Spindles - Lingering Questions

Well, the magic tool account is finally up for a little exercise after having recovered from the big OF purchase. After reading what I can find here on spindles, I have a few questions.

  1. There is a significant price difference between spindles made in China and those made in Germany. In some cases, a Mechatron unit can run as much as 4X-5X the cost of a Huan Yang. If cost is an accurate guide, are the Mechatrons 5X better than the Huan Yangs? Is there a relatively clear point of diminishing returns? Are the Huan Yangs perfectly serviceable for the hobby woodworking many of us do?

  2. There is a Chinese brand named Jian-ken. It seems quite robust, and the sound of its bearings and spindle as they accelerate to operating speed is quite a bit quieter than the competitor with which it is compared. I’ve not found any specific prices, but I recall that one owner reported a cost of $1300 for an ATC unit. Any experience with this brand? Does our controller support ATC? Surely, there must be addional costs related to ATC?

  3. I’d like an air-cooled unit. Huan Yang does not appear to have air-cooled units - in packages on Amazon and elsewhere, their VFD’s are paired with other brand air-cooled spindles. Am I looking in the wrong places? Air-cooled spindle owners, what brands have you used and which have done well for you? If you have ceramic bearings, have you noticed any increase or decrease in performance compared to steel?

  4. I do not see a need for in my shop for a 2.2KW spindle I’m thinking more along the lines of a 65mm 800W unit with an ER11 collet. I’ve read here about space limitations and the OF Z unit. Will a 65mm unit fit the OF properly, with no modifications to either device? If the 65mm choice creates problems, my next move will be to the 80mm 1.5KW ER16 collet unit. I have the OF bracket. The ER16 seems worth the extra few dollars since it will accept a 3/8 shank - a little beefier for those large bit jobs. Any thoughts on this?

  5. Is wiring a quality VFD really that much of a challenge? Would I be better off getting a plug and play combo?

Lots of questions. In a nutshell: I’d like an air-cooled unit that does an excellent job on medium-duty hobby woodworking and can be serviced in the US. Quality of unit and quality of work are more important than cost. I’d prefer to avoid a situation in which I pay five times the cost for a unit that provides a mere 15% advantage over the less expensive model.

I really appreciate the insight members of this forum provide. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jim

Hey Jim,

It depends on

  • the exact spindle length (datasheet) and
  • the position of the spindle in the holder (mine has a mark) and
  • the distance between protruding Z stepper and spindle’s top end taking into account the actual Z slider’s one of three possible mounting positions.

With respect to all this I would measure it then. Since I’m waiting for my machine yet, I can’t do it. Maybe someone else can?

Once the Onefinity 80 mm spindle holder was released I ordered it and I came accross the question whether to buy a 2.2 kW spindle with ER16 or with ER20 collet. The first takes tool shanks from 1-10 mm and the latter from 1-13 mm, which would mean half-inch tools. But since at first I did not expect to use tools larger than 8 mm, I was unsure.
So I asked the manufacturer and he answered, the spindle with ER20 collet has larger bearings and a stiffier shaft. Larger bearings means longer life. Stiffier shaft means more precision. Also one should take into consideration that when using tools with a larger shank, the thicker the shank the stiffier the tool and so the longer the tools you can use – and thus the deeper the pockets you can mill into your workpiece. So I went for the ER20 spindle.

Surely not. I’m currently studying different VFD’s User manuals in order to create a wiki entry. VFDs are complex but using the basic functions (and most beginners rarely need more) is definetely not Rocket Science.

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Hey Jim,

Since I still have to evaluate the long-term experience with my new spindle, I allow myself to quote:

I think the difference and the big price difference is because they serve different requirements. A buyer has to see clearly “Who I am and what do I expect from the equipment?” If your answer is, “I am a hobbyist, I like to experiment with a cnc, and I expect to make birthday presents a few times a year for my family (signs, cutting boards, cell phone holders)”, you may find a different decision as if your answer is “I’m a professional manufacturer, I run my equipment 24/7 and I don’t always want to stand next to the machine but sleep calmy when it is running”, then you will choose industry-standard equipment and see the need to raise what it costs.

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With respect to …
Q2:
I am leaning towards getting a Jian-Ken, but keep in mind they do not supply VFDs, so that will be an extra cost, and perhaps fewer installation resources available. I do not believe the 1F controller directly supports the ATC. I have a Masso G3 and one reason I bought it was to make adding/configuring an ATC easy (Auto/Tool setter, tool library and offsets, setting up tool changers, etc).
Added costs include the pneumatics (compressor, solenoid valves, air filter/dryer, tool holders - unless doing it by hand with foot pedal, and all the associated electronics.
Q3:
From what I have read, ceramic bearings allow for higher spindle RPMs (30-60K), however at higher spin speeds the quality/tolerances of the other components (collets, tool holders, etc…) become more important.

I have a HY water cooled 2.2kW spindle. I went with the larger spindle to use 1/2" bits. If I didn’t I would have gone with a 1.5kW air cooled 80mm spindle. This is why. Others have reported that the 65mm spindle will hit the stepper motor requiring it to be clamped in place lower than you normal. The 1F needs to be able to raise the Z axis all the way up when homing. The 80mm mount was designed to avoid this. Also it looks like there’s more choices for 80mm spindles.

As for brands and bearings. With as many counterfeit bearings floating around I wouldn’t place too much weight behind one brand saying they use better bearings. Even top name companies fall victim to it. If I was using my 1F to make money I might have gone with a German spindle but that’s not the case. Only you can answer if the extra money is worth it to you.

Wiring is the simple part. It’s 3 wires for power and 4 wires for the spindle. If you want it to be controlled by the G code then there’s a little more wiring. The complication usually is in programming the VFD to accept the commands and for the G code to be properly written to operate the spindle (which I don’t think is too hard). I have the control panel from the VFD mounted next to my monitor so I can manually turn it on, dial the speed I want, and then start the G-code.

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Hey all,

as far as I’ve seen, the only german manufacturer of High Frequency Spindles mentioned in this forum was Mechatron (Mafell too, but they do only milling motors, no HF spindles). It should be noted that there are many manufacturers of High-Frequency Spindles in Germany. Germany is the country of Machine industry. It generates its world-highest trade surplus and its world’s third-largest export rank with the export of Machinery in second place (directly after vehicle construction).

Small- to medium-sized manufacturing firms (Mittelstand companies) which specialize in technologically advanced niche products and are often family-owned form a major part of the German economy.

Source: Economy of Germany - Wikipedia.

High Frequency Spindles in Europe

— Germany —

(in alphabetical order)

DATRON AG, D-64367 Mühltal
CNC-Hochfrequenzspindeln

Helmut Diebold GmbH & Co. Goldring-Werkzeugfabrik, D-72417 Jungingen
HOCHFREQUENZSPINDELN FÜR PRODUKTION, AEROSPACE, FORMENBAU, AUTOMOTIVE

GMN PAUL MÜLLER INDUSTRIE GMBH & CO. KG, D-90411 Nürnberg
GMN SPINDLE TECHNOLOGY

IMT Gesellschaft für industrielle Maschinentechnologie mbH, D-35394 Gießen
Fräsen - Made in Germany

isel Germany AG, D-36124 Eichenzell
ISEL HFS SERIE

Lehmann Präzision GmbH, D-78739 Hardt
Hochfrequenzspindeln HFS 60, HFS 80, HFS 100

Mechatron GmbH, D-64319 Pfungstadt
HFS: standard line
HFP: professional line

RS TEC Spindeltechnologie GmbH, D-75389 Neuweiler
RS TEC: Die HF Spindel: Hightech beim Zerspanen

SycoTec GmbH & Co. KG, D-88299 Leutkirch im Allgäu
SPINDELPROGRAMM

Wissner Gesellschaft für Maschinenbau mbH, D-37079 Göttingen
Hochfrequenzspindeln bei der HSC-Bearbeitung

Zwanzig HSC-Drive-Systems, D-23758 Oldenburg i.H.
Hochfrequenzspindeln – Made in Germany

:triangular_flag_on_post: This list does not claim to be complete

— Switzerland —

MEYRAT SA, CH-2504 Biel-Bienne
MHF - Hoch Frequenz - Swiss Made

:triangular_flag_on_post: This list does not claim to be complete

— Italy —

ELTE srl, 36075 Montecchio Maggiore (Italy)
ELTE High speed precision spindles: WOOD
ELTE High speed precision spindles: COMPLETE PRODUCT LIST

HSD SpA, 61122 Pesaro (Italy)
HOCHFREQUENZSPINDEL

Teknomotor srl, 32038 Quero Vas (BL), (Italy)
HFM - High Frequency Motors with ER collet chuck

:triangular_flag_on_post: This list does not claim to be complete

— France —

MOVITECNIC SARL, 69009 LYON (France)
LE CATALOGUE MOVITECNIC
ÉLECTROBROCHES
ÉLECTROBROCHES – AF – de 0.08kW à 42kW

— Spain —

MADAULA, S.A., 08105 Sant Fost de Campsentelles (Barcelona)
Precitronics High Frequency Spindles
Company

— Industry Portals: High Frequency Spindles: —

industrystock.com:
Hochfrequenzspindeln: Hersteller, Händler, Lieferanten

directindustry.com:
Werkzeugmaschinen > Zubehör für Werkzeugmaschinen > Hochfrequenzspindeln

:triangular_flag_on_post: This list does not claim to be complete

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…two more wires, to be precise (plus common ground). Nothing to fear if you use twisted-pair cable and termination resistors (if needed).

I’m working on a list for different VFDs. But the options that need to be edited are always similar.

This is always a good solution for quick putting into service of a VFD and spindle, so nothing to worry about here either.

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“Lots of questions. In a nutshell: I’d like an air-cooled unit that does an excellent job on medium-duty hobby woodworking and can be serviced in the US. Quality of unit and quality of work are more important than cost.”

Did you try CNC Depot ?

I don’t know if they offer air cooler spindles but they say their spindle are made here. Here si the response I got to my query on Oct 6, 2021.

Bob,

We manufacture all the parts for our spindles in Tennessee, USA except for the motor components and the bearings. We have multiple vendors for our motor components in Brazil, South Korea and others, and our bearings are primarily manufactured in Germany.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Alex Burt
CNC Depot
615-338-7884
http://cncdepot.net

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Hey Jim @Webb, hey Bob, hey all,

what I wanted to add is that what I was paying attention to when buying are things like runout, and that the bearings meet ABEC 7 / P4S.

Among other things, I relied on that when buying.


(Source: Datenblatt_HFSAC-8022-24-ER16.pdf)

This CNC Depot spindle meets the ABEC 7 requirement, that’s fine. And ISO 30 Tool Changer, that’s nice.


(Source: CNC Depot: S Series Spindles)

Note that Mechatron spindle has at least 3 bearings.

That’s what I relied on too. My Mechatron spindle is manufactured where I live, they have good support and I have a warranty.

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:grinning: That’s a key factor - it’s easy sometimes to forget that this is an international machine with a global customer base.

Hey Jim,

I just realize that it can be understood in two different ways. The one is obvious: In the country or region where I live. I was not sure if there are spindle manufacturers in the USA, I know they’re good at machinery too, but the link posted by Bob (CNC Depot, spindles made in Tennessee) made me think: Lucky Jim, a spindle manufacturer in the USA, good to know (for him).

But you may understand it also in a different way: USA and Germany, western democracies (and close friend nations) with worker’s rights, labour unions, very old traditions of machinery, etc. versus authoritarian regime, no humans rights, millions of people emprisoned in Arbeitslagern who - who knows -, may have worked on the cheap items you buy, no warranty, no service, no easily understandable manual.

With “machine with a global customer base” do you mean the Onefinity CNC? Well if that was true. It’s clear that they target only to the USA. Otherwise they would not ignore 95% of the world population by giving any measurements and specifications exclusively in US customary units.

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Wow! What a wealth of information. I’ll digest it and see what comes out the other end. On the CNC Depot recommendation, I see ATC models starting at $3,000. I don’t see standard spindles. It is apparently a company geared toward industrial-level users. I’m in the neighborhood where the purchasing the Mechatron would be living on the wild side. If I do go that way, I’ll probably toss caution (and fiscal good sense) to the wind and pay the small difference to go from 1.5/16 to 2.2/20. Now, to investigate the bounty you all have provided.

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Hi Jim,

Here’s my take on your questions:

  1. For milling wood, in a non-production (machine-shop) environment, I couldn’t justify the expense of a Mechatron. If something breaks, I’ll just buy a new one - a few days of an outage is not difficult for me. If I was making aluminum parts and had production commitments, I might make a different choice (or, just have a spare on hand…).

  2. The Buildbotics controller doesn’t support an ATC. I haven’t found the need to look for anything quieter than an air-cooled spindle (even though water-cooled is quieter). Again, for wood I don’t feel a need to look for bearing quality options past what’s readily available.

  3. I also chose an air-cooled spindle - no water cooling lines to deal with! I bought this spindle: High-Torque Stepper Motor, Stepper Motor, Driver, Stepper Motor kit, DC Servo Motor, DC Servo Motor kit, Stepper Motor Power Supply, CNC Router, Spindle, and other Components. - mainly because it was available from a USA-based storefront - I make no claim to its technical superiority.

  4. I had an 800w/65mm spindle at first. It fit - but barely. I haven’t found many 3/8" bits - most things are 1/4" or 1/2". I’ve started adding 1/2" bits with the new 80mm/ER20 spindle, and they are handy for certain jobs.

  5. You are wiring 220V mains - it’s not hard, but if you’re not comfortable with it I’d look at a plug-and-play setup. Look up Layne Mims (he’s on the Facebook group) he was selling pre-configured systems very reasonably.

I spent a little more on my setup, instead of going for the cheapest spindle/VFD. I’m likely in for 2x the cost of the cheapest solution. I can call someone in the US for support for my spindle if needed, and I bought a Hitachi VFD ( WJ200-022SF 3HP 2.2kW 230V Single Phase Input VFD - Hitachi) which is a step up from the HY. I’m a retired IT exec, this is a hobby, and I like nice things. Your needs may be different.

Happy to discuss further or answer any questions!

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I think you are referring to Layne Mims? Not Lance.

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Yup - thanks for the catch. I edited my original post with the correction.

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Hey Michael, hey Jim, hey all,

the VFD Hitachi WJ200 is practically identical to the VFD Omron MX2 which I own and which I can highly recommend.

The specific model 200V-class single-phase input, 2.2 kW (3 HP) / 11 A output Michael presented here and bought here for use with a 2.2 kW spindle is called

and the same model from Omron is called

which is the one I own. Not only they look the same but also as you can see the manuals are practically of identical content.

Btw, CNC Depot in Gallatin, TN (USA) mentioned above, recommends the Hitachi WJ200 for their spindles and sells it too.

Note that generally the prices seem to go up in the last monthes this year. Both the VFD and the spindle I bought earlier this year are both much more expensive now.

2 Likes

Thanks, Aiph5u. Actually, the Hitachi is the one at the top of the list since the question came up a couple of months ago. You are right - it is expensive at CNC Depot. It is available at Precision Electric for $320 on back order (they offer and equivalent Invertek model for $3 more - in stock) and $364 at Wolff Automation. Maybe $550 is the list price, or maybe newer (shortage-era) stock. Did you buy an ATC; or is there a non-ATC model at CNC Depot I’m just not seeing?

Jim

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Hi MikeH,

I don’t think that spindle is priced too much higher than others. Do you know who the manufacturer is? Also, I looked up Layne Mims and didn’t see anything about is PnP systems. Do you have a link?

Jim

I hate what the Chinese leaders do their countrymen. We have, however, become hyper-dependent upon imported goods - both for price reasons and for domestic policy that encourages such dependency. In fact, there are now many “essentials” that are no longer made anywhere in this country. It has become a precarious position in which to be. I don’t want to let this thread drift into politics, but I do want to acknowledge your thoughts. I’m right there with you.

Regarding Onefinity, I congratulate them on identifying a need, creating a product that admirably fills that need, identifying a ripe market, and going after that market on the way to growing large enough to cover a larger market. They’re responsive and ethical to boot. I’m glad to have found them.

Jim

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Yah. Least expensive I can find is $2995. Too industrial-class for this home CNC’r.