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CNC Lathe advice for R&D Prototyping Shop

I got so sick of the coolant everywhere that I started looking into buying the sheetmetal enclosure. My sales guy was always insanely helpful and had ties to the factory. He did a little research and found that I could buy the front apron and rear drip rail from the enclosure kit for about (I think) $800. Item #6 and 15:

View attachment 405611


Those two parts were a game changer. The front apron slips underneath the carriage and hangs by two fasteners. It catches everything pouring off the saddle. The rear drip rail catches anything that gets under the back sheet metal guard.

After those two parts, it got into the big bucks of the new back wall, the door assemblies, all the rollers, handles, etc. That's where I stopped and it was the sweet spot for the machine. They should have offered those two parts as an option package upgrade to the coolant tank and pump. I'm surprised a sheetmetal manufacturer hasn't gotten into making something similar. There are enough first-gen TLs out there and we all have the same complaint. I'm sure these are long out of production at Haas.
I made a tin similar to that drip tray. Lathe coolant was considered unusable without it.
Bit of a pain tho as it pushed your hip further from the chuck.
A tl2 or 3 would be nice for the length and torque.


If I was jobbing with multiple people on it, ya a teach lathe with a tool post is great.
I ran a weiler e35 the better part of 5 years like that. Under 20 parts it was king.
20 tooling blocks with any tool needed pre set. Toss a 0.01” offset on everything. Run. Adjust, run the rest
 
I own a small engineering R&D consulting firm in Maryland (10 people). We have an extensive prototyping workshop for metal, plastic, 3D printing, laser-cutting (plastic), and even wood and textiles. We primarily design electromechanical devices for the medical and defense industries, and we're typically fabricating Qty 1 - 5 prototypes for internal testing and design iterations before we prepare the designs for volume manufacturing which we outsource. We keep a lot of the prototyping in-house because we're able to control the schedule a lot better and turn modifications around at whatever pace we choose. In the metalshop, we have a 3-axis Fadal VMC4020HT which has a 21-tool ATC that's significantly improved productivity over our old Bridgeport single-tool CNC Mill. We have an old Rockwell 10" manual lathe that works for plastic and aluminum but really can't handle steel or stainless. I'm looking for a CNC Lathe to either replace the manual lathe or add to it, and I'm looking for advice on what machines I should be exploring.

One of the biggest factors is that the machine is easy to setup and operate to efficiently make one-off parts. I'd say we are probably fine with a something small, 6-10" chuck, 30" length, 3,000 rpm, with a 4-side turret, and tailstock. Accuracy of .005" is generally fine. Budget is around $40k new, so I was looking at the Haas TL-1. While I love how popular Haas machines are, how easy they seem to be to operate, and the availability of parts, I don't love how proprietary the machines and software seem to be. Am I wrong about that?

What machines come to mind?

Thanks.
Sounds like a teach lathe would be ideal for you.
A full on slant bed CNC is a bit of a pain in prototyping environments especially if you need to change from 3 jaw to 4 jaw to faceplate to collet chuck etc.
I used one of these at a prototype shop I worked in and it was ideal, wouldn't hold tenths all day nor take a 3/8 DOC in steel etc but you don't need that in your type of work.
This is a mitseiki branded one, Taiwanese made. They also come branded as a microcut here, no doubt they are branded with many different names depending on where you are. You can spec them with a VDI turret or a QC toolpost. The one I used had a Fagor control but you can spec a Seimens control as well.
teach lathe.JPG
 








 
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