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I have a really old CNC with a single spindle and single drill head. Is it possible to retrofit it with an ATC? Or should I just be looking for a new machine?
The CNC I have is a Digital Tool meta machine. Don't think they made many of them and haven't been in business in a long time.
If the spindle uses tool holders rather than a collet, its possible.
Whether it's worth it is another matter.
I'd look for a new machine.
I have owned a digital, Bill Gleen and his son Josh have retro fitted many of them, You are looking at 7 k just for the spindle another 2-3 for cones and parts, then newer wincnc software and card 1500-2 k plus any upfit labor. so thinking 15-20 k to retrofit you are half paid on a newer machine like the Cobra ATC or the Panther.. that digital could bring 10-15 k for sign shop or low hobbiest production.. think your money through on this. those are good machines and still hold some value
Thanks James. You're right, at that cost it doesn't make sense. I hadn't even thought through the software side of it.
I built a 5 position tool changer for my Digital Tool DT-902 back in the early 2000's. It worked out quite well and was worth it to me as I both learned the system and had the tool changer when done.
I was lucky in that I found a good deal on a demo HSD 5-hp spindle and inverter. I also used off the shelf relays and solenoids to help keep the cost down. I did have to pay for the WinCNC tool changing upgrade.
I also found the 5-hp HSD spindle was too heavy for the stock linear guides on the machine so had to double up on the guide bearings.
In the end I had a decent machine that I used for several years before selling and upgrading to a new CNT Motion 900 router.
If you have a strong mechanical inclination, and the time to learn about all the systems involved, then it could be worth it to build your own tool changer. Otherwise a used tool changing machine would likely be a good way to go to keep the cost reasonable.