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Author Topic: CNC screw cutting lathe advice  (Read 14074 times)

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Re: CNC screw cutting lathe advice
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2009, 04:39:24 PM »
If all you are doing is the kind of item you posted, I'd have to really question how much time savings CNC will be to you, vs the cost of hardware, software and learning curve.

I am an engineer with many years experience in machining and designing prototypes of all mannet of machanisms and it has taken me months to get a simple CNC retrofit to perform adequately . .  and I'm not done by a stretch. Not intended to scare you off, but if you are busy running a successful business, I would not recommend you dive into your first CNC retrofit if you need any product off it in the coming months, or if you have other things to do besides becomming a full time student again   :P

Out of curiosity, what started you thinking about CNC in the first place?

Good questions…
The part I posted is probably the simplest part and is only to demonstrate a typical size of part I make and not the reason for choosing CNC. There are a large number of parts I make and want to make (both milling and turning) that CNC is essential.

I originally served my time as a toolmaker and have worked as a 3D CAD designer for a number of years so using CNC is not the problem. What I am really looking for is a system out of a box and in the price range of the CADCAM system above. I think I have decided that the CADCAM system with the SHERLINE lathe is not really up to the job so the next step is to look at retro-fitting CNC to a manual lathe; where I make the brackets and someone else sets it up for me and I think I have found someone to do this for me at a reasonable price. What I don’t have time for is selecting the electronic hardware that will work together, making up leads, wiring up the system, configuring parameters etc. etc.

I am either looking at retro-fitting to a WARCO lathe or to my own PORTASS lathe. The ‘Electronic Lead Screw’ system has been suggested but I think it is let down by lack of general CNC facilities (E.g. it does not seem to be able cope with a complex rad.). What I would like to go for is the MACH3 system but I am a little concerned whether the CNC screw cutting is consistent. CNC thread cutting is, I think, essential in order to keep tooling cost down. Most of the threads I do are odd ball metric (M10 x 1 etc.) and the normal dies tend to be expensive and don’t last long cutting stainless.

Probably what I need to know at present is CNC screw cutting on a lathe possible with the MACH3 system?

Offline RICH

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Re: CNC screw cutting lathe advice
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2009, 08:14:23 PM »

"Probably what I need to know at present is CNC screw cutting on a lathe possible with the MACH3 system?"

Yes, there are folks who don't don't seem to have any problems. They have stable PC's, HP on the machine such that
there is minor or no slowdown of the spindle when threading and good ball screws for quality of movement.

I would say, that for a buisness and also the fact that you don't want to or will not have the time for fooling around,
buy a complete CNC lathe with all in place and big enough for all anticipated work.  Along with that comes a price tag.
Even then, you will need to spend some time learning how to use it with your choice of software.

Offline simpson36

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Re: CNC screw cutting lathe advice
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2009, 01:18:34 AM »
BWprice100, I have to disagree with your comment about threading dies as that has not been my experince, but perhaps it is different in the UK.

I'll second everything Rich said and add that I think that considering your particular needs and time frame, that it would be a mistake to attempt a retrofit.

As a person who has started, built up and sold several businesses, and owned a small specialty machine shop, I can tell you what I would do in your sitaution. I woud consider these two options:

1) purchase a wokring used CNC lathe from a shop, dealer or hobbiest that can demonstrate thread cutting of YOUR threads on YOUR material. If they won't do that, then assume that they can't.

2) lease a new CNC machine. Tax incentives and depreciation on new equipment (at least this used to be the case here in the US) is far greater on new equipment than used, so the governement helps you buy the thing. Make the lease payments out of the profits the machine generates and save your cash.

Enjoyable conversation . . good luck with your project!
Re: CNC screw cutting lathe advice
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2009, 03:27:16 AM »
Thanks for the replies guys.

One of the problems of buying a ready made CNC lathe is availability, especially of the size of machine that will fit in my workshop, able to be carried down stairs, single phase and at a price within my budget.

With regard to the retro fitting, all I am planning to do is make the mounting brackets for the motors etc. and pay someone else to set it all up.

With regard to learning to using a CNC lathe the MACH3 does not seem to be that different from other CNC systems I have used

With regard to leasing a machine, first you have to find a suitable machine and then as I am a ‘sole trader and not a ‘limited’ company it is far more difficult to lease a machine.

As I have said I am still researching at the moment but CNC is the way to go and the only doubt is about the capabilities of these smaller machine to CNC  screw cut; maybe I will have to resign my self to the fact that the threading will have to done manually.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2009, 03:28:57 AM by bwprice100 »