The last time we wrote much about our lathe project in this space was back in August, around the time we began our beta testing project. Many have signed up for our “Lathe Insider” email list, and we’ve sent out several updates to the list subscribers over the winter. If you are already subscribed to that list, there isn’t much new information in this post. If you haven’t yet subscribed and are interested in this project, please do; its the best source for lathe-specific information.
Beta Testing is Winding Down
The beta testing project is beginning to wind down and we’re rapidly approaching a product release. The results of the beta testing have delayed the release just a bit because we found some improvements that everyone felt were important The first production run of lathes is complete and being prepared for shipment. We’re still hoping for product release and sales in the 1st quarter of 2014 but there are a few details that could delay things just a bit.
One thing we know for certain is that the full spectrum of configuration options will not be available at first release. The planned configuration options are important for potential buyers to understand because not all configurations are compatible with one another. Unlike the PCNC mills, you cannot simply continue to add options as they are released; you’ll have to make some decisions wt the time of purchase or be faced with some additional upgrade costs.
The most important example of this is the relationship between tooling and guarding. The lathe tooling can be setup for simple tool post, gang tooling, 8 position automated turret, or some combination of two of them. The guarding can be either a swing open chuck guard or a full enclosure. Any sort of tooling or tooling combination can be used inside a full enclosure, but the automatic turret cannot be used in combination with a swing open chuck guard. The swing open chuck guards are going to be available with the first lathes, but the full enclosure will not be available until later this year.
The net result is this: if you want the automated turret now or in the future, then you should either 1) delay your purchase until the full enclosure is ready or 2) be prepared to throw away the chuck guard at some future date when you upgrade the guarding and tooling.
Options: Present and Future
While the turret and full enclosure options are not going to be available at first release, they are certainties. Other accessories and options range from “probably” to “don’t count on it”, although I have to admit that some of the PCNC mill options we currently offer were things that I originally thought would never happen. Among the options that will be available at initial release are a 5C lever action drawbar closer. We will also offer an upgrade kit to make it a power 5C collet closer, but that’s a later option. Under the “probably” category is a tailstock. It’s currently being developed but not quite out of the prototyping stage yet. We’ve also been testing power closing chucks and had a few design discussions about bar feeders, but I’d have to say those are a few notches below “probably” at this time. They’re a ways out in the future so I’ll give that a “maybe someday” status. No plans have been made to accommodate live tooling support. That being said, there are always a lot of ideas floating around here and few of them are rejected in absolute terms.
One thing that is going to be done a little differently from how we sell the PCNC mills has to do with how the stand and controller are sold. With the mills, these are sold as options, although they are almost always purchased. With the lathe, however, they will be included with the base unit.
No specifics numbers on pricing yet, but we’re estimating a simple configuration on the lathe will be slightly above $10,000 and a lathe with lots of options and full enclosure might be around $19,000. Detailed pricing on many items and pre-order options will be on the web site before the lathe is released and the first announcements go out to those who have signed up on the Lathe Insider email list. So please do make sure to sign up for the Lathe Insider list if your planning to purchase one of the first units.