I'm applying for some funds to set up a small makerlab-type metalshop in my department (American research university, although I should note that I'm in the social sciences). My plan is to get a CNC mill and lathe along with some 3D printers for rapid prototyping of equipment.
My question is whether to get metric or imperial CNCs. Yes, it's easy to flip the display controllers between metric and imperial, but the gearing of the mill itself is usually based on a metric or imperial leadscrew, so that 1 turn of the handwheel turns a certain metric/imperial based distance.
I checked the other metalshops at my university and they are use imperial-unit Bridgeport mills and lathes. I myself grew up in a metric country (i.e., somewhere other than the US, Liberia, and Burma) and so find this incredibly backwards.
Is there any good reason to go with imperial-based lathes and mills -- except for the cost of finding a good metric one?
Note 1: For lathes, it is relatively easy to change the gearing for metric, so this is not as much of an issue as it is for mills where the X, Y, and Z leadscrews and indicators would need to be swapped out. Not to mention the difficulty in sourcing metric borers and bits...