Roland DWX-50 and New 51D, Comparative Analysis


The very successful Roland DWX-50 is being replaced by the all new DWX-51D, (“5″ is for 5-axis, “D” for dry only). We recently received this new mill and I would love to share what I see as a real improvement.

First, upon taking the new 51D out of the box, it’s noticeably heavier than the old DWX-50. Getting it on the bench, one sees a smaller footprint and a much sleeker cabinet. In addition, the cabinet is primarily metal and no longer made from plastic. Upon opening the mill door you immediately notice a new “C” shaped disk holder for the standard 98mm disc. Disc placement is simplified and less prone to movement during milling. There are just two hex screws that tighten with a hex torque screwdriver (included with purchase) to secure a disc in the mill. When removing a disc, you simply loosen the two screws. No need to remove them, they remain in the fixture.

Next you notice a 10-tool holder as compared to 4. This enables placement of three different tool sets, ready for utilization in the mill at any time. The 51D has control software to direct the spindle to the desired tool position based on material selection. This reduces user error with expensive tools. The larger capacity will result in a lower tool cost, as tools are handled less, reducing possible misplacement, chipping from handling, or dropping.

The internal mill chamber has been designed to funnel debris to the bottom-back of the mill chamber. The floor of the mill chamber on an angle and ramps down towards the back of the mill. The suction pulls all the dust from the back of the new funnel-like chamber. The suction hose has also gone from a 32mm to a 54mm diameter for increased airflow through the mill. This increase in diameter enables triple the air flow through the hose. The addition of an ionizer in the mill reduces static electricity, which helps keep the mill from actively attracting dust and/or debris to the inside of the mill. It’s obvious there was significant engineering involved in an attempt to better manage milled particulate and dust.

Looking more closely, with the mill front door open and within the mill chamber, there is a second bottom hinged access door. This gives access to a second clean compartment. This enclosed clean mill chamber houses nearly all critical operational components. This new design enables clear, immediate access to the top and rear chamber. With the door opened, one has easy access to the spindle, which results in user replacement when needed. No need to ship the mill to an authorized repair facility. This service is now a made easy, do-it-yourself operation. The spindle in the 51D is the same one used in the 50.

Still looking into the top, rear compartment you can see some additional functional improvements. You readily can see the Y-axis ball screw drive (if I’m getting a little too geeky here just go to the next paragraph). Ball screw drives are most common for all milling machines for functional movements of the X, Y & Z-axis. The ball screws are motor driven, threaded rods. When the motor turns in either direction, it moves the spindle from left to right. There are additional ball screws for each X & Z-axes.The older DWX-50 model used less conventional wire cables for these movements. The cable has served customers well, but over time or with significant temperature change, the wires needed tension adjustments. Unfortunately, when tension adjustment is needed there were no error messages or a need for service warning. Thus, prior to troubleshooting the tension adjustment, the mill would simply experience accuracy and/or chipping issues and a subsequent trip to the repair center.

From an operational perspective, the new mill has similar feed rates resulting in similar mill time. The combination of improved dust control, and different drive system, I would anticipate the 51D to be more accurate, easier to clean, reduced ambient dust and requiring less service. Like the original mill, the 51D comes with an industry’s best, 2 year factory warranty.

I have heard some people say, the 51D is just “incrementally improved” over the predecessor, but I beg to differ. It’s obvious Roland conducted a comprehensive product assessment of the DWX-50, determined next-gen improvements to continue leading in the offering of the best dry, 5-axis dental lab mill in its class (mills in the $30K and under range). There are some great design changes to the DWX-51D that will likely improve consistency, reduce off-site service and will cost less operationally to run. The absolute best part, it costs $5K less.

For more information about the DWX-51D click here.

Back to All Posts