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15 year old German 5 axis machines, good value or risky buy?

Mr.Chipeater

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 20, 2021
I've been perusing some used machinery sites and I'm surprised at how much machine for the dollar you can get with10-15 year old high end 5 axis equipment from brands like DMG, Mikron, and Hermle.

Parts availability has always been a big scare factor for me as I worry if a board, drive, or scale fails that I'm going to be stuck with tens of thousands in repair cost and 6mo of downtime.

Has anyone here gone down this route? How has the experience been? I keep wondering why pay 300-500k for a new Doosan when a comperable used Mikron can be had for 100k.
 
I think your biggest risk is the spindles. A lot of those machines have 30-50K rpm spindles. I have always been told a good rule of thumb is $1.00 per RPM for a spindle rebuild. So if the spindle is smoked, then....
 
I bought a used 2009 Mikron Vario 5 axis a few years ago and while it has not been perfect(as 14 year old machines with 20k hours on them tend to not be without little issues), it brought in enough work to eventually pick up/justify a new Mikron and still makes good parts. I did think the main spindle drive went out at one point and was able to get a new drive in the next day for about $3,000(ended up finding the problem uninstalling the old drive). Support from GF Mikron has been good on a used machines and I also know a good independent Mikron/Hermle tech based on the east coast if you do go that route.
 
I bought a 2000 dmu50v in 2015 for 8k that’s still going strong. Very minor and cheap problems so far…


One advantage re older machines is that you can often do in house repairs with used parts from ebay. If you get a low speed spindle you can probably rebuild it yourself for the cost of the bearings. Good luck rebuilding a newer five axis spindle of any speed, or finding used parts.

also, you can find other cheapskates on this forum that are very helpful troubleshooting older machines.
 
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ran an 8 year old Mikron XSM600LP for a few years. biggest issues we've had was air solenoids and lines leaking/getting out of adjustment. just like with any used machine, biggest factor is gonna be how well it was taken care of which is almost always a shot in the dark.
 
IF that 10 or 15 year old machine was still making good parts and making money for the company that had it, chances are it would still be there. I would be less concerned with a Hermle, but run far, far away from a DMG.
 
Another angle I prefer is buy the machine broken for nothing. Even needing a major repair. Then fix it up.

A couple grand and rigging will buy just about anything with a fucked up toolchanger, bad spindle, lost parameters.
 
In the past, I have had and know of bad experiences with Euro controls being tough to support. The manufacturers no longer stock replacements and no longer repair the stuff after 10-15 years. Verifying availability of boards, drives, encoders, hard drives, etc. would be my first priority when looking at a 15 year old Euro machine. Knowledge base would a close second, particularly if a 5 axis.
 
doesnt have to be 5 axis. DMG products ever since the merger with Mori have been utter dogshit...

I will not speak of the areas of DMG-Mori that I don't have experience with, but the machines built in Pfronten and Seebach are very well built and make chips day in and out for me with no problems. I've torn these machines apart (Usually when I buy them to do preventative maintenance) and have held the parts in my own hands. The electronics that drive these machines have very little to do with the manufacturer as they are largely shared with other manufacturers too, such as Siemens with Grob and Heidenhain with Hermle. Electrical problems can bring down any machine no matter how well built otherwise. Siemens, from my little exposure to them so far is very modular and has far more than can fail than Heidenhain, which is purpose built for milling machine applications and very robust and reliable.

I've had 7 now and in discussions to get 2 more as I write this. I completely agree with Vancbiker - Being able to diagnose and fix the boards/controls/drives/memory is a major asset that everyone should either know or have someone within arms length that does. Without this you could find yourself in an expensive situation pretty quickly.

As an example, the Omron automation computer on one of my machines was shutting down and freezing frequently. Turns out the main board had some bad components on it. Swap them out and it's good to go. Buying the computer would have been really expensive and that pales in comparison to how much DMG Mori would have asked to replace it. I think this cycle is where people can be soured on any manufacturer very quickly.
 
I will not speak of the areas of DMG-Mori that I don't have experience with, but the machines built in Pfronten and Seebach are very well built and make chips day in and out for me with no problems. I've torn these machines apart (Usually when I buy them to do preventative maintenance) and have held the parts in my own hands. The electronics that drive these machines have very little to do with the manufacturer as they are largely shared with other manufacturers too, such as Siemens with Grob and Heidenhain with Hermle. Electrical problems can bring down any machine no matter how well built otherwise. Siemens, from my little exposure to them so far is very modular and has far more than can fail than Heidenhain, which is purpose built for milling machine applications and very robust and reliable.

I've had 7 now and in discussions to get 2 more as I write this. I completely agree with Vancbiker - Being able to diagnose and fix the boards/controls/drives/memory is a major asset that everyone should either know or have someone within arms length that does. Without this you could find yourself in an expensive situation pretty quickly.

As an example, the Omron automation computer on one of my machines was shutting down and freezing frequently. Turns out the main board had some bad components on it. Swap them out and it's good to go. Buying the computer would have been really expensive and that pales in comparison to how much DMG Mori would have asked to replace it. I think this cycle is where people can be soured on any manufacturer very quickly.
thats great! happy you're having good luck with them. countless others including myself have had awful experiences, first with the machines themselves, then the awful service from DMG.
 
thats great! happy you're having good luck with them. countless others including myself have had awful experiences, first with the machines themselves, then the awful service from DMG.
I don't think it's luck. If I had to rely on local support I think I would feel the same as you. I just want to clarify: The machines themselves are fantastic in design and capability. If you have the ability to troubleshoot and repair in house they are amazing machines.
 
I think your biggest risk is the spindles. A lot of those machines have 30-50K rpm spindles. I have always been told a good rule of thumb is $1.00 per RPM for a spindle rebuild. So if the spindle is smoked, then....

Is that really true? Would a 40k HSK 32 spindle be twice the cost to rebuild as a 20k HSK63? I'd think bigger taper, bigger bearings would about even things out.

IF that 10 or 15 year old machine was still making good parts and making money for the company that had it, chances are it would still be there. I would be less concerned with a Hermle, but run far, far away from a DMG.
Every used salesman I talk to gives the same reason why its being sold.. "its cause they're buying a new one to replace it"

I'm not sure I buy DMG being particularly better or worse than other German brands. Internet comments tend to bias towards the negative and I believe DMG sells way more machines than Mikron or Hermle does so odds are there are more DMG horror stories floating around than other brands but that doesn't mean the percentage of happy customers is any different.
 
I'm not sure I buy DMG being particularly better or worse than other German brands. Internet comments tend to bias towards the negative and I believe DMG sells way more machines than Mikron or Hermle does so odds are there are more DMG horror stories floating around than other brands but that doesn't mean the percentage of happy customers is any different.

I think it is regionally dependent, and DMG Mori took a big hit when Dr. Mori decided to go direct in the US while, at the same time, starting to press a bunch of exotic Euro machines into the American market nobody knew how to support/service. Then they took the top-of-class 40x20 CAT40 machine (the DuraVertical) out back and shot it for no good reason, much to the benefit of the Okuma Genos M560 and (eventually) Doosan. Then you had the MillTap 700 fiasco where they wanted that sweet Apple money and just got utterly embarrassed. Now you have absolutely stratospheric pricing - a friend of mine got his first CMX for about $150k (optioned) back in 2021. The second one cost him $200k. The quote for the 3rd came in at $250k, and they bought something else. DMU50s that were listing at $275k just a couple of years ago are now listing for almost $400k. Insanity!
 
I think it is regionally dependent, and DMG Mori took a big hit when Dr. Mori decided to go direct in the US while, at the same time, starting to press a bunch of exotic Euro machines into the American market nobody knew how to support/service. Then they took the top-of-class 40x20 CAT40 machine (the DuraVertical) out back and shot it for no good reason, much to the benefit of the Okuma Genos M560 and (eventually) Doosan. Then you had the MillTap 700 fiasco where they wanted that sweet Apple money and just got utterly embarrassed. Now you have absolutely stratospheric pricing - a friend of mine got his first CMX for about $150k (optioned) back in 2021. The second one cost him $200k. The quote for the 3rd came in at $250k, and they bought something else. DMU50s that were listing at $275k just a couple of years ago are now listing for almost $400k. Insanity!
ding ding ding
 
Is that really true? Would a 40k HSK 32 spindle be twice the cost to rebuild as a 20k HSK63? I'd think bigger taper, bigger bearings would about even things out.


Every used salesman I talk to gives the same reason why its being sold.. "its cause they're buying a new one to replace it"

I'm not sure I buy DMG being particularly better or worse than other German brands. Internet comments tend to bias towards the negative and I believe DMG sells way more machines than Mikron or Hermle does so odds are there are more DMG horror stories floating around than other brands but that doesn't mean the percentage of happy customers is any different.


Good point, my comparison/example is for cat 40 size spindles. I have little experience with cat 50, etc.
 








 
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