Project Frankenmill – Part 1, The Idea

I’ve had my converted Sieg X3 for four years now. I used an off-the-shelf kit for the mechanicals of the initial conversion, sourced from the now-defunct ProMiCA in Australia. I did this primarily to focus on getting a machine running ASAP. My formal background is electronics and software engineering, so it was a natural fit to do those things myself. I have a thread over in the CNCZone X3 forum that describes some of the details, including some links to videos that give an overview of the conversion and some of the unique things I did in my build. You can also read posts right here on this blog from the very beginning of my interest.

It has been a reasonably good machine for me and I’ve learned a lot in the process. I’ve been a life-long tinkerer and maker and it’s been awesome to finally have a tool to help me realize the ideas in my head. So far I’ve mostly used the machine to make functional prototypes for ideas relating to my various other hobbies and interests. I’ve made motorcycle parts, mountain bike parts, photography/videography related parts, etc.

Lately I’ve felt like a new machine might be nice, to overcome some of the limitations of the X3 (and simply to have a new toy to play with and learn). Tormach/Novakon/IH/etc. seems like the logical step, but once you’re talking about $10K+, a used commercial machine starts to look appealing as well. I am operating out of my walkout basement shop with a 36″ wide door, and no 3 phase available on my street. Moving a 3 ton machine into my basement just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards any time soon. Moving a Tormach or any of the other hobby class machines would be easy, but ultimately I decided waiting at least another year might be a good idea to see if the market offerings change.

By chance, I ran into this awesome build thread on the CNCZone forum. The really interesting discovery to me was that Tormach actually sells their spindle heads as complete units. They’re not exactly cheap, but once I discovered that they’re very close in size to the X3 head, got really interested in the idea of grafting one onto my X3. This would get me a 10K RPM spindle and a 3 phase AC motor with belt drive. Having 5 times the spindle speed and getting rid of that rattle-trap gearbox on the X3 seems really appealing.

I did some measuring and modeling, and it seemed like it was possible with some work. The main part that needs work is the mounting to the Z slide. The slide on the X3 is a bit too narrow, but it’s actually the same height as the Tormach spindle head. Sometimes I just can’t let go of an idea, even if it’s a bit outlandish. So, I’m aware that this is a pretty silly project, but I think it will be entertaining and educational.

Maybe it’s a bit like this?

Related Posts

Project Frankenmill – Part 33, Claustrophobia

Final positions for the DIN rails and wire management have been nailed down. It’s much more tight than one should really wire a panel like this, but…

Project Frankenmill – Part 32, You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

It seems to be a rule that no matter what size electronics enclosure you have, you will always have at least 10% more stuff that you need…

Project Frankenmill – Part 31, Full Pull

While I still haven’t gotten into the detail of squaring and tramming, I’ve been intensely curious to see if the new Z axis would be happier with…

Project Frankenmill – Alpha and Omega

Since 2009, I’ve been messing around with CNC machines. I started out with a small manual milling machine from Grizzly, and converted it to CNC using a…

Project Frankenmill – Part 30, Do You Even Lift Bro?

Hauled the column back down to the shop and mounted it back on the machine. Sure is a lot heavier than it used to be! Muscling things…

Project Frankenmill – Part 29, More Machining and Motion

Had some productive time in the shop during the holiday. First step was to make the counterbores for the M6 cap screws a bit deeper. Easy to…

This Post Has One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *