By Lloyd Graff.
Nicholas Kohart’s company makes components for the natural gas industry in his manufacturing plant near Philly. Business is brisk, though the shale boom has changed his product mix. He is now in the market for a 2” capacity CNC lathe (might go a little bigger) with live tooling and sub-spindle. He runs mostly aluminum but has some projects coming up using stainless.
Nick is not wedded to a particular builder. He knows he will buy a new lathe and he wants a capable local distributor. He contacted me to find a Web site that had candid user reviews of machine tools, and I did not know of any.
He asked me my opinion on which machine to buy. He has bids from Mazak, Okuma, Doosan and Haas. I told him they were all good builders, but I could only give him a view from my world of used machinery, which is one way to gauge how users feel about equipment. I also recommended that he join the Precision Machined Parts Association (PMPA) and get on its Listserve to pose his question to its participants, particularly to find feedback on the quality of the service nationally and locally.
Nick told me that Mazak and Okuma were priced almost identically, Doosan was $50,000 less, and Haas was $100,000 less than the two Japanese builders.
I offered this opinion. If you kept the Haas lathe for 10 years and then resold it for 50% of acquisition cost, it would be hard to turn down the Haas price advantage. Nick already has a Haas vertical machining center he loves. Also, Haas has shrewdly backed the Penn State machine tool program through the years, which enhances the knowledge base of Haas in the area.
I told him my primary reservation about a Haas is that it might not be robust enough for stainless.
I pose these questions to the 55,000 of you who might see this blog.
Question 1: Where would you look for honest reviews of current CNC lathes?
Question 2: Which brand of lathe would you buy if you were Nick?