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Proxxon TBM 115/220 for PCB drilling and diecast aluminum enclosure drilling

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I have the IBS/E handheld tool and MB 200 stand, which together are extremely similar to the TBM. (TBM has lower spindle speeds.) If you’re short on space, the combination might be an option because you can really break it down for storage — and you get a handheld tool.

I’ve used it for aluminum many times, but of course it’s not intended for large holes. I often use it to accurately place pilot holes, and then just use my regular electric hand drill to drill out to final size. Step drills are great. Just get a good one. (I got a cheap set of 3 from Lidl, and one of them just won’t cut.)

I have a Proxxon TBM 220, its at the back of my work shed gathering dust because its junk.

The quill is aluminum with junk bearings and the motor for some reason becomes really hot after a short time, the more you use it, the more noise it makes and it has a slight runout / wobble, to me it was a total waste of good money.

For pcb work I mainly use a Katsu mini drill press, it has its flaws such as a not so good speed controller but it handles pcb work with carbide bits just fine, its build is more solid and it takes up the same space as the Proxxon. It uses a round belt, they can be bought as spares from ebay or you can make your own by heat welding the same diameter belt into the correct size and it has no runout.

I have a Proxxon TBM115. I bought it back around 2005. I don't use it heavily but it has worked fine for me.

There's a company called Micro-Mark that sells what looks like a re-brand (or maybe a knock-off?). I almost bought one instead of the Proxxon. Micro-Mark has been around forever selling to model makers. I've purchased supplies from them many times over the years. They have all kinds of useful stuff. Might be worth a look.

I own the MicroMark small drill press with electronic speed control.
For the price, it works well for me using small carbide bits on FR4 material, but I haven't used it on aluminum--I have a full-size drill press in the garage.
Two nuisances:
1.  The chuck key is not a standard size.  When I misplaced it, MicroMark quickly sent me a replacement.
2.  It is easy to overload the taper fitting of the chuck into the spindle with larger bit diameters.  When this occurs, the chuck with drill bit falls out of the spindle.  I found that for reasonable drill sizes (< 0.25 inch), I could avoid this by greatly reducing the chuck rotation speed using the two-pulley belt and electronic speed control.  In general, I try to avoid using such bits in the small drill press.

That proxxon spins pretty fast if you do panel that are plastic, its not that great for that, unless you sharpen the drills at the plastic angle (they don't come in small sizes either, afaik). But TBH since I got plastic bits, I basically feel that I have been drilling plastic wrong my whole life, its just so much nicer, it does not pull. Having the correct angle drill bit is a mega benefit.

But I have drilled copper, aluminum, brass, pcb material and steel with it at small holes with no problem, but when you get to the max drill size for the collet I think it gets a little dicey. I recommend it as a hole starter.

I think its the perfect tool for indexing holes on a front panel so long you have sharp drills and lubricant.

The thing is the max hole size is going to be like a LED, and you need to use a step bit or something after that anyway, since its the correct tool for drilling larger holes in thin metal. The maximum drill size is like what, slightly bigger then 3/16? But mine drills very nice holes. Also lubricate the belt. And getting some collet wrenches to keep on the tool itself is a benefit, I keep meaning to make a holder mounted to the machine or under the base or something, collets are awesome when you have the wrench nearby. The base should have a lid and holders for the tools and collets IMO. I 3d printed a collet cover for the proxxon collet holder and thats been nice too.

The only thing I don't like is the long screw for mounting the belt cover on, if you replace that with some kind of quick release mechanism, the belts are actually really easy to change pulley ratio. I actually bother changing the belt ratio, unlike with a normal drill press (total pain in the ass).


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