazy and decided that it's better (as it always turns out in the end, at least for me) to get a machine and do stuff like that myself, instead of begging someone to do it for me.

 

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No problem. Let us know when it arrives and I'll have more advice for sure. :)

 

That's what I needed to hear. :) Thanks. I hope I will be able to save up for that thing by the end of summer, so expect loads of questions around that time, hahaha.

 

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I bought two chinise machines to my firm, as they were reasonably priced and the functions I wanted. One lathe (HBM, 280, like the one in the picture) and one milling machine.

HBM-250x550-VF_1310.jpg

I knew that it would be hard to manage high tolerance on this type of machines but I am satisfied reaching +- 0.1 mm in most cases.

The thing is - these machines are not sturdy enough to reach higher tolerances and the motors are to weak.

If you are just looking to solve small problems and find it sufficient with +-0.1 mm this is a okej machine. There is a supplier in Netherlands that sell these machines but they are very hard to get in touch with. However, the chinese manufacturer is very helpful if you give them the serial numer of the machine. Good to know.

As said in earlier posts - Be prepared to spend a lot of money getting the correct tools - and one of the things - I would recommend changing the tool-head of the machine at once to a speed changing head (toolfix-type) - as shown below. Makes it much easier to work with the machine.

HBM-Snabbvaxelfaste_1448.jpg

If I would back the tape and buy them again I would definitely find something with higher quality. Now I just have to learn how the machines behave so that I can get hight tolerances.

 

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I payed 12500 SEK (approx, 1400 Euros) excl. VAT. That was a discount price. Today the same machine costs 15500, excl. VAT. However, I believe they can be found cheaper outside of Sweden.

But - I would have liked a sturdier machine!

One of the good things is a 26 mm spindel through hole though.

 

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There is a supplier in Netherlands that sell these machines but they are very hard to get in touch with.

That's not so hard, and the price you pay now is for a better type ...

http://www.hbm-machines.com

Talk to them, negotiate about any better accessories you want and look for chisels with interchangeable bits etc at the same time, because they're cheaper than I've seen them anywhere ... (running for a few years at our professional lathe and no strange symptoms taken.)

I bought also double action airbrushes for a tenth of the price my DeVilbis = gear have cost. and then you get some spare needles (10 euros each for DV) nozzles, balls and seals at which you should buy for the total price of this sprayer! I wanted them to spray on location and didn't mind if they are then whacked once, but the quality (except for the cheap plastic packaging) is excellent.

Furthermore ratchet tools, an anvil, hydraulic tools, machinegraded steel etc bought from them and no comments.No connections or family also:-)

Dat valt wel mee, en die prijs betaal je nu voor een typje beter...

Praat met ze, onderhandel over eventuele betere accessoires en kijk gelijk naar beitels met wisselbits etc, want goedkoper dan daar heb ik ze nog nergens gezien...(draaien alweer een paar jaar bij ons op profi banken en geen rare klachten.)

Ik heb ook double action airbrushes van hun gekocht voor een tiende van de prijs die mijn De Vilbis=jes hebben gekost. en dan krijg je er nog reserve naalden (10 euro per stuk bij DV) spuitmondjes, kogeltjes en afdichtringen bij die je anders apart moet kopen voor de totaalprijs van deze spuiten!! Ik wilde ze hebben om op locatie te spuiten en workshops te geven, niet erg als ze dan een keer gemold worden, maar de kwaliteit (op de goedkope verpakking na) is uitstekend.

Verder ratelgereedschap, aambeeldjes, hydraulisch gereedschap, gereedschapstaal etc bij ze gekocht en geen op= of aanmerkingen. Ook geen connecties of familie van me dus....

 

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If you're in the US, the machines from www.littlemachineshop.com have some nice upgrades from the typical Sieg- manufactured (Chinese) products, which are also offered by nearly all the hobby tool vendors other than Sherline and Taig (Enco, Harbor Freight, Grizzly, Micro-Mark, Homier, Cummins, and more). As long as you're willing to learn about the tool limitations, make appropriate adjustments often, and upgrade the machine's deficiencies in various details (kind of like a hobby 3D printer), there is no reason you can't hold 0.001" tolerances for most projects. You have to go slow, not try to machine something unreasonably large, and pick the right tool bits. High quality high speed steel bits are usually the best choice and carbide is usually NOT the best choice for these small machines. These cutting tools are very nice for small hobby machines:

http://www.arwarnerco.com/

 

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Hello everyone, hello mods.

I am in the same dilemma with the topic starter. I searched the net to know which metal lathe to buy, so I decided to join here and ask for advice. I came across a couple of reviews but it just got me confused.

Can anyone help me which metal lathe in this review for metal lathes is the best one to buy?

thank you.

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For what its worth I would not touch Chinese machines at all, they cut corners and you'll regret it, I have had English , Swiss and German machines, I have had the really small Sherline machines (U.S) and while the accuracy was very good just the size of the machine is problematic, Proxxon also falls into this sector, and while the larger Proxon is very nice the cost is well out.. I would look at the German Machine Wabeco, and the Italian machine (I forget the name) but one thing is for sure, you only get what you pay for, and don't go to small you will always find a bit that just does not fit...

pay for good tooling and you wont go far wrong but don't do the Chinese,,

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I recently bought a used Unimat 3 out of the 1980's - its quite small, but my plan is also to do some work on hot ends etc.

What I learned: for turning a stainless steel part, this small thing is too weak to get the right pressure of the tool to cut. the Proxxon 400 is a bit better, but the Bernardo is ok from it´s size/weight.

I only know similar cheapo lathes from my purchse journey which looks a bit "low-quality" to me so finally I decided to go smaller but reliable.

Also a milling post is nice and for milling hotend parts enougt.

I would recommend a used EMCO Compact 5 - take a look at http://www.nielsmachines.com - there are sometimes good machines available...

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Okay. Check a company call "flashcut cnc" they sell desktop cnc and lathe machine made by a company called Sherline. Sherline are great little mills that are extremely precise and easy to fix if something goes wrong. Sherline sell a CNC system as well, but it doesn't support USB and only work on older machine..., flashcut cnc has a much better CNC controller and a usb generator, you can use it with any computer/laptop...

They also sell a lath, but if you have a 4d cnc mill, you don't really need a lath...

Also support with flashcut is really good. Check it out...

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yes I have seen flash cut a few years ago,, I also had a Sherline machine if I remember and I could be wrong they like to sell the whole lot computer as well and it is Linux which put me off Great Machine though.. but a bit small and also there was an issue with the Z axis with backlash at the time, if you look depending on what mill, there is a lot of weight on the main body supporting the Z which was a big problem on my machine, but I'm going back 10yrs hear so they might have changed it bear it in mind though weight of the head versus backlash,, also no ball screws????

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I have very little personal experience with lathes, and that is 30 years ago, thus not relevant. But a now retired collegue of mine is a professional metal worker; used to work on big manual lathes all life. He also tried a small lathe for small models, but that didn't work: it was okay for wood and plastics, but had not enough power for metals. And the clamps for the tools would move if subjected to too much force from the milling. So he dropped that machine, and went back to the big stuff, even for all plastics. I don't know which brand and model, but it was a very small thing, 50cm long or so.

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