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Cheaper Machine w/ Upgrades vs More Expensive Machine Nearly Stock

What are you expecting to buy? Manual machine? CNC? DRO? Any clue what you want to make? Or just ability to fix something with more balls than a drill press?
Want a CNC for parts with curves that would be difficult with a manual mill and such small runs (1-5x) it wouldn't be worth the time to design complex fixturing.

An example would be dies for silicone molds for small (<5³") likely out of aluminum. I'll likely also make parts for 3D printers out of aluminum (brackets, carriages, etc.). Beyond that, I don't have specific projects in mind. I'm sure I (and my wife) will dream up ideas for plastics and ferrous metals.

While I appreciate it's a vastly different tool (price, size, capability, purpose, etc.), this is a lot like my 3D printer and laser cutter hobby. I had a few things in mind, but I kind of had to get my hands on it, start designing a few things for them, and get a feel for them. Then more and more ideas for use cases pop into my head.

That doesn't help a ton because I'm basically saying, "I want to be able to do all the things." I get that. I guess the best way to think about it would be "robust prototyping" meaning one-off, but usable parts (i.e., not just for fit or one time use).
 
I will let others chime in but you said the one word (mold) that is usually far from hobby stuff. Full 3 axis servo. I don't know what to make of your response..... like, "oh, just make a few full 3D contour molds". That can get tricky unless those molds are more hobby level where you can accept flaws?

A robust proto machine is something like a Robo or other drill/tap. A good one you don't have to work on is usually 30K and up. . Yes, you can find cheaper, but they will usually have issues somewhere and if you don't know how to turn wrenches, you are just in too deep there!
 
Did you really throw Haas in with Brother and Robo?
I'm clearly biased to Brother, but would "assume" a HAAS would be a step up from a hobby mill. I've never run a HAAS, but if it has a tool changer that's not built with plastic screws with pull stud tool retention, your already miles ahead of a hobby machine. Now if your telling me you can get a used Brother/robo within a few thousand $$ of a used HAAS, the choice is clear 😁
 
In the late 90's I made silicone molds from Delrin, using an extruded aluminum framed, stepper motor driven, hobby mill, called the Max-NC. It was a junk machine, but it worked. I think we paid about $1300 for it.
 
In the late 90's I made silicone molds from Delrin, using an extruded aluminum framed, stepper motor driven, hobby mill, called the Max-NC. It was a junk machine, but it worked. I think we paid about $1300 for it.
A friend had one of those. He was making grips and such with it. It worked, but just. I think they're long defunct.
 
You all have been helpful, and even changed my mind towards a used machine. CL is a wasteland anywhere near me, but there are some options on FB. There's a very clean looking 2003 HAAS Super Mini within 45 minutes of me. It's about double my budget, but I'll see how much wheeling and dealing he's down for. I know it's not a Brother or Fanuc, but it's miles better than the new machines I was looking at and is very local.

I have no clue how to get it from there to my basement garage, but we'll figure that out if we can get to a reasonable price.
 
You all have been helpful, and even changed my mind towards a used machine. CL is a wasteland anywhere near me, but there are some options on FB. There's a very clean looking 2003 HAAS Super Mini within 45 minutes of me. It's about double my budget, but I'll see how much wheeling and dealing he's down for. I know it's not a Brother or Fanuc, but it's miles better than the new machines I was looking at and is very local.

I have no clue how to get it from there to my basement garage, but we'll figure that out if we can get to a reasonable price.
good thing is, they are single phase, and can be moved with a higher weight pallet jack, I just bought a cheap one from Harbor freight even.
 
good thing is, they are single phase, and can be moved with a higher weight pallet jack, I just bought a cheap one from Harbor freight even.
Are they single phase? I thought 3 phase, but I can get a phase inverter. My biggest challenge is getting it from my driveway down a grass hill around to my basement garage door. Once it's on there, I'm good.
 

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Are they single phase? I thought 3 phase, but I can get a phase inverter.
Super mini mill = three phase
Mini Mill = single phase or three phase

If in doubt, the 90% way of telling is open the back cabinet. If the big box on the right says DC Power Supply, it runs on either. If it says Vector Drive, it needs three-phase.

My biggest challenge is getting it from my driveway down a grass hill around to my basement garage door. Once it's on there, I'm good.

Ehhh, yeah, uhhh, I'd build an oversize skateboard / pallet for it with a super-wide foot print and screw it down to the pallet using the leveling feet holes. You do not want that thing falling over.
 
I don't know those Haas minis like you others but would have a hard time going 30K for an 03 Haas. I do see where the entry guys go to them so they seem to be over priced on the used market.. There is always the option to keep shopping.
Maybe it is like new with lows hours and all the bells??
 
I don't know those Haas minis like you others but would have a hard time going 30K for an 03 Haas. I do see where the entry guys go to them so they seem to be over priced on the used market.. There is always the option to keep shopping.
Maybe it is like new with lows hours and all the bells??
You're absolutely correct. There is no way a 2003 Super mini Mill is worth more than maybe $15K and that's the inflated Haas price. There are numerous very nice VF-2s of that vintage, online right now for $15-20K and those would be a huge stretch.
 
I'm sure this has been asked, but I couldn't figure out a good way to search for it, so feel free to point me to existing posts. I tried to provide context, but if I'm missing something, not thinking of something, etc. please tell me.

Anyway, I'm looking for advice on whether to get machine A that is cheaper (less powerful spindle, lighter and less rigid, slightly smaller envelope), but with "upgrades" (e.g., power drawbar, flood coolant, probe, etc.)... OR machine B that is more capable (opposite of above), but with fewer upgrades (initially).

I'm leaning towards the more capable, but less tricked out machine. I have the space and power for it so my thought is as I spend time with it, and figure out what I spend the most time doing (and what I find most annoying to deal with) and upgrade accordingly over time. However, I'm sure you folks, collectively, have made both choices and loved/regretted them.

For context, it would be our first machine and I'm squarely in the hobbyist/maker category at this time. I am taking machining courses at the local tech college and my wife runs a small business this machine would support, but would likely never overtake the laser as the primary tool. I don't have a specific set of projects or parts I'm looking to start with, so I'm after broad general capability but without a need for automation as most early parts will be one-offs and not production runs.

For example, it might be to make dies for silicone molds for small resin parts rather than the final parts themselves. Beyond that, it would be any number of random things I dream up, but again, would likely be less than 5 of any 1 thing.
Based on your budget maybe look for a sacked out used haas tm-1
Takes single phase power. Easy to lift/move with pallet jacks or forklift.
Should just be in budget and hopefully come with a box of beat up tooling with it.

There’s no shame in old of your jist learning.
If you wind up making a few bucks you can upgrade.
If you don’t make money. Depreciation will be kind.

And there’s something to be said for a machine that comes with a bunch of ok’d tooling. That gets you going vs buying a bunch of new.
Heck I’m 3 mills deep and still using lots of tooling from my first machine’s purchase. (Got 2 loaded tooling carts and a 4th axis. The tooling was worth more than the mill!)
I paid $17,000cad for that mill. An 06’ and I bought it in 2014)
 
I would personally rather have a standard minimill or minimill2 than a SUPER, the machine is too small to actually get to or use the rapids,
and if I remember correct the ball screws have a higher pitch, less control, surface finish,.... and they cost more for what I think is a lesser machine.
a MM or MM2, or a TM1 or TM2
these should be cheap machines all over the place.
need to watch your garage door height though.
but you can tear some of the height off the machine.
here is my MM and MM2 tops ripped off to fit through a 84" door
20210906_141659.jpg
 
I would personally rather have a standard minimill or minimill2 than a SUPER, the machine is too small to actually get to or use the rapids,
and if I remember correct the ball screws have a higher pitch, less control, surface finish,.... and they cost more for what I think is a lesser machine.
a MM or MM2, or a TM1 or TM2
these should be cheap machines all over the place.
need to watch your garage door height though.
but you can tear some of the height off the machine.
here is my MM and MM2 tops ripped off to fit through a 84" door
View attachment 417419
And the super mini mill required 3 phase power the standard does not.
That’s a big deal for a garage guy in a $15k budget

My first mill i would unplug the cloths dryer, plug in the mill and bang. Up and running for the day.
Cheap and easy way to get started.
I belive you can find old single phase fadel mills as well. Something to look for.
 
Also I forgot, if you look into TM machines (TM0,TM1, TM2)
these machines are larger but slower, not meant for doing production.
they do make them in a P version TM0P, TM1P,TM2P these versions have double the rapids, have a tool changer, and way covers of sorts.
I would NOT buy a TM machine without the "P"
 
Also I forgot, if you look into TM machines (TM0,TM1, TM2)
these machines are larger but slower, not meant for doing production.
they do make them in a P version TM0P, TM1P,TM2P these versions have double the rapids, have a tool changer, and way covers of sorts.
I would NOT buy a TM machine without the "P"
That will all depend on the year of tm machine.
The P version was added later on.
You can find early version non “p” mills with a tool changer.
I had 2 Tm’s. A 1 and 2.
The 1 with a tool changer, the 2 without.

For jobbing work/prototype no changer was just fine. In fact it allowed better clearances for using an overhead crane to put large parts onto the table. I would not be a grade of no tool changer in the OP situation, Expecially if that’s gonna save a few grand for tooling. A 15k budget needs to be stretched!

That being said 95% of people should get a tool changer. I would never buy one without unless it was a special case.

As for speeds. You can simply change some parameters on the haas controller and speed it up. Takes about 5 min and your to the “p” speeds. For feed, rapid, spindle. Likely this violated OSHA. Whatever.
Pro tip. Of your gonna do this also double the z acceleration.
It really wakes up drill pecks and tool changes.!

Coolant pump can be added for $200 bucks.

Enclosure. Now that’s a biggy! Both of mine had no enclosure and what a mess!!!
I would up making one for the tm-1 that lived in my garage.
Try your very best to find one with an enclosure. Seriously.

But again, budget.
If you could land a plain Jane tired tm-1 for 5k, if the kinimatocs are in good shape but the tables got drill marks all over it. F it. But it, play with it. Decide where the hobby goes from there. Better than a hobby grade machine.

And I cannot stress enough the “goodies” that you might get with a used machine they can be worth a fortune sometimes.
Tooling up is shockingly expensive.

What’s the saying… someone can give you a Porsche. But you cannot afford break pads for a Porsche to get it on the road.
Tooling is not cheap
 








 
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