Considering a mini lathe/mill setup...

Considering a mini lathe/mill setup...

Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

July 4th, 2018, 12:40 pm #1

I'm considering a mini lathe with a mill on top. 
Not just because of space constraints but also because I only plan to make small parts on it.
(My workshop is in my single-car garage, and I would like to keep the ability to park in it or work on my car there now and then)

If I buy one I will want the ability to cut cogs and threads.

I've been looking at Proxxon PD250/E with the PF230 Mill and Drill head, or possibly a SIEG model of the same size.

Anyone got any experience with these brands, or recommendations that won't kill my bank account outright?
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Joined: October 15th, 2015, 1:31 pm

July 4th, 2018, 1:46 pm #2

no experience, but i do have a few questions that i think are going to come up. 

whats your budget for just the lathe with mill?
Whats the Max size part you would want to be able to make?
What are the size limitations for the machine with swing included?
What materials are you wanting to be able to work with?
Whats the max size for end mill you want to be able to spin?
Do you require metric increments or inch?(based on the machine you asked about im assuming metric)

i looked into getting a 3 in 1 a few years ago, and pretty much had to answer these questions for my self when i was looking. unfortunately hard times hit and i didn't end up with one.
2003 BIOHAZARD ELECTRO COCKER
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

July 4th, 2018, 2:54 pm #3

My budget for now is around $1500.
(I may not need to buy the complete setup all at once, but it would be nice to do so)
I'm into miniatures(28mm, heroic scale and all that, up to 75mm scale) and the primary target is for making tools for weird jobs on those.
I like to fit LEDs in awkward places, and may also do a little bit of animatronics. And in those scales, plastics will just be too bendy for me. (I have plans to make a dragon's wings move... and to do that without visible parts, it's got to be small) 

So some hard plastics(HDPE), Aluminium, mild steel and possibly Brass.
(Not considering copper. Way too soft for me to be comfortable with. I'll even stay with the harder Aluminiums such as 6080 as that's what I cut on my ShapeOko and have a lot of bits of)

For milling, say max 2x2x1" is large enough.
Say a max endmill of 1/8".

For the lathe, if I need to work on anything thicker than 20mm I've probably done something very, very wrong and would need to be stopped anyhow.

Accuracy is much more important than size for me.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

July 4th, 2018, 2:57 pm #4

Oh, and while I prefer Metric, I can use inches some places.
(Metric will be required for threading and such, though)
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Joined: October 11th, 2014, 3:36 am

July 4th, 2018, 4:48 pm #5

First off a word of warning: don't set your self up with TOO small of equipment!  That being the simple fact that though a mill or lathe is small enough to fit into almost any room/space, will also be limited by two important factors: power and features.  Admittedly there is no practical way of putting a 3Hp motor on a machine that weighs less then the motor it self.  :P  And those limit of power will limit the size and cuts you will be able to make.  And in the case of the mill the size of the cutters. 

The features department is much more complex area to cover.  By features I am referring to not just how big a table/bed that will hold the size of material.  But just what type of actions the machine will do. 

Take a Southbend 10" lathe, modest size and most features any Machinist wants to start with.  Such as the quick-change gear box, which was a major improvement for lathe operations.  Before the operator had to stop and manually change gear to change feed rate.  Which is also the Threads Per Inch.  About even  the smallest lathe I have seen feed lever of sorts for longitudinal feeds.  But those smaller lathes DON'T have a cross feed ability.  The saddle is just to small for such mechanisms.  Some other lathe features not available (at least easily available) collects, taper attachment, spindle grinding (though I've seen people rig a Dremel for that), to name some basics.

The mills can be more complex for features.  The average vertical knee mill will weigh around one ton, three horse motor, handle around several hundred pounds (depending on the make), and with a head riser you can almost put a V-8 block on there.  Though it does not sound like your in need of that size and weights anyways.  But then consider some of what the average knee mill does have, such as the ability to tilt the head in two axis for complex milling or drilling.  The one feature that is most over looked is the power feed on the quill.  When doing boring work a steady feed for a smooth cut in essential, and I have yet to see a mini mill with that ability.  Plus there is the limit on how big your cutters will be, including a face or fly cutter.  And there is the aspect of a rotary indexer to cut gears.  Even a three inch rotary head will limit the size of the part you can cut.  Which also brings up one of the harder limits to get around on those mini mills, how big a piece of material you can put on the table.  THAT can get nasty when you add a decent vise onto the table.  Just a straight 3" vise is over two inches high.  Add a swivel base to that and add around another inch higher.  Now add a mill holder and a end mill and suddenly there is very little room left.  Even worse with a boring head. Clamping directly to the table is an option, but can risk damage to the table.

The machines you listed are from a company that has a reputation for making quality machine.  For a price.  I do like them better then the Sherline for build and features.  And to make them really usable to do much more the the bare machining, you can expect to spend more then double the machines price for all the features.  One limit are the features.  Both Sherline and Proxxon accessories are designed to work ONLY with their machines for the most part.  Which means if you upgrade to a larger mill or lathe, the previous accessories will probably not work on the new machines.  While an R8 or C5 collect is the same for any machine to use. 

My personal recommendation to start with, Mill: Grizzly the G0758Z (http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mill-Dr ... DRO/G0758Z), or a little better the G0463 (http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mill-Drill/G0463).  I like the G0463 better for over all size, weight (heavier casting equals more rigid structure), capacity and features.  For the lathe, either the Grizzly G0768 or G4000.  Yes these machines are much bigger then the Proxxon machines, but will have much greater work abilities, and will be able to use a accessories from other sources.  And I agree with Doc about the idea of having a milling head on the lathe, to limiting over all.    

And if memory serves right are you not located in the Northern Europe region?  If so those machines are sold under other names.  And one source of small tooling to consider is either Little Machine Shop (https://littlemachineshop.com/) or Pro Machine Tools Limited (https://www.emcomachinetools.co.uk/)
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

July 4th, 2018, 5:05 pm #6

When I mentioned space constraints, I really meant it.
My garage is 5.7x2.6meters internally...  
as my car is 4.12m long, that should leave me nearly 1.6 meters, right?
(OK, it may be a bit over 4.20 now that I have a trailer hitch on it... )
That's where my shelves with car parts, spare engine and stuff is. also my shapeOko(only takes up about 1.3x0.5m when tilted and not in use), my compressor, shop-vac, plywood stock and lots of other stuff.
My workbench is a stack of 2x3" glued and nailed together, then hinged on the wall to take up less room when not in use. even my drill-press is on a mount that swings it sideways when not in use.
I may need to put rails on one garage wall, and install a shelf that can be raised and lowered when I want to use the machine. That would probably also add weight constraints... 

I'm in Norway for those who are curious.
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Joined: October 11th, 2014, 3:36 am

July 4th, 2018, 5:14 pm #7

Hmmm, perhaps you need to install a T.A.R.D.I.S. in your garage first.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

July 4th, 2018, 5:38 pm #8

I tried... 
Unfortunately, you need a decent sized reactor to power the tech, and except for a couple of experimental reactors at Halden and Kjeller, we're not supposed to use them.
(Norway joined the Atomic age in 1951. )
If I want a bigger workshop I'd have to move.  
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

July 4th, 2018, 6:45 pm #9

The one big drawback of so-called "3-in-1" machines is simply the time it takes to swap from one setup to the next. It always seems like the thing is set up for the wrong thing, and so you find yourself not wanting to bother swapping, and so you don't use it.

I understand the "mini" part, I've had to try setting up a "shop" in apartments and one-car garages before. But I strongly recommend getting two separate, proper machines. They'll only take up a little more total room, but generally will offer more usable work envelope volume in exchange.

Plus there's no swapping of parts- you don't always have to keep installing the chuck to turn something, then pop it back off to mill something, etc.

Doc.
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Joined: November 17th, 2014, 11:09 am

July 4th, 2018, 7:31 pm #10

It's not as if I have to order the equipment today, so I have some time to consider the pros and cons for separate or combined machines.
Right now I just want to make certain that I pick a good brand.
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