Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds


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Thread: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

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    Member makesomerubber's Avatar
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    Default Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    Hi Guys. I'm the owner of a small manufacturing business that makes Rubber Parts. We use moulds generally made from Mild Steel, P20 or OHNS Steel, and they are compressed to about 2500 PSI in a Hydraulic press to form the final part using pressure and heat.

    Sick and tired of the delays (I live in India where excuses are a national pasttime), I decided to take the plunge and have booked a Tormach PCNC 1100M. I've already paid the advance, so there's no going back now. But after spending hours on this forum, I've gotten a little nervous. I couldn't find any information on people who make moulds using a Tormach, and am hoping there's someone out there who can tell me what I need to do to ensure I can cut great moulds. Btw, I'm trying to express learn CAM on Fusion 360 myself so I can do the programming myself.

    Some details I think may be helpful are;

    a. The deepest my mould cavities can go is about 3 inches (for a silicone cake mould)
    b. I don't care if a mould takes me 3 times as long to cut as it would on a HAAS. I understand the Tormach has less power and therefore I can probably have less DOC and WOC's.
    c. The smallest cutters I need to use are about 1mm cutters.

    I'm a total newbie, and been watching Youtube videos from NY CNC and Titans of CNC, and these guys have these big beasts of machines, I just really hope and pray I've made the right decision by buying the Tormach as right now I don't know what I'll do if it dosen't cut moulds for me.

    Can I shout out to any mould makers out there to give me any advice please?

    Thank you!

    A total CNC Noob.

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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    I have read posts on here about making moulds etc, I am sure it can be done.
    I am thinking about a 2 piece mould for a rubber boot that is no longer manufactured for model applications.

    I would think it would be limited by size and the tolerances you need.

    mike sr


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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    Thanks for the reply popspipes. I'm starting to paint a picture as such; My Tormach is like an AutoRickshaw (or Tuk Tuk) and a HAAS would be a VW Polo and a Mori would be a Mercedes. All will get me where I want to go, but the Tormach will get there slower, and maybe not with as much finesse? I don't really care how I get there as long as I do, and I know I'll dial the optimum speeds and feeds for what I want to do. I'm just so excited by the thought of being in control of my own mould making.

    What are some of the practical challenges I will have to overcome when using a smaller machine?

    Most of my moulds will be within 12" by 12" and the Tormach has a Travel of 11" by 16" X and Y. Another thing I'm struggling with is how to fit such a plate onto the machine properly? Can anyone post links of what's the best way to fit these plates onto the machine? Would a magnetic bed work on the Tormach? I've seen someone else use it on a Hurco machine.



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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    There is a world of difference between a "hobby" level machine, which is what the Tormach really is, and a "commercial" level machine, like a Haas. If I were in your position, I'd be more concerned about accuracy, repeatability, and reliability. Tormachs use open-loop stepper motors for positioning with relatively low-accuracy ballscrews, and dovetail ways so they are inherently less accurate than for instance, a Haas MiniMill, which has closed-loop AC servo positioning, more accurate screws, and linear rails.

    In the real world, ANY machine in the Tormach price range will be, on average, good for something on the order of +/-0.003" accuracy, while the Haas will easily do better than +/-0.001" day in and day out with little effort. The Tormach *can* achieve +/-0.001", but will take a lot more hand-tuning to do it, which means a lot more of your time.

    For most applications, that small difference in accuracy may not matter, but I would not generally put mold-making in that category. Given that the Hass will also generally be able to make any given part anywhere from 2 to 5 times faster, owing to it's far greater spindle power and rigidity, and for a business I would find it hard to justify NOT spending the extra money for the Haas.

    For a business you also have to consider maintenance and repairs. With a Tormach, you're largely on your own, and getting assistance and parts can take, at a minimum, several days, if not longer, and you'll have to do all the labor yourself. With a Haas you can get on-site service (albeit at a higher cost). What will down-time cost you?

    Regards,
    Ray L.



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    Member Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    Quote Originally Posted by makesomerubber View Post

    What are some of the practical challenges I will have to overcome when using a smaller machine?
    Speed and rigidity. The Tormach will work, but will require some careful setup to achieve best performance and accuracy.

    Most of my moulds will be within 12" by 12" and the Tormach has a Travel of 11" by 16" X and Y. Another thing I'm struggling with is how to fit such a plate onto the machine properly? Can anyone post links of what's the best way to fit these plates onto the machine? Would a magnetic bed work on the Tormach? I've seen someone else use it on a Hurco machine.
    We bolted a 1 inch thick aluminum tooling plate to our Haas table. It is drilled & tapped to allow interchangeable pallets (normally 1/2 inch thick aluminum plates) to be bolted to it. The parts are bolted to the pallets. You may be able to do something similar. I assume that there is a border around the mold cavity that would allow bolt holes to bolt the mold base to the table.

    A magnetic chuck might work, but they normally don't hold well against milling forces. I have done light milling on a magnetic chuck but I don't recommend it.

    Fusion 360 is a good choice as is the Titans of CNC Academy

    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA


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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    Thank you for that detailed and very helpful reply. You've actually put me at ease, I knew when I was booking the Tormach that I could not expect it to churn out parts as fast as a commercial machine that my mould makers use, but the freedom to make my moulds and experiment is really very exciting.

    I was just so worried about the machine breaking down on me because it wasn't meant to do steel and I pushed it too far. Generally when a Tormach 'breaks down' what is the part that needs repair? The Spindle? India does have a lot of smart CNC engineers, but unfortunately they won't be familiar with this machine so if it does break down I'm going to be fixing it on my own.

    My moulds don't require a very high level of accuracy because thankfully rubber has quite generous tolerances compared to machined steel. And once I get a hang of how much my machine is 'out', I can build that into my piece. I am worried about registration though, usually we install leader pins or guide pins in one end and out the other to register with the other half. These pins are at a minimum of 12mm. Would the machine be able to drill a 12mm hole 36mm deep?

    Also is Stainless Steel harder to machine than say P20 steel on a Tormach? Which steel would be friendlier towards my machine?

    Thank you in advance for all your help guys, I've been struggling to compete with China for the longest time and the only way I can do this is through making my own moulds.

    I also booked the Tormach only because it was the only machine I struggle to afford and could fit in my relatively small shop floor.

    Last edited by makesomerubber; 05-16-2019 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Why I booked the Tormach edit


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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    I don't really know what the weak points are on the Tormach machines, no experience with them. They are a pretty simple machine so servicing should be pretty easy.

    To drill a 12x36mm hole might require a pilot hole. Proper tooling will be important. To get an accurate hole, drill and ream.

    Stainless vs. P20? Both are pretty tough materials, but I don't know. If you can buy annealed P20 it might be somewhat easier to machine. This might be worth reading https://www.canadianmetalworking.com...p20-or-not-p20

    There are free machining grades of stainless, but I have never worked with them. I normally have to machine 304 SS and it is some tough stuff. In either case, proper carbide tooling and flood coolant is needed.

    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA


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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    the tormach control is pretty solid for running 2.5d type of stuff like molds . You won't have the torque the bigger machines have but you will have half decent machine speed and excellent processing power on your side . You'll just need to program smart and not cheap out on the cutters . High quality tools can usually handle higher rates of cut . Rather than trying to hog at slower speeds , take lighter cuts and cut fast and it'll require less hp and create a decent balance of time . Also quality tooling flat out cuts better with minimal harmonics which will result in a much better finish

    Gorilla Mill in my opinion makes the best variable flute/helix mills for nasty materials (aluminum to) . I've seen them out perform and far outlast every other quality mill especially when it came to a reoccurring string of nasty parts .They cost more initially but they save a lot of coin when it's all said and done . I'm speaking from experience on larger mills and I've only cut aluminum on my tormachs . If or when I decide to cut steel on my tormachs then I'd be confident despite the mills limitations .

    The biggest limitation of any mill is the limitations of the person operating it . A guy can flounder with high end everything while another guy can make gold with crap , it's all about the approach . I'd say that your best bet is to go online and soak in as much as you can in regards to cutters , fixtures and anything else related to what you want to accomplish . Do Not rely on generic calculator apps for calculating your feeds and speeds . Each brand has it's recommendations and those recommendations come from extensive testing , they are accurate if every other variable is properly in place

    For the 12x12 . I'd get a couple pieces of mic6 , mount one plate to the table with pins as a permanent mounting plate . Then use the other plate as a removable fixture plate . If your going to use them on a regular basis then sending them out for hard anodizing before hand is worth the extra mile



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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    Quote Originally Posted by metalmayhem View Post
    the tormach control is pretty solid for running 2.5d type of stuff like molds . You won't have the torque the bigger machines have but you will have half decent machine speed and excellent processing power on your side . You'll just need to program smart and not cheap out on the cutters . High quality tools can usually handle higher rates of cut . Rather than trying to hog at slower speeds , take lighter cuts and cut fast and it'll require less hp and create a decent balance of time . Also quality tooling flat out cuts better with minimal harmonics which will result in a much better finish

    Gorilla Mill in my opinion makes the best variable flute/helix mills for nasty materials (aluminum to) . I've seen them out perform and far outlast every other quality mill especially when it came to a reoccurring string of nasty parts .They cost more initially but they save a lot of coin when it's all said and done . I'm speaking from experience on larger mills and I've only cut aluminum on my tormachs . If or when I decide to cut steel on my tormachs then I'd be confident despite the mills limitations .

    The biggest limitation of any mill is the limitations of the person operating it . A guy can flounder with high end everything while another guy can make gold with crap , it's all about the approach . I'd say that your best bet is to go online and soak in as much as you can in regards to cutters , fixtures and anything else related to what you want to accomplish . Do Not rely on generic calculator apps for calculating your feeds and speeds . Each brand has it's recommendations and those recommendations come from extensive testing , they are accurate if every other variable is properly in place

    For the 12x12 . I'd get a couple pieces of mic6 , mount one plate to the table with pins as a permanent mounting plate . Then use the other plate as a removable fixture plate . If your going to use them on a regular basis then sending them out for hard anodizing before hand is worth the extra mile
    Good information here. Good skills and good cutters make these machines shine.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mountaindew View Post
    Good information here. Good skills and good cutters make these machines shine.
    If it were me, I would use aluminum like a lot of other injection molds. It would go a lot easier. Doing that in steel is gonna be a long haul.



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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    Quote Originally Posted by AUSTINMACHINING View Post
    If it were me, I would use aluminum like a lot of other injection molds. It would go a lot easier. Doing that in steel is gonna be a long haul.
    I'm using compression moulds not injection moulds. The difference mainly is that during compression moulding the material is squeezed during the two plates as they close, to form the final part, and in injection moulding the plates are first closed and then rubber injected with pressure inside it.

    So I dont know about making compression moulds out of aluminium, I don't think they would be able to maintain their shape. I've heard of jacketing aluminium cavities with Steel but haven't seen any practical examples of anyone doing that.



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    Default Re: Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

    When I was deciding to buy my first Tormach, I found someone on this forum from my city that had a few posts about their Tormach. I visited his shop and he was doing compression rubber moulds, just like you want to do. This was in 2008 (with Mach3), and he would let the machine run overnight with large programs. His moulds were steel as well. Since I was planning on doing easier material parts of a shorter duration it pushed me to make the purchase. Like stated above, good tools and practicing/building your skills should allow you to do what you want with your purchase.



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Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds

Using a Tormach PCNC 1100M to machine Steel Moulds