Producing a close copy of the well-known Hardinge HLV-H toolroom lathe, and based in Shen Kank, Taichung, Taiwan, the Cyclematic Company is under the control of Mr. Edward Chang who takes great pride in turning out a top-quality product. A full range of models is offered including one with a very clever digitally-controlled screwcutting arrangement that uses a servo-motor-driven leadscrew to replace the usual gearbox. Versions are also made fitted with CNC controls and for precision plain-turning, repetition capstan and second-operation work. Compared to the last-known price of $60,000 of the Hardinge a Cyclematic with gear-driven screwcutting must be considered a bargain at less than US$20,000 FOB. In the UK the brand is handled by Mid Bucks Machine Tools, who can be contacted here
A recent examination of a machine by a user who demands the finest quality is revealing. He reports that the overall quality is far beyond that normally displayed by Chinese machines, with finish, fit and feel all being of an exemplary standard. As the lathe comes from Taiwan (and not the mainland) this is, perhaps, not surprising - the country has a long tradition of high-quality machine-tool manufacture.
With the machine degreased, installed and levelled a 6 mm pin was inserted into a 6 mm (Taiwanese-made) collet and the run-out (with the spindle turning at a slow speed) tested. Using a top-quality, Mitutoyo 1Ám indicator the needle did not move. Not even a quarter of one division. Run-out was, therefore, perhaps in the order of 0.0002 mm about half the wavelength of green light. Other collets provided a similar result, typically below 3Ám. Only when a 25 mm rod turned down to fit into a 13 mm collet, did run-out drop to 0.01 mm. After a year's use, when the test was repeated, the results were unchanged.
Although the main spindle motor runs very quietly, the fans in the electrical cabinet make quite a noise, though this may be down (on this special-order example) to an extra fan installed to cool the power inverter that provides 220V (the normal being 440V). Unfortunately, the twin V-belts driving the headstock seem to fight each other, producing some vibration - though this IS belt maker's fault in not being able to provide exactly matched pairs, as was once common. The servo-motor that drives the leadscrew (this replaces the usual mechanical gearbox) is also extremely quiet, as is the power-feed motor.
The user was torn between ordering the traditional mechanical gearbox with a separate DRO, or electronic threading with an integral DRO - in other words, fancy convenience vs. reliability. Finally, the electronic version was chosen, its ability to show the actual feed rate being the deciding factor - with the ordinary system (as used on a Hardinge) the feed-rate per revolution can only be guessed at. Oddly, Cyclematic retain the same upper limit for the pitch (4 t.p.i. or 6.35 mm) as the geared version, though there seems no reason why this could not be a little higher and would help with the manufacture of lens barrels with multi-start, 12 mm pitch threads (though in reality these are more easily done today on a CNC lathe).
The owner further reports:
I get good finish on aluminium 6061-T6 and (surprisingly) very good on SUS 304. However, on brass I get rather poor finish, but that may be due to my cutting tools, or my skill.
At first I couldn't move the lever for the threading half-nut. Cyclematic thought that I did not know how to use it properly, but it was really stuck. Finally, I set up my camcorder as a witness and pulled as hard as I could to either prove my point or break the lever. Oh dear ! Now it suddenly moved and, with a few repeat strokes (maybe 20 kg force) it became lighter and lighter and now is just fine.
After a few months I filled in coolant and turned on the pump. There was some sound, but no coolant came out. After some exchange with Cyclematic it turned out that they had forgotten to change the pump to 220V like the rest of my machine. However, a few days later I received a new pump FOC - very good customer service!.
The LCD screen sometimes boots up with a 0.000 display in all fields and I need to reboot. No big problem, merely a nuisance. I just hope that someday there will be a firmware fix for that.
Normally the machine comes with dual scales for mm and inch, assisted by planetary gears inside the handwheel to deal with the 25/25.4 ratio and improve the accuracy of the reading. As I didn't care much for the distracting feel of the gears inside the handwheels, I ordered a metric version only. However, upon further investigation, it transpired that the leadscrews were only available with a imperial pitch and therefore the correcting influence of gears would still be still needed. So, now I have single metric scales, but still with gears inside. Well, I've gotten used to it.
The clamping of the tailstock is a bit weak. When I try to drill 12 mm into aluminium the tailstock already starts to move away.
An improvement to the screw-pitch range. 8 mm or 12 mm would be better, assuming that the servo motor could handle that.
12 positions on the spindle lock, so that simple indexing could be used for my toolpost-mounted drill. Currently I can only index at 60░ increments, but 30░ increments would be so much more useful (for 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12 holes).
It would also be nice to have absolute scales for the DRO. Now I always lose the X and Y positions when the machine is turned off.
I'd also like to have a lock for the top slide. Too often I have set up some exact diameter with the cross slide and then accidentally touched the hand wheel of the top slide, which sticks out to much; this ruins both the x and y settings. Sometimes I remember to set the top slide to 0, a position from which it is usually possible to recover.
The collets are good quality, but the markings are (inexplicably) on the side, where they can never be seen. Engraving them on the front face would ensure that they could always be seen, whether in the rack or the spindle.
Overall, a very nice machine that I can honestly recommend..