Unimat Machine Tool
Desktop machine shop
I don’t own a Unimat yet, but have had the pleasure of borrowing a ’70s model for small projects from time to time. I’ve used it on metal, wood, and plastic.
It’s a miniature wonder tool, made in Austria. It transforms from a lathe, to a drill press, to a mill, and back again. The older model looks a bit like a home sewing machine and has similar dimensions. You can whip this thing out on a desk and start machining stuff.
It’s relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the larger individual machines that it imitates. I’ve created many smaller parts on a Bridgeport that could have been completed on a Unimat. Of course there are limitations on speed, power, and precision, but for certain projects it’s the perfect fit.
I’ve never used the newer black & red model that looks like it’s made from 80/20 beam, so I can’t speak to them. But the older ones are well crafted. They have the feel of a fine watch crossed with a classic kitchen appliance. The parts are solid and hefty. The motor is beefy. The design is simple and precise. A real joy to touch and work with.
For me the ultimate combo is a Unimat coupled with a 3D printer. Subtractive and additive making without leaving the office chair means maximum iterations on protoypes while still having the computer nearby for research or CAD’ing.
(Here's a video of Aaron's Unimat in action - Mark Frauenfelder — editors)