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$25k VMC Garage Buying Advice

I personally don't think there's much better machines in a garage than a Brother (or Robo). Everyone's situation is different and people have different definitions of 'garage'. I live in the middle of SoCal and have a standard 2.5ish car garage with a 84" door. I started with a Fadal and a few years ago bought a new Speedio S700X2. Hands down the Speedio is better in every way. For me, the increase in productivity, accuracy, ease of setup, etc. easily makes it worth it. The Fadal worked, but if I knew what I know now, I would have just gone straight to the Speedio. It's not a zero sum game either. If something really happened, it's not worth zero. Would you lose a bit of money, probably. Is the machine still work a good chunk of change, yes.

IMO, the best option is to just go ahead and figure out the power. You want 3ph (via RPC or Phase Perfect) otherwise choices are severely limited. You won't need 50k to get going on a 25k machine purchase. Get 3ph sorted, a machine, a vise, a dozen or so tool holders and collets and spend the majority on the machine itself and buy whatever else you need as you need it.

Edit: Well, the Mini Mill should be fine. If it works out, you'll want to upgrade.

I totally agree! The brother is my dream machine. But, it costs a lot more. I believe I saw somewhere on here that having two spindles is a good idea. So, I figure I cut my teeth on the lower price Haas then when I have some more experience, maybe a year from now, I pull the trigger on a Brother. Keep the Haas and have two spindles.
 
In general, "more spindles makes more money than better spindles, and more spindles makes more money than bigger spindles."

But if you need tight tolerance work, or big heavy part work, then this would be out the window.
 
I totally agree! The brother is my dream machine. But, it costs a lot more. I believe I saw somewhere on here that having two spindles is a good idea. So, I figure I cut my teeth on the lower price Haas then when I have some more experience, maybe a year from now, I pull the trigger on a Brother. Keep the Haas and have two spindles.
I know someone that was in that exact scenario. Then sold the Haas and bought another Brother. I’d have a second one right now if I could fit it.
 
Why ? Probe is nice, a cute extravagance, for a home shop/small shop machine you really don't need one. Of all the things to be concerned about, that'd be about 50th on my list.
I purposely, to cut costs initially, that where not 'needed', but 'wanted', didn't get probing or augers.
 
OP sounds like he's in a similar situation to me 2 years ago, except I had more general machining experience.

I have the space, so I bought 2 older VMCs instead of 1 more reliable (expensive) machine. I've done a lot of fixing stuff. It's OK, I knew that going in.

Things I wish I had known:

-I wish I had saved more of my initial budget for metrology equipment. Even already owning a lot of precision measuring tools, the stuff I've had to buy to measure the stuff I've made is one of the biggest categories of spending.
-I wish I had more spindle speed. My Fadal maxes out at 10K.
-Learning to use Fusion360 for CAM to make complex parts is frustrating. I may be biased, I have manual machining and lots of Solidworks experience and I hate Fusion. But it took me a long time to get to the point where I can (mostly) get it to do exactly what I want. It's easy to start using and make an approximation of what you want, but a whole different learning curve to get it to behave consistently as expected. In the meanwhile, expect to break some tools and scrap some parts.

-Nate
 
In general, "more spindles makes more money than better spindles, and more spindles makes more money than bigger spindles."
I understand what you're saying and generally agree, with the caveat that those less expensive spindles have to be reliable. Drop below that lower limit and you're going backwards.

I'm sure you, @Houdini16 , know that, just throwing it out for new guys looking to get started.
 
OP sounds like he's in a similar situation to me 2 years ago, except I had more general machining experience.

I have the space, so I bought 2 older VMCs instead of 1 more reliable (expensive) machine. I've done a lot of fixing stuff. It's OK, I knew that going in.

Things I wish I had known:

-I wish I had saved more of my initial budget for metrology equipment. Even already owning a lot of precision measuring tools, the stuff I've had to buy to measure the stuff I've made is one of the biggest categories of spending.
-I wish I had more spindle speed. My Fadal maxes out at 10K.
-Learning to use Fusion360 for CAM to make complex parts is frustrating. I may be biased, I have manual machining and lots of Solidworks experience and I hate Fusion. But it took me a long time to get to the point where I can (mostly) get it to do exactly what I want. It's easy to start using and make an approximation of what you want, but a whole different learning curve to get it to behave consistently as expected. In the meanwhile, expect to break some tools and scrap some parts.

-Nate

There may be way too much rose colored Fadal reflecting online. There are lots of awesome old machines to start a business with. Fadal wouldn't be on my list.
 
Fadal wouldn't be on my list.
Lots of parts and knowledge. There's a lot of verticals I'd rather have too, but have to admit, the common ones are maybe better for the first time.

Some of it depends on what is near you, too. Fadal down the street is a lot less to deal with than a makino across the country, especially if you don't know if this venture is going to last six months.
 
Lots of parts and knowledge. There's a lot of verticals I'd rather have too, but have to admit, the common ones are maybe better for the first time.

Some of it depends on what is near you, too. Fadal down the street is a lot less to deal with than a makino across the country, especially if you don't know if this venture is going to last six months.
IME, the biggest difference between low end machines like Fadal versus high end Japanese is that the work to keep the Japanese machine going is minimal to what it takes for a Fadal. Fadals tend to "nickel and dime" one to keep them going. Every Fadal user will have tales about thrust bearings, bellevilles, belt tensioner mechanisms, belts, oil lines, etc

My 28 year old Mori has had a lube line break, period. Parts to replace it from McMaster Carr cost less than the shipping. My 34 year old Makino has had nothing fail, period. I have changed the OEM Fanuc "mini keyboard" to a full size. Ebay for less than $150. I also modified the grease fitting locations for the ball screws to make greasing easier. No panels or covers to remove now. Also less than $50 from McMaster. Neither of these modifications were needed, just made the control more user friendly and greasing an easier job to do.
 
IME, the biggest difference between low end machines like Fadal versus high end Japanese
Sure, everyone has their own favorites and preferences. But this incessant "Fadal bad !" stuff is silly. Lots of guys have done well with Fadals. Plenty have done well with Haas. I know guys doing well with Hurco KMB-1's. Still, to this day. They have their place.

Personally, I think verticals suck and these pansy-ass ac drive linear way nibbler machines are for pussies and faggots. But so what ? If it suits another person's needs, that's their business. It's not my place to berate other people's choices. (Until they make silly claims like our [username deleted], who doesn't realize that a real lathe will take a real cut, because he's never seen one.)
 
Sure, everyone has their own favorites and preferences. But this incessant "Fadal bad !" stuff is silly. Lots of guys have done well with Fadals. Plenty have done well with Haas. I know guys doing well with Hurco KMB-1's. Still, to this day. They have their place.

Personally, I think verticals suck and these pansy-ass ac drive linear way nibbler machines are for pussies and faggots. But so what ? If it suits another person's needs, that's their business. It's not my place to berate other people's choices. (Until they make silly claims like our [username deleted], who doesn't realize that a real lathe will take a real cut, because he's never seen one.)
Lol. So what is your Mount Rushmore of machines? (in case I ever get a little money).
 
Lol. So what is your Mount Rushmore of machines? (in case I ever get a little money).
That's like asking Wilt Chamberlain what kind of girls he likes.

I started thinking of them and the list was way too long .... there's all different kinds out there. I want one of each!

If we limited it to what fits in a garage, maybe a bostomatic or maybe a 104 excello or maybe one of those inexpensive 5 ax verticals. A maho or deckel would be most practical probably but they don't excite me.

Or maybe a #3 Moore jig grinder :)
 
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Lots of parts and knowledge. There's a lot of verticals I'd rather have too, but have to admit, the common ones are maybe better for the first time.

Some of it depends on what is near you, too. Fadal down the street is a lot less to deal with than a makino across the country, especially if you don't know if this venture is going to last six months.

I agree. The only reason I say anything is there has been some moments of "Just buy a Fadal- They're super for everything!" on this site. Without any real context and no real comparison with alternatives.

Fadals can do stuff. They also have a lot of problems- Hence the reason why there are so many threads here talking about how to fix them. Fadals were a low cost entry level machine when they were new. 30 years later they haven't gotten better.

One could be a great hobby machine or a reasonable starting out machine. I never recommend them to anyone who asks for my opinion based on my experiences with them. I've met a few people who've done this and seen lots of examples of people that do this online, they are new to CNC. They buy a Fadal cuz internet folk say it's GREAT, figure out how to use it, start making parts and everything's going in a positive trajectory. They fix a few things on their Fadal and really start getting comfy with that oddball control. Then another Fadal pops up for sale. For so cheap! Less than they paid for the first one! And it's even less shitty than the first one! So they buy that one too.

So where do they go from there?

Without even realizing it they went from a positive trajectory to total stagnation. Instead of growing a business they're an entry level 1990's CNC rebuild and storage facility.

What was that Fadal guy's name Aaron Gough? He was super active on here for a few years. Super nice guy. Made shitloads of fadal content on here. Kinda stole the hearts of every "I want to make knives with a CNC" guy out there. He presented his process with excellent form and narration- So many nice pictures. He was so busy all the time. It was amazing! He made some knives. I hope he made money. He also spent about 6 million hours balls deep in his Fadals.

I speak up a little bit about Fadals to put a little bit of a different light on that story... Like read between the lines. Was he really making a great choice rebuilding all those Fadals? Did he maybe get a bit caught up a little bit in the Fadal vortex club and forget he was supposed to be in business?

You know what machines I like. I don't need to go into that. But there are other guys who built businesses around cheap older Jap/Fanuc machines with good results too. None of them spent 6 million hours fixing their stuff. They just made parts including things like interpolating round holes.
 
I agree. The only reason I say anything is there has been some moments of "Just buy a Fadal- They're super for everything!" on this site. Without any real context and no real comparison with alternatives.

Fadals can do stuff. They also have a lot of problems- Hence the reason why there are so many threads here talking about how to fix them. Fadals were a low cost entry level machine when they were new. 30 years later they haven't gotten better.

One could be a great hobby machine or a reasonable starting out machine. I never recommend them to anyone who asks for my opinion based on my experiences with them. I've met a few people who've done this and seen lots of examples of people that do this online, they are new to CNC. They buy a Fadal cuz internet folk say it's GREAT, figure out how to use it, start making parts and everything's going in a positive trajectory. They fix a few things on their Fadal and really start getting comfy with that oddball control. Then another Fadal pops up for sale. For so cheap! Less than they paid for the first one! And it's even less shitty than the first one! So they buy that one too.

So where do they go from there?

Without even realizing it they went from a positive trajectory to total stagnation. Instead of growing a business they're an entry level 1990's CNC rebuild and storage facility.

What was that Fadal guy's name Aaron Gough? He was super active on here for a few years. Super nice guy. Made shitloads of fadal content on here. Kinda stole the hearts of every "I want to make knives with a CNC" guy out there. He presented his process with excellent form and narration- So many nice pictures. He was so busy all the time. It was amazing! He made some knives. I hope he made money. He also spent about 6 million hours balls deep in his Fadals.

I speak up a little bit about Fadals to put a little bit of a different light on that story... Like read between the lines. Was he really making a great choice rebuilding all those Fadals? Did he maybe get a bit caught up a little bit in the Fadal vortex club and forget he was supposed to be in business?

You know what machines I like. I don't need to go into that. But there are other guys who built businesses around cheap older Jap/Fanuc machines with good results too. None of them spent 6 million hours fixing their stuff. They just made parts including things like interpolating round holes.
I agree, the Fadal thing is if you want a hobbie and a project.
Not if your trying to start a business.
Two different scenarios, one a Fadal is great, the other, it isn't.
I don't recommend Fadals though either.
 
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I agree. The only reason I say anything is there has been some moments of "Just buy a Fadal- They're super for everything!" on this site. Without any real context and no real comparison with alternatives.

Fadals can do stuff. They also have a lot of problems- Hence the reason why there are so many threads here talking about how to fix them. Fadals were a low cost entry level machine when they were new. 30 years later they haven't gotten better.

One could be a great hobby machine or a reasonable starting out machine. I never recommend them to anyone who asks for my opinion based on my experiences with them. I've met a few people who've done this and seen lots of examples of people that do this online, they are new to CNC. They buy a Fadal cuz internet folk say it's GREAT, figure out how to use it, start making parts and everything's going in a positive trajectory. They fix a few things on their Fadal and really start getting comfy with that oddball control. Then another Fadal pops up for sale. For so cheap! Less than they paid for the first one! And it's even less shitty than the first one! So they buy that one too.

So where do they go from there?

Without even realizing it they went from a positive trajectory to total stagnation. Instead of growing a business they're an entry level 1990's CNC rebuild and storage facility.

What was that Fadal guy's name Aaron Gough? He was super active on here for a few years. Super nice guy. Made shitloads of fadal content on here. Kinda stole the hearts of every "I want to make knives with a CNC" guy out there. He presented his process with excellent form and narration- So many nice pictures. He was so busy all the time. It was amazing! He made some knives. I hope he made money. He also spent about 6 million hours balls deep in his Fadals.

I speak up a little bit about Fadals to put a little bit of a different light on that story... Like read between the lines. Was he really making a great choice rebuilding all those Fadals? Did he maybe get a bit caught up a little bit in the Fadal vortex club and forget he was supposed to be in business?

You know what machines I like. I don't need to go into that. But there are other guys who built businesses around cheap older Jap/Fanuc machines with good results too. None of them spent 6 million hours fixing their stuff. They just made parts including things like interpolating round holes.
Nice, pertinent, write-up.

I always thought (in a dream world only) that if I ever bought a Fadal, I might as well start up smoking again too. From what I've seen, waiting for one to complete a tool change, is just about the right amount of time needed for a smoke break. Okay... maybe if you hotbox it, but still...
 
As someone who bought a fadal based on a lot of threads here, I do wish I had waited for a different machine. If you are strapped for cash though, they are hard to beat. You can self repair and often get them in running condition for $5k.

If you are more focus on making a product or starting a shop and have a 20k+ budget I would get something like a used Haas, Daewoo, or older mori that's in acceptable condition.
 
I did what I think you’re trying to with a Brother Tc-s2A. I bought it on eBay for $12k or so. I Kept it for 4 years or so. I did a lot to the machine and did a lot with it. As far as I know the guy I sold it to is still using it. These are easy to work on. You need to be willing to learn to work on your machine if you’re buying an old one.

And, the tc-s2d machines in my opinion ( i have one) don’t give up much to the current production machines.
 
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