QUESTION: How do I know which DRO and features are right for me?
ANSWER: The first thing to know is what your DRO application is. Is the DRO to be installed on a Mill, Lathe, Grinder, EDM, or other machine? Today’s DRO’s are made for general, machine specific application, and programmability. For example, a mill DRO may have bolt circle programming. This feature would be useless on a lathe. In addition, a Lathe unit may have cutting tool offsets to keep track of the tool tip when tool changes are made. An EDM DRO may have relay output circuits to interface with the EDM’s Z-axis ram.
DRO’s can be grouped into three categories…
1. General Machining: These units feature a Reset button for each axis. In addition, basic features may include a preset keyboard, inch/mm, diameter/radius, fine/course, and error compensation. This unit is for the operator that only needs to know from 0.000 to dimension reading and basic computation
2. Machine Specific Application: These units include all of the basic features. Other operating features may include datum point, center finder, polar/cartesian, and touch probe input. Application features may include the following- Mill Displays… tool offsets, bolt hole, and line hole; Lathes… cutting tool offsets, third axis vectoring; EDM…cross zero relay circuit. These units are for the operator that wants the most cost effective features for their application.
3. Programmability: These units have all of the features of the lesser units with the addition of programmability. This may include programming “blocks” of data (similar to a CNC), advanced machining functions (frame array, rectangular, mirror imaging, etc.), RS232 Output. Some models also have a “teach” mode. That is, the operator can store the move as the part is machined. The difference is that your hands provide the automation (turning the dials). This unit is for the operator that may have many widgets to make, but does not have access to a CNC.
QUESTION: How do I determine what the correct size scales are for my machine?
ANSWER: Many machines come with a specification sheet. However, we recommend measuring your actual travel. This is achieved by traveling the moving surface all the way to one end until it stops. With a marking pencil or marker, draw a line across the table and the saddle (stationary surface). Next, traverse the table until it stops on the other end. With a tape measure, measure the difference between the mark on the moving surface and the mark on the stationary surface. This is your “travel”. You must take into consideration anything that can change the table travel. For example, a power feed on a vertical knee mill could be restricting the travel by as much as four inches. Any stops on the machine that could be removed should be considered (and secured). A gap bed lathe can achieve extra travel. A machine with no stops should be modified when possible. Failure to adjust for these and other variables could result in “over travel” and damage to the scales.
Three Rules of thumb when considering scale requirements:
· Overall length- this is the total length of the scale- not the travel.
· Travel length- this is the nominal specified travel or measuring length.
· Maximum travel- this is the maximum movement that the scale can measure.
Example: An Acu-rite ENC150 30” scale has the following specifications (each manufacturer is different):
· Overall Length- 36.375”
· Travel Length (nominal)- 30”
· Maximum or Actual ravel- 31.75”
QUESTION: My machine’s travels do not fit into the “package” sizes. Is there any way I can get a DRO at a package price?
ANSWER: Give us a call; chances are, we can “customize” a system for you at a package price.
QUESTION: There are a few inexpensive digital readouts on the market, why don’t you offer them?
ANSWER: The Digital Readouts we offer are from the leaders in the industry. Their years of experience provide innovative solutions for your machining needs. In addition, they have the organization to support and service their products. Think about it, you want a precision measuring system with traceable accuracy on your machine. So, why settle for an inferior system and risk scraping a part? Is the couple of hundred dollars you saved on the purchase going to be worth the time and material to rework the part? You pay for what you get!
QUESTION: I want a quality DRO but can’t afford a new one, what about a used DRO?
ANSWER: When you are buying a used DRO, remember the old adage, “buyer beware!” Factors to consider when buying a used system:
· Are the scales the correct size for your application?
· Is the Display the right unit for your application?
· Why is the seller selling it, does it work?
· Will the seller guarantee the unit for a specified time; or, is the sale “as is”?
· Check if the manufacturer is still in business.
· Check with the manufacturer if the unit is serviceable and if parts (display, scales, reader heads) are still available.
· If it is missing a display, scales or hardware or needs service, call for pricing on replacement parts and what a repair would run before you buy it.
Often what happens, is by the time you are done buying the old system, servicing or replacing a device, you will probably have spent as much as purchasing a new unit. What will you have left? You will have a unit with a band-aid on it and risk of no recourse through whom you bought it. If cost is an issue, consider a manufacturer “factory 2nd” DRO system. These DRO’s were used at trade shows, were a warranty return, or have a cosmetic flaw. DRO’s are inspected, repaired if needed, repackaged, and provided with a warranty. Check for availability.
QUESTION: What if I need help with installation?
ANSWER: We offer installation and service in Southern California. However, because of distance and personal choice, some operators prefer to work on it themselves. Should you require assistance, we can help you over the phone. Our installer, Ralph Huacuja, has been installing DRO’s for over twenty years. His installations include catalog houses, OEM’s, machine importers, aerospace, military, schools and more. We have seen about every kind of machine there is and can retrofit a DRO to your needs. If you are out of our area, have a number of machines and are willing to pay for travel, Ralph will come to your place to do the installations and training (call for pricing). In addition, check your phone listings for machine service companies. Most of them have experience installing DRO’s
QUESTION: Some web sites have online ordering, why does yours not?
ANSWER: 1) We have not gotten around to it yet. 2) We believe it is important to make sure you are getting exactly what you are looking for. There are to many variables to consider when buying a DRO. Some of these are pricing, sizes, models, availability, application, and customer information. Although the Internet is great for gathering information and correspondence, we believe it is no substitute for plain old verbal communication and having a good relationship with our customers.