I purchased a Nova Voyager drill press at the end of last year, as it looked like the perfect woodworking and metalworking tool for my needs. It seemed like it would be the last drill press I would ever need. It has a large table, great for working on wood, but also low speeds, great for working on metal.
A big issue with one of the parts (I’m frustrated but they said they’d handle it) had me on the Nova website today, where I learned that there’s a new model heading down the pipeline.
Nova is coming out with the Vulcan, a new metalworking-focused drill press that they say offers hybrid milling machine features.
At first glance, the Nova Vulcan is very similar to the Voyager. There are some obvious differences, such as the design of the table, with X-shaped T-slot configuration and a coolant tray.
The Nova Vulcan features a combination 3MT spindle and ER32 collet system, allowing you to use a conventional drill chuck or collets for holding end mills.
Yes, you are meant to use this drill press with end mills.
Nova says this about the Vulcan:
The NOVA Vulcan is designed to handle all of the normal metal working and multi material drilling tasks but can also mill parts as needed.
*Additional accessory compound table is required.
The Nova Vulcan drill press is said to be able to handle the sideways forces that are created from milling operations. Traditional drill presses cannot handle these forces very well, which is why conventional and collective wisdom says that you cannot do any milling on a drill.
Nova says that the Vulcan drill press combines the best of both worlds.
Its coolant tray comes with a drainage tube. From the looks of it, you might also be able to rotate the table to an angle.
Features and Specifications
- 50-5500 RPM (Default range is 50-3000)
- No belts
- 3MT and ER32 combination spindle
- 5/8″ drill chuck
- Tapping assist function
- Electronic brake
- Load readout
- Power spindle hold
- Dill breakthrough control
- Speed dial
- 6″ of quill travel
- Adjustable mechanical stop with digital readout
- 1.75HP motor (115V), 2HP if wired for 220V
Price: $1850 + $200 freight
Early adopters can get a 20% “engineering sample” discount, while supplies last.
More Info(via Nova)
Part of me is thinking: But I just bought my Voyager, and haven’t even used it much due to defective rack issue! If I waited a little longer…
But the other part of me thinks that I’d be better off spending the price difference on a good benchtop mill.
Nova hasn’t shown off photos of the full machine yet, but I would guess it has the same drill press base as the Voyager. Will the machine be steady enough for milling operations?
You have to add a cross-slide vise for milling operations. What about a good cross-slide table for adding your own vise and accessories?
The digital readouts in vertical direction are going to be helpful. But what about fine control? Can the quill allow for very small steps?
If you’re looking for a metalworking machine, it’ll be better to have the milling capability than not. But I’m a little skeptical about how practical or useful the milling functionality will really be.
I have a very small mill (Taig), and in addition to itching for a CNC router, I have been researching benchtop mills for quite some time.
I do think that this will be very competitive with combination tools sold as mill-drills. But compared to real milling machines, I think that customers are going to have to be even more diligent than usual, in evaluating how well the tool will fit their needs.
This is a major step up from conventional drill presses that have heavy drilling capabilities but can’t mill. It also has a considerable advantage on a milling machine or mill drill that can handle milling but doesn’t have the flexibility or ease of use for everyday drilling projects. The Vulcan combines the best of both worlds in a cost effective, hybrid, one-machine solution.
I am very optimistic that this will be a solid metalworking-focused drill press. A one-machine solution? I’m not sold on this.
It remains unclear as to whether the software will offer the same settings and guidance as the Voyager, should users want to use the Vulcan on wood or plastic materials. They do say it can handle wood, metal, plastic, and glass, but there aren’t many details about how the software differs from that of the Voyager. There’s a photo of the control panel, showing “advance modes” that include pilot hole, tapping mode, and power spindle hold settings.