Tormach PCNC1100 Mill

In the fall of 2006 I purchased a Tormach PCNC1100 milling machine. I had owned my Sherline CNC mill for 8 years, and spent at least as much time tweaking the Sherline as actually using it. I realized that I really needed something more sturdy. I would have settled for a machine the size of the Sherline, but stiffer and with zero-backlash ballscrews, but when the Tormach came on the market with an impressively low price for the capability I revised my plans. Sherline mill on Tormach table
I bought the basic mill, the TTS quick-change tooling system, the deluxe base with coolant pump, the Tormach 5" vise, the high-speed Proxxon spindle and the LCD/keyboard mounting arm. The Tormach is bone-stock, and I am spending my time making parts with it, after the learning curve with its Mach2-based control software. I had previously only used DOS-based CNC Pro and TurboCNC. Tormach mill on deluxe stand
The Tormach is stiff and very fast relative to the Sherline. It rapids at 65 in/min and has constant-velocity cutting (no pausing at arc quadrant points.) It is also very accurate, with ground anti-backlash ballscrews and polymer-lined ways, and central lubrication. cutting with primary spindle
It is a joy to run multiple-tool programs, only swapping the pre-mounted tools when called for. I accurately measured the X and Y offsets of the Proxxon relative to the primary spindle, so I can incorporate toolpaths using the auxiliary spindle too, only needing to touch down a tool in the Proxxon for length. cutting with Proxxon spindle
January 2009 and things have changed a little. I built a dual-nozzle coolant manifold, with little ball valves to individually control the coolant streams. I am using the Tormach jog pendant, which is excellent and has variable-speed continuous jogging instantly switchable to incremental jogging. I added a fan to the electronics enclosure for better cooling of the electronics.

The Tormach is capable of flinging a lot of chips all over the garage, especially when flycutting aluminum, and the stock table shield does not really do an adequate job of containing them. The inspiration for my enclosure was a nice plywood enclosure on CNC Zone that user TT350 made. I removed the backsplashes from the Tormach chip trays, and built an enclosure with 2x2x1/8" aluminum angle for a frame and 6mm Alumalite (signmaking material with a corrugated plastic core and pre-painted aluminum faces) for panels. The door is 1/4" acrylic sheet and is hung from closet-door rollers. The control panel enclosure is just a mockup, made from 3/8" plywood and 2x4's I had laying around. After I see how happy with it, I'll make a final enclosure from aluminum. The control panel swivels out for easy access during part setup, and then swings back out of the way to keep the aisle clear. It has an estop button wired in series with the one on the electronics enclosure so if things go badly wrong I don't need to reach into the enclosure to "pull the plug".


Some CNCzone links with more recent descriptions and discussions of some of my Tormach mods:



This article is ©2007-10 Randy Gordon-Gilmore. Last updated: 19 Feb 2010.