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Thread: Benchtop Mill/Lathe Recommendations

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    Default Benchtop Mill/Lathe Recommendations

    I'm looking to start a benchtop shop for prototyping purposes and would like some recommendations on equipment. In addition to a band saw, drill press, sander, jig saw and bender, I'm looking to add a benchtop mill and lathe to the mix. I'm looking for all of the following in a mill and lathe:

    - High quality (I plan on taking care of this equipment, so I'd like it to take care of me. I'm not looking to buy junk.)

    - Capable of machining a wide variety of materials (Aluminum and plastics will be the primary stock of choice, but I will get into some stainless and other steels at times)

    - Fine adjustment 3-axis system (X,Y,Z). Adjustment wheel on Z axis (spindle head)

    - Affordability (I'm willing to spend between $500-$700 per machine initially)

    For that price range, the machines will obviously be manual and not CNC. However, I do want the ability to be able to upgrade the machines to CNC in the near future once the funds become available. This will be necessary as I plan on doing quite a bit of engraving. I looked at mini-laser engravers, which would be absolutely perfect for what I'm looking to do, but the cheapest one I saw was $15,000. (On a side note, if anyone else knows of affordable laser engravers, please let me know)

    I've been looking at the MicroLux Mill and Lathe from Micro Mark for about 2 days now and at $500-$600 they look like nice machines. As a machinist, I've always used the big boys (Bridgeport and Hardinge for manuals and Hass and Mazak for CNCs.), so I'm not really familiar with what companies make good high quality mini machines. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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    i was able to buy a RF-25 clone mill locally for about $600 a few years back. also i bought a 9x20 lathe years ago for $450 minus the chuck and tooling. i was up and running for about $900 on the lathe. the mill was a good start however i found i was limited by what it could do. i finally broke down and bought an industrial hobbies unit and never looked back. i should have done this years ago. in any case if you go to www.wttool.com they have aRF-31 clone for $799 brand new/



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    Hi Iceman,

    For USD 500 to 700 you are kinda at the bottom of the pile. Quality is a relative term and for that price you will get relatively low quality. Add a zero and you will get quality, out of the box ready to go equipment that will not let you down, otherwise you are going to have to learn to swim with the rest of us.

    Sorry to burst your bubble but being realistic is the first step to being happy.

    Best Regards
    Phil

    Quote Originally Posted by The.Iceman
    I'm looking for all of the following in a mill and lathe:

    - High quality (I plan on taking care of this equipment, so I'd like it to take care of me. I'm not looking to buy junk.)

    - Capable of machining a wide variety of materials (Aluminum and plastics will be the primary stock of choice, but I will get into some stainless and other steels at times)

    - Fine adjustment 3-axis system (X,Y,Z). Adjustment wheel on Z axis (spindle head)

    - Affordability (I'm willing to spend between $500-$700 per machine initially)




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    Has anyone used the MicroLux Mill or Lathe ? They appear to be nice clean machines, but I'd be interested in hearing reviews. The boys at Wholesale Tool have a combo set including an R8 Mill and Lathe for $839.00. They look very similar to the MicroLux machines and the specs are relatively close.

    I understand that these are not industrial machines - I don't want an industrial machine, I want a hobby machine. I plan on machining single prototype parts from plastics, aluminum and occasionally stainless steel. Additionally, I do want to make sure that I can convert the machines to CNC for my engraving purposes.

    The main question that I have is in regard to the mills. I see feed wheels for the X and Y table travel, but not for the Z axis "plunging" travel. How does one adjust the incremental depth of cut in a milling operation? As I stated earlier, if anyone has used the MicroLux Mill or Lathe, please give me your opinion(s) on the machines. Ultimately, I'm going to buy a set of machines and I'm not going to spend more than $800 on each of them. Yes, this might be at the bottom of the pile, but I'm not willing to spend more at this time. I'm looking for the best two manual machines for the price. Thanks for all of the responses so far.



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    Here,s a nice mini mill that no one ever seems too here about http://www.emachinetool.com/new/cata...D=953#Delivery
    Precise Series 9500 Mini Vertical Mill - emachinetool.com It,s still made in the same country as the mini mill but its to Euro specs and I think it looks like a well made mini mill.



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    one thing you have to ask yourself is how large of a machine do you want? the $839 combo from Wholesale tool is are the mini mill and the mini lathe. i thought these looked great too in pics on the web. but when i saw them in person and how small they really were i knew i needed something bigger. for a total of $1600 you can get both the RF-31 clone from wholesale tool new $799 and i believe you can the 9x20 lathe for $749. these periodically go on sale so if you can wait for that your in good shape. also look around in the paper where you are, sometimes you can get good deals on used machines.



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    Yeah I agree with what Runner says , I too looked at those minimill and minilathe and once I got to thinkin about the size of stuff that I want to mill I opted to go with a bigger mill like RF 45 square column($1600). But if all your doin is small stuff like models and what not they (mini's)should be a good cheap investment. Besides you can always put on Ebay and someone will usually give ya what you paid for it( or least the last several I seen went for almost more than what they could have been bought new)



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