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Haas Mini Mill, how old is too old?

DanASM

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Mar 11, 2019
I am once again working all weekend long running parts on the Bridgeport Knee mill for a good customer who is in a rush. I am just x-drilling parts, but I have a 4th axis 5c indexer that I use quite a bit with this machine.

Everytime I have to do some knee mill work I end up looking into Mini Mills as they would make my life so much easier. In my shop we have no live tools, just 2 ax turning. I feel like a 4th axis indexer would be easy to use on a cnc mill for this type of work essentially using the mill as my "live tooling".

Now in the past I have been told to stay away from certain controllers and also have been told by Haas resellers to only go back 10 years or less. Not worth fixing an older one as the parts can be unavailable.

I noticed a ton of these mills on ebay now and they are listed at 25k-35k. I dont see them selling for that much but there is a lot more listed now than I have seen in the past. If I see one for 15k-20k they just look so much worse than something for 5k-10k more.

Anyone have thoughts on these? My space is limited but dont really want to waste space with a 30 taper drill/tap center. I feel like I would have more flexibility with a Cat 40 machine.

I almost feel like buying something newer and taking advantage of a tax credit might be better than getting a deal on something 7-10 years old. I would hate to spend a lot of money on a Hass,
 
 
Haas machines with the non-supported control usually have an analog spindle load meter on the console.

Section 179 tax deduction is valid on used equipment as long as it's new to you.
 
Mini mills can be good for light duty work, if you want to get serious look into the VF series. 2015 year models have been my favorite haas to use/own so far, mill and lathe.
 
If you have one iota of business sense and you find a Haas mini-mill for a good price you'd buy it and flip it for 10 times what you paid for it.

For an excellent CNC mill to eliminate a Bridgeport buy an old Mori-Seiki MV-Jr. These are usually $1500-$3000 with a rock solid Fanuc control and absolutely awesome.
 
My oldest machine is a 2006 Haas and I wouldn’t purchase anything older. It still makes good parts but every now and then it has an electrical glitch that shuts it down. That machine at least had a USB port.

Somewhere from around 2010-2020 they ran the same control. It’s a nice control without all the bells and whistles of the brand new stuff but is really operator friendly.
 
Some of the used HAAS mini mill prices are freakin' bonkers!
I bought mine ( the only used CNC machine I ever purchased ) when it was 13 months old, and I paid $19,500 for it back in the summer of 2002.
That machine is still running and putting out parts 21 years later.
Would I have paid a bit more for it back then? Yes, perhaps a couple grand more, anything above that though, I'd have bought new.

Some of the insane prices today OTOH are only for those who are absolutely, 100%, batshit desperate to get something in the shop to push stuff out immediately and cannot wait the 3-4 months of build time.

In any case, I am of the opinion that 15 - 20K should be for a decent shape Minimill, less than 10 years old.
Maybe 10-15K for a 15 year old or newer, anything beyond 15 years old better be in the 4 digit range.

Again, that is just my opinion...
 
I bought a 2011 super mini mill for $35k incl GST in Australia about 7 years ago. Came with that much free stuff including compressor etc that by the time I claimed back GST I probably paid 20k. It's served me well, potential catastrophic ATC crash that I caught just in time and a bent tooling plate this year plus some funky glitches. Am I grateful for the deal, yes would I buy another Haas no way.
 
I guess i am under the impression that I need something more rigid than 30 taper, but in reality I would only be taking cuts similar to live tools in a swiss lathe. A Robodrill might be better suited for my spacew requirements.

I do some x-drilling and tapping from time to time. Some jobs have a few flats milled on them, others have the hex milled into an acorn style nut and cranking handles is getting old. My back isnt liking it either.

I did ask about 30 taper machines a while back and the consensus was 3/8" endmills with max 1" loc was the biggest endmill that should be run. The spindle speeds would blow away any live tooling on a swiss, so taking lighter cuts wont waste much time.

Not having any form of live tools in the shop sucks. We have a horizontal miller to slot parts, and mill flats with slitting saw or disk style cutters. The Bridgeport is a nice machien but does not have power feeds and manual tool changes (Drill/Tap) can be a hassle.

I guess the mini mill had me thinking it would open up new opportunities that a 30 taper would not. Realistically I bet the 30 taper would be fine for the work I do.
 
I guess i am under the impression that I need something more rigid than 30 taper, but in reality I would only be taking cuts similar to live tools in a swiss lathe. A Robodrill might be better suited for my spacew requirements.

I do some x-drilling and tapping from time to time. Some jobs have a few flats milled on them, others have the hex milled into an acorn style nut and cranking handles is getting old. My back isnt liking it either.

I did ask about 30 taper machines a while back and the consensus was 3/8" endmills with max 1" loc was the biggest endmill that should be run. The spindle speeds would blow away any live tooling on a swiss, so taking lighter cuts wont waste much time.

Not having any form of live tools in the shop sucks. We have a horizontal miller to slot parts, and mill flats with slitting saw or disk style cutters. The Bridgeport is a nice machien but does not have power feeds and manual tool changes (Drill/Tap) can be a hassle.

I guess the mini mill had me thinking it would open up new opportunities that a 30 taper would not. Realistically I bet the 30 taper would be fine for the work I do.

A mini is a joke of a machine 40 taper or not. Not saying it won't do what you need, but it having 40 taper means nothing.
 
A mini is a joke of a machine 40 taper or not. Not saying it won't do what you need, but it having 40 taper means nothing.
If you are able to do your parts on a bridgeport, a 30 taper machine would be just fine.

Not 100% sure, but thinking the mini mills would be similar to the TM and TL series Haas. Been hearing the tool room line from Haas has limited life since they released them.

My oldest cnc machine is a 95 VF-4. It has one job and still runs once a month.

Not sure where you are located, but haas rotaries are constantly on auctions.

Hope you are able to find a solution that makes your life easier. When you do pull the trigger and get running you will be wishing you had done it 10 years ago.
 
I had 1998 VF-2 (with gearbox spindle), I think that generation was what made Haas' reputation decent back in the day. It was purchased used, about 2003-4. I bought a super mini-mill, and a mini-mill 2, both new. I also have had other machines, including a Robo and now have several Brothers. Neither of the 40 taper mini's could come close to keeping up with the Robo or the Brother assuming all machines are run to capacity. If you are running 1/2" tools or smaller, and the parts will fit in a shoebox, I would still choose a Brother over any vertical Haas machine.
The Haas minis are easy to learn and run. My experience has been that their service had gone downhill a lot and parts got needlessly expensive. Combined with no longer supporting the older controls, not worth it to me. (I had owned their lathes too, with older controls).
If you can get a solid deal, are aware of all the potential drawbacks, and still want one, good luck. If you are considering a new machine, price a small basic Brother. It's a far better machine, way more reliable and accurate. Maybe even look for a used older Brother, and once you get it running well it will be miles better than a Haas mini. Used minis go more more than they are really worth IMHO.
Good luck!!
 
It sounds like you are describing 30 taper Drill/Tap work to a T. They are the ultimate 2nd Op machine (in addition to small general machine use).

You can go over the 3/8" x 1" rule, just be aware of your cut. One thing I like about 3/8 and below is that a mistake will break a tool before causing spindle issues.
 
I guess i am under the impression that I need something more rigid than 30 taper, but in reality I would only be taking cuts similar to live tools in a swiss lathe. A Robodrill might be better suited for my spacew requirements.

I do some x-drilling and tapping from time to time. Some jobs have a few flats milled on them, others have the hex milled into an acorn style nut and cranking handles is getting old. My back isnt liking it either.

I did ask about 30 taper machines a while back and the consensus was 3/8" endmills with max 1" loc was the biggest endmill that should be run. The spindle speeds would blow away any live tooling on a swiss, so taking lighter cuts wont waste much time.

Not having any form of live tools in the shop sucks. We have a horizontal miller to slot parts, and mill flats with slitting saw or disk style cutters. The Bridgeport is a nice machien but does not have power feeds and manual tool changes (Drill/Tap) can be a hassle.

I guess the mini mill had me thinking it would open up new opportunities that a 30 taper would not. Realistically I bet the 30 taper would be fine for the work I do.
I run a '95 30 taper Kira next to a 2011 40 taper Mini, the 30 is far more rigid than the 40. The taper does not define rigidity. In 2 identical high quality machines the 40 will outperform the 30. But when you're comparing something like a 30 Robodrill to a 40 Haas the argument doesn't stack up anymore. With high speed milling cycles in use nowadays how often do you need to bury the cutter at full depth and full width. I did a job on the 30 where I was cutting 20mm deep and full width with a 12mm end mill in 6061 at about 1200mm/min with the 30 and the only issue was the steam coming off the cutter. I mill 16mm x 16mm slots at full depth in 4140 with a 8mm cutter. I just write my own trochoidal type toolpath with a 1mm step over. I tried this on the Haas and it didn't like it at all.
 
Something I have to ask: are you limiting yourself to the Mini Mill because you need to get it through a 7 foot high garage door? If you buy a VF-1 or VF-2 with the umbrella tool changer (not the side mount--this eliminates any SS models), you can get it under a 7 foot entrance. The Z axis needs to be parked down on the shipping bracket or a wooden block, the Z axis motor removed and the cable track laid on its side. It'll scoot right under a 7 foot header.

Once it's in, you need maybe 100 inches of height to clear the wire cable track in the highest spindle position. If the ceiling is 8 foot, you can put it between rafters and cut a hole in the drywall over that small area.

This is one year older than you should consider (has the now obsolete control). Upside: this is the YT model with 20" of Y travel instead of 16. It gives you some idea of what's out there:

 
Something I have to ask: are you limiting yourself to the Mini Mill because you need to get it through a 7 foot high garage door? If you buy a VF-1 or VF-2 with the umbrella tool changer (not the side mount--this eliminates any SS models), you can get it under a 7 foot entrance. The Z axis needs to be parked down on the shipping bracket or a wooden block, the Z axis motor removed and the cable track laid on its side. It'll scoot right under a 7 foot header.

Once it's in, you need maybe 100 inches of height to clear the wire cable track in the highest spindle position. If the ceiling is 8 foot, you can put it between rafters and cut a hole in the drywall over that small area.

This is one year older than you should consider (has the now obsolete control). Upside: this is the YT model with 20" of Y travel instead of 16. It gives you some idea of what's out there:

Height is not an issue. Overall floor space is the issue. If I was to go for a bigger machine HAAS would not even be talked about. Haas was only an option due to the mini mill. It is no longer in the running after hearing others experience with them.
 
Don't go older than 2008 or so.............as mentioned, mills with the analog load meter are to be avoided............

OP.......IIRC you made few parts for me in the past? Cross holes/flats where done on manual equipment?............ you're runnin a bunch of cam equipment/screw machines? A mini will be just fine for all the 2nd op stuff............plus a mini pre-wired for a 4th or including a 4th will be easier to find then some other VMCs out there. Cheaper too.
 
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Don't go older than 2008 or so.............as mentioned, mills with the analog load meter are to be avoided............

OP.......IIRC you made few parts for me in the past? Cross holes/flats where done on manual equipment?............ you're runnin a bunch of cam equipment/screw machines? A mini will just fine for all the 2nd op stuff............plus a mini pre-wired for a 4th or including a 4th will be easier to find then some other VMCs out there. Cheaper too.

Those parts I made for you was probably the last time I cranked some handles on the BP and the last time I thought about the power feeds/servos. This time I was just x-drilling a .0785" hole, flipping 180 and drilling again. Arm was hurting as I approached the 500 part qty. I could tell my drilling arm was getting tired and holes were getting slower to drill.

A cnc would keep this stuff consistant and let the operator do something else. My Servocams are unbeatable for blanking out parts fast. My quotes are half to a third of what swiss guys are quoting. Some of my customers do the 2nd op on rotary transfer machines, but if I could offer some live tooling in the shop I am sure I can take on a lot more jobs.

I am seeing more slotting jobs coming in lately too. If the qty's get too high I wont have the time for slotting either.
 








 
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