You do seem to be well set with the inventory of tools you have, and it is good that you are planning for the future, especially when the latest innovations out there allow much greater control of machining operations. I have a 1996 Jet Bridgeport type mill 3 axis DRO (digital readout), recently converted to CNC, a 1996 Jet 14 X 40 5 HP lathe, with a 2 axis DRO (this is a Cadillac of a machine). AND a Heavy 10 Southbend lathe, 1939 Naval issue...(there is an anchor in the serial number!) My wife Vicki and I loaned the Southbend to our team from 2001 to 2003. She just now has loaned it again for the 2007 season if there is room for it in the robot room! (News flash! you heard it here first!)
For my CNC retrofit mill See here: http://www.lowcostcncretrofits.com/c...s%20video.html
it is also here in ChiefDelphi...
One new big deal as I see it is the Artsoft Mach3 software that allows a high level of machine axis control and DXF imports with rapid partfile output. You have to see it to believe it really, get some students with that creative desire to make something cool (and right now)...and have them practice making brackets, fittings, levers, etc. they can watch the toolpath and rotate the view etc. It is good for 999 lines of Gcode as a demo and costs $159.00 for the unlimited licence. They update and upgrade the program regularly.
I have downloaded all the latest versions and they all work with my licence.
This software allows your PC to function as a machine control through your printer port to the servo or stepper motor controller.
The Logitrol system I use from lowcostcncretrofits.com is great if you want to build your CNC kneemill or table top CNC mill without all the electronic compatibility worries. Many here in FIRST live for electronic challenges, I do salute you!!!
You will need to maintain the mechanical perfection of your installation for ideal results, i.e. tight keys in the keyways, good pulley fits on the shafts. This may not produce a $880,000 high speed machine but it WILL be easier to use for our robotic parts and give sastisfactory (or better!) results, a great confidence builder!
Thanks Brian for giving me file space for the Knightkrawler videos back in 2003! and best of luck in fine tuning your fabrication facilities! Let me know if I can help further.
Pictures of the Lathes ...