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Milling Machines

Can of worms no doubt

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steve clark 214/01/2013 16:18:38
24 forum posts

I've spent months thinking about buying a milling machine, I'm planning on biting the bullet and picking one up at a show this weekend.

I've had all the questions, "what do you want it to do?" and "which materials" etc etc. At the end of the day, workshop space & budget dictate which sort of machine I could have.

Is there really much difference between the ones below? Does spending say £250 more on one similar make/model give you that much of a better machine than it's rival? Is it just down to a difference in spindel, table, cross travel movement etc? There's always going to be a work piece/situation that any machine can't deal with I guess.

Some of these examples may well be over my budget (tooling to consider) unless I can get a reduction on the day, is that what it comes down to for some, the one who can offer the best price on the day?

http://www.amadeal.co.uk/acatalog/XJ12-300.html

http://www.chestermachinetools.com/conquest-mill-super-4001-p.asp

http://www.chestermachinetools.com/champion-16v-mill-3991-p.asp

http://www.amadeal.co.uk/acatalog/AMA16V.html

http://www.warco.co.uk/milling-machines/31-wm-14-variable-speed-milling-machine.html

http://www.axminster.co.uk/axminster-sieg-x2-mini-mill-prod568039/?src=froogle

http://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Machines-Accessories/Milling-Machines/Model-Super-X2-Plus-Mill

http://www.machinemart.co.uk/shop/product/details/cl-cmd300-mill-drill

Am I right in saying that all these have gear driven heads? Now to me that's a flaw straight away, plastic gears are going to snap one day, I know that there is a belt driven conversion, where would I buy those parts?

Metalhacker14/01/2013 18:40:09
73 forum posts

The arc euro trade SX2 uses a Dc brushless motor and belt drive. It would be my choice every time. smiley Andries. (usual disclaimer)

Dismaldunc14/01/2013 18:59:16
91 forum posts
8 photos

Yup I have the arc euro sx2 as well and I'm impressed for the money, it also has a rigid pillar instead of the swivel mount.

dunc

Steambuff14/01/2013 19:02:25
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508 forum posts
7 photos

I would also go for the ArcEuro SX2 as well .... but they are not going to Ally Pally. So take a look on their website.

Dave

(No connection, just a happy customer)

Bob Perkins14/01/2013 19:58:02
249 forum posts
60 photos

Yep, same here.....metric R8 . There are some photos in one of my albums of my mill and DROs recently fitted

Bob P
DMB14/01/2013 21:31:23
1016 forum posts

Steve Clark 2,

If it helps make a list of what you want and perhaps 1st and 2nd choices, e.g., 1st coice spindle = R8, 2nd = 2MT. Then table width if thats very important, then perhaps, table length, depending upon what you plan to use mill for. Then type of drive may be more important, see Mtelhacker`s posting above.When you have decided, go for the best quality machine vice you can - dont get a poor quality drilling vice. Good luck, John.

Gone Away15/01/2013 01:59:47
829 forum posts
1 photos

I'd give a lot of weight (pun?) to table size in your decision making.

With these smaller machines, if you're using the mill for general purposes you will frequently find that the table or table-travel is just not quite big enough for the job you want to do.

(Of course, the price goes up with table size).

John (DMB) your choice of spindle is interesting. I agree with you as-written but a local vendor changed the spec on the small mill that I bought (after I had bought it) from MT2 up to MT3. When I asked why, they told me it was by popular demand because " there is more tooling available - to hobbyists - in MT3" . I disputed that and felt it was the other way round .... even in their own catalogue.

The nice thing was, they also came up with an R8 conversion kit which I've much preferred to my MT2.

Geoff Theasby15/01/2013 08:10:47
613 forum posts
17 photos

Hi Steve Clark 2,

I have a Warco WM14, which is gear driven, and I have already managed to snap a 10mm milling cutter. The gears survived, as did the electronic speed controller board. The company told me that they sell a lot of this model.

Jim Guthrie15/01/2013 09:10:26
94 forum posts
5 photos
Posted by Sid Herbage on 15/01/2013 01:59:47:

I'd give a lot of weight (pun?) to table size in your decision making.

With these smaller machines, if you're using the mill for general purposes you will frequently find that the table or table-travel is just not quite big enough for the job you want to do.

(Of course, the price goes up with table size).

I would agree with that. I have two small mills - Centec 2A and a Seig KX1 - and the limitations of table size and X axis travel are a constant problem even though I model in smaller scales. In a lot of cases, it can be the lack of room available on the table to clamp items. I would go for as big a table and table movements as you can accommodate/afford.

Jim.

Windy15/01/2013 09:37:31
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792 forum posts
153 photos

 What the other members said is correct.

One other point if you are in a position to see the actual machine you will be receiving I would inspect it before paying.

For many years I had an old Warco round column milling machine that was good then a Warco VMC was purchased at Harrogate show.

On receiving it the base to stand mounting bolts had been drilled haphazardly at one end they were just off the edge compared to the ones on display at the show other wise it was a reasonable machine.

 Paul

Edited By Windy on 15/01/2013 09:43:02

mechman4815/01/2013 11:23:38
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2759 forum posts
424 photos

I have a Warco WM 16 bought at last years Harrogate exhibition, together with the WM 250 V-F lathe as a package deal after I had trawled around the other major suppliers. The cabinets/stands are very flimsy for what they are expected to support (inc as part of the deal) so I would ensure that a solid bench/frame is a better preference. I did have some issues with the first lathe which was remedied by a simple tel. call so the support from Warco was very satisfactory in that respect.

The mill is virtually the same as the Amadeal 16V & other clones from china albeit in a different colour & they are all made by a couple of factories in Southern China just badged as different manufacturers/models ( in the US it is badged as the Grizzly G0704 / BF20L). the price you pay depends on the distributor & what he decides is a profitable mark up taking into account shipping & overheads etc, (as with all businesses) so it comes back to the old adages ..'you get what you pay for' ... 'don't expect a Rolls for mini price' I would have prefered the WM 18 but this was another £350 which was really stretching my budget at the time.

Saying that I am getting good results so far from my mill after tweaking it here & there (& 'straight out of the box', I have given it a d.o.c. of 1-1.5 mm on cast iron, up to 1mm d.o.c. in mild steel with a 4 point face mill & similar with 4 flute HSS end mills so I have not asked it to do too much, so far, so good. At the end of the day, as you correctly surmise ..'what is my budget, what available space do I have, what do I want to do with it 'etc, etc. .. & don't forget about the cost of tooling either, e.g. rotary table,parallels, cutters, etc, can tot up to as much as the cost of the mill if not more over time. There are a couple of pics of my machines in 'my album' if you want to have a gander.

Happy hunting.

George

steve clark 215/01/2013 12:30:01
24 forum posts

Thanks guys, a can of worms it sure is isn't it.

One company I spoke to disputes the thinking that these machines are made by a couple of factories in China, if they were then there would be less differences in wattage motors for example from one make/model to another. Also other related parts may well not fit what appears to be a 'twin' machine.

The old MT2 verses MT3 debate, is it just down to which tools that are available that you can fit in them? The R8 is a type of collet yes? Again, is it the same situation with these? Which collet system is the best to go for?

Would I be right in thinking forget the milling chuck on such a small machine, it's going to reduce the height to table.

steve clark 215/01/2013 12:31:43
24 forum posts

I forgot to say, it's shocking that you can't rely on the holes being drilled in the right place on such a machine.

Old School15/01/2013 13:03:13
352 forum posts
30 photos

Steve

Yes you can get R8 collets, but also a full range of R8 tooling. When I bought my Sieg X3 I couldnt decide between 3mt or R8 an engineer advised R8 and thats what I bought significantly better than the mt 2 on my old mill. The main advantage is R8 tooling has a key way in it does not slip in the machine and it does not have to pulled up as tight with draw bar as mt tooling and consequentially you dont have to hit the draw bar as hard to release the tooling.

Olly

Gone Away15/01/2013 14:31:23
829 forum posts
1 photos

Posted by steve clark 2 on 15/01/2013 12:30:01:

The R8 is a type of collet yes? Again, is it the same situation with these? Which collet system is the best to go for?

R8 is a mounting system for tooling in the mill (or other machine) spindle. It has a more obtuse taper then MT and therefore releases (much) more easily. It also has a keyway to prevent rotation.

You can use R8 collets, and many people do, which will give you maximum height availability. Personally I use an ER (32 or 25) collet-holder in an R8 mounting. This loses a very little bit of height but gives you more diameter tolerance and is arguably quicker changing collets.

Depending on just how small a machine you get, don't rule out using drill chucks. I have enough height to use a chuck in many cases and I have fitted some with 1/2" parallel arbors which slip into a collet very quickly. In any case you won't be able to conveniently hold a full range of drill bits in collets (especially R8 collets which have limited gripping range).

Bob Perkins15/01/2013 14:55:30
249 forum posts
60 photos

I only bought the R8 tamper collets I needed for my range of cutters which turned out to be 3. As per Sids comment the taper collets give me the maximum clearance between the cutter and the workpiece.. A collect chuck will reduce this, which may be important on a SX2.

steve clark 215/01/2013 15:08:47
24 forum posts

OK, let's say I bought that first mill on my list, that's got a MT3 spindle/hole yes, will all these different collets fit in there? I see they list a few different ones, R8, ER32 & ER25 have been mentioned here, which one should I go for??

http://www.amadeal.co.uk/acatalog/Collets.html

By the way, I already have a dedicated pillar drill for drill bits/drilling.

Bob Perkins15/01/2013 15:22:31
249 forum posts
60 photos

My understanding is that your mill will have either a MT2 or MT3 or ER8. You will buy your ER32 or ER25 collet chuck to suit the spindle you go for. My experience of taper collets is that you don't need a chuck, they will fit directly into the MT or R8 spindle/hole and be retained by the drawbar. I took my advice from the forum and looked at my cutters and just bought the collets I needed, which was three. This was based upon members experience of buying sets and never using many of them. I'll add to them as I need to.

Bob P

mechman4815/01/2013 15:43:55
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2759 forum posts
424 photos

Steve

'One company I spoke to disputes the thinking that these machines are made by a couple of factories in China, if they were then there would be less differences in wattage motors for example from one make/model to another. Also other related parts may well not fit what appears to be a 'twin' machine'

I can only offer my opinion, take a look for yourself at :

www.realbull-machine.com/en/

www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_lathe/Sieg/Sieg.htm

On the Seig site, quote.. "This is the factory that makes many of the versions of the mini-lathe, mini-mill and many other machine tools that so many of us enjoy using."

Take a good look through & you will see many versions of what we ME guys buy; have also taken a comment from the mini-lathe forum site ..

Mini-Lathe Product & Book Reviews.

‘The great majority of mini-lathes sold in the U.S. and worldwide are made by Sieg in Shanghai, China. They are re-branded by several vendors, painted in a variety of colors and sold with various combinations of accessories and with four bed lengths: 8", 12", 14" and 16", but all are basically the same lathe (Well, ok, the Micro-Mark version is kinda unique...). A very similar lathe, made by Real Bull in China, makes up the rest of the market’.

By reference to the above the following are made by the same co.

Lathes:

Big Dog 7x14

Grizzly 7x12

Harbor Freight 7x10

Homier 7x12 (old style)

Homier 7x12 (new style)

Homier 7x12 (comparison)

Micro-Mark 7x16 with brushless DC motor

Sieg SC2 7x12 Lathe with brushless DC motor

Sieg SC4 8x17 Lathe with brushless DC motor

Sieg C6 10x22 Lathe

So in the same context I can dispute the dealers comments, again only offering my opinion, make of it what you will, at the end of the day you will purchase whatever make, size etc, you decide suits your needs & budget. Happy hunting & enjoy what you get.

Cheers

George

Andrew Johnston15/01/2013 15:48:59
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5674 forum posts
656 photos
Posted by Old School on 15/01/2013 13:03:13:

The main advantage is R8 tooling has a key way in it does not slip in the machine and it does not have to pulled up as tight with draw bar as mt tooling and consequentially you dont have to hit the draw bar as hard to release the tooling.

Sorry, but the small screw in a R8 taper spindle is not a drive key, it is purely for collet alignment. The torque is transferred through friction on the R8 taper. This is not a self-locking taper, so the drawbar needs to be fairly tight, otherwise the small screw gets sheared off.

Steve,

Just to clarify, the spindle taper would be MT2, MT3 or R8. With any of these you can then use finger collets, which are limited to one nominal size per collet. Alternatively you can fit an ER collet chuck in whichever taper you have, which uses a range of collapsible collets, each one of which covers a smaller range, usually 1mm.

Personally I'd go for a R8 taper in the spindle, as it is still used industrially so there is a wide range of tooling available across all price/quality bands. I use an ER20 collet chuck for a lot of my vertical milling. I can't say that I miss the upper range of the larger ER series, although I do have an Autolock style chuck if needed.

Regards,

Andrew

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