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Choosing a vertical machine center

Choosing a vertical machine center

Choosing a vertical machine center

We are currently in the market for a new machining center with travels approx. 30 x 16 x 20 .
Our budget is about 100k
I have 5 Fadal 3016's and am looking to upgrade to a more reliable machine. (the Fadals tend to break down often, axis motors,tool changer problems ,belleville washers, etc.)
Our main materials are 17-4ph 304ss 410ss 420ss. Our parts require some fairly heavy milling.
Any thoughts would be welcome,
linear vs box ways?
integral spindle vs geared or belt?

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center

you have a common problem here. the fadal machining centers you have purchased are certainly commodity machines which can be had at an inexpensive price compared to other machine tool builders. the old saying "you get what you pay for" fits the bill here. my experience has been that when looking at machines, price should not be your number one determining factor in buying the equipment.

let us look at the facts. you machine stainless steels mainly. also, your applications require that you take "fairly heavy milling" cuts. the fadals you possess, like most fadals i have seen, are belt driven. this type of drive does not lend itself well to the type of machining you wish to do. the machining of stainless steels requires a lot more torque and horsepower than say mild steel or aluminum. direct drive or geared heads work best in these applications. the direct drive is certainly the most efficient drive versus the geared since you do not have a gear train to work through. however, the geared head can provide the most torque at times. this can really pay off when taking heavy milling cuts in stainless steel. you need to take a look at the cutters you will be using the most. the bigger the milling cutter the more power required of course. i strongly suggest that you make a list of the tools you will use the most and what rpm's these tools will run at. at that point, you should try to figure out the horsepower required to drive each tool at it's proper feed and speed. then, i would look at the horsepower and torque diagrams of the prospective machine tools. you would be surprised at how many people over look this. you should use this information to help you narrow down your selection. also, i would strongly suggest a CAT50 taper spindle over CAT40. it is amazing how much rigidity you gain by doing this. it is a costly option, but through the spindle coolant and through the spindle air blast are valuable to have. a lot of people blow these options off as being too costly and that they can live with out them. however, this is a misnomer. these options can save you a lot of time and money - take it from someone who has done it both ways.  you asked about box ways or linear guides. i would suggest going with the box ways in your application. this will provide much more rigidity for the machining of the materials you seek to mill. you may loose some rapid traverse speed, but you will easily gain this time back with your increased feed rates during milling. you normally see linear guide machines more applicable in high production, aluminum machining scenarios.

wih only 100k to spend, you certainly could not afford a new machine with the specifications i have listed. however, i would suggest that you seek a used machine in good condition. you can normally find these from the main machine tool builders (mazak, mori seiki, hitachi seki, monarch, etc..). also, i have talked to people who have had good results with haas. one friend in particular machines a lot of A2 tool steel for making brake shoe dies. he loves his machine and has had it for three years. you asked about the service. this is a delicate issue in that some people get good service from a machine tool builder and another person claims to get bad service from the same maker. i would suggest that all the service stuff is made clear in the beginning and that everything is in writing and that both parties have copies. in case you do have a service problem that goes unanswered and is covered in your contract, you will have some sort of a leg to stand on.

good luck and good hunting.

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center


Are you cutting molds?  I've been shocked at how good our VFOE Haas is for contouring, with linear ways, but I'm not sure how it would do in stainless. I'd prefer box ways for stainless according to my experiences in aerospace.

I used to cut 17-4ph stainless dry and very fast with air blast to prevent re-cut. It worked very well but it used a lot of carbide. It still was clearly the economic way to go though.

A lot of the Tiawan machines are damn good these days. Viper comes to mind. Used machines are probably ok for basic tool path cutting, but new machines are so much better at cutting smooth contouring paths and communicating with the DNC that you could be looking at false economy that way.

You can find a lot of "willing to deal" folks out there right now.

Be sure to leave big $$ in your budget for serious cutters for stainless - they'll pay huge dividends.  But they can have high roughing loads, so box ways is what appeals to me.

For contouring light to medium to fluffy cuts, you can't beat linear though.


RE: Choosing a vertical machine center

Daewoo makes a very rigid machine for a decent price. Their vertical machine centers come standard with box ways, direct drive spindle and coolant through the spindle. I am not sure of the price for a 50 taper machine, but I know you can get a new 40 taper machine for around $80,000 base price.

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center

This name may be new to you but take a look at the NTC TMC-4V box way version.  We have four of them and they are remarkable for their toughness and rigidity.  The ways are about 5.5" wide and the entire machine is sturdy.  Comes with a 20 tool swing-arm magazine.

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center

We currently have 21 machining centers and they are all Matsuuras.  I suggest buying a used 800 with Yasnac I 80 control.  Stick with ones made from 1996 and above.  You probably can get a great deal on one now. They are great machines. You can go to this site to get and idea of what Matsuura has to offer, but find a used machine tool dealer close to you.  I also recommend the RA III pallet machine. It's the pallet version of the 800. Great for reducing load time.  Good luck

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center

MORI-SEIKI.Ive been machining for years and hands down they are the best CNC machine for the money.They last forever and they will take more punishment( depth of cuts and feeds)than any other machine out there.Ive cut on most popular machines and nothing compares for the money.Ive done contract work for a major air-craft company for many years.They send me to machine shops that are having problems keeping up and I get them back on track and many times it is by swapping their junk with MORI-SEIKI machining centers.In the long run they will make you more money.Did I tell you I like MORI-SEIKI.Their website is at   www.moriseiki.co.jp I hope you look at them before you buy something else.I think they are in a class all by themselves.

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center

I have also had 13 Matsuura's for the past 15 years with non stop three shift operations. As the CNCMADNESS entry has stated with his 21 machines. The Matsuura's with the dual contact 40 taper spindle allow these machines to make heavy cuts with a dual contact tool holder equivalent to a 50 taper yet use the common, lower cost 40 taper toolholders.
The dual wound spindle motors that are directly connected to the spindle eliminate the gearbox problems and give low end torque for heavy milling. Box ways or tripple channel linear guideways will give the rigidity required. You get what you pay for is relly true. By the way, I also had 4 fadals to compare the Matsuura's against.  Haas is probably the best machine for the money. I would recommend going to a dealer with some nasty material and ask to see some test cuts at various depths and speeds and feeds. You will hear and see the differences due to the rigidity or lack there of.

RE: Choosing a vertical machine center


I have an urgent customer that wants to buy a Fadal 3016 CNC VMC, it must have 22 HP High Torque.  I noticed you have one on your website. Please contact me NOW if you would like to sell this machine.

Jeffrey Kopp

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