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Are tabletop milling machines any good?
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Hey /diy/! I have been into hobby robotics for about 6 years now. I already have a 3-d printer and I've been using the hell out of it for the last year. My problem is that the parts just aren't strong enough even printed in ABS on the bigger stuff I am doing. My questions are these: Are tabletop milling machines and lathes accurate and powerful enough? Mostly aluminum, with the occasional mild steel part, and on that stuff not much more than keyways and etc. What are some good brands? I have been saving for a while to buy some decent stuff, and I have found a full size Jet knee-type close to me for 1800, but it just seems overkill. That and the size is an issue too. Weight and size is going to make moving it a bitch. I'm using my utility room on my house, and while weight isn't an issue because of the slab floor, size certainly is. I figure I can put a tabletop lathe in the area too if I can use a tabletop milling machine. What do you people use?
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>>935226
For hobby robotics they are enough.

For the hobbyist "cut out from sheetmetal and weld together" operation, I would recommend a cheap CNC mill. Hand cranking sucks.
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>>935226
>Are tabletop milling machines and lathes accurate and powerful enough?
yes

>What are some good brands?
grizzly stocks parts for their machines in their us warehouse, when you break something it is a pain in the dick to wait for parts from china. in my understanding the small machines are all made in the same chinese factory, so brand is largely irrelevant.

> I have found a full size Jet knee-type close to me for 1800,
get it, Ive been very pleased with my jet mill, its easier to do small work on a big machine than vise versa

>Weight and size is going to make moving it a bitch.
i lift my mill with an automotive engine hoist, then roll it on pipes. i can move it by myself if i need to. i used the same engine hoist to move the lathe.

>What do you people use?
i have a jet jvm836 mill and a harbor freight 12x36 lathe.
ive had to order lathe parts from china, it took 11 weeks to get them. On the mill i have only ever had to replace the electrical switch, it shipped from cali and arrived within a week. i bought the lathe in 2000 and the mill in 2001.
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>>935226
Various thoughts-
1) your pic shows a round-column mill, and most people agree that square-column mills are more desirable as they don't lose the head accuracy if you adjust the head up and down
2) smaller mills are cheaper but conventional vertical mills are only really accurate over about the center 1/3 of the table's left-to-right movement. the weight of the table itself makes the whole thing sag if you crank it off to either side. ALL vertical mills do this, even the big & expensive ones.
3) no mini-mill I've ever seen has a nod adjustment on the head, so you can't tram them perfectly. only one mid-size mill I've ever seen (online) had it. All normal Bridgeport-style full-size mills have it. so if you want maximum-possible-accuracy, you must use a full-size mill that is trammed correctly
4) (In the US) Jet is often said to be the best of the mini-China/Taiwan metalworking machines. Grizzly is second-best, but has the best parts support. You get what you pay for.
5) I have a grizzly G0619 mill. The only thing I don't like is the lack of head nod. And I'd like to motorize it (or CNC it) but can't yet...
6) I also have a grizzly G9972Z lathe. It only threads one-way, so you can't cut backwards threads with it (some people make a gear to allow this tho). It is belt-drive so if you crash it, the belt just slips (I did that once). Mainly I wish it would turn slower than it does, the lowest speed is 150 RPMs and I'd like it better if it was 1/3 that--but the only way to change that is to electronically control the synchronous AC motor, which isn't cheap. Or convert it to a brushless motor, which also isn't cheap.
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Thanks guys! I think I am going to stay away from a full size mill. I just don't need something that big. Maybe after I get my own house and have a garage, but right now it would just be a pain in the ass. Going to go look at grizzly now. Have a good week!
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>Weight and size is going to make moving it a bitch.

I don't go jogging with my lathe and mill. Google "moving a Bridgeport" for examples of simple dollies and moving techniques. I've moved mills, lathes and heavy industrial welders with little fuss. Don't be intimidated, copy what works, work SLOWLY.

Many people spend money on inaccurate, inadequate hobby pseudo-machine-tools when less would get them superior equipment.

Hardinge. for example, made some small but excellent vertical mills which are ample for hobby use but are industrial quality.

Visit machining forums. All info you seek lives there.
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>>935707
>I just don't need something that big.
The law of tools: You eventually will need something that big.
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>>936734
I just recently used my 1-1/8 sized wrench that came in my wrench set.
I was actually appalled when I got the set that they went into the inch plus sizes instead of giving me all the smaller wrenches.

Glad I didnt have to try and use a fucking monster 16inch adjustable wrench on it
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