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Tormach AF50 bandsaw review

DavidScott

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2012
Location
Washington
Yeah, I got one. I know, Tormach, but it is just an automatic bandsaw, not a cnc milling machine. Anyway, I like it. It's the right size and it does what I need, which is to cut up bars for my aluminum and steel widgets. I barely have room for it so a "real" auto saw would be way too big. This thing just needs a 110 volt 15 amp outlet and a little 90 psi air to work. So far I have cut up around 1,300lbs of aluminum bar into about 4,500 parts so I have some experience with it. For the most part I can hold +/-.004" but do get random swings of +/-.01" in part length cutting up 3" wide stacks of bars. I am going to check the clearances on the proximity sensors and play with the table feed cylinder speeds to see if I can't tighten up the length tolerances. I have a few minor complaints and the only big one is the bars like to ride up in the clamping vise as they feed through it so I have to push them down occasionally.

All in all, I really like the design and user friendliness, the part quality is ok for the most part, and it is at least assembled but you need to check all alignments and sensor gaps. You can take the infeed table off in 15 minutes and get it through a 24" door if need be and the saw alone weighs about 400lbs so one person can move it about anywhere if needed, which I needed. I am not saying this is the greatest auto saw for everyone but if you are a small shop this may be exactly what will work for you. I used to use a Hitachi chop saw with a 10" x 1/8" kerf blade to cut up all of my aluminum, which worked but sucked. This bandsaw has a 1/16" kerf which not only makes a lot less chips to deal with but on some parts I get an extra part per bar. Here is a video of it in operation.

 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
That looks like a standard HF 7 x 12 chinese bandsaw, with a simple PLC control
put on it, much like IIRC Jim Glass did 15 years ago.

but I don't think his bounced and jumped so much.
 

DavidScott

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2012
Location
Washington
Looks ok to me....how's it work with D2 or 17-4?
Being a Chinese 1hp motor it would depend on how big a cut you want to take. The 3"x3" bars took 75 minutes to make 42 cuts so it could use a bigger motor for sure. The saw seems to be true and stiff enough, once adjusted.

I have been wanting to make something like this for years, but now my time is worth enough that this is way cheaper than doing it from scratch. I don't know what jumping your talking about but the bounce is just irritating, it doesn't really affect the cut.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Looks great for small aluminum parts. Hopefully it holds up long term. I could see the frame area where the shuttle attaches cracking out after a few years. That seems like it could be done better.

When you think about it I doubt you could do any more than that saw does on a 120V outlet. It pretty much nails the small auto saw market.
 

plastikdreams

Diamond
Joined
May 31, 2011
Location
upstate nj
Looks great for small aluminum parts. Hopefully it holds up long term. I could see the frame area where the shuttle attaches cracking out after a few years. That seems like it could be done better.

When you think about it I doubt you could do any more than that saw does on a 120V outlet. It pretty much nails the small auto saw market.

Looks decent for what it is
 

BT Fabrication

Stainless
Joined
Nov 3, 2019
looks exactly like my Taiwan manual saw, that was only $1200 new with a small amount of automation to it. lots to be desired for one of those saws, but it will cut parts fairly well. mine can just do angle cuts though also on top of that, where automation doesn't work or is even cheap when it needs to 45 one way then 45 opposite.
 

ripperj

Stainless
Joined
Dec 8, 2015
Some of you guys crack me up.


The biggest bitch on this forum is machinists don’t make enough money, it’s too hard to jam out enough parts to be competitive with huge China automated shops….. that kind of thing.


what’s this really mean? Time is really valuable in a small shop.


Yup you buy the $1200 saw, add a few hundred dollars of crap from Automation Direct. You would then lose a week designing , fabbing, programming , testing , and tweaking your home made saw…..and not for nothing, most people here couldn’t get it done :)(not saying nobody, just the majority )



Your shop made saw may or may not be better than the Tormach(there is no question that if you take time out of the equation , you could build a better saw for $5k)

At a $100/hr shop time billing rate, the Tormach seems reasonable


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
Some of you guys crack me up.


The biggest bitch on this forum is machinists don’t make enough money, it’s too hard to jam out enough parts to be competitive with huge China automated shops….. that kind of thing.


what’s this really mean? Time is really valuable in a small shop.


Yup you buy the $1200 saw, add a few hundred dollars of crap from Automation Direct. You would then lose a week designing , fabbing, programming , testing , and tweaking your home made saw…..and not for nothing, most people here couldn’t get it done :)(not saying nobody, just the majority )



Your shop made saw may or may not be better than the Tormach(there is no question that if you take time out of the equation , you could build a better saw for $5k)

At a $100/hr shop time billing rate, the Tormach seems reasonable


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

I'm sure your $5k could be better spent on a higher quality saw.
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
Pretty sure my auto cold saw would have that stock all cut in the length of that video, and with a finish[depending on final use] that would not need milling

IF you think you are really holding 5 thou with a band saw, well, anyway.....

From nearly 30 years of running a shuttle vise saw:

First part will be a little random

The weight of the whole bar moving can cause the parts to start a tiny bit high and drift down towards the end of the bar.

The last few can get oversize in my experience, because the shuttle vise is not grabbing an entire width of stock so it may squeeze it forward. The physics of your machine may be different.

Watch chips on the limit switches if that is what determines shuttle vise position

Stacking parts will never be quite as accurate as one at a time

All of this is detail stuff, well within what you should expect a saw cut part should be


AT 5k this beats the crap out of standing in front of a saw.

I think I would look to get the most aggressive blade I could to reduce the cut time
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
One that was automated and didn’t take months of craigslist searching and (typically) hours of driving?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

What about "That thing won't last more than 6 months" ?

Invest $10k and get something that will work, work well, make accurate parts, and run 5 days a week for 5 years with no maint.
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
What about "That thing won't last more than 6 months" ?

Invest $10k and get something that will work, work well, make accurate parts, and run 5 days a week for 5 years with no maint.

I am with you, but sometimes, especially when first starting out, there just isn't 10k

I do question its durability, and parts availability in hell,not 5 years, 2 years.


I guess I would be super careful about pushing that heavy a pile of stock through it.

It would suck to break the casting

With any luck that thing is 'paid for' with that run of parts and he isn't worried about it.

My Kalamazoo cost 17 grand 28 some years ago, and I have put bearings in it twice[really because the first replacement ones were noisy from the get go] belts once[coolant died and very loud screech before I could get to it]..counter died decades ago....has a leak that sucks air in that I haven't had the time to find, so need to bleed that out once in a while..... probably some stuff I forgot.....
 

DDoug

Diamond
Joined
Oct 18, 2005
Location
NW Pa
If your new and small, buy a clean used do-all or some other quality saw.

Yes, you might have to invest a little work in it, but the payback will be better parts coming off, less downtime, and your $5k won't hit the dumpster in 6 months.
 

DavidScott

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2012
Location
Washington
I have about 3'x6' for the saw, and it sits on a wood floor, so that really limits what will fit for me. I am unaware of an alternative that fits my size and weight criteria, price is far less of an issue now. If you guys know of a better saw that fits this criteria PLEASE POST IT! Don't just post vague "there are better options".

I am pretty sure that casting will not fail from use, it may fail from being too rough moving it around but that can be avoided. It is already over 2 months old so I am sure it will last well over another 4 months. I really can't think of anything that may fail that I can't fix without Tormach's support, other than the control itself. A lot of the stuff used to make this saw is off the shelf, not everything is custom designed and made just for it. Also, I do know of a decent tool and die maker who can also do general machining if something does break. This saw isn't a total piece of shit, it is quite decent and nothing about it looks like it is just waiting to fail. I am a one man shop that only went through about 7,000lbs of material making around 30,000 parts last year. I expect this saw will last for many years with this type of use. Time will tell but after 1,300lbs and 4,500ish parts I see no problems with it.

gustafson, can you really consistently cut through a 3"x3" aluminum bar in 10 seconds with your cold saw? A cold saw would have a much wider kerf, making many more chips. I work from home so dealing with chips is an issue. I am measuring the kerf to be 1/16" on this bandsaw, which saves me 2.75" of material on a 12' bar cut into 45 parts over a 1/8" kerf. This adds up over a couple thousand bars a year.

Believe it or not but I do know how to use a pair of calipers. I measured the part lengths in one spot on the parts, measuring different parts in the stack. The saw was that consistent in advancing them, which is what I am concerned with. The rest of it is up to me to adjust the cut for squareness. The quality of the cut is pretty damn good considering it is a band saw. I usually leave .025"-.04" of trim stock on each end of my parts so this saw is quite capable of cutting the blanks consistently enough for my needs. I saw no difference is the length between the first part to the 4th to last. I did see the length increase .01"ish on the last two cuts. If I held the stock from advancing while pushing it down I saw no difference in the length. The method of feed and measuring that feed length is pretty robust.

The blade being used is a Starrett 4-6 tooth bi-metal with a good hook for low carbon steels or other softer metals. I will be trying out others to find what works best. I will be getting another 1,000lbs+ in March so that will be the next use for this saw.

For us Harry Homeshops without much room that need a way to cut up thousands of parts a year in production I think this saw is a pretty good option. I will need to address the bars raising in the vise before running it unattended, but I doubt that is a problem specific to this saw so no points dropped.

When I bought my saw it was out of a batch of 50. Half of them were sold before they arrived and the other half were sold out within 2 weeks. I think Tormach is bringing in about 4-6 batches a year so it seems they are selling a few, which should be good for support.
 

Garwood

Diamond
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
Location
Oregon
Even though I would not buy one I think $5k is a good deal for that saw. If it does what you need then it's a big win.

I have had auto saws for the last 5 years or so. The 11 years in business prior to that I have spent months of my time cutting stock and I have paid wages for employees to babysit saws. Probably $20k++ in wages paid just for a someone to cut stock. An auto saw is a great investment.

My mitering Cosen auto saw has a 10' square footprint and weighs about 5k lbs. That's a lot of real estate if you have a small shop. I can see the appeal of a small saw.

EDIT: Forgot to take into consideration the times employees have cut stock wrong. Several times $400+ in aluminum barstock went through the saw and right into the rem rack because they set stops wrong, stops moved or they just can't read a tapemeasure. I've never had an auto saw cut the wrong size. Never.
 

memphisjed

Stainless
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Location
Memphis
Holding .005 square with a bandsaw shouldn’t be an issue- especially in solid shapes. Positioning it to that is. Shuttle vices are ... long past their design life. Horizontal saws in general are if you are thinking production. Verticals better inner cut chip clearance.

That said- if you cut a few thousand parts in few months looking at a real saw is like me looking at a real vmc. Yeh, fun to see but so far out of need not even interested.

There is a lot I really do not like about the tormach saw that I see as being cheap and or not designed. They never looked seriously at sawing dynamics and spent a lot to market a machine- and have the sales adverts showing off the worst parts- like they are features. It will work, and when new or just after a really good tune up it will likely hold the .005 square.

I have a soft spot for the 4x6 pivot general bandsaw- underrated work horses of versatility. I also know a real saw should be as complex (in controller) and exact (in build) as a milling machine. Really, what is the difference-

Adding a plc with positioner is quickly over 5 g if you want speed and precision. Tigerstop has it- likely in stock, will work for years with neglect too.
 

CITIZEN F16

Titanium
Joined
May 2, 2021
No longer have space for one, but I remember looking for a decent used automatic bandsaw during the great recession
and was floored how they held their value. I thought wrong when I thought I could find a deal.
 








 
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