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  1. #1
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    Chinese CNC Lathe

    I haven't been able to find much on the CNC lathes distributed by Bolton Tools / Toolots. As much as I hate to say it, I'm considering one of their machines for a number of reasons.

    I could purchase a older used Japanese / Taiwanese CNC lathe, but there are a lot of pitfalls there regarding condition, potential for replacement of expensive eletronics, etc. Also, the shear weight of some of the turning centers and their power requirements really do not make it feasible for my shop.

    I've looked at more supposedly reputable companies selling what appears to be very similar machines (for more than double the price) that provide "support", only to find people complaining of the terrible and non-existent support they provide.

    Now I'm seriously considering one of their CNC lathes, specifically the Kimhoo TF8L lathe with the GSK 980 TDc control. I've heard decent things about the GSK control, just not much on the lathe itself. After looking around extensively, it seems that this same lathe or some re-badged version of it is distributed by many of the higher priced "reputable" companies. After speaking with them (Bolton), it seems they have most of the parts in stock. I've even called posing as a customer with the same lathe seeking a specific part, and they were very helpful.

    Any thoughts on this lathe or input on Bolton / Toolots?

  2. #2
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    Dec 2015
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    Wow Bolton Tools have definitely increased their line of products since the last time I looked.

    All of their lathes look really good at a pretty impressive price point. I see that they also offer Siemens 808d controller as well, which may be better than the GSK.

    Smithy Machine Tools also does something similar and from what I gather they have decent reviews on their Chinese imported lathes. Perhaps Bolton Tools will be similar.

    Hopefully someone else chimes in on Bolton Tools lathes, if not you can post your review after your purchase.

  3. #3
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by AutomatedIngen View Post
    Wow Bolton Tools have definitely increased their line of products since the last time I looked.

    All of their lathes look really good at a pretty impressive price point. I see that they also offer Siemens 808d controller as well, which may be better than the GSK.

    Smithy Machine Tools also does something similar and from what I gather they have decent reviews on their Chinese imported lathes. Perhaps Bolton Tools will be similar.

    Hopefully someone else chimes in on Bolton Tools lathes, if not you can post your review after your purchase.
    I wasn't very impressed with Smithy, specifically there responsiveness on questions I had. They seem to have one guy that handles all of the CNC equipment, both sales and tech support. I found Bolton to answer all my technical questions and other related information very quickly, so that was a plus from the get go.

    I will say smithy does seem to have nicer turning centers, but I'm more in the market for a toolroom style lathe.

    I'll give an update on how the machine turns out.

  4. #4
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    I'm looking too zipfactor. Pretty neat offerings from Bolton.

  5. #5
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    Just as an update...

    I'd ended up purchasing the Kimhoo TF8L CNC Lathe, which came with a gang tooling plate and the 4-way automatic tool changer. I picked up the machine at the freight terminal and I saw no damage whatsoever. Kudos to YRC freight on transportation and Bolton Tools on the packaging of the machine.

    I snapped a picture below of the uncrating:

    Attachment 395542

    The machine and the controls cabinet seem very well built. Most of the electronics are name brand, such as a Toshiba vector drive for the spindle, many Eaton electric components in the cabinet, etc. I won't lie, my expectations were a little lower than if I were to have purchased something like a Haas TL1. The control (GSK 980TDc) is a little goofy at first, but it didn't take me long to get the hang of navigating around it. The GSK manual is a bit chinglish, but it gets the point across enough to be able to use the machine. I've never used a CNC lathe before, so given that, I'd say the manual and GSK control are not too bad.

    Just this past week I had set up a 3 phase rotary converter and powered the machine up. I've run into an issue where, when a tool change command is issued, the absolute coordinates get lost, causing the currently running program to not function properly. The relative coordinates, however, remain unchanged. I'm not sure if it is electrical interference from the tool changer causing the machine to loose it's coordinates, or if it is a software bug. I'll give an update on the resolution with Bolton here in the next few days.

  6. #6
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    This lathe looks good. Glad it got there in one piece. How did you find Bolton tools through the purchasing process? Did you ask for anything specific, where they able to fulfil your request?

    I want a similar lathe but want a 8 tool rotating turret and tailstock, and don't see those options on Bolton tools website.

    Looking forward to seeing some chips flying and hopefully some walk around pictures and videos of your new toy.

  7. #7
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    Quote Originally Posted by AutomatedIngen View Post
    This lathe looks good. Glad it got there in one piece. How did you find Bolton tools through the purchasing process? Did you ask for anything specific, where they able to fulfil your request?

    I want a similar lathe but want a 8 tool rotating turret and tailstock, and don't see those options on Bolton tools website.

    Looking forward to seeing some chips flying and hopefully some walk around pictures and videos of your new toy.
    I thought Bolton was very responsive with the purchasing, and has been quite responsive as well with the latest GSK controller bug I've found. They were very helpful in finding a freight terminal that would accommodate loading of the machine onto the trailer of my truck. As far as the controller issue, we'll see how long it takes to get resolved because it likely isn't a quick fix.

    I did ask for the availability of a tool turret, and while I think it is possible to put one on the machine, they did not offer it. It seems at this point they are not interested in customization of the machines.

    Some things to note with the machine that I was unaware of or wasn't clear in the specifications:

    -- The spindle is a vector driven induction motor, not AC servo, so any spindle orientation, spindle locking, or rigid tapping is not possible.
    -- The GSK 980TDc control has no conversational whatsoever, so the programming is either completed by manually writing gcode or setting up CAM software.
    -- The included 3-jaw scroll chuck does not have a RPM limit listed anywhere, so the top spindle speed with chuck is a best guess.
    -- The control cabinet's cable gland for the 220V, 3 phase input is way too small for the necessary power wiring. I had to re-drill the hole and purchase a larger cable gland.

    The only big gotcha for me was that the spindle wasn't AC servo driven, but I should have been more diligent in my research and asking questions. So that one is on me, really. Everything else seems to operate well, so far. I'm going to be cutting my first parts in the next few days and will report back on how the machine performs (with pictures, of course).

  8. #8
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    Don’t be afraid to post pics of it just sitting there
    Thanks for taking the time to post your experience


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  9. #9
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    Here's a photo of the first part I turned on the machine. Nothing fancy, a few steps in a 6061 aluminum shaft. I just grabbed a random HSS tool bit I had laying around, and guessed on the feeds.



    One thing that would be nice from the factory on this machine would be some sort of way covering. I'm going to be adding the accordian style way covers over the bed ways shortly. Should be pretty straight forward.

    It turns out the issue wasn't a GSK control bug, but rather my unfamiliarity with the tool compensation and offsets. Apparently the factory had left a huge offset in the tool comp tables and that's why the change in machine coordinates would occur during tool changes.

  10. #10
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    I seem to be getting a lot private messages on how the lathe is working out, so here's a short review after roughly 6 months:

    I honestly think it has been a fantastic machine for the money. I've had no issues with the machine holding tight tolerances, and just yesterday ran a batch of 25 parts, with the .750" diameter being held within +/-.0005" easily. And it would be too nice to call my setup for these parts crap.

    The only hitch with this machine is the lack of conversational programming, which I often use for many of the parts I run. I've found that the conversational programming with the g-wizard editor (CNCcookbook.com) has filled that gap, and is very easy to setup for the GSK 980TDc control which is essentially FANUC.

    I did add a way cover between the front of the carriage to underneath the chuck. Cost was around $200, but I think it will help with wear long term. If anything, it dresses it up a bit.

    I've used the tailstock quite a bit. I will say its a somewhat of a pain to drill / tap / ream with it as it is manual and a little on the heavy side to move. However, if you had a large volume to run, the toolchanger could be loaded up with the necessary drills and used instead.

    I was looking at the FTL400 lathe from AutomateCNC, and would have went with that if I needed spindle orientation for live tooling. In my case, I do a lot of profiled one-off types of turnings, so the increased cost wasn't justified. Though, when I looked at these lathes in February 2018, they were $25K. Now I see they have bumped up to almost $32K!

  11. #11
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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    The GSK 980TDc control has no conversational whatsoever, so the programming is either completed by manually writing gcode or setting up CAM software.
    Is GSK980TDc compatible with Fanuc or mach3 ? Is it easy to get post processor for it? What CAM you will use ?

  12. #12

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    Re: Chinese CNC Lathe

    It uses Fanuc-compliant GCODE, and is a standalone controller, so won't work with Mach3 AFAIK. I'm still setting mine up, so I can't claim to be an expert on it, though.

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