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IndustryArena Forum > MetalWorking Machines > Benchtop Machines > so..Sherline is dead as a company right?
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  1. #1
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    so..Sherline is dead as a company right?

    anyone else get the feeling that sherline has basically crossed their arms and said "Meh" to any new developments to their products?

    there are sub $100 precision ballscrews with antibacklash nuts..thats the _retail_ price, which would fit the sherline, but we have to pay $400+ for an aftermarket kit to do it.

    there has been absolutely no support for higher feedrate cutting from sherline. read their brochure and you will find bizarre-ness like "HSS tools are good enough for aluminum", "the 2000 series cantilevered mess is just as rigid as the 5400"..etc....meanwhile makerbot is explicitly marketing their latest 3d printer as for the experimenter and welcoming extreme usage...i get that sherline probably doesn't want to promote breaking their machine under warranty, but thats fantasy. that 1/16 hp motor is never going to break anything on that mill, if that were possible, I would have done it a LONG time ago. seems like they just have some conservative attitude that doesn't want their machines to be seen as capable of making anything but miniature versions of real things, instead of the real things themselves.

    here are some things we should have gotten along time ago, that do not require drastic increases in cost or engineering:

    -thicker Z axis ways for better rigidity (even 1/2" would increase rigidity substantially and not change how the spindle mounts). instead of wasting time and money on the ridiculous 2000 series that I think we can say with certainty almost nobody takes advantage of, they should have made the 5400 more rigid so we can max out the motor's torque in steel without chattering.

    -inexpensive enclosure kit. how many thousands of plywood shantytown enclosures are out there? cant we get a low cost lasercut sheetmetal kit that rivets or screws together? SHEESH!!

    -along with the enclosure, a flood coolant system. i made one that works great and cost me less than $75.

    -an upgrade to the CNC computer to have a couple linuxcnc controlled relays, for coolant, air, spindle on/off, etc..

    -a tachometer that does not require a $400 upgrade to the DRO. the tachometer needs about $10 in electronics.

    -a linuxcnc output to control spindle rpm using the DC power supplies voltage input, which is already there.

    -ballscrew upgrade with antibacklash nut. retail prices are less than $100. sherline can do this. ill pay an extra $150.

    -some kind of automatic toolchanger with tool length compensation. the things you can do with a mill skyrocket when you can start making complex parts completely hands-off. toolchanges and manual z axis homing really ruin things. this could be in the form of a line of tools that the mill jogs over to and then some simple way to suck the tool into position with a simple power drawbar. maybe its a $400 upgrade. this is a big deal and maybe would take some engineering. but thats what a company like this is supposed to do for us. im not saying it has to work as well or as fast as a full size mill.

    -a slightly larger work area. right now with the games you have to play with backlash and the gibs you are limited to about 5" square. adding another few inches in each direction would not significantly increase the cost of the machine and if the ballscrews and more rigid Z axis happen at the same time you have a very useful tool that can make reasonably sized, reasonably thick, aluminum parts.

    -how about some limit switches tied to linuxcnc?

    im a fan of my sherline but i think they need a management change and some fresh air around there.

    in my opinion they are focused way too much on the delayed-gratification miniature builder and need to get in touch with this 2nd industrial revolution or they are going to be irrelevant very soon.

  2. #2
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    im a fan of my sherline but i think they need a management change and some fresh air around there.

    in my opinion they are focused way too much on the delayed-gratification miniature builder and need to get in touch with this 2nd industrial revolution or they are going to be irrelevant very soon.[/QUOTE]

    In looking at pictures of their Facility, Sherline is definitely positioned to take a quantum leap into the 21st Century.
    I'm sure they are very comfortable in their Niche market with Taig Tools their only competitor for some 35 years.
    I assume Joe Martin & Company have evaluated the success of Tormach, It seems like he is introducing some CNC
    related products and promoting a CAD system because that's the FUTURE!!

    Time will Tell. Let's wish him well......

    W. Smith, Mission Viejo, CA

  3. #3
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    Seriously it sounds like you purchased the wrong machine for your needs. You really can't blame Sherline for your mistakes.

    As to ball screws and a general better support for CNC that might be a good thing for Sherline to support but I'd have to say a good attempt there requires an all new machine. That is a ground up design that focuses on CNC. Such a design could address the majority of your concerns.

    As for their current CNC controller attempt the goal there was a system that requires minimal support and minimal fuss on the part of the user. The system however is Linux based and as such you can do whatever you like with the installation at hand. Indeed it is ore flexible than some commercial systems.

    I look at it this way their CNC effort isn't much better or worst than their competition that comes from Tiag. If there was a massive market for the extra expense of a nicely done a CNC people would buy from Roland or one of the other companies. Problem is you pay big time for a nicely done up miniature mill. In the end you have options as far as vendors go. Sherline is currently comfortable in their niche! I don't see them leaving that niche anytime soon. If they where to address your needs at all it would be with a new machine.

    So the only real suggestion here is shop some place else or build your own.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by wizard View Post
    Seriously it sounds like you purchased the wrong machine for your needs. You really can't blame Sherline for your mistakes.

    As to ball screws and a general better support for CNC that might be a good thing for Sherline to support but I'd have to say a good attempt there requires an all new machine. That is a ground up design that focuses on CNC. Such a design could address the majority of your concerns.

    As for their current CNC controller attempt the goal there was a system that requires minimal support and minimal fuss on the part of the user. The system however is Linux based and as such you can do whatever you like with the installation at hand. Indeed it is ore flexible than some commercial systems.

    I look at it this way their CNC effort isn't much better or worst than their competition that comes from Tiag. If there was a massive market for the extra expense of a nicely done a CNC people would buy from Roland or one of the other companies. Problem is you pay big time for a nicely done up miniature mill. In the end you have options as far as vendors go. Sherline is currently comfortable in their niche! I don't see them leaving that niche anytime soon. If they where to address your needs at all it would be with a new machine.

    So the only real suggestion here is shop some place else or build your own.
    no man..

    you cant write off what I've said as some sort of mistake on my part. youre just making generalizations about needing a "ground up design" to add a few basic changes or accessories, which is untrue. why would you need to redesign the machine to replace leadscrews with ballscrews, or a thicker z axis? or any of the things I listed, which do not require significant changes to the cost or design of the existing machine, except the tool changer (maybe), which, even if it was $400, would be alot more useful than the $400 cnc rotary table.

    mentioning the need for a "massive market" is contradictory if you are also going to say they are "comfortable in their niche". which is it? is there a massive market for the 2000 series 8 direction capability? or how about the CNC 4th axis which cuts down the working area and rigidity to an almost useless level? that R&D effort and "redesign" should have gone into resolving the 3 axis mill's rigidity and backlash issues.

    if you are going to say "problem is you pay big time for a nicely done up miniature mill" you are going to have to back that up with why these upgrades cant be done for a reasonable price. otherwise that is just more meaningless generalization. im being very specific about what needs to be changed and why it wouldnt impact the cost or engineering significantly. can you make a similar argument? or just say "build your own shop"?

  5. #5
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    It is a hobby machine. Many nice things are made on them but it takes patience. I agree with Wizard on this even though you dont like it. I have a Sherline, then modified it with all of the A2ZCNC products, it is still too small and too flexible to cut metals in any timely fashion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fastest1 View Post
    It is a hobby machine. Many nice things are made on them but it takes patience. I agree with Wizard on this even though you dont like it. I have a Sherline, then modified it with all of the A2ZCNC products, it is still too small and too flexible to cut metals in any timely fashion.
    This is really more generalization. If I buy a full size mill and use it for my hobby, does that mean it shouldn't function as well? What is that idea supposed to mean? Most of the tools I have I use both for my hobby and business purposes. So what? Sherline sells their mill and lathe parts as individual components for industrial use. What difference does it make if people buy these parts for hobby use or business use?

    The sherline can cut 6061 at similar material removal rates as a full size knee mill with a slow spindle, at a conservative feed rate for a 1/4" diameter cut, although its with a roughing finish and the plunge rate is much slower. If the Z axis was stronger I might be able to start to max out the motor in steel. The ballscrew upgrade would mean I wouldn't have to constantly check and adjust backlash, which is an extremely annoying process for the X axis. Sherline has ignored these upgrades in favor of gimmicky and barely usable (or used) upgrades like the CNC rotary table and 2000 series 8 direction capability.

  7. #7
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    You can cut at similar rates as a full size machine? I don't think so.

    If you can, then upgrade the machine yourself and save thousands.

    I have been there and done that. Bigger iron trumps it hands down. Slow spindle or not.
    A lazy man does it twice.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fastest1 View Post
    You can cut at similar rates as a full size machine? I don't think so.

    If you can, then upgrade the machine yourself and save thousands.

    I have been there and done that. Bigger iron trumps it hands down. Slow spindle or not.

    The most I've been able to get out of the sherline is about 18ipm at 0.125 depth, with a 1/4 diameter tool full slot. Thats about the same cut I take on the full size mill at work when I want a nice finish, with a 2 flute finishing endmill at 2800 rpm. So yeah, the sherline cuts at a similar rate at that type of cut. Obviously, I can put a 1" rougher on the full size mill and go through more aluminum in 5 minutes than i can on the sherline in hours, thats not really the point here.

  9. #9
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    A few comments in general, I don't know anything about Sherline specifically:

    You drastically underestimate the investment they have to make in order to change even a small aspect of their design. Just them having a meeting to discuss if they wanted to offer a cooling system or not would cost more than $75. At my work, it costs more than that just to process the paperwork to place an order.

    Often suppliers will negotiate good prices based on 10,000 units or something. If Sherline has 3,000 castings sitting in the back room, they aren't going to offer anything better until their inventory is depleted. This applies to control panels, circuit boards, etc. too.

    Inexpensive enclosure kit is an oxymoron. Where are you going to get sheet metal laser cut, folded, powder coated, packed, shipped, windows cut, hardware purchased, etc. for a couple hundred bucks? How much more tech support are they going to have to provide when people can't figure out how it goes together or why it is still leaking?

    A bolt on rotary axis or something is a pre-engineered blob you can stick on. It does not affect warranty claims, their supply chain, manufacturing, maybe just a little bit of tech support.

    If you actually sit down and think about all the things that need to be done and how much each one really costs when you are paying for labor and everything else, you'll see that there is significant financial risk without any guarantee of increased sales.

    As has been said above, the strongest argument you can make to a company is to not buy their product. If they do not wish to offer an item you want to buy, that is their choice.

    Matt

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    Quote Originally Posted by keebler303 View Post
    A few comments in general, I don't know anything about Sherline specifically:

    You drastically underestimate the investment they have to make in order to change even a small aspect of their design. Just them having a meeting to discuss if they wanted to offer a cooling system or not would cost more than $75. At my work, it costs more than that just to process the paperwork to place an order.

    Often suppliers will negotiate good prices based on 10,000 units or something. If Sherline has 3,000 castings sitting in the back room, they aren't going to offer anything better until their inventory is depleted. This applies to control panels, circuit boards, etc. too.

    Inexpensive enclosure kit is an oxymoron. Where are you going to get sheet metal laser cut, folded, powder coated, packed, shipped, windows cut, hardware purchased, etc. for a couple hundred bucks? How much more tech support are they going to have to provide when people can't figure out how it goes together or why it is still leaking?

    A bolt on rotary axis or something is a pre-engineered blob you can stick on. It does not affect warranty claims, their supply chain, manufacturing, maybe just a little bit of tech support.

    If you actually sit down and think about all the things that need to be done and how much each one really costs when you are paying for labor and everything else, you'll see that there is significant financial risk without any guarantee of increased sales.

    As has been said above, the strongest argument you can make to a company is to not buy their product. If they do not wish to offer an item you want to buy, that is their choice.

    Matt
    this is all irrelevant. the 2000 series was clearly designed from scratch, as was their rotary table. they spend plenty of money and time coming up with gimmicky accessories and useless features while ignoring the important stuff.

    if anything is a "bolt on blob" its a ballscrew upgrade or a thicker z axis, both of which are offered by the aftermarket. oh, as well as a sheet metal enclosure.

    sherline doesnt offer expensive technical support. if you call them you will talk to a friendly, experienced machinist, who will help you through what you are dealing with, but its not a team of support engineers costing the company big bucks. tech support is not going to cost them anything significant, especially when they are IMPROVING THEIR PRODUCT.

    your argument is a dead end, because you are essentially saying that any new development or improvement to their product is an unworthy gamble. this is clearly not true as they have made improvements, and no company that just sits on its hands and refuses to take risks is going to be around long. when you start listing things like "windows cut" and "hardware purchased" as a major challenge to a corporation, you dont know what you are talking about.


    the automatic tool changer is a roll of the dice. an upgrade to ballscrews and a thicker z axis are natural progressions and not risky.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by keebler303 View Post
    Where are you going to get sheet metal laser cut, folded, powder coated, packed, shipped, windows cut, hardware purchased, etc. for a couple hundred bucks?
    No doubt the same place he'll get that $400 tool changer he mentioned...

  12. #12
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    so what point are you trying to make? you're whining that sherline doesn't provide the improvements you want so make them yourself. why don't you take the risk and be another aftermarket supplier if you feel so strongly about them? i think you'll find your shelves full of surplus as there is no benefit doing the upgrades when you can get much more capable machinery for less money. maxing at .125 doc with a 1/4 endmill is hardly a strong selling point, unless you go bragging on a proxxon forum.

  13. #13
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    Isn't Joe Martin dead?

    Anyway Luiz Ally aka Tryally has some great ideas for a Sherline. I thought he was going to have some offerings. But I have yet to see them implemented. Maybe he is the wave of the future for Sherline and they are in talks?
    A lazy man does it twice.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by acannell View Post
    sherline doesnt offer expensive technical support. if you call them you will talk to a friendly, experienced machinist, who will help you through what you are dealing with, but its not a team of support engineers costing the company big bucks. tech support is not going to cost them anything significant, especially when they are IMPROVING THEIR PRODUCT.
    Unless their friendly, experienced machinist is a volunteer, it is indeed costing them something very significant, to the tune of $60-100k per year. Maybe he would be getting more "improving" done if he wasn't busy being friendly to customers.

    If it doesn't cost anything significant, please post your personal cell phone number so that all manner of idiot can call you and ask you the same question 20 times every day. You must be nuts if you think that would not adversely affect his (or your) productivity on other tasks.

    .....when you start listing things like "windows cut" and "hardware purchased" as a major challenge to a corporation, you dont know what you are talking about.
    I never said it was a major challenge. You seem to think magic happens. Just paying some idiot to go to the hardware store and buy a $0.10 washer costs the company $20. You can't assume that since you bought the parts for $75 that they should be able to offer an assembled solution for $75.


    the automatic tool changer is a roll of the dice. an upgrade to ballscrews and a thicker z axis are natural progressions and not risky.
    I'm not sure how you figure adding a few hundred bucks to the price of a "budget" machine is not risky. ANYTHING you do to change the product has a risk. You could paint it blue instead of red and maybe one guy would not buy it because he wants a red machine.

    I agree a company can't sit on it's hands but also realize that the last 5 years have not been gravy for most businesses and bearing additional costs when you have families to feed is foolish. You invest in your future when you can and just hold on for dear life the rest of the time.

    Since you are infallible I will refrain from further comment. You obviously know much more than me about development costs and the inherent operating costs of a business.


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    You must be joking! Sherline has so many goodies for their HOBBY mills and lathes they are likely responsible for draining many, many bank accounts (like mine). I think their business model speaks for itself. Been in business a long time and produce a product that performs as intended. Joe Martin actually wrote a eBook on how to start a business. It's free on their website, interesting read, should read it and see if it changes your prospective.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by acannell View Post
    no man..

    you cant write off what I've said as some sort of mistake on my part. youre just making generalizations about needing a "ground up design" to add a few basic changes or accessories, which is untrue.
    It is only untrue based on your view of what a CNC machine should be. The problem is your wants and needs are contradictory.
    why would you need to redesign the machine to replace leadscrews with ballscrews, or a thicker z axis? or any of the things I listed, which do not require significant changes to the cost or design of the existing machine, except the tool changer (maybe), which, even if it was $400, would be alot more useful than the $400 cnc rotary table.
    Because a CNC machine needs to protect its ways and lead screws.
    mentioning the need for a "massive market" is contradictory if you are also going to say they are "comfortable in their niche". which is it? is there a massive market for the 2000 series 8 direction capability? or how about the CNC 4th axis which cuts down the working area and rigidity to an almost useless level? that R&D effort and "redesign" should have gone into resolving the 3 axis mill's rigidity and backlash issues.
    I still come back to this thought, if the machine isn't good enough for you why do you trash it? Instead buy a machine with the rigidity you think you need.
    if you are going to say "problem is you pay big time for a nicely done up miniature mill" you are going to have to back that up with why these upgrades cant be done for a reasonable price.
    You say you can buy kits to do a conversion but that you don't like the price. If that is so put your own kits together and market them. Do that for a year and see what it takes to make a profit and stay in business. I see lots of complaint in various forums over the cost of XYZ gadget but yet nobody seems willing to set up shop to deliver a similar gadget at a better price.
    otherwise that is just more meaningless generalization. im being very specific about what needs to be changed and why it wouldnt impact the cost or engineering significantly. can you make a similar argument? or just say "build your own shop"?
    You assume it wouldn't impact costs. However Sherline needs to maintain quality, address serviciability and keep its customers happy. There is a huge difference between a quality ball screw installation and something done one the cheap. Beyond that you ask for something more that the Sherline is designed to do.

  17. #17
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    I think you are being unreasonable here.

    Quote Originally Posted by acannell View Post
    This is really more generalization. If I buy a full size mill and use it for my hobby, does that mean it shouldn't function as well?
    The Sherline functions perfectly fine for its intended usage. Look at it this way would you try to use a Hardinge HLV to turn gun barrels for a destroyer? Your fundamental problem is expecting more out of the machine than you can rightfully expect.
    What is that idea supposed to mean? Most of the tools I have I use both for my hobby and business purposes. So what? Sherline sells their mill and lathe parts as individual components for industrial use. What difference does it make if people buy these parts for hobby use or business use?
    I know more than a few machine shops that have a Sherline lathe or mill in a corner someplace. That doesn't mean they try to do over size production jobs on it.
    The sherline can cut 6061 at similar material removal rates as a full size knee mill with a slow spindle, at a conservative feed rate for a 1/4" diameter cut, although its with a roughing finish and the plunge rate is much slower. If the Z axis was stronger I might be able to start to max out the motor in steel.
    Again it isn't the machine for you, if you try to operate it as a much larger machine you will never be happy with it. If you get you jollies maxing out equipment it should be pretty obvious that you can do that real quickly on a Sherline.
    The ballscrew upgrade would mean I wouldn't have to constantly check and adjust backlash, which is an extremely annoying process for the X axis.
    Do you really expect Sherline sized ball screws to last a long time?

    Sherline has ignored these upgrades in favor of gimmicky and barely usable (or used) upgrades like the CNC rotary table and 2000 series 8 direction capability.
    They haven't ignored anything in my estimation. They have a niche product that sells well enough to keep them in business. Further they aren't so foolish as to try to turn the current mills into some sort of Frankenstein abortion that try's to be a production mill but can't be due to inherent design issues.

    I'd reccomnd that you go look at a Tormach CNC but I'm convinced you would be here bad mouthing the machine due to the lack of horsepower or some other imagined shortcoming. There isn't a tool made that can't be driven beyond its limits. So really why pick on the Sherline which is obviously too small for your needs?

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    Hi guys,

    Sorry for the delay in replying here - it is because English is my 2nd language and also because I was involved in a very serious car accident last year. I've had to undergo two surgeries on my legs and was bed ridden for nearly a year. Luckily, I have made a good recovery and am walking and functioning normally again. As you can imagine, going through this car accident has delayed me somewhat in bringing products to market, etc.

    Here is where things currently stand:

    I have a number of great, new cool ideas and products for both Sherline as well as other small machines (both lathes and mills). I recently made a nice Sherline Gib modifcation, which provides a nice upgrade to both the Sherline mill and lathe; it provides less backlash, soft table slide and reduced side clearance. I also have a special anti-backlash lead screw nut, which works really well.

    Another product, which I'm currently developing, is a high precision quick-change tool post (QCTP) with micro cutting tools; some of you may have seen these featured in my YouTube videos. This a really wonderful accessory, developed by me, specifically for the Sherline lathes.

    Soon I will also post new videos showing another product I have developed, which provides forced lubrication for both the Sherline lathe, as well as the Sherline mill. I think all Sherline users will love the idea, because it's very simple and easy to implement.

    I have used all of these modifications on my own personal machines with great success - and to increase precision and accuracy - and I look forward to making them available soon to other Sherline users, who might be interested in modifying or upgrading their equipment as well. When these products are available for purchase, I will let everyone know.

    For now, I have many photos of these items on my Facebook account. If anyone wishes to view them, please feel free to send me a friend request, so that I can add you. You can locate me by searching for "Luiz Ally" and/or "Tryally" on Facebook.

    Sincerely,

    Luiz Ally

  19. #19
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    Good to hear from you Maestro, err I mean Luiz ;-)

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    Hi buddy,
    Thank you, Im glad know of my prestige here, I need learn more how use the forum.
    So, when the new videos be ready I will comunicate here,
    Regards
    Luiz

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