Tormach owners

This forum is dedicated to those Hobbyists Interested in CNC machining in their home shops. (Digital Read Outs are also topical, as is CAD/CAM as it relates to CNC)

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chrismunn
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 4:24 pm

Tormach owners

Post by chrismunn » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:53 pm

Hi everybody, new to the forum.

Just wanted to see if there are any guys using any of the Tormach machines on here? More spcifically the PCNC 1100, but if you use anything else, let's hear it!

I was hoping to get some feedback on the 1100 as I'm planning on buying one in the future and wanted to hear it right from the camels mouth.

How long have you had you machine?
How do you like your machine?
What upgrades did you purchase?
What do you do with your machine?
Is there anything you wish you would or wouldn't have gotten with the machine?
Are there any "must-have" upgrades?
Are there any comparable hobby grade machines on the market?
What CAD/CAM software do you use?
What major services have you had to do, and at how many hours of run time on the machine?
What tooling would be the "bare essentials"?
Anything you would care to share with someone getting ready to purchase?

Here's my story;
I have zero machining experience either manual or CNC. I've been watching Kieth Fenner on YouTube for a while and thru that channel I discovered various other channels of full scale and home shop channels from Jon Lipton at Ox Tool, John Saunders at NYCCNC, John Grimsmo, Tactical Keychains, ect... I never knew how entertaining it was to simply watch a turning lathe. I've literally spent countless hours over the past who knows how many years just watching Fenner spinning that lathe! While I have no legitimate machining experience or knowledge, I believe myself to be handy enough to learn. The desire is there anyways.. I'm a granite installer in Austin, Tx and have had the opportunity to run some pretty awesome pieces of equipment in our granite shop. From edge polishers the size of a school bus (which I actually got to do a complete tear down on, and then rebuild) to CNC router/mills (which we have several), CNC bridge saws and manual bridge saws. Each one of these pieces of machinery are literally as big if not bigger than my living room so I feel pretty comfortable around this type of equipment. We also have an entire dedicated CAD department of which I'm freinds with verybody there. I just don't know a whole lot about the whole process of buying and dealing with running costs, ordering tooling ect...

As far as what I'm trying to do with my machines, mostly hobby stuff for fun and creating tooling for my granite shop. We use a local company here in town for all of our machine work but it's all easy lathe and mill work that I could myself if I had the capabilities. In addition to the fun stuff and small widget for work here and there, I do want to create my own brand of small components. These components would obviously be prototype first and then short production runs of, say, 100 parts at a time? And would require some 4th axis work. The components aren't complicated and are already of a tried and true design, but when I'm using the the commercially available components in my custom builds, I find the variety quite lacking! Which is why I want my own brand.

I know this machine is not suitable for large production runs with extended operation run times, but what exactly are it's limits? I also know that if by some miracle things take off and people actually want my products then I'll be looking into a larger more suitable machine(s), but I've gotta start somewhere ya know!

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Dave_C
Posts: 960
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:34 am
Location: Springfield. MO.

Re: Tormach owners

Post by Dave_C » Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:59 am

Chrismann,

I am not a Tormach owner but I have researched them thoroughly. The PCNC 1100 is a good sturdy casting and way better than most of the small machines that are getting converted today. The column is much more rigid!

The new Path Pilot software is a great improvement over the Mach3 they once used (And I still have) They added lots of things to the wizards and they are better detailed.

The computer controller got away from windows and now uses a LINX operating system. It is actually a true real time system now!

My only complaint is that Tormach still uses the old obsolete parallel printer port to run the machine and the steppers are just that. They are steppers and are limited to some fairly slow rapids. (50 IPM I think, at least on the lathe machine)

But for what you pay for the machine, I don't think you can beat it!

Dave C.
I learn something new every day! Problem is I forget two.

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Jim_Nolan
Posts: 491
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Location: UK, North of the wall
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Re: Tormach owners

Post by Jim_Nolan » Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:56 pm

I got one bought it second hand from a guy in the UK; nice saved all that bloody import duty. Had it for about four years now far from proficient success rate is about 50 to 60 %. Not the machines fault my failure to think like a Russian using Spritcam.
Biggest selling point is the product support and general spares back up its great to get real time advice over the phone or if it’s a sprut issue get a gotomeeting session going and have your problems sorted remotely.

PM me for specifics if you want

Jim
www.northernsteam.com

chrismunn
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 4:24 pm

Re: Tormach owners

Post by chrismunn » Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:41 pm

Man, I don't really know much about CAD/CAM software or the whole electrical/computerized aspect of anything. What software is compatible with the machine? At first I was thinking of just breaking down and getting SolidWorks but I can't afford that, then thought Autodesk Fusion 360? But I really have no idea what I'm looking for here? I just figured when the time comes I'd get something affordable and run with it! I have however, watched all the Sprutcam YouTube vids trying to wrap my head around exactly how CAM works? I didn't realize that CAM wrote the G-code for the machine. When I started researching G-code and was watching vids on YouTube it was all guys manually writing code. Hundreds and hundreds of lines of code....

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Dave_C
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Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:34 am
Location: Springfield. MO.

Re: Tormach owners

Post by Dave_C » Tue Sep 08, 2015 8:50 am

Chrismunn,

It isn't really a matter of which Cad/Cam software works with what machine, what is important is does that piece of software have a POST processor that writes G-Code for your machine.

For example: I bought Bob/Cad and had to fix their POST processor that was supposed to be correct for Mach 3. It works well now but I had to to fix it myself! Not at a lot of fun...

Sprutcam is good and the POST you get with it is for the Tormach machine only. (If you buy it from Tormach when you purchase a machine)

If you are new to lathe and mill work I would not recommend you start with a CNC machine. Learn how to run a manual machine until you have a good understanding of feeds and speeds. You may do more harm than good with a CNC machine if you don't understand what it needs to do what you want. Crashes are expensive with CNC.

Dave C.
I learn something new every day! Problem is I forget two.

chief
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2003 5:51 pm

Re: Tormach owners

Post by chief » Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:48 am

Hey guys, wanted to throw in my two cents worth. I have a PCNC 1100 and couldn't be happier with it. At it's price point, I don't believe any machine can touch it.

Couple of small things for Dave, when you go to pathpilot verses mach 3, you add a machine control card from Mesa which controls the mill directly, the parallel port is no longer used, and the rapids on the newer series II and current series III machines are 110 ipm, still not with a Haas or similar machine, but 30-40 thou cheaper.

There are post processors available for most CAM packages including Autocad Fusion 360. I would recommend Fusion because of it's low cost's. It's essentially free for hobbyist and small businesses, even if you have to pay, it's overall price is about the same as the annual maintenance costs for products like Solidworks and it includes 3D CAM in the package, something that is generally sold separately and expensively.

If you want to get a feel for the Tormach machine as well as using Solidworks, Sprutcam, and Fusion 360, check out the videos by a fellow named John, he runs a site called NYCNC.com, if you google it he has a ton of videos.

Terry

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Dave_C
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Location: Springfield. MO.

Re: Tormach owners

Post by Dave_C » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:00 am

Hey Terry,

Thanks for the update on the 110 IPM and the Parallel port issue. That is good to know. 110 IPM will do for us hobby guys all day long. We just make slower crashes :lol:

So if Tormach is not using the PP, what connects the card to Path pilot. Is it USB? Ethernet?

Dave C.
I learn something new every day! Problem is I forget two.

chief
Posts: 214
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2003 5:51 pm

Re: Tormach owners

Post by chief » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:22 pm

It still uses a parallel printer cable, but the cable is connected to the mesa card directly and since Pathpilot is basically linuxcnc, all the windows type latencies are gone, much more real time operation.

And yeah, 110 is quick enough for me, but some of the guys have kicked it up over 150 ipm on their machines.

Terry

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Mid Day Machining
Posts: 418
Joined: Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:58 am
Location: San Clemente, CA

Re: Tormach owners

Post by Mid Day Machining » Mon Sep 21, 2015 11:18 am

chrismunn wrote:Hi everybody, new to the forum.

Just wanted to see if there are any guys using any of the Tormach machines on here? More spcifically the PCNC 1100, but if you use anything else, let's hear it!

I was hoping to get some feedback on the 1100 as I'm planning on buying one in the future and wanted to hear it right from the camels mouth.

How long have you had you machine? Since July 2011
How do you like your machine?I love my Tormach
What upgrades did you purchase? I bought the Power Draw Bar and 2 machine arms
What do you do with your machine? I do job shop work
Is there anything you wish you would or wouldn't have gotten with the machine?NOPE
Are there any "must-have" upgrades?
Are there any comparable hobby grade machines on the market? NOPE
What CAD/CAM software do you use? GIBBSCAM
What major services have you had to do, and at how many hours of run time on the machine? NO MAJOR SERVICES AND I HAVE OVER 10,000 HOURS ON MY MACHINE
What tooling would be the "bare essentials"? TOOL HOLDERS, LOTS OF TOOL HOLDERS.
Anything you would care to share with someone getting ready to purchase?

Here's my story;
I have zero machining experience either manual or CNC. I've been watching Kieth Fenner on YouTube for a while and thru that channel I discovered various other channels of full scale and home shop channels from Jon Lipton at Ox Tool, John Saunders at NYCCNC, John Grimsmo, Tactical Keychains, ect... I never knew how entertaining it was to simply watch a turning lathe. I've literally spent countless hours over the past who knows how many years just watching Fenner spinning that lathe! While I have no legitimate machining experience or knowledge, I believe myself to be handy enough to learn. The desire is there anyways.. I'm a granite installer in Austin, Tx and have had the opportunity to run some pretty awesome pieces of equipment in our granite shop. From edge polishers the size of a school bus (which I actually got to do a complete tear down on, and then rebuild) to CNC router/mills (which we have several), CNC bridge saws and manual bridge saws. Each one of these pieces of machinery are literally as big if not bigger than my living room so I feel pretty comfortable around this type of equipment. We also have an entire dedicated CAD department of which I'm freinds with verybody there. I just don't know a whole lot about the whole process of buying and dealing with running costs, ordering tooling ect...

As far as what I'm trying to do with my machines, mostly hobby stuff for fun and creating tooling for my granite shop. We use a local company here in town for all of our machine work but it's all easy lathe and mill work that I could myself if I had the capabilities. In addition to the fun stuff and small widget for work here and there, I do want to create my own brand of small components. These components would obviously be prototype first and then short production runs of, say, 100 parts at a time? And would require some 4th axis work. The components aren't complicated and are already of a tried and true design, but when I'm using the the commercially available components in my custom builds, I find the variety quite lacking! Which is why I want my own brand.

I know this machine is not suitable for large production runs with extended operation run times, but what exactly are it's limits? I also know that if by some miracle things take off and people actually want my products then I'll be looking into a larger more suitable machine(s), but I've gotta start somewhere ya know!

I have been a Tormach owner since July 2011. I have a PCNC 1100 Series II and I love it.

Where are you located? I'm in Southern California. If you're close by, you're welcome to come by and have a look at my machine, and I'm always happy to talk about it. OR, you can call me at 714-420-2453. Like I said, I am always happy to talk about my Tormach.

I don't have the ATC on my machine because it wasn't available yet, and I figured for $4,200.00 I could change the tool by hand a whole bunch of times. I do however have the Power Draw Bar.

I am a former owner of a REAL CNC MACHINE SHOP, where I had a FADAL 3016 which had a 20 horsepower spindle and 10,000 RPM, and a Haas TM1 and I'm here to tell you, I can do anything on my PCNC 1100 that I could do on either of those machines. It just takes a little longer. AND, ya know what else? My PCNC 1100 didn't cost $75,000.00.

I was forced into retirement in late 2007 by a major health issue, but I quickly learned you don't go from working 12 to 14 hours a day to nothing and survive. I had a few part time jobs before I bought my Tormach, but as the economy went south, it was always the part time guy who was the first out the door.

I started out doing hobby machining on my Tormach, but it wasn't long before my hobby turned into a job, then it wasn't fun any more so I didn't do it.

I race remote control gas powered model boats for a hobby, and after I started making parts, it just wasn't fun any more so I quit doing it for almost 10 years.

Now, I take in some job shop work, and all is well with the world again.

I use GibbsCam to program my machine because I had it in my shop, and when I sold the company, the new owner didn't want GibbsCam, he wanted to use MasterCam.
Last edited by Mid Day Machining on Sun Oct 25, 2015 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
You can buy good parts, or you can buy cheap parts, but you can't buy good cheap parts.

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gwerhart0800
Posts: 198
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: Loveland, CO USA

Re: Tormach owners

Post by gwerhart0800 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:32 am

My makerspace has a 770. We picked up the machine used with very low hours. Since acquiring it, it has been used for teaching CNC machining and running small jobs for some of the resident startups at the makespace. We just had to replace the X axis stepper motor, but that has been the only issue with the machine in the 2 years we have owned it. The machine came with lots of tooling and the 4th axis. No power drawbar, etc.
George Erhart
Loveland, CO
https://lovelandcreatorspace.com

sch
Posts: 276
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2003 7:51 pm

Re: Tormach owners

Post by sch » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:30 pm

Another source of Tormach info: http://www.cnczone.com/forums/tormach-p ... -cnc-mill/
Easy to register on the site and it is very active.

chrismunn
Posts: 97
Joined: Sun Sep 06, 2015 4:24 pm

Re: Tormach owners

Post by chrismunn » Sun Jul 31, 2016 1:49 pm

Thanks guys!

I actually started considering machining and CNC from watching John Saunders at NYCCNC.

I would love to check out your machine in person MDM but I moved out to Texas from the Bay Area about 10 years ago, tho i do have some family down in SD.

At this point I did acquire a few manual machines and I've been teaching myself Fusion360 which is a lot of fun! I was able to participate in a few Houston Tx machine auctions and ended up with a Southbend 9a lathe, Kent 3vk bridgeport clone, an 8" shaper, a old vertical bandsaw and a floor drill press. I'm slowly plugging away at learning and seem to trip up on the easy stuff. Definitely a good idea to try my hand on these manual machines before going with CNC. Having never touched a machine before I had no idea of anything and definitely would have exploded my CNC in a hurry! Wish I would have gotten a bigger lathe because this one is a bit small for some of the projects I've been wanting to work on but I'll get by.

Still hoping to get a Tormach one day but after blowing thru all kinds of money on the current shop, it likely won't be for several years more now?

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