There's a bigger jump from "one" to "many" than you might think. There are guys that make a living making one offs, and there are other that do nothing but optimize. One offs you throw in a vise, production needs pallets, fixtures, and so on.
The needed support equipment is different also. For a prototype you can buy a foot of aluminum off McMaster and cut it to length on a wood 14" bandsaw. Not so with production, and then you need tumblers, etc.
Automation is a whole 'nother level. Someone else will have to explain that leap for you.
I'm not anti-TM by any mean, I had one (bought used) and it made money. But I paid $15k, ran it for two years, and sold it for $16,500. It's the fact that they want so much for them. If you pick up a used TM for under $20k (which are posted online as we type) it could very well be a good fit for garage prototyping.
I shouldn't have used the word automation. I didn't phrase that correctly, i didn't intend it from a robotics perspective, just from a cycle perspective on the mill itself...ie something with an ATC that can complete a full op without being touched.
To be into a relatively fresh TM with ATC and a few options is well over $20k in the current market. Everything costs a fortune now unfortunately.
And let's not forget support equipment. To keep a mill running you'll also need a bandsaw, stock/racks and measurement gear. After that you'll find a manual mill and lathe (plus tools) handy to create fixtures or do repairs. Then a TIG because welding is damn sure handy and TIG will do it all with precision.
Tooling and storage for all the drills, end mills, inserts, etc.
I'm not trying to discourage you, just making you aware of what happens between raw stock and a finished part.
No way i can fit two mills and a lathe at the moment, that'll have to be on the dream shop list. I have a saw, compressor (and too many air tools), MIG/TIG/Stick, grinders, small welding table and fixturing, etc already so i'm not starting from scratch as far as a shop, but the machining and inspection end of things is from scratch.
With no machining experience, have you considered that you may potentially crash your machine and be out a good amount of change ($5k+) to repair? Not to mention the amount of time it will take you to become proficient at using the machine. Are you aware that prototyping gets expensive because you are doing low volume, so lots of time invested and new tooling is constantly required = $$$$
This sounds like a no brainer to me, but only you know your situation and can answer if getting a VMC is the correct choice for your business. Try avoid being penny wise, pound foolish. Get a Resin or FDM 3D printer to make your prototypes, check that they fit and look like you want them to, then send out out your CAD files to be machined. With a printer you can make a lot of changes quickly and printing is practically free compared to machining.
I will absolutely fuck something up sooner or later. That's a major consideration in deciding how much to spend.
As far as the 3D printing for prototyping, i'm doing that already. It's great for checking fitment, but unfortunately that's all. I have a basic 3D printer so i'm just working with PLA, ABS and TPU. When it comes to most auto or marine products, you can't really test the prototype beyond fit if it can't be put in service, and I can't 3D print something that can take heat, pressure, and load. Turbo system parts, fuel system parts, suspension parts, etc just need to be made of materials i can't print.
Glossed through very quickly. Saw just enough to add my opinion.
The best option for you is the smallest Brother Speedio you can find that your parts will fit in.
It needs the least power. It has the smallest footprint. They are crazy reliable. The control is easy to learn.
Yamazen is great when needed. Fusion post is no problem. Will fit under just about any ceiling height.
Spindle replacement is quick & easy, and not crazy $$$ if/when you crash it. With zero experience, you will crash it.
They hold their value very well. Can be had in your budget easily. They are just fantastic machines!
If I was in your position but knew what I know? I would be looking for a 22tool S300. They are hard to find.
You should be able to find a 22tool S500 for $60 or less.
Just forget Tormach even exists.
Haas? Meh. That company isn't even a shadow of its former greatness.
Tooling will set you back several k$
I feel a newbie should learn to set-up and operate without probes first!
I am also in the camp of: keep subbing the production out, and use the CNC for product development.
I think buying the machine is a great plan. Financially, and practically. But, you are in for a long steep learning curve. And, production is nowhere near the bottom.
I have about 30 years total CNC experience. And, production widgets is my niche.
Not bragging at all but: I'm quite proficient at max throughput from minimum man-power, with modest equipment. As mentioned, to do it right (profitably), for a low man-power shop is a bit of an art.
After you have a competent skill-set, start thinking about brining production in house.
Thanks for this, lot of recommendations for the Speedio. I do know an acquaintance who has one, not sure which model but he did say it was "well over $100k" so that really wasn't something i was considering prior to this thread. He makes a fortune with that machine in a home shop, but he's a skilled machinist so it's a completely different application. Looks like the used ones hold their value well and there aren't a ton of them out there. I'll look more into them and see if anything fits the budget when shipping, rigging, tooling, etc are factored in.
A machine like the Speedio (or anything else at the top of the budget) is tough to justify in my case unless it's for production. Just for prototyping work i think things like an ATC, probes, etc become luxuries and not necessities, but maybe i'm wrong there.
Yep, Brother Speedio is the way to go. Here's mine squeezing through a VERY low overhang and narrow hallway. Yamazen helped with removal of some options on top of machine to squeeze it through.
That's awesome, shoehorned right in there!
It is my opinion that unless a guy is just made of money and can build the "garage" around the machine, The S300 speedio is the ultimate garage mill.
If a guy has at least enough dough to pull that off. I hated seeing mine go! I loved that thing!
Wish i had that option, but for now the machine needs to fit the space.
Brother looks nice ... but out of curiosity I looked around a little, this isn't our field so I'd just walked past these before. 2200 kg weight, 24,000 rpm spindle, 8 tool changer, bt30, double-column style (like a HIllyer), servos not steppers, travels about 8" x 12", 220v or 110v, $15,000 new. No height problem, 1900 mm tall ? what's that in real measurements ?
So as a Certified Cheapskate, I'd consider that as well.
Umm...something from Brother is $15k?