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what's the best mini mill

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rebekah anderson06/02/2014 09:06:22
135 forum posts

hiya all.

am planning to change my X2 milling machine to possibly a super X3

however, before I commit i thought i'd ask you guys what you were thought.

I mainly work with aluminium of varying thickness.

the bigest mill end I use is 10mm and the smallest is 0.5mm.

I mght have to have two machines as I need High RPM for the 0.5mm end mill.

so I would like to have 3 axis DRO fitted and if the RPM isn't that high, the possibility to mod it to increase the RPM.

decent travel on the table is desired.

it needs to be transportable. so either dismantlable or small-ish.

cheers every one


mechman4806/02/2014 09:58:41
2522 forum posts
377 photos

Hi Becky

..." it needs to be transportable. so either dismantlable or small-ish".

... Gross weight of super X3.. 184 Kg - 404.8 lbs .. ?.. I reckon you'd be better off with a X1 or similar for transportability & high speed.. with belt drive conversion, or the X0L ..high range speed - 5000rpm.. gross weight - 20 Kg ..  DRO's can be retro fitted.



Edited By mechman48 on 06/02/2014 10:03:18

IanT06/02/2014 10:40:23
1366 forum posts
137 photos

If you go the 'two mill' route Becky, then a Taig (Peatol in UK) or Sherline would both be good choices for the smaller machine. They are easily transportable and have ER16 collet heads that will hold 10mm tooling. They are both capable of high RPM and can either be upgraded to CNC or purchased with it fitted (Sherline) - or as you mention DRO's

In terms of a larger (new) mill I'm not really the go-to guy here for best advice - especially on Chinese kit.

I already have two mills but they are both old iron (Atlas MF & Victoria H0  ). I have a MT2 vertical head for my Atlas MF (which is driven by the existing motor arrangements) but I am looking at mounting my Taig milling head (with its own motor) on the MF instead. This is a pretty simple thing to do - the Taig head is secured via an aluminium 'gib' strip and can be detached by loosening one screw. A similar gib fitting on the MF would make the Taig head easily movable. This will give me the added advantages of the MF's longer table, power feed and generally heavier machine build, with the Taig's ability to spin much smaller tools quickly.

The other possible solution (for high speed work) is to make a special 'through' spindle that fits the existing milling head but that is driven separately by its own power. I have thought about this for my Victoria H0, which also has a vertical head and is again driven via the existing (but speed limiting) motor arrangements. This head is MT3 so there should be room to fit an MT3 adaptor with a fast spindle through it, driven by a small top mounted motor. Again the advantages are having a very fast spindle on a massive base and a long table (20" travel) with power feed. I haven't needed to do this so far but it remains an option if the need arises. The Taig head is the much simpler/quicker upgrade route.

So you might also want to consider fitting a larger mill (or perhaps your existing one?) with either a high speed milling head, such as the Taig - or a "through" high speed spindle.





Edit: damn thing keeps inserting 'smilies' instead of brackets!

Edited By IanT on 06/02/2014 10:42:04

rebekah anderson06/02/2014 12:29:36
135 forum posts

When I said transportable I meant anything that doesn't require a crane and can be shifted why two man lift into the back of a van.

I will check the two out as I forgot about them.

Russ B06/02/2014 13:06:22
549 forum posts
21 photos

Hi Becky,

you mentioned you have an X2, what is it about that mill that you're looking to upgrade or eliminate ?

Have you considered the new style rigid column, X2 from ArcEuroTrade or their lighter weight Hi-Torque X1, which is the same large 400mm table, but a 250w 5000rpm spindle (which might suit your needs!)



If I didn't just but an RF20 as it was "the right price" I would have been upgrading to their X2 (for it's wider section column and stronger 500w motor over the same table X1LP although a 5k spindle right out of the box would have been nice)

Regarding spindle speed, I would recommend something like a layshaft attached to your quill, and driven via a 5 or 10 to 1 belt drive - it's compact, cheap to make, and cheap to maintain (smaller bearings) - its limited to small cutters, but then what else would you use a 12.5k-25k spindle for on this type of machine =)

rebekah anderson06/02/2014 13:14:25
135 forum posts

Well i'm just fed up adjusting it constantly. And the speed is pants.

so i wanted to go for something a little bigger and fully set up to go.

Am not much good at the machine maintenance but building my models is where i come into my own.

hence the need to change in my own mind.

IanT06/02/2014 13:30:04
1366 forum posts
137 photos

I think you had in mind "two strong young men" when you were thinking of "transportable" Becky. smiley

Two of us went to collect the Atlas MF (about 300lb) in a van and used a trolley to move it but lifting it back onto the bench (on arrival back home) resulted in one of us having problems getting out of bed the next day! With about 140 years between the two of us you would think we would know better by now.

For any Atlas MF owners out there, the Taig head idea is not new and there's a version on YouTube here:


I think you will get the general idea - and it will work well for anyone else (especially those with a small horizontal mill) who would like a vertical milling capability.


John Stevenson06/02/2014 13:35:40
5068 forum posts
3 photos

Or if you are just using small cutters bolt a kress or one of ARC's high speed spindle to the side of the head.

rebekah anderson06/02/2014 13:37:00
135 forum posts

160/180kg is alright. Being military and have a colleague willing to help shouldn't be too much trouble.

only an extra 100kg

Russ B06/02/2014 13:37:24
549 forum posts
21 photos

When you say, adjusting, I assume you mean the tilting column! I had issues with this on my X1 and it drove me up the wall to put it very politely.

I bought a solid column from Littlemachineshop and imported it to the UK all in posted I had change from £100 and I've never looked back - it transformed the machine, it is now quieter when taking large cuts than it was previously taking light passes, and on very light passes the tool used to deflect off the work piece, I now no longer suffer and overall as i said, never looked back - the one time I actually tried to use the "tilt" to do anything useful it proved to be very limited in its abilities.

Edit** for those thinking about changing to a rigid column, it requires a simple adaptor plate if you have the large table, 4 through holes bolt to your base, and 4 tapped holes to bolt your column to - I used 12mm mild steel, machined both sides of the plate flat and true before starting - I can certainly dig out the dimensions if anyone wants them - the column itself is only $43, postage is $60-70,

If you've the tilting column, I think we can assume you also have the tiny 220 x 100 table they came with as standard - and probably the large black round 350w motor.

If this is the case, the links I provided are both significantly better machines with 330x145mm movements on the 400x145 table, which can be modified (as I have) to 350mm by 145 - you'd also get the 500w brushless motor and wider column on the new X2 - it really is a significant upgrade over the old models - it might prove beneficial to go down to Arc and see one in action

Edited By Russ B on 06/02/2014 13:49:42

rebekah anderson06/02/2014 13:41:07
135 forum posts

Might do that and go to arc.

Russ B06/02/2014 13:57:11
549 forum posts
21 photos

HOLD THE PHONE! - It seems Arc are addressing the issue directly with a reasonably price £103 kit to upgrade the small table tilt machines to rigid - so if you can live with the limited travel of that table (if that is what you have?) then it could be just the ticket - it includes the column, a new base, and all the bolts - thumbs up to Arc

** do you ever wonder about "fate" - that new kit was released by Arc - just now, as we were speaking =P

Edited By Russ B on 06/02/2014 14:08:37

Russell Eberhardt06/02/2014 20:16:57
2501 forum posts
85 photos

I fitted one of these to the side of my SX2P mill for use with small mills, dental burrs, and engraving cutters in much the same way as JS's picture. It has a much better spindle than most of this type of drill and I've had no problems so far.


Stub Mandrel07/02/2014 18:01:43
4306 forum posts
291 photos

Arc's rigid column mod for the X2 looks very, very tempting.


Michael Gilligan07/02/2014 19:38:14
14278 forum posts
628 photos
Posted by Stub Mandrel on 07/02/2014 18:01:43:

Arc's rigid column mod for the X2 looks very, very tempting.



It even appears to have great potential as the foundation for a "special" machine.


Stub Mandrel07/02/2014 19:56:00
4306 forum posts
291 photos

Equally, you could upgrade your mill and use the old column as the basis of a new machine.


Michael Gilligan08/02/2014 08:27:22
14278 forum posts
628 photos
Posted by Stub Mandrel on 07/02/2014 19:56:00:

Equally, you could upgrade your mill and use the old column as the basis of a new machine.



... if I had an X2 to upgrade, and

... if I wanted a wobbly column for the special.


rebekah anderson08/02/2014 17:07:17
135 forum posts

I've got one and I've not got issue with the columb. Just the whole set up.

I would love to have a bridge port or similar but don't have a permanent place to use it.

I just want to know what mini mill such as the X3 is good?

Stub Mandrel08/02/2014 17:56:36
4306 forum posts
291 photos

> ... if I wanted a wobbly column for the special.

My 'special' could be a surface grinder, so even without the large bracing plate fitted to my X2 it would probably be rigid enough. However, I was thinking of lying the column on its back as the base of a new machine.


JasonB08/02/2014 18:33:36
16573 forum posts
1772 photos
1 articles

I'm quite happy with my X3 and if you don't need things like tilting head, tapping, etc then its quite a saving over the SX3 that would pay for a decent DRO.

I work on far chunkier bits than you use on the trucks and excavators and provided you don't go silly its a ridgid enough machine.

You could also look at the Wabeco machines, they are a similar size to an X3 and they do a high speed version though they are not cheap. Click the Emco ad down the right side to goto Pro Machines site.




Edited By JasonB on 08/02/2014 18:36:15

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