View Full Version : IH verses Tormach

03-31-2008, 06:52 PM
After about 3 weeks of researching for a small CNC hobby mill, I have narrowed my search to the IH, Syil 4 or Tormach. The only reason I am considering the Syil because Syil Canada is in the same city as me. However, I would much prefer a 1000pd mill verses a 400 pd (?) mill machine.

My purpose is for knife making, handle profiling, jig making and inlays. Each of these machines will do that without much effort. However, I am looking to maybe take on larger projects in the future. I know, in the mill world, bigger is better!

Has there been a side-by-side review of these mills? What are the pos and cons of each? I've purchased a CNC plasma cutting system 5 years ago from one of these small companies in the past that turned into a nightmare of troubleshooting and re-build. Hence my request for knowledge.

Thanks in advance....I am going to post this on the Tormach and Syil forums also.

Your input will be much appreciated.


04-01-2008, 08:00 PM
After reviewing my post, I wanted to make a clarification. Neither Tormach, IH or Syil sold me the CNC Plasma machine. It was purchased for a small company that does there advertising via Ebay, etc.


04-02-2008, 07:08 AM

i have two IH mills and one that is cnc. i like the fact that the IH is build kit for a hobbyist as i can make it as good as i want. i also like the fact that the IH kit uses servos and encoders as opposed to steppers. i do think this is fairly important as losing steps on a hobby machine probably won't be an issue, but losing it on a production machine will be. also tech support from IH is great. currently on my mill, i have a 3hp spindle motor and a variable frequency drive that allows me to run all the way up to 4000 RPM.

let me know if you have any questions.


04-02-2008, 03:55 PM
How do you feel about the IH ballscrews being supported on one end only?

04-02-2008, 04:15 PM
the only axis i'd worry about is the x axis since its so long and you may get whipping. ultimately at 100 IPM i don't think that the axis reaches its critical speed to cause whipping. i would need to run some numbers but my z and y are fine only being supported at one end and the x axis has a bearing on both ends.

04-02-2008, 05:36 PM
I would not worry about the z axis as much as the Y. Have you ever tried to move with your hand the end of the ball screw that is not held in place by a bearing?

04-02-2008, 06:03 PM
if the budget allows i'ld go for tormach in a snap.

Do consider the tooling you will need before you'll be cutting.

A machine built for cnc will always outperform any conversion in a production environment and off-course in hobbying.(if i may ignore the few outrageously perfect hobbymachines like the beagle but these take much time ,skill and machining/machines at your disposal)

There is lots of user experience all three machines round here so i guess you should digg in for the details.

good luck

04-02-2008, 06:16 PM
The few things stopping me from buying an IH cnc mill build up kit. The kit is not complete. The servos sound nice but are they the brushed ones that have problems? The encoders dont look sealed that well? Encoders need to be sealed very very good. Some of the ballscrews are not supported at both ends? Im not sure what type of bearings are on the ballscrews? Are the ball screws precision? The travels sound great but does it hold tolerance at the farthest points? Are the ways ground? Does anyone post videos from a kit cnc model? I have seen the videos from the owner but not any others? And how about in steel? And complicated with tolerance. Heck how about a video (not chopped up) of a part showing a print and measuring the results in the end without a pause or stop in it? Yes I am hard to convince but if you want to sell then you need real proof. I have compared stepper systems and get it right steppers can hold great tolerances when setup right infact alot of machines used to use steppers and the less expensive ones still do. There is nothing wrong with that at all. Dont forget that servos have a better rep only the expensive ones caused that. There are problematic servos too. Well enough I hope someone can answer these questions for me. Thanks for any help.

04-02-2008, 07:37 PM
I will try and answer some of these questions maybe Gene can chime in if i don't get all of them...

the kit is not complete: yes thats correct, the kit includes all the mechanicals needed for conversion of the IH mill or any RF45 mill. (IH mill has alot of benefits over the standard RF-45)
The servos sound nice but are they the brushed ones that have problems?
steppers and servos can both have problems. don't know what your referring to here.
The encoders dont look sealed that well?
the encoders are in fact sealed very well. i have built up the kit and sealing of all major precision and electrical is done very well.
Some of the ballscrews are not supported at both ends?
thats correct some of the ball screws are not supported at both ends. the z and y are not supported. I have tried moving the end of the Y screw with the table pulled all the way forward and i can tell you that its very difficult to get any movement. is it possible? yes but difficult. will this affect anything? probably not, this kit isn't designed to be able to machine to tenths.
Im not sure what type of bearings are on the ballscrews?
the ballscrews are supported with preloaded angular contact bearings.
Are the ball screws precision?
yes the ball screws are precision and are one of the reasons i bought this kit.
The travels sound great but does it hold tolerance at the farthest points?
i will get back to you on this.
Are the ways ground?
Yes, on the newest IH mills the ways are ground. there have also been upgrades to the head to make it alot quieter than before.
Does anyone post videos from a kit cnc model?
i will post some videos next time i go to machine some parts on it. i only use mine for prototyping.
And how about in steel?
Cutting steel with this is no problem. i have upgraded my spindle motor to a 3hp vector drive with VFD control. i have no problem cutting steel with nice blue chips using carbide endmills.
And complicated with tolerance. Heck how about a video (not chopped up) of a part showing a print and measuring the results in the end without a pause or stop in it?
i haven't seen haas or anyone else do this. would it be nice, sure. i'm sure if you contacted IH they will probably machine one up special for you to come and inspect. they have great service and tech support.

sorry for the long winded response i hope it helps someone considering this system.

04-02-2008, 07:40 PM
Just to clarify - you can buy a new IH that is "turnkey". That's probably the most apples-to-apples comparison with a Tormach. Their new "turnkey" mill has the featueres Runner4404spd just mentioned.

I was up at the IH headquarters two weeks ago and had a chance to see the shop, see the mill, and meet Gene & Tommy... It was a pleasure to meet them and I was very impressed with their Mill and the "turnkey" value proposition

04-03-2008, 04:17 PM
The new features? Are they on the kit cnc mill? I still would like both ends on the ball screws to be supported. You said that you wont hold tenths but what can you hold? They do claim you can hold tenths. I need to hold around 5 tenths to be safe. Will it do that in 3d? If I bought one it would be a cnc kit setup. They told me right at 7,000 for this kit. Is it a cheaper setup then a turn ket on quality? I know it matters how good you put it together but is there a difference in the done cnc and kit cnc?

04-03-2008, 04:20 PM
Hi Folks;
We will never get involved in a single brand vs IH thread, but we will try to give answers to some of the questions in this thread, as we feel that there is a place out there for all machines.
Starting with the base mill, ours is massive. Heavier and larger than most and with a lot of reinforcing ribbing in our castings. Our base mill weighs near 1000lbs without any steel or iron, just mill castings.
We use .750" ball screws and our X and Y ball nuts are 4.250" long in themselves. Even though this is enough to support our ball screw, we use a ball bearing end support on our X axis ball screw seeing that it is over 50" long. Our Z Head Servo will pick up a couple of tons with ease.
As far as the IH CNC Kit is concerned all you need to complete it is a computer, monitor, PP Card, PP cord and some misc. wiring. About as complete as it can get. You even get Mach and Dolphin Cad Cam with the Kit.
Although our Base mill is made in China all of the parts in our CNC Kits and CNC Mills are Made in the U.S.A. by either us using the same CNC Mill that we sell, or parts purchased from an American Co with made in America on the part, such as our ball screws & power supplies, etc. etc.
We have never had a brush go bad that we know of, in fact we have IH servos with 10,000 hours, with 6000 hours and 2000 hours in our shop that we use every day and have not had a problem with any of them.
Our CNC Kits and Turnkey CNC Mills are totally Flood Cooling Waterproof.
A lot of folks on this blog are milling in tenths with our CNC Kits and Turnkey CNC Mills, although they have the newer IH mill as their base mill. Every Turnkey CNC Mill that leaves here will cut in the tenths.
When making CNC parts on our own IH CNC Mill we have fixture runs from 45 minutes to 4 hours and 53 minutes long, without reseting home or tool offsets, fixture after fixture, day after day.
At $9995.00 for a Custom Made IH Turnkey CNC Mill you are getting a CNC Mill that can do what you want for as long as you want without any hassle. A real plug and play mill, complete without any add on's to buy.
And what can we say about our XYZ travels.
We hope that this post answers the questions asked. If you have never been there go to our website to get more info. It's not to fancy, but has a lot of pics and good reading in there.http://www.industrialhobbies.com
And finally the IH blog is for learning, sharing and having fun with our mills, whatever brand it may be. It would be nice of all of you to keep it that way.

04-03-2008, 06:34 PM
i just started running my mill. in terms of repeatability, i tested it with a .0001 dial indicator and was able to repeat to .0002. in retrospect i would opt to spend a little extra and get the kit all built up. as fun as it was to build it, it took a long time to get the wiring done and everything else. not to mention when you start buying electrical enclosures, connectors, etc, there is a fair amount of cost in that as well. so for $7000 for a kit and $9500 for the built mill, i think i would go with the $9500 and get it built right, tested and wired so i can use it out of the box.

04-03-2008, 08:39 PM
I think you are right about the need to buy a read built machine unfortunatly I am at the 7,000 to 8,000 range so I will keep looking. Just for question did you get a easy to read wireing diagram from IH?

04-03-2008, 09:06 PM
The wiring diagram they supply is very basic but complete. its really up to you to add all the bells and whistles. i added things like an emergency stop switch and a master power switch that also controls the 3 phase contactor which feeds power to my vfd. honestly i would save up another $1000-2000 and get the IH mill in built form. if you do have any questions and decide to buy the kit, the IH support staff is top notch and walked me though alot of their procedures for installing the various parts of the kit when needed. that being said, if you need more help by all means post your questions here and i'll try my best to answer them.