Hello everybody! My name is Ron and i live in Vancouver, BC. I'm new here and would like to introduce myself. I'm 35 years old and work as a Special Effects Technition in the film industry. I'm a welder/fabricator/machinist, although formally trained on none of the above. I've been building unique machines all my life and have learned everything the hard way! I'm also deeply interested in motorcycles and motorcycle travel. In the future i'd like to design my own bike...thats a diferent story.
I found this forum through a google search and would like to ask you all a few questions. I'm leaving on a great motorcycle adventure to S.America for three months, but when i return i would like to start a new business building custom bike parts from mostly aluminium. I would like to invest some money in a CNC vertical mill and teach myself how to use it. Looking at the price of these machines i think i would prefer to go used. The knee mills seem less expensive than the bed mills and i think would be adequate for my purpose. I'm used to operating an old Bridgeport, so this is familiar territory.
What would you sugest would be the easiest CNC system to learn? I've read good things about Anilam, but truthfully wouldn't know how to compare to other systems.
For my first mill, what should i be looking for on the used market? I think speed, power and rigidity are formost, but what problems should i look for?
Should i consider machines with ATC systems? What spindle should i look for? Cat-40? R-8? Large horsepower to run indexable carbide?
I'm a fast learner, and metalworking comes naturally to me, but i really need some advise on where to start and how much i should invest. Machining time is also an issue, as this is to become a business venture and i hope to make it profitabe, and fun of course
I look foreward to your comments and sugestions.
Welcome to CNC Zone.
I am also located in the lower mainland. There are quite a few of us Vancouverites on this forum. See Automizer's thread in the clubhouse.
There are lots of shops making custom bike parts. I don't want to discourage you, just let you know that you are focusing on a pretty competitive sector of the business. That being said, there will always be a market for fresh and unique designs.
A knee mill with no toolchanger and R8 spindle would not be a production machine.
A VMC with CAT40 spindle, a toolchanger and an enclosure is a production machine.
A machine show could help you to see what is available in the market. Check out Thomas Skinner, they do shows at their shop fairly often. The show is free to attend and you can see everything from a small toolroom mill up to large machining centres with pallet changers in operation. There are also displays from tooling and software suppliers.
While it is certainly possible to program at the machine using the control, you will probably want to use a cad/cam package. Personally I use Solidworks for design and Gibbs for cam. There are plenty of alternatives on the market, check out the Programing and Design section of the forum. Using a cad/cam package will make the choice of control far less important, as long as it will accept Gcode your pretty much set. Expect to pay several thousand $ for the software depending on what you want. If you don't want to go this route, then make sure you get a newer machine with good programing features built in.
As far as the machine itself goes, you have to look carefully. There are a few reasonable deals on used machines around. There is also lots of worn out junk that will be more trouble than it's worth. Look for CAT40 spindle, it's the most common to get toolholders for. A toolchanger is a must have as far I'm concerned, otherwise you will be the toolchanger.
Don't forget to factor in tooling costs. 6 months after getting our first machine up and running we have about $15,000 into tooling and workholding. The tooling wishlist is still pretty long.
Thanx guy's, i apreciate the quick responce. To answer Viper's question, the parts i'm designing are quite small, like tripple clamps, belt and clutch covers, clip-on's, etc...
By VMC, you mean vertical milling centre, right?
Does anyone sugest any particular shops in Vancouver that deals with used CNC machines? Good advice on Thomas Skinner, i'll look into that.