One of our sponsors has just offered to buy $1200 dollars worth of supplies for us. Now we are team that uses a jigsaw to cut sheet-metal and a hacksaw is our best friend! We are wondering what are some essential tools that every team needs and what are some tools that would greatly improve your team. Also what would you buy with $1,200?
Get a small metalworking lathe. You won’t know how you lived without it. We’ve made many tool purchases over the years growing from a team that built robots with hacksaws and hammers, but our little Atlas 618 lathe revolutionized our build process and capabilities like nothing else has.
Personally, I would buy as many AMD 7990s as I could (but that’s just me)
A tabletop drill press with 3-axis vice thing. Being able to drill precise holes is a game changer. Another route you could go is spending a couple hundred on a computer to use CAD with, and the rest on a drill press, or mini lathe.
I can’t wait until I have enough money to properly seed my 501©3 Lathes 4 Kids. An Atlas 618 or its Craftsman equivalent can be had for $500 or less on Craigslist and really opens the machining world. Getting one in rough shape running is also a great team project.
The milling attachments are available on ebay (but are typically overpriced) and then it can be your one-stop machining stop. Once you’ve got the lathe, this tooling package from Little Machine Shop is a great add-on.
Or a 3D printer. I can see not-so-distant future robots being 3D printed.
I also recommend getting a lathe. Ever since we got ours a few years back, there is hardly a day that goes by where someone isn’t doing something on it. Incredibly useful.
All depends on what you already have but…
^^good start if you have nothing
There is an enormous thread already discussing this here:
What tools do you currently have? Most of our machining is done with a band saw, cutoff saw, and drill press, and everything works out pretty well. If your best friend is a hacksaw then I think you could fall in love with a band saw.
Could always get a Shapeoko 2
We currently have access to a table saw, a hack saw, a jigsaw, and a 3d printer. Then we have drills and hands tools besides that we don’t have much.
If you are working with sheet metal, maybe a brake press like this one. You probably won’t need anything bigger and maybe a poster printer. You can get poor man CNC bending with that. Simply use a printer to print a full scale drawing, paste it on the metal, cut, and bend.
Not knowing what you have already: floor standing drill press, good set of drill bits, pneumatic rivet puller, 14" vertical band saw, a good 12" miter saw, a good vise, some good clamps, and a decent computer for CAD/programming/business.
Also, our cheapo vinyl cutter from USCutter has paid for itself many many times over. But, you may have other needs first.
If you had somebody who knew how to use it, you could squeeze a Miller Diversion 165 TIG welder and an autodarkening helmet into a $1200 budget.
Let us know what you end up with.
One of these (anything like this), when paired with the eighth blade, is our best friend during build season. It’ll cut anything from Aluminum Tube to Solid Steel. Relatively inexpensive and very useful.
For sure get a horizontal bandsaw (some have the ability to work as a vertical as well) and a bench top lathe, it will be unbelievable how many parts you can make to a higher standard than before. If you do a lot with sheet metal, a brake and shear would be nice as well