I believe the Tormach uses mach2 or Mach3 to control it. You can download the free trial versions from www.machsupport.com
i have been thinking about starting a small business making some small parts i have designed. by small i mean some evenings and weekends while still keeping my day job. i don't plan on getting rich or even wealthy, i would be happy making a few bucks while having fun making my parts.
the main part i have planned is 3"x5"x.5" aluminum. i have also thought about cross drilling and or slotting brake rotors. there is not much, if any performance gain from this but people are always looking for some "bling-bling" for their cars/trucks. i have had a few people ask where to have this done and i never had any idea. the table is to small on the tormach to fit most rotors so i am thinking a 4th axis rotary table would be the way to go.
i am new to machining and very new to cnc but i pick up things fairly quickly. i have to admit that i can't figure out cad to save my life. from what i understand the tormach has a conversational programing software. is this user friendly? they don't talk much about their software on their website. i am including a picture of the part i plan on making. it seems like it is pretty simple and i don't think i will need any cad/cam programs at this time. am i correct in thinking that?
i have been looking at a few machines and keep coming back to the tormach. i had been looking at cnc masters knee mill but the reviews i can find on it are bad. the smithy sounds good looking at their website but most people here are saying that their customer service is flaky. the reviews i have seen on the tormach seem to be positive.
the tormach sounds like it is affordable but it is still a lot of money. i just want to make sure it is not wasted on junk. if any one has any feed back why i should or should not get the tormach i would greatly appreciate it. if anyone sees any other things that i might be missing or missinformed on feel free to speak up.
i just got my quote back from them. the parts i requested a quote on are:
4th axis table
cnc operators tool set
picture of part
I believe the Tormach uses mach2 or Mach3 to control it. You can download the free trial versions from www.machsupport.com
Mach3 2010 Screenset
(Note: The opinions expressed in this post are my own and are not necessarily those of CNCzone and its management)
I'm sure the tormach is a capiable machine. How ever if you have the space and could handle maybe a little more learning curve (challenge of maybe something older and a bit larger and might take some more old school cnc learning).. I'd suggest picking up something form a tool and die auction.
I say this partly as I was pretty lucky to get a Bridgeport S1 R2V3 with a boss 10 control for only 1000 bucks a month or so at a local auction.
I'm pretty sure that is more tool for the 1000 bucks then the tormach would be for 5-6k.
Something to be said for something new. How ever like I said I got lucky, dismantled the Bridgeport, transported it home, re-assembled and it all works and came with a LOT of tooling. Probably could ebay the amount of tooling for more then I paid.
Might pay to look around and some other options. Several of the people who frequent the auctions also warehouse things like this (to resell at a profit and such) and you might score something nice from them in the process if you didn't get anything at the auction..
Just an idea..
I have converted my round pole to CNC quite a while ago. And while I really like how it came out.. I'd consider it to be more like a torchmach would be (since it's about the same size)... Soon after getting the bridgeport I've found the capasity and brute ability (ie cutting steel) is far past what I would run on my round pole and feel ok about it...
Depending on your location might be some good deals to have vs the torch.
Well in california I'm sure there are equivlants to williams and lipton http://www.williamsandlipton.com/ auction companys that are doing the same thing there as here in michigan. Just got to get on their mailing list.
At the very least you will need tooling (bits and stuff) and sometimes that is one of the cheepest ways to get some good stuff. At the one I got my bridgeport at I also picked up a cabinet of end mills (maybe 50 or so various sizes) and almost 100 taps (ie life supply of different US sized taps at least for me) for 125.00 + a nice cabinet..
Anywho... Something to check into. I got on their mailing list because my step dad used them to auction his shop but anywho..
I'd be curious if as many places are closing around your area as here..
seems 1 or 2 per month
First the software issue, I don't know the full answers but:
Mach2 has some wizards but I don't think they will do the inner profile of your part. Mach3 has more wizards so it might. Mach3 also has lazycam which almost for sure will do the part. If you use the wizards you may have to learn some Gcode in order to stitch it all together. you will have to learn some Gcode anyway.
So Check out Mach3 wizards plus lazycam.
The Tormach will easily produce the part you show, subject to size of course. However if you are just dabling, together with hope of a little bit of income, $10,000 may be a bit over the top. Only you can decided this.
Also the Tormach is capable of doing the brake discs, together with a rotary table. The coding could be partly done with wizards plus a bit of hand writing.
Overall a $10,000 + leap into something you know little about would be a leap to far for most people.
i will look into the lazycam.
i have the cash for the machine so it will not be on credit. i am not real worried about making it pay for itself immediately. it may take a while for it to pay for itself but i think the machine will be worth it to me for hobby also. i do lots of fabrication on my 4 wheel drives and also some gunsmithing. this would be my most expensive single tool but between all my welders, plasma cutter and other fabrication tools i don't think it is that far out of line for my home shop. i really think it will open up a whole new world to me having a milling machine. being able to write it off on my taxes would really make it worth starting a small business.
I purchased Vcarve and in my opinion that is a great package for the new CNC'r. Can produce and inport cad files and has a simple interface. I highly suggest downloading the demo version. It has me hooked and it isn't that much money. I use it for nearly all my 2 and 2.5D stuff...
I got the newfangled wizard for MACH as well back when I started and that was a great wizard how ever as mentioned above you have to stich together the G code to do more complex stuff.
Only other thing to say is now that I've moved from my 8x18ish xy on my round pole to my 25x12 area on my bridgeport I really like having the more area. Rapid moves of 65ipm would not be bad to live with as I have my round pole set to 50. How ever I can rapid at 200-250 on the bridgeport and that is very cool. Also all 3 of my machines are servo based machines. so I have limited exposure to stepers with the exception to listen to my step dad complain how his early stepper based machines would tend to lie about possition after a while...
Not trying to bring down the torch. Just pointing out things I think are worth while on the larger iron (feel it's worth pointing out seeing they can be had for pretty cheep. Other wise I'd be saying just get the torch for sure)
Also consider the center to column distance.. That will determin the deepest area in a piece you can do work on. (the bridge I have has a V ram and can be moved out REAL quite far out over the table)
On the "Pay for itself" stuff.. If you have a product to make (ie gun parts or something) you might make it. It's pretty hard to find regular milling work to make it pay for it self. How ever I'm not much of a marketer so maybe that is the actual problem. I use my B for work 1 of stuff now so that is where I get most of it's work at the moment. Might say it paid for it self in that I will be one of the last to be let go seeing if they let me go they have no one to make their stuff.. In Michigan right now that is kinda important..hehe
"I'm sure the tormach is a capiable machine."
“Also all 3 of my machines are servo based machines. so I have limited exposure to stepers with the exception to listen to my step dad complain how his early stepper based machines would tend to lie about possition after a while...”
wcarrothers1: You don’t own a Tormach? You just make statements on the Tormach forum about a Tormach that you apparently don’t own and don’t know the capabilities of. Also you claim to know little about steppers except to quote second hand what your dad said. Opps… “step” dad.
BTW I have never had position errors with my Tormach PCNC that is stepper driven. Steppers work well if used within their design limits.
Last edited by Don Clement; 07-08-2007 at 10:00 AM.
Hello 300 Sniper
Your situation sounds similar to mine. I have a full time job in town and a second job in a company that does dirt work whenever I feel like turning gasoline into noise, getting filthy & being around the guys for a whole weekend. Problem was I was making too much money in the second job & sending a whole lot of taxes back to Washington DC.
So I started my own machining company. I do small jobs in aluminum, SS & mild steel. My dad was a machinist & I remember some of the tricks but I am just an electronics engineer & a chip sweeper. I needed to learn the craft myself.
When the wife gave me permission to buy a machine, I started looking at the cheapest machine I could find and worked my way up. I paused at the Industrial Hobbies machine for quite a while but realized I would have to put in a whole lot of time just assembling the thing. I bought & read ‘Machine Tool Reconditioning’ by Edward F. Connelly. It showed me how much time it could take to make an old machine new again. When it was together, I would still have to integrate the various software packages & troubleshoot their odd interactions. In the end, I would have a one-of-a-kind device that only I could fix.
I finally bought the Tormach. It was big enough for my projects and sturdy enough to call a professional tool. It comes with a staff that knows how all the software & hardware work together and why they sometimes don't.
Specific points from my experience:
- I would buy another one tomorrow if I needed a second machine. I would recommend it to any beginner and any pro with small projects or a small space.
- It has a limited work area. The Briidgeports & etc have much larger work areas. If I needed that kind of work area, I would go to an auction & get a Bridgeport.
- The Tormach came with problems:
Its power switch was wired incorrectly.
The Z-axis slipped down after powering off.
The computer wasn't configured correctly.
The program shutdown occasionally for no apparent reason.
I would expect to have these problems with a homebuilt, a cheap machine, or a Bridgeport. What I wanted was customer support to help me figure out the problems. That is what the money to Tormach is for. All the problems listed had either service bulletins or ready solutions. The customer support guy is always nice on the phone or in emails. I am sure he gets exasperated with new customers not reading the manual but he never vents on us. I should probably send the lady who answers the phone flowers for her calm disposition over my type A personality.
- I bought the 4th axis. It is very sturdy. Problem is I haven’t had the time to use it for a project yet.
- I bought the tooling system. It is pretty slick. I would suggest getting one.
- I had to learn Fortran, Pascal, C, and other programming languages for my job. I dislike software but have had to do it for my full time job. By comparison, the programming language for CNC machines is no harder. I bought the ‘CNC programming handbook’ by Peter Smid and read it through. I am on my second time through it. His companion book ‘CNC programming techniques’ is a good test of what you learned in the first book.
- I bought the Alibre/ Sprutcam CAD/CAM package that Tormach recommends for their machine. I am still plodding my way through the tutorials. I will have to report back later after I get a few projects through them.
- There is no explanation for speeds and feeds. It is clearly magic that only everyone else but me can do. I have studied manuals and scrutinized the general machining forum on this topic. I just have to sigh, replace the broken bit, and buy another. I hope I learn this before I die.
Bottom line is I picked the right company to help me learn CNCing. The other right choice I made is following the CNC zone forums. It is amazing how many smart machinists there are on this site. Just when you come up with a complicated way to attack a problem, some real machinist here shows you how to do it with two thumbtacks and some super-glue.
I see you are about 3 hours from me. If you want to see a Tormach, operated by an amateur like you, shoot me a line.
I own a Tormach, and I would buy another one. If I ever have a need for more travel distance and faster moves, I will probably buy a used HAAS or something, if the job I need it for will pay for it.
Learning some CAD/CAM basics will multiply your ability to do things on any CNC machine. The CAD/CAM package offered through Tormach is not a bad deal. I didn't buy it, I'm using an older copy of something else I paid for a long time ago. Fiddling with modeling and the postprocessor is still costing me time I'd rather be spending on other things. I should have bought the package. Alibre gets very high marks for ease of learning and straightforward operation. Lots of other packages have very steep learning curves.
You will have to learn how the basic G-Codes work. It isn't very hard. But it's very difficult to do complex operations with handwritten G-Code that would be a snap with the right software. You still have to check the output before running your machine, though, to make sure it is generally going to do what you thought it would do.
The tooling system is a must have, and is very inexpensive for what you get.
I haven't used my 4th axis yet, either. But I will!
On speeds and feeds, it's a whole career field to get enough experience to know where to start. And the default ones in the programs are often way too aggressive. Part of the magic is in having the exact proper tool, I have discovered.
I saw a Smithy first-hand last week, someone I know bought one. It's a lot of machine for the money. But it doesn't hold a candle to the Tormach. The guy who bought it knows nothing about CNC, and wanted a manual machine. But it has its limitations, made me glad I bought the Tormach. He's already wondering aloud how much trouble and cost it would be to retro a CNC control onto it (a lot, for a newbie). With the 4th axis, I could do the part on the Tormach that he already can't do by hand (probably).
Before I bought the Tormach I looked extensively at used machines, Bridgeports, retrofits, other small CNC's, etc. The Tormach has far and away the best bang for the buck out of all of the choices. I didn't want to make a hobby out of building my own machine or rebuilding another. I didn't want a knee machine because I wanted serious flood coolant, and I didn't want to have to worry about rigidity issues. The knee machine can do some parts that won't fit on the Tormach, generally. But for the parts that fit on the Tormach, the Tormach blows it away, no contest. I have a manual Bridgeport that I can use, and I usually don't bother with it, even for simple stuff. Why not get exactly the results I want on the first try?
I'm not a machinist by trade, but I design and build complex machines from the ground up. The Tormach is hobby/work for me, so I can save money on special parts for my machines, get them sooner, and plus, have some fun fiddling with learning the new skills. I don't get to use it as much as I'd like, but it's getting to where the productivity is starting to kick in.
To sum up, like I said, I'd buy another one.