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Alexander 3A 3D machine

Opinions on how useful?

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BDH13/04/2018 14:11:38
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756 forum posts
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An Alexander 3A 3D milling/engraving/diesinking machine has come up for sale near to me.

Does anyone have opinions as to how useful this sort of machine would be in a normal (the workshop that is!) model engineers workshop?

Brian

Michael Gilligan13/04/2018 14:20:52
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11244 forum posts
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Posted by BDH on 13/04/2018 14:11:38:

Does anyone have opinions as to how useful this sort of machine would be ...

.

Very, very ... I would say !!

[only wish I had room for one]

Consider the possibilities of 3D printing your patterns and then carving them out of solid.

MichaelG.

Bazyle13/04/2018 17:27:04
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3955 forum posts
166 photos

They will work as an engraver but a bit heavy for fine letter work, and will work as a light mill. Probably a good machine for someone working in clocks, 16mm or G1 scales. Not suitable for the types who like to boast that they take half inch cuts and plunge 2 inch drills into hardened steel.

Make sure you get the collets which are less common than hen's teeth and note they don't take the tapered cutters for Taylor Hobson engravers.

About 20 years ago when I got mine there was only one picture of one anywhere on the internet and they never appeared even in traders' adverts. Now they turn up ten a year on ebay normally at inflated prices from companies who moved to CNC years ago and are finally letting the old workhorse go. Only ever been one article in ME mentioning them that I can think of perhaps as they are too specialised for amateurs, like capstans and automatic lathes.

Bill Phinn13/04/2018 17:56:04
41 forum posts
1 photos

Brian, the Alexander 3A is used by the company in the link below (or was used, because they have ceased trading recently, I believe) for doing deep relief engraving of bookbinders' finishing tools.

You can see the machine in use here:

http://www.pandsengraving.co.uk/gallery/gallery.asp

 

I'd totally encourage you to get your hands on one if it's in good order and you have the room.

Please let us know how things turn out.

ETA: Only the 6th, 7th and 8th images in the gallery show the Alexander 3A, afaik.

Edited By Bill Phinn on 13/04/2018 17:57:57

Clive Hartland13/04/2018 22:47:13
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2298 forum posts
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I had the use of one in my time at Leica, I used it to engrave serial numbers for new Leica camera plates that had been damaged. I used to make a lot of circular perspex discs marked in degrees, tedious work. For that I made a master template.

Also used it for template cutting, moulding dies for electrical boxes for cable junctions. Should come with two collets 6 mm and 3 mm. Machine is very useful for cutting straight edges on plates and I made a slider to run in the slots that the type sits in. There is a possibility to do light relief work, very shallow from the head but a lot of faffing about to do it.

BDH16/04/2018 12:33:11
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756 forum posts
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Many thanks for the replies.

I've almost talked myself into buying the machine, going to see it this afternoon. Having seen a video of someone using one to replicate a broken casting, using a wood and car filler pattern, I'm more convinced. On top of that, I was quoted £200 for a pair of small engraved nameplate for my 1 1/2" Burrell, I'm sure I could do them myself with this machine.

I'll let you know.

Brian

Michael Gilligan16/04/2018 15:08:14
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11244 forum posts
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Good analysis, Brian yes

MichaelG.

BDH16/04/2018 20:28:01
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756 forum posts
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Went to see the machine today and ended up buying it! I'll put a picture up when it's delivered but in the meantime, can anyone enlighten me about single to 3 phase converters? The motor is only 1/2 HP.

Brian

Bazyle16/04/2018 21:41:31
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3955 forum posts
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For an inverter you need a motor that has all the wires available to convert it from star to delta arrangement. Good news is the 3A motor does. So you just need a 3/4HP inverter from the people advertising on the right of this page. BTW engravers work at high speed so you will be able to run carbide milling cutters and anyway don't want bigger than 3/16. It weighs 500lb half of which is the main body casting. The top comes off easily (release the spring first if not the older weight counterbalance) and so do the tables if necessary for moving.

Search diligently at the works for the alignment bar which is about 3ft long and has what looks like a 3MT taper sticking out sideways at one end and the rare overarm which is a T girder about 2ft long for holding curved and domed profile templates.

There is a Yahoo group for engravers which is fairly quiet but useful.

David Taylor18/04/2018 02:04:18
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90 forum posts
14 photos

Congratulations! A new toy to play with

Bazyle18/04/2018 08:47:31
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3955 forum posts
166 photos

Brian, I've seen your post over on the yahoo group. I suggest that you use that group for the machine specific questions and this one for the general questions on machining and problems that are equally applicable to lathes and mills etc.

The motor is flange mount so you might want to scan the usual sites for a single phase flange mount of similar power at least to start with. As they are less common they are also less in demand so may be cheaper.

For VFDs search this forum for previous threads. A rotary converter is more usual for larger machines so a VFD would be the best solution.

BDH18/04/2018 10:13:16
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756 forum posts
66 photos

Many thanks for the help over this; the machine is to be delivered tomorrow (Thursday) and I'll check the motor connections then.

I've decided to stay with 3 ph and have found a company ( Drives Direct)  about 3 miles from me who seem to do a suitable VFD up to 1HP (the machine is 1/2HP) for £99.99. I can save a tenner on the postage if it's suitable!

I'll post some pictures when it arrives.

Brian

Edited By BDH on 18/04/2018 10:15:29

Edited By BDH on 18/04/2018 10:16:18

BDH19/04/2018 15:01:14
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756 forum posts
66 photos

My Alexander 3A engraver and diesinker arrived today.

Just need to sort out 440v 3 ph electrics and learn how to use it!

p1170507.jpg

s-l1600a.jpg

s-l1600i.jpg

Brian

Edited By BDH on 19/04/2018 15:01:40

Michael Gilligan19/04/2018 15:15:10
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11244 forum posts
477 photos

Congratulations, Brian and Alexander !

I'm sure you will be very happy together.

MichaelG.

Bill Phinn19/04/2018 16:55:18
41 forum posts
1 photos

Nice to see images of it, Brian. It looks like it has plenty of life left in it, and the appearance of the manual suggests it isn't that old. I'd be interested to see what projects you attempt on it.

Just out of interest (for someone also contemplating acquiring heavy machinery) how are you going to get it off the pallet and into its working location? On the plus side, judging from the blank space around the machine, your garage looks to have plenty of wiggle room to accommodate it. Or maybe you just have good neighbours, who have agreed to let you house it in theirs.

Chris Evans 619/04/2018 19:42:08
1200 forum posts

I used to use one of those about 30 years ago, as our work got bigger I started using a KF12 Deckle for the copy milling. I had the chance of the Deckle for free at the end of last year but passed on it. Decided I would most likely use it just once or twice a year for it's one to one copying facility.

BDH20/04/2018 08:52:26
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756 forum posts
66 photos

Bill, I asked the seller (a professional machine dealer) if he could recommend someone to move it and he gave me a local 'phone number.

He called at the dealers, loaded the machine with the built on hoist and drove the 40 minutes journey to my house,

He offloaded on my drive using the long reach facility on the hoist to drop it onto a couple of rollers he had with him and moved it into position in my workshop with not a lot of help from me, and all for £50-00, which I thought was a bargain!

The picture showing lots of space was taken at the dealers. I've tried to add a picture of it in position but it keeps coming out sideways. I'll try cropping it and try again.

Brian

BDH20/04/2018 13:08:08
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756 forum posts
66 photos

Managed to make a picture that didn't get turned sideways!

This is the machine in more or less where it will stay.

Brianp1170508a.jpg

Bill Phinn20/04/2018 18:06:19
41 forum posts
1 photos
and all for £50-00, which I thought was a bargain!

If I'm reading that right at fifty, then the carrier is operating practically as a charity. Still, it's in a good cause in your case, I'm sure. I look forward to hearing your impression of it once you've fettled things and had a good go with it.

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