My Experience of Tormach
At the beginning of this year I imported a Tormach mill into the UK. Generally I'm very pleased with it and the support from Tormach has been very good.
The Tormach mill has been used professionally to machine several heatsinks and casework for a 30kW AC to DC boost converter. The fact that I needed to make chips under a lot of work pressure pushed me towards buying a new machine with good support.
Before buying the Tormach I did consider two alternatives:
1) New 'professional' CNC such as the smaller Haas machines - just too expensive, the ROI didn't stack up given that I'm not a professional machinist and the machine will be idle for long periods.
2) Second-hand 'Bridgeport' type CNC mills - still quite expensive in the UK and I really didn't feel like mucking about with 1980s style electronics and expensive replacements if there were problems.
In both the above cases another downside is that the machines would not fit in the space available, and not by inches but by feet. I operate out of my garage, so space is at a premium.
I've used the Tormach solidly for three months and it has paid for itself in that time.
A few random thoughts on the Tormach:
I've had very few mechanical issues, just one spring missing from new, sent FOC
One internal fuse has blown, probably because the 220V supply in my rural part of the UK is nearer 250V.
I didn't buy a stand from Tormach. The deluxe stand will not fit in the space available and the 110V coolant pump is of no use in the UK. It would also have increased shipping and import duty costs. I welded my own stand up from 2" square steel tube, 6mm steel plate and 1.6mm sheet metal for the coolant tray.
The largest part I've machined was 320mm by 320mm by 38mm, so with careful planning and jigging it is possible to exceed the nominal work envelope.
I've had a few computer issues, so in the end I bought the new controller from Tormach. I was using a secondhand PC running XP; the specific problem was the mill sometimes going into incremental mode after a tool change. Most likely something to do with the PC not properly handling the VB scripts that are run during a toolchange.
I'm ambivalent about the Tormach tooling system. It's a neat idea but isn't reliable in reality. I've had several endmills pull out on not particularly heavy cuts. In future I'll be using straight R8 tooling, or possibly an R8 quick change system such as that made by Coventry Toolholders. The drawbar and top washer also galled very badly, I made a new washer out of silver steel (drill rod).
For software I use Alibre to design parts, VisualMill to generate G-code and NCPlot to verify the toolpath.
Andrew, I've been using the Conventry R8 quick change system, which is sold by Royal here in the US, for 5 years now and I like it, I ended up putting a holder both on my CNC and my manual machine. Its on the pricey side, although its cheaper for you to buy in the UK.
Here it is for you US guys: http://www.royalprod.com/product.cfm?catID=11
Here it is for sale in the UK:
We make a lot of parts with tapped holes, and its really good for that kind of work (spot, drill, tap). However, I only use it for light milling, I don't like spinning the easy change holder more than 3000 rpm or so, so when I have to do any medium to heavy milling I use an R8-E32 holder. Its just not up to heavy milling, even on a bridgeport or Tormach, but its nice for lighter work. The tool changes are pretty quick, less then 10 secs if you are quick with your hands. Royal also rebuilds the master holders for a reasonable price ($65. or so), my units were used and needed rebuilding after a while, after the rebuild they were like new again.
Thanks Mike, Paul T, and Andrew lots of good info.
Here are compared specification of the 2 CNC Mills I am considering the 2 are priced about the same the Industrial Hobby seams to be a bit more sturdy than the Tormach which has a faster spindle speed. The Tormach is readily available there is a 2mts back order for the other machine.
Table Size: 34" x 9.5"
Table Slots: 3 Slots 5/8”
Travel: 18” x 9.5” x 16.25” (X,Y,Z)
Spindle Nose to Table: 17” maximum
Spindle Center to Column: 11”
Spindle Nose Diameter: 3 3/8"
Spindle Taper: R8 BT30 (available owner installed)
Spindle Construction: Cartridge with spindle lock
Spindle Drive: Vector Technology 1100W continuous, 2800W peak
Spindle Power: 1.5 hp
Spindle Speed: 100 to 5100 RPM
Transmission: Belt Drive, 2 ratios
Weight: 1130 lbs net / 1296 lbs gross
Shipping Dimensions: 56” x 45” x 60”
Workpiece: 500 lbs Maximum
Feed Rate: 65 IPM
Axis Drives: High Performance Stepper Motors with Microstepping
Controller: PC – Windows XP or Vista (not included)
Power Requirements: 220-260 VAC single phase
Included as part of the basic package
Limited version of sheet cam
Full version of many software packages available through Tormach
Available tool changer
High customer satisfaction
Long business history
Made in China
Table Size: 39.5" x 9.5"
Table Slots: 3 5/8" Slots
Extended Travel: 31.5"X 13.5"Y x 22"Z
Standard Travel: 29"X x 12" x 22"Z
Spindle Nose to Table 23"
Spindle Center to Column: 12.5"
Spindle Nose: 3.800"
Spindle Taper: R8 or Optional NT30 (installed at factory)
Spindle Construction: HD Spindle Lock
Spindle Power: 2HP STD
Spindle Power: 3HP VFD option
Spindle Speed: 100 to 1600 RPM STD
Spindle Speed: w/VFD 60 to 3800RPM
Transmission: 6 Speed H/D Gearbox
Shipping Weight: 1450lbs w/out Stand
Shipping Dimension: 60"x 60"x 60"
Work piece: 1000 lbs Maximum
Feed Rate: 120 IPM All Axis
Axis 3 High Performance Servo
Included as part of the basic package
Complete Computer & Monitor Included
Power Requirement: 220V Single Phase
Rockford Precision Ball Screws & Nuts
Oiling System for Ball Screws & Nuts
Fully Ground Ways
Comes w/ Dolphin CADCAM Software
IH Heavy Castings
Emulates Fanuc Mills (does not require custom post processor will work with most CAD CAM package)
All The Parts on the CNC System are Proudly 100 % Made in The U.S.A.
Although I lean towards the IH this is Bull.
Originally Posted by Marcibb
The chips in the cnc come from all over the world.
CNC sections of both machines are basically the same.
These are both hobby machines and use amps, motors and controls designed for this market (and outside of motors from the same sources).
Both machine's basic structures are made in China.
I understand your budget, but this is low buck stuff, which means you are gonna have to live with most of the machine being made in China.
Neither of the machine designers are offering million cycle warranties.
Either will do the job for you.
Originally Posted by SDConcepts
Absolutely right, and you forgot to mention that ALL the mess is kept inside the machine. And the Fadal and Haas machines are all American made.
Marci, for me the higher RPM capability of the Tormach would be a significant factor. These days carbide endmills are the way to go for both steel and aluminum machining, and especially with aluminum you'll need all the RPM you can get.
For example, on my machine I do a lot of 6061 machining with a 3/8" carbide endmill, and for best performance I'd want to spin that at 10,000 rpm or so, but my machine maxes out at 5400.
This RPM limit then significantly limits your feed rate, so on these machines you'll never feed faster than 60 ipm, so the faster feed rate of the IH machine isn't going to buy you anything except for faster rapids.
When you get to the point of selecting your tooling and endmills, definitely check out www.maritool.com, his stuff works great, prices are good and he'll help you both before and after the sale.
I am constantly amazed at the enthusiasm owners of these machine have for them. I expected maybe 5 or 6 post here when I originally asked for help as of today there have been 66 comments and recommendation posted and close to 2,000 have viewed the tread WOW.
All the info I have posted is cut and pasted off the Tormach and IH web pages I make no claims to it's accuracy, thy are both trying to sell machines after all. One thing I do know is that IH has a factory in Connecticut where the machines are assembled. All components are not made in the US but then what is?
I do understand that both the Tormach and the IH have forums at CNC Zone, I have visited those forums and have read until my eyes turned red. The problem is a large proportion of the members of those forums are converts, as to say, it's like asking a devout Christian and a devout Buddhist who has the true path to enlightenment.
The membership of Practical Machinist seams to be more season (and by that I do not mean old), have greater knowledge, a greater range of experience and are much less devoted to one particular machine.
Something else about Practical Machinist, I know I am only a newbie here, but not once have I seen someone belittle or flame anyone else there are some disagreements, different points of view but thy are cordial and that's what makes for a good forum.
I plan to keep posting until I purchase a machine mainly to let everyone that have been so kind to offer me there input know what my decision process and reasoning was for choosing one over the other.
Again thank you so much for helping me you guys are great.
Once you get the machine, THATS when the questions and answers Start.
Originally Posted by Marcibb
Marcibb.......I would find a person in your area that you could visit and see each machine in action (Tormach and a small Haas vmc). You then know what you should get! ...Dean
LOLROF 3T3D you are probably right.
The small Hass even used is out of my league but who knows I do have a few tickets for the next Supper Call Lotto who knows.
If you look carefully and patiently, you can find a small VMC in very good condition for less than the cost of a new Tormach. This may not be what you want to do, but it can be done. I know - I just did it.
Agree and disagree.
Originally Posted by PaulT
The low spindle speed is the biggest drawback to the IH. But, even with a 1600 rpm spindle, you will find many opportunities to want to feed faster than 60 IPM. Modern carbide tooling, and especially indexable tooling, ups not just the SFM, but also the chiploads.
Let's say you've got a high helix coated carbide endmill, 1/2", 4-flute (wait for it, you can use the 4-flute peripheral milling where there is chip clearance and it is a Godsend for slower spindes as are Mari's 3 flutes!). You want to profile a part, and further, you're going to take relatively light cuts of 0.040" but a full tool diameter deep.
What's your feedrate with a 1600 rpm spindle in 6061? Drumroll please (and a little help from G-Wizard)--that feedrate is going to be 93 IPM. Why? First due to the chipload recommended for the endmill. Second, because you're cutting less than half the diameter of the endmill, you need to factor in chip thinning.
Will the mill do it? Sure, I do it all the time. In fact, I was cutting mild steel at 32 IPM and it was quiet and drama free. Ya gotta love chip thinning!
BTW, Tormach guys, your 5400 rpm spindle/65 IPM feed isn't fast enough either. That endmill should cut a full width slot 0.040 depth at over 90 IPM. That's with no chip thinning, just because with the extra rpm you can feed it faster. Slow feed and faster spindle is actually just making the slow feed problem worse.
Got some indexable tooling? Maybe a facemill and an indexable endmill? Oh boy, here we go again. They want even more feeds and speeds.
So as I told Marci in a PM, both are great machines, but I would sum them up like this:
- Faster spindle: very nice, though still not really "fast".
- More finished: you are closer to running flood coolant without having to fab up an enclosure of some kind.
- More accessories: though as I've mentioned here and elsewhere, not a fan of the Tormach Tooling System.
- Faster feeds + Servos: Yes, the machine can fault and it will stop. Sometimes that's a good thing (DOH!).
- Much bigger work envelope. Take a look, it is hefty. There are peeps decking cylinder blocks and boring them on these machines.
I guess you want the best from each. And you can kind of get there, lots of folks modify these machines. But some modifications are fairly straightforward, and some are all but impossible. There are a number of people now adding belt drives to the IH to fix the spindle speed problem. Only a matter of time before that is routine. There isn't going to be a modification to make the work envelope of a Tormach as big as an IH.
Of course by that time you may have found a seldom used Robodrill nearby that is being sold for $4000 due to a divorce or bankruptcy. You don't want that old machine Marci! Call me up to take the temptation away!
PS Try G-Wizard Feeds and Speeds Calculator:
What I don't like about the IHM is
2.no chip tray
4.exposed stepper area...chips loading up on X stepper area should be a cover
What I do like about IHM
2.more X travel
As far as feeds go your not a jobshop trying to save time...Also when doing a small pocket under 6" round the time at 65IPM vs. 100Ipm is a wash...
The new Tormach mill can do 100IPM but due to legal reason Tormach limits it advertiving to 65IMP...
I also think the Tormach is a much more ridged design than IHM
I should also inform you Marci that I am an Independent Consultant for Tormach
Lakeside Design of Mass.
So I do favor Tormach...But I'm not paid by Tormach
Buy what you think is best for your set-up as your the one who is paying for it
Sure thing Bob as soon as I find that Robodrill I will drop everything and run to my computer and PM you about it yes sure thing yessss that's the ticket yessss.
A Few More Notes
PaulT: Thanks for the notes on the R8 quick change system. One of my other mills is a Bridgeport, so any R8 tooling will get dual usage. My main concern is that it is only suitable for 'light' milling. I'd rather assumed it would be capable of dealing with the 1.5hp or so from the Tormach and Bridgeport. It sounds like this may not be the case? Did you have any bad experiences that made you use the R8 ER collet chucks for heavier milling? I've bought a couple of pieces of tooling from Frank Mari and been pleased with them, so I may well get some R8 ER collet chucks from him too.
Marcibb: A few more random thoughts:
When buying the Tormach mill I also bought the 8" 4th axis kit as I figured it would be disproportionately expensive to import this at a later date.
I also bought the lifting arm, as it was cheaper than making one, and I'd look a bit of an idiot if I dropped the mill while using a homebrew lifting arm.
Bound to be some other thoughts, which I'm sure I'll remember as soon as I hit 'submit' on this reply.
I thought that I would use the lifting arm to lower my machine into the basement from out side my house so I order one...The arm was shipped with all the other add-ons...well the machine showed up a week before the arm...So it is still in the box...If anyone needs it I'll sell it cheap...
Originally Posted by oly2brf5
Totally agree on the stand and chip tray. FWIW, Novakon's stand and flood cool setup is available cheaply. Waiting to see if someone can set an IH on it.
Originally Posted by BOSTON
RE electrical compartment and exposed stepper, I don't understand these points. Setting aside that there are no steppers on an IH (I know what you meant), the motors and pulley drives are sealed and coolant safe. Matter of fact, I can't see the advantage vs Tormach in this area at all. Same with the electronics. They're in a sealed NEMA box just like Tormach.
RE quill, it's a wash. Some peeps like them so they can quickly drill a hole or power tap. Mine stays locked.
RE rigidity, color me skeptical on how this has been proven in any way.
We can agree to disagree on the feeds issue (i.e. 100 vs 65 doesn't matter), but my eyes just have to roll when a manufacturer says their mill will do 100 ipm but they can't ship it that way for liability reasons. Whatever.
If I was running IH, I'd add a stand and belt drive. If I was running Tormach, I'd up the feeds with a servo option.
Andrew, for me heavy milling means RPM to the max (5400 on my machine) and a carbide endmill. I don't think the force used to retail the Royal holders is up to either that RPM or 1.5HP or so on a cut. There is a set screw on the holder that they recommend tightening when using them at over 3000 RPM, but I don't think that screw increases the retention force.
Originally Posted by oly2brf5
The one time I tried milling at high RPM with them I didn't get a very good surface finish, so I only use them for light milling now.
However, for a lot of the parts we make they are great, I've got a lot of the holders, set up with spot drills, countersinks, standard drill sizes used on the parts, taps and some endmills also. If a part requires heavy milling though, I do that as a first op using ER32 or
ER16 R8 collet holders. As long as you crank them to the torque spec (80ft-lb on ER32, 40 on ER16) these work fine for holding endmills in the HP range we're talking about, I like them a lot better than endmill holders, I've never liked the set screw based operation of those.
Bob I persoanly don't like the eletrical compartment set-up on the IHM it is off to the side not attached to the machine like Tormach...the motor area on X axis should have a flat surface on top to stop the chips from failing into the area that mounts the motor...
Originally Posted by BobWarfield
Tormach released the new digital drive boards that can do a faster feeds without losing steps...But all the machine documatation is based on the old drives
Tormach is about to release a new powerbar set-up
Power Draw Bar Beta Testers Needed
posted on November 12, 2009 05:17:46 pm
We are now start*ing the early adoption/beta test*ing period and are look*ing for sev*eral PCNC own*ers who would like to par*tic*i*pate. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are inter*ested. We will begin con*tact*ing peo*ple with infor*ma*tion about the pro*gram, pric*ing, etc. around the mid*dle of next week. We have lim*ited amount of slots avail*able, but will acco*mo*date as many as we can.
Min*i*mum Require*ment for Beta Sites: Air Com*pres*sor that can hold pres*sure at 120psi. Must be TTS user. Ide*ally, we’d like to find a few peo*ple who use the machine on a daily basis.
Originally Posted by Marcibb
I just thought I would throw in my 2 cents worth to complicate the choice a little more. Not all used machine are projects, I have purchased many machines from auctions of companies that closed ( there are alot of them closing here in the middle of the rust belt) that were in good condition and well maintained. The 2004 Haas TM-1 at this auction http://www.myronbowling.com/_filelib...=WMC_Flyer.pdf sold in your price range. Of course it didn't have the 4th axis and you would have to pay for rigging but you would have much more machine and it would hold its value better since somebody else eat the new machine depreciation. Since your don't have a specific time frame that you have to purchase the machine in, you might want to watch for something to come up for auction that would suit your needs.
But then again I might be bias since my only CNC is a haas VF3-YT I bought
new last year.
PS Thanks for your military service, what was your rank ?
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