Haas mill advice

Looking into buying either a VF2 or VF3. I wonder if anyone on this list who knows these machines may have advice to offer regarding the
various options.
A few random questions:
- Stock max speed is 7500 RPM. We are going to do a lot of engraving work on plastic and aluminum. I've been told that the super-speed (12000 RPM) option might be worth it.
- High speed machining software option? For the same reason, I've been told that we should get this
- Stock tool capacity is 20. Optional is 24 and above.
- Stock memory is 1MB; I've been told that the 16MB option could be well worth it.
- High intensity light option?
- Table options: Stock has slots running along the X direction. Option has X and Y slots as well as thredded holes
- CAM: We are using Solidworks 2009: SolidCAM vs MasterCAM?
- Programmable coolant nozzle vs. through spindle cooling (or both?)
Thanks,
-Martin
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Yes, and you might even want a speeder head (~20-30K RPM) if you're doing a lot of production. For smaller runs, the 12K head may be fine.

More a "maybe", as even with a speeder head you may still have too slow a cutter surface speed to allow fast table feeds. Best bet is to take one of your common programs, some material and cutters to your local HFO and run the job on a machine with and without HSM. That should give you a better idea of its usefulness for you.

How many tools will you be using per job? I do think the side mount changer is worth the money if you have a lot of small, light swarf flying about - the carousel holder can allow chips to build up on the tool holder tapers, and the spindle air blast may not be enough to dislodge them.

How big are your files? If you're mostly engraving, save your money for more useful options.

May introduce extra heat - again, something to check at the HFO.

Depends on your fixturing methods, might be worthwhile if you swap in complete subplates that can register in the holes.

I can't answer that, as I'm a SmartCAM user, but I know that a lot of people love SmartCAM for its ease of use. If you're starting fresh, and don't have the CAM investment in your people yet, check it out:
http://www.smartcamcnc.com/ [just a happy customer]

If you're mostly engraving, neither is needed. Perhaps you can give us a better idea of the range of work/materials you expect to run.
HTH, Toolpost

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Argh! Friggin' formatting!

Yes, and you might even want a speeder head (~20-30K RPM) if you're doing a lot of production. For smaller runs, the 12K head may be fine.

More a "maybe", as even with a speeder head you may still have too slow a cutter surface speed to allow fast table feeds. Best bet is to take one of your common programs, some material and cutters to your local HFO and run the job on a machine with and without HSM. That should give you a better idea of its usefulness for you.

How many tools will you be using per job? I do think the side mount changer is worth the money if you have a lot of small, light swarf flying about - the carousel holder can allow chips to build up on the tool holder tapers, and the spindle air blast may not be enough to dislodge them.

How big are your files? If you're mostly engraving, save your money for more useful options.

May introduce extra heat - again, something to check at the HFO.

Depends on your fixturing methods, might be worthwhile if you swap in complete subplates that can register in the holes.

I can't answer that, as I'm a SmartCAM user, but I know that a lot of people love SmartCAM for its ease of use. If you're starting fresh, and don't have the CAM investment in your people yet, check it out:
http://www.smartcamcnc.com/ [just a happy customer]

If you're mostly engraving, neither is needed. Perhaps you can give us a better idea of the range of work/materials you expect to run.
HTH, Toolpost

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m wrote:

Martin:
    We have a VF6, basically the same thing, just a bigger table.

    Our machine is 7,500 max, and there have been a LOT of times I wish it had been higher. Small tools need to spin fast, and engraving tools are some of the smallest.

    We don't have this option. But if you'll be doing any production 3D profiling, I'd say this option would pay for itself in short order.

    We occasionally use a full carousel. Plus some shops like to leave commonly used tools in the machine. So, more is better - up to a point.

    We have 16MB, and it's rarely that we've needed more, but we don't do a lot of 3D surfacing mold work. If we did we'd need even MORE memory.

    What's that? When the machine's running you can't see anything anyway due to the coolant splashing all over. And when the machine is stopped, the light never seems to be where you want it. Flashlights work good up close. <g>

    We don't have that, but it sounds convenient. And since you're not doing really large heavy work the possible weakening of the table probably won't enter in the picture.

    If you're already using Solidworks, then a CAM system that runs inside of Solidworks might make sense. You've got to weigh that against easily being able to hire MasterCam programmers off the street.

    We have both. And even if you don't use large through coolant insert drills, a lot of modern insert end mills have coolant through provision that helps to blow chips off the inserts. And you can get small drills with coolant through holes.
    Well I'm not sure how useful my answers were, it certainly made me sound like a Haas salesman, eh? But in my opinion, it's better to have an option and not often use it, than to NOT have it and NEED it.
    And some of these options get REAL expensive to add later, if the type of work you do happens to change.     This is a buyers market right now, you should be able to get a good deal from your machine dealer. I'd try to have them include a bunch of 40 taper tooling, collets, face mills, etc.
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Thanks for all the answers. As I suspected, most of these options are desirable. Some have no impact because you can easily get them after the fact (like memory expansion) while others are impossible to retrofit later (larger tool changer). It seems that I am going to go for a super-speed with pretty much all the options that you can't easily add later on.
This will be our first machine, BTW, so we have zero experience. I owned an old series 1 Bridgeport CNC about 20 years ago, but that's the extent of it.
We are also considering moving up to a VF3 or VF5 due to the potential to need a larger work envelope in the future. It's an absolute unknown and possibly one of those things that you kick yourself for later on if you make the wrong decision. The budget is not unlimited, so we can't keep pushing upscale at will.
In terms of work, today we have three basic types of parts to deal with: cutting and engraving polycarbonate, one sided machining of aluminum plate (mostly lots of long thin slots --about 0.050 wide by 0.100 deep-- and drilled and tapped holes) and three sided machining of smaller aluminum parts. The aluminum plate is what could consume most of the available work envelope. If we need to make large parts it could require up to four setups on a VF-2. We are not high volume so this isn't a problem, but it can be a pain if you want to start a program and have the part finished overnight.
Thanks,
-Martin
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If you are doing mostly aluminum, you usually need more RPM than you have. Don't skimp. Same for small parts, small cutters.
A Robodrill can be had up to 27" in X. Lighning fast.
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YES!
YES!
24!!
YES!!
YES! A must.

Make sure you get a few Haas shirts. The black ones are sweet.
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wrote:

But get the ones with the small Hass emblem over the left side. The ones with the big one center of mass make you feel like you are wearing a target.
Gunner, with a drawer full
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They never offered me a shirt when I bought a TM1 (in Scotland) - make sure you get yours. MK
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wrote:

We do a lot of engraving and, depending on the type of graphic, font, etc. you will want the 16Mb memory. We have the 7000 rpm spindle and I do wish it was faster but I don't know if the 20-30k rpm is necessary. Most of our engrave is on a flat surface .010 deep, 7000 rpm, F30. using a 3/16, 90 deg, single edge, carbide engraving tool and I cap tiny radius on the end of it to keep it from chipping to easily. Programmable coolant is just more to go wrong with the machine in my opinion (we keep our machines until they are scrap). Ours came with a 4 line manifold that has served us just fine. High intensity light could be of value but a 2nd flood light would be just as handy. Tool carousel depends on your needs. Sometimes I wish we had more but most times 20 is just fine......we all wish we had more sometimes though.
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m wrote:

Go with the higher RPM, you will regret not having it.

For 3D surfacing, small movements, you will want this option, but they give you a 'trial' with all new machines, so it's not something you have to buy right out. You can test it first then turn it on later if you want.

Do you need 20 or 24+ tools?

DEFIANTLY! You will kick yourself in the ass with only 1MB.. Drip feeding really sucks..

Nah, plus you can always upgrade/install more lights if you want.

We made a subplate for one of our VF-2's.. I guess having slots going both ways would be nice, but you could always build your own subplates..

age old question there.. don't think anyone can answer that for you.. Pick one ;)

Programmable coolant is nice if you have a lot of different length tools in the same program.. Through spindle coolant all depends on the type of tooling you have..
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This seems to be the consensus so far. The Haas rep mentioned that you could also get a third party gearbox tool that would give you somewhere in the 3 or 5 to 1 ratio. Not sure I like the idea.

I don't know. Part of the argument also seems to focus on the fact that the vertical carrusel (24+ tools) might reduce the probability of getting chips on the tool tapers. I saw a TM-2 the other day and the top of the tool changer was covered with chips.

Yup, saw that on the TM-2. It locks up your computer. Also learned that you could run off a USB stick, but the issue is that you can't stop and resume from where you left off, it has to start from square one.

We are already planning on the subplate approach. It would seem that with this approach a table with xy slots might be overkill.
-Martin
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m wrote:

16MB memory isn't very much. Depending on your work you may be better off investing a pittance in a decent DNC setup.
Slave computers are a dime a dozen and proper DNC software can start and stop anywhere in a program.
--
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Black Dragon wrote:

Or just get the Ethernet/Hard Drive option. Damn, Haas is getting to what Fidia had back in 1994! :)

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Steve Mackay wrote:

Fanuc data servers available on Haas machines? A Fadal I use has one, as does the Roku-Roku of course. :)
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No but HAAS offers one.

0i or 18i? Run the thing from the card.....

Duh. LOL
Or just curious.. You can learn a lot by watching.
JC
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John R. Carroll wrote:

18i
Might as well use floppy disks then.
I disdain using external devices. Machine shops are extremely hostile environments for electronic devices (floppy disks, usb flash drives, wireless networking, etc) and the more that can be eliminated via hard wiring via Ethernet and/or RS232 is directly proportional to reliability over time. In my rather limited 30 years of experience anyway. ;)
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The FANUC Dataserver option on a Fadal with an F18i is a PCMCIA card slotted in the back of the machine. You can remove it and run it from the slot in the pendant. You can use the cards that are for sale in the big box stores but the good ones are purchased from Sandisk and they aren't the same.
Siemens, OTOH uses and actual hard disk drive on their 840D and when they fail ( and the things do fail) it takes out your machine. The PLC and everything else is on the drive. What a Siemens owner must then do is purchase new hardware from the manufacturer - made as an image from the original data. That is something a user generally can't do.
JC
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True enough. Personally, I don't understand why Haas wants so much money for a 16MB upgrade. We manufacture electronic products. We buy 1 GIGABYTE flash chips for about $12 a piece!
-Martin
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m wrote:

Martin:
    That's because of the three magic letters: $$$-CNC-$$$.
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