guys i need help from anyone int he williamsport, pa area to convert a cummins mini mill and mini lathe to the best quality cnc machines that they are capable of. I know they are chinese imports and such but i need them to be the best that they can be. I am thinking of sending them to kdn tools for retrofitting but i kind of want to do the work to learn how to use these machines. Any help from the board and locals would be appreciated. I have looked at the posts that come up in the search and such also. I just am more of a hands on learner and can not follow the posts very well. The machines are going to cut delrin, stainless steel, steel, aluminum and high density foamboard.
Unfortunately I'm not to close to Williamsport being in NY, but could offer a bit of advice. #1 tell us what you expect to be doing with the tools as that impacts viability. You say you want them to be the best they can be but that covers a bit of territory.
Not being sure what you want to do I'd suggest doing the conversion on the Mill first. The reason being is that a CNC mill can be extremely useful. A CNC lathe, especially one of the small ones, just is not as usefull for one off projects. You may be the exception to the rule here but in general the mill will give you the best pay off for $$'s nvested.
The materials you have covered could be a problem. At issue is the range of speeds at the spindle you will need on the mill. I'm not sure exactly which mini mill you got but accomodating those speeds, with suitable torques, will be an issue on some mills.
Frankly it should be hard to follow some of the posts here. There is a bit of randomness to everything, this is a better place to get specfic questions responded to than to learn from the ground up. Unless of course you follow one of the threads associated with the build of a specfic machine. Like it or not though CNC will require a bit of effort at cracking the books (or web sites) to get started. On the other hand CNC, once you have a machine, is very much a hands on learning environment. That is with your computer hooked up to the machine you learn exactly what happens with the programs you develop.
i expect to make delrin and high density foam prototypes for many different applications but mainly for vehicle bracketry. Mainly the parts will be prototyped in delrin and then made in aluminum or steel. I really would like to cnc the mill first as you said but i do have some tubes that are 2.5 diax .120 wall thicknessx 6" lengths that need turned down in small production quantities. I was looking at the cnc plans on little machine shop but figured I can't even understand the concepts associated with cnc yet let alone build one. I really need to understand all the mods to make this thing as best as it can be with out costing an arm and a leg at one time like buying a production machine. This way i can buy certain parts at the time i get the money.
This may sound different, but if you want to look at cnc machines from a different direction, you may want to look at a couple of (Electronic PDF) manuals. Tormach makes a benchtop cnc machine (some 1100 lbs.) but they have put together a pretty good manual with a lot of good info, and just scanning through the manual a few times and some of the basics start falling into place. For example, the Tormach uses Mach3 Software and a PC for the controller, (as do a number of the machines that the do it your selfers build around here.) You then could download a manual for Mach3 and you will find it is very simular to the Tormach manual. Then look at the Mach3Turn manual for the Lathe, and look through it. Mach3 website is www.artofcnc.com and just do a search on Tormach. Both of these allow you to download their manuals (free) and infact you can download the Mach3 demo software and run it on a pc with no machine connected and they have wizards to generate code for you that you can play with.
Go the the gecko web site, and they have a good overview of cnc electronics that you can download.
You may decide to tackle the project yourself or to hand it off, but the important thing is to learn enough about cnc machinery to have a good feel of how to operate the system when you get it. So, you can also start asking questions about feed rates and cutting depth ect. Might want to start looking at the Machine codes and Gcodes also which are in both of the previously mentioned manuals. Some things to think about. May sound like a lot, and it is, but as you look through these manuals (which are PDF files and they have lots of pretty pictures) things are going to start falling into place.
The same with reading the threads on cnczone, you will find that initially some of the discussions won't mean anything to you and before you know it a small picture developes.
converting to CNC is a very very knowledge intensive hobby. Hell I have an Assocs Degree In Machine Tool Technology and I still learn stuff from these boards. Its just using what you have learned which makes it difficult