Metal Lathe

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ScaleBirdsScott

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Feb 10, 2015
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I appreciate the ways of the old machinists and learned on a South Bend Heavy 10. There is a joy in manual machining and I love when I do have a task to complete. That's why a lot of people are here in the first place. But once I start thinking "hmm need to make 100 of this. And 200 of that. And that's a few times a year, or more. And then start a whole different design with its own set of parts? How many machines do we have again? I just can't see a place in modern competitive manufacturing where a young guy who never worked in a machine shop picks up a manual turret lathe and within a few months, while doing 20 other things, just busts out 1200 parts that are all dead nuts and just work with perfect interchangeably.

But with CNC you can kinda do that. Of course I do know a few people who have a lot of experience running CNC machines for many many years, so those are my old masters in any case.

Most of these parts are detailed pneumatic parts with bores, o-ring glands, threads, etc. There's springs, minor tapers of a half-degree, all with tolerances of half-thou all around. I've got a spool valve inside a piston that's also inside another valve, all of which is being shuttled back and forth at 5-10 cycles per second; with a check valve integrated on the side. It's all gotta work perfect in harmony. I know I can get a good machine and program it to make the parts to within the specs, because there's other companies making similar products doing just that. All of them have long ago stepped away from the manual machines.

In any case what I look for with CNC is I can do my figuring over time at a screen, with snacks and a beer and good music on my headphones. And then in the morning I go to start the machine, load the material, press a button and then walk away to do other tasks. At least for 10-20 minutes or so at a time, sometimes longer. And then come back and load another bar of material, repeat, repeat, so-on. I like the anecdote of one guy who never was a machinist before in his life. Bought a single used vertical mill. Set it up. Made a pallet system for it, set it to run in the morning for a 4-hour cycle, and then went to the beach to surf until lunch. Now he runs a business making those pallets for others and runs a very lean and clean shop. Someone onto the right idea.

We have the tech to let the robots do the work. My hope is that more people use this power to not worry about the lack of jobs and work for them to do, and use it to make their lives better. A small group of individuals has unprecedented resources and capabilities in manufacturing and it's pretty exciting to see what comes of it.

That said, for the hobbyist, there's certainly a lot of fun running a compact machine. I'm still gonna go out and say one of these: https://www.precisionmatthews.com/shop/pm-1022v-pm-1030v/ would be what I go for if I was looking for something like a mini-lathe.
 

thjakits

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Panama, Rep. of Panama
Tormach is only recently promoting "production" - their initial idea is/was a tool room prototyping machine...
(Their white papers explain all about the difference between prototyping and production...)

As they are upgradibg their systems the price comes up too - there is no magic in making tool machines for money - you get what you pay for!
E.g. return speeds, servos vs. stepper motor, etc... there are pro/cons for everything and one needs to look at each spec to see what fits, what does not and what is overkill...

Considering the above consideration of "China CNC vs. Haas" - have look at this:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq9-hOgCiz8dC9XJjjmOQ5g/search?query=Tormach

This guy had some "experience" with Tormach and then changed to Haas...
NOT saying Tormach is no good, but for him it did not work well in the proposed work field...

I am sure there are things about Haas too, but one also has to look for the price and compare REAL needs/requirements..

In the above link, go to VIDEOS and start at the bottom and work you way up!!

Cheers,

thjakits
 
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PMD

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Apr 11, 2015
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Martensville SK
Interesting thread and it seems to have put the OP on the right track. I have had a 14x40 Taiwanese lathe for 35 years, worked the crap out of it WAY over actual capacity. At only 700 lbs., it really doesn't have the rigidity for a decent heavy cut and is starting to show some wear, but if one is careful, still a useful tool. I also have a pretty good size Chinese dovetail mill/drill that delivers adequate performance for most tasks. I also have a late model Chinese mini mill and mini lathe, but they are really junk...BUT if you aren't taking heavy cuts and don't need high accuracy, they are actually useful for very small parts. In reality, my Son-in-law uses them far more for making pen and knife parts than I do for making car/bike/plane/machinery parts.

Lessons I have learned as a long time self-taught machinist: you really can't have enough rigitidy (read, weight of the machine) but you sure as heck can have too little; you had better count on AT LEAST the cost of the tool to tool it up adequately; don't cheap out on tooling - you usually DO get what you pay for and finally, what an incredible joy and privilege to get to work with, ask questions of and/or just watch a real machinist using decent tools.

Oh: on getting really high accuracy turning: I usually do most of the work with WC insert tools, but finish ODs for the last thou with a lathe file, Scotchbrite, etc.

Bidding on a 17 x 96 old British (Broadbent-Schofield) lathe this weekend that weighs in around 8,000 lbs. Going to be a whole new learning experience if I get that one.

BTW: one of my good friends is on his 12th self-designed, scratch built bush plane and he has fewer tools in his workshed than most mechanics would carry in a pickup truck. No lathe, no mill, just a lot of airplane parts with careful work and hand tools.
 

BJC

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BTW: one of my good friends is on his 12th self-designed, scratch built bush plane and he has fewer tools in his workshed than most mechanics would carry in a pickup truck. No lathe, no mill, just a lot of airplane parts with careful work and hand tools.
Yup. Building an airplane (or anything else), is more about the builder than his tools.


BJC
 

BBerson

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I was thumbing through Home Shop Machinest at the library yesterday. It is more about tinkering with machine tools instead of actually making something.
 

Turd Ferguson

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I was thumbing through Home Shop Machinest at the library yesterday. It is more about tinkering with machine tools instead of actually making something.
Though not as much as they did in the past, sometimes they have feature articles of actually making something. All the cool 'make something' projects have moved to the various machinist sites on the internet or facebook.
 

Dana

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...what an incredible joy and privilege to get to work with, ask questions of and/or just watch a real machinist using decent tools.
I'm lucky there; our toolroom is just on the other side of the wall from my office, we build all of our production machinery in house. Even though I'd already been a working engineer for 20 years when I started there, I've learned an incredible amount, both about machining and engineering, from watching the guys who are making the parts I design.

I was thumbing through Home Shop Machinest at the library yesterday. It is more about tinkering with machine tools instead of actually making something.
Though not as much as they did in the past, sometimes they have feature articles of actually making something. All the cool 'make something' projects have moved to the various machinist sites on the internet or facebook.
The internet groups are much the same. There are a fair number of hobby machinists for whom the machine tools are the end in itself; all they seem to do is make more tools and fixtures. Nothing wrong with that if that's what you're into.
 

pictsidhe

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I work in an injection moulding department. We are phasing out the American machines in favour of Chinese machines. Of 38 production machines, only 7 American ones are left.
 

Pops

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I work in an injection moulding department. We are phasing out the American machines in favour of Chinese machines. Of 38 production machines, only 7 American ones are left.
I worked in the injection moulding department for Westinghouse Corp back in 1964-1966, then went to the Shipping dept. Shipping dept smelled better :), but it was interesting. At the time there was about 50+ molding machines. Standard Control Division , a lot of military contracts for ships and subs.
 

Aviacs

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Oct 21, 2019
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I work in an injection moulding department. We are phasing out the American machines in favour of Chinese machines. Of 38 production machines, only 7 American ones are left.
Are there any American makers of manual lathes left?
I mean who actually have models ready to ship - there are a few who will build a high dollar lathe to your spec.

Haas still makes a good manual/cnc toolroom/prototyping machine but that's about it?

smt
 

Aviacs

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Blane c.

My question was "made in America" & "manual"

Your examples are made in Taiwan.

smt
 

pictsidhe

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Are there any American makers of manual lathes left?
I mean who actually have models ready to ship - there are a few who will build a high dollar lathe to your spec.

Haas still makes a good manual/cnc toolroom/prototyping machine but that's about it?

smt
Cincinnati? We have a few Cincinnati presses left. Parts are the big problem. We recently paid $1000 for a used display screen.
 

Dana

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My lathe was American made... something over 70 years ago... :cool:
 

Aviacs

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Oct 21, 2019
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Milacron & Ferromatik are apparently big/maybe world leaders? in your industry, injection molding.

The Cincinnati name has a catalog & they've relocated since the auction. The catalog is pretty extensive.
Why do i suspect the iron is not poured or machined in Cincinnati, OH?
Cool if it is.

http://www.cinmac.com/GenProdsCat09web.pdf

Not even real clear who owns it.

smt

PS: all my lathes are little things. Mostly Hardinge and a SB10K, but they were also all made in US between 55 (SB) & 90 years ago (one of the Hardinges)

smt
 

Armilite

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Sep 5, 2011
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Location
AMES, IA USA
Hi all,
Been thinking about picking up a bench top metal lathe, but I do not want anything huge. I really need to be able to put in the bed of a truck and be able to move it fairly easily. What is the minimum size that might be useful for run of the mill airplane construction? I can't image that I would ever need anything larger then 8x16, but a small 7x would be so much more convenient. And no. There is zero chance that I am ever going to get a giant South Bend. Its bench top or nothing.
==============================================
I have a 12" x 37" Lathe. I would recommend the:
Grizzly G0602 - 10" x 22" Benchtop Metal Lathe. There are CNC Conversion kits for it also. https://www.grizzly.com/products/Grizzly-10-x-22-Benchtop-Metal-Lathe/G0602





$1,550.00
+$129.00 Freight
 

thjakits

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Jul 3, 2014
Messages
58
Location
Panama, Rep. of Panama
I'd say go on YOUTUBE!!
Type in whatever you are searching for and watch! ...a LOT!!
The above mentioned Grizzly comes up quite a lot - and I'd say is about the smallest useful lathe...
Any smaller and you probably run into "frustration" a lot...
You will also learn quickly that Precision Matthews is another supplier that gets compared a lot and usually comes out on top... https://www.precisionmatthews.com/

...again - NO affiliation! Just relating what I learned from looking!

PM/Grizzly machines often get CNCed (loads of that on Youtube too ...) for little money.
Often a person that started with converted Grizzly or PM machines would then step up into the "grown up" area of CNC and "heavy hearted" sell their "custom built" PM/Grizzlys - look out for these on forums, facebook seller groups, craigs, etc... Mostly these machines are quite cheap but actually more valueable than a new one from these brands - all sorted out and DROed or even CNCed!!
Obviously the dangers to fall into homeshop-addiction are huge!!

Cheers,

thjakits
 
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