mill advice needed

The company I work for is looking to purchase a milling machine. Can you guys give some advice, they probably wont go for a Bridgeport. One
company told us that Bridgeport was bought out and is not making machines anymore but there may still be some around. The people we will be dealing with sell Jet, Wilton, Vectrax. Which of these are the better machine. MSC lists Vectrax as the highest quality import. We are looking at 10"x54" table, variable speed, R-8 spindle, digital readout, X Y power feed (maybe knee also) coolant system, tooling package. Any input from you guys would be great. Thanks, Craig
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I think Hardinge makes what is left of Bridgeport machines...
http://www.hardinge.com/index.asp?pageID 4
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With that budget Craig, you could probably find a good used CNC machine.
--
Anthony

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we are not really in the market for CNC, we do a lot of one off parts, a lot or repairing odd items etc... We are also keeping a lot of old stuff operating. We do not do any ultra precise NASA type stuff, but we do need a reasonable degree of accuracy.
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Hey Craig,
Always a good idea to indicate roughly in what part of the world you are, especially on this newsgroup. Specific is even better. It can make a difference in advice.
Take care.
Brian Lawson, Bothwell, Ontario. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

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You can get a decent CNC setup (Atrump.com) for less than $35K. Why bother with one of those dinosaurs? With conversational programming you can cut parts the day it's installed. IMO the proper place for old bridgeports is the scrap yard.
Craig wrote:

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Nah. If you don't need down and dirty milling, they make great drill press machines. Sturdy and strong as a pair of oxen. :)
It's one of our favorite machines to fit many spindle heads onto because some of the heads are 24" across or larger... And the smaller drill press machines either can't take the side loads or teh table isn't worth a penny when considering a stable surface for quality hole drilling.
Joe - V#8013 - '86 VN750 - joe @ yunx .com Northern, NJ http://www.autodrill.com
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Lagun.
Good stuff.
Gunner
"To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem. To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized, merely the domesticated." - Trefor Thomas
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Craig wrote:

One
of
quality
=================The cost of the basic mill is just the down payment.
I suggest that you (or your accountants) carefully consider the total operating and life cycle costs. For example, the attachments and upgrades to power feeds, rotary tables, special fixtures, special taps and special tools such as universal dividing/indexing heads to cut cams. With a CNC machine most of this additional expense is eliminated as all these (and many more) capabilities are built-in .
While CNC operation most definitely does not eliminate the need for considerable machining knowledge such as feeds, speeds, depth of cuts, etc. it does eliminate or greatly reduce the need for the extremely high levels of hand-eye coordination and years of practice required for consistent and successful close tolerance and/or intricate manual mill operation.
I don't know if your company or your customers are using CAD, but if they are, a simple and relatively inexpensive program such as PowerStation (SKU M99-065-806 @ $147.50 from Travers Tool http://www.travers.com ) can convert the DXF files (which almost all CAD programs can generate) to G code. (I don't know if this will do helical milling to generate threads.)
Even for one-off prototyping and maintenance work you will most likely be better off with a cnc machine as you will almost always be asked to run the job again with larger radiuses in the corners or some such minor modification, or be asked to make the part in steel rather than aluminum. This is a trivial editing task to the cnc code and you are ready to cut metal.
Given your low volume production I don't think you will need a tool/pallet changer, however a basic modular tooling kit (see http://www.bluco.com/welding/advantages/ and many other sites for examples) may prove helpful. Note that you can produce many of the components in-house in any open-time on the cnc machine. Also you may wish to consider a machine with a PC based controller rather than dedicated controller such as FANUC as you will most likely not require high numbers of axis control or high feed rates. See http://www.desktopcnc.com/cncmasters.htm for an example.
I am cross-posting this reply to alt.machines.cnc as that group has the most knowledgeable and helpful people I have come across, not only on CNC machines but also on general shop operation. I am sure they will give you very good advise based on their own practical experience.
Please keep the group informed of your progress. I am pleased to see that at least a few shops are upgrading and maintaining machining capability in the US.
GmcD
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Craig wrote:

One
of
quality
===================================The cost of the basic mill is just the down payment.
I suggest that you (or your accountants) carefully consider the total operating and life cycle costs. For example, the attachments and upgrades to power feeds, rotary tables, special fixtures, special taps and special tools such as universal dividing/indexing heads to cut cams. With a CNC machine most of this additional expense is eliminated as all these (and many more) capabilities such as easy metric/inch conversion are built-in .
While CNC operation most definitely does not eliminate the need for considerable machining knowledge such as feeds, speeds, depth of cuts, etc. it does greatly reduce the need for the extremely high levels of hand-eye coordination and years of practice required for consistent and successful close tolerance and/or intricate mill operation.
I don't know if your company or your customers are using CAD, but if they are, a simple and relatively inexpensive program such as PowerStation (SKU M99-065-806 @ $147.50 from Travers Tool http://www.travers.com ) can convert the DXF files (which almost all CAD programs can generate) to G code. (I don't know if this will do helical milling to generate threads.)
Even for one-off prototyping and maintenance work you will most likely be better off with a cnc machine as you will almost always be asked to run the job again with larger radiuses in the corners or some such minor modification, or be asked to make the part in steel rather than aluminum. This is a trivial editing task to the cnc code and you are ready to cut metal. Given your low volume production I don't think you will need a tool/pallet changer, however a basic modular tooling kit (see http://www.bluco.com/welding/advantages/ and many other sites for examples) may prove helpful. Note that you can produce many of the components in-house in any open-time on the cnc machine. Also you may wish to consider a machine with a PC based controller rather than dedicated controller such as FANUC as you will most likely not require high numbers of axis control or high feed rates. See http://www.desktopcnc.com/cncmasters.htm for an example.
I am cross-posting this reply to alt.machines.cnc as that group has the most knowledgeable and helpful people I have come across, not only on CNC machines but also on general shop operation. I am sure they will give you very good advise based on their own practical experience.
Please keep the group informed of your progress. I am pleased to see that at least a few shops in the U.S. are upgrading and maintaining their machining capability.
GmcD
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If I could only have one mill it would be a SWI TRAK DPM. dpm is dual purpose mill. check them out here. I have no idea on what they sell for new.
http://www.southwesternindustries.com/swi/prod_bedmills1.shtml
CNC or manual operation. Ballscrews on the axes so you can take cuts climb milling.

remove 333 to email reply. Thanks, Randy
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