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IndustryArena Forum > MetalWorking Machines > Tormach Personal CNC Mill > About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100
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  1. #1
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    About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    At the risk of pissing off the fanboys and the zealots I am putting it out there.

    For those who just want the answer to the question. Yeah, probably. I would certainly consider it.

    Is the machine everything the fanboys say it is? No.

    Is it everything the company says it is? Mostly.

    Is the company's customer service good? Above average. Better than most importers actually are, and almost as good as I personally think they should be.

    Did I have issues? Yes.
    1. I got a bad computer/card, and I received a used broken computer with card in its place. I fixed it myself. They did work after I opened it up and got all the loose mother board screws out from under the motherboard, and replaced the broken (Yes physically broken) sata cable.
    2. The tool changer worked for a few months and started crashing. No amount of reinstalling and recalibrating per the installation instructions helped. After two weeks of wasted time while I screwed with it, and nonhelpful emails from the company I ripped it off because I had work to do. It sits on the floor outside of my machine room were it landed when I ripped it off the machine over a year ago. Others have had better luck I am told.

    Did I have issues with the machine itself? No, not really.
    Other than the tool changer I haven't really had to work on anything. Certainly there was not out of the crate unfinished machining or unfinished installation like every other Chinese import mill I have purchased. Its got some backlash. More than I expected with new ball screws, but not horrible. I can cut parts to default spec without even trying, and if I take a final adjustment cut for critical specs I can nail them pretty well.

    Were there any unpleasant surprises? Yes. Two actually.
    1. I already mentioned receiving a used broken replacement PC. It is what it is, but it did work after I fixed it.
    2. More recently I developed a leak in the power draw bar. I tore it down and found debris inside of it that did not come from my shop. I cleaned it thoroughly and put it back together. No problems since.

    How is the control software? Well, I am not sure. It mostly just works.
    I say that because when I first fired up the machine on the replacement computer I had a few random lockups. None in the last 16 months or so though. No clue why it did back then, but it was never while actually running code. The control interface is annoying in that it lacks a couple things I am used to in Mach 3. The clock disappears during a tool change. For a while I thought it didn't have one. When you stop a program the display defaults back to line 1. It doesn't have any way that I see to show what work offset you are working in. It doesn't show the diameter of the current selected tool on screen. Are those things bad? No. Just minor annoyances, and if I was not running several other machines under Mach 3 I might never have noticed any of them.

    Are there any other issues. Yes.
    1. The enclosure leaks.
    2. There is no easy way to check the coolant level in the tank.
    3. The coolant pump only uses the top couple gallons of coolant in the tank. On the other hand I don't get chip clogs. Well I haven't yet anyway.
    4. The Power Draw Bar required additional springs and adjustment out of spec to hold tools running at any significant portion of rated horsepower.

    So it might sound to some (especially fanboys and zealots) like I am bashing the machine and the company. I am not. The company is adequate if slightly less than I hoped for and the machine works day in day out. It works as well today as it did when I first got it setup. I am not unhappy with the machine. I actually have been using the machine far outside the range of prep and secondary work I had planned for it when I bought it. While its never going to be a "mold maker":there are several complete projects including molds that get done on this machine. I actually have considered purchasing a second one to actually to the prep and secondary work I bought this one for. I know what the issues are, and I know how to deal with them. I know what NOT to waste money on and what to checkout during assembly. I know what modifications or different assembly methods I would choose instead of the company suggested assembly. I could have it working the same as the current one with not much more effort than basic assembly and setup without wasting money like I did the first time. Now, I am not a hobby users. I have thousands of hours of run time on the machine. For a guy who only tinkers with his machine on the weekend that may be a few to several years of use.

    I would probably buy another PCNC1100.

    Would I buy an 1100M or an 1100MX. Maybe. I don't know.

    Am I a "real" machinist? Nope. Just a self taught hack who has put many tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of hours on my machines since 2006 when I started out with a desktop Taig mill from Deepgroove1 that would barely haul itself around. I am sure those who will say, "Well I didn't have any of the problems you had." The implication being that I am either a liar or incompetent. I am neither of those thing. I am just relaying my experience and my opinion.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  2. #2
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    FWIW I haven't had exactly the problems Bob describe (except the leaking enclosure :-) but I've had an experience that is very similar in overall shape.
    It's a fine mill, for the price.
    If you can afford the cost and tooling for a Mazak, get the Mazak.
    If you can afford to buy and service a Haas, get the Haas.
    If you need an upgrade from a Grizzly or Taig, or just want to skip that step entirely, and money is tight, the Tormach (company and product) fills a spot in the market.
    If you expect white-glove delivery with trained service personnel walking you through all the steps in person ... you have to buy through an upscale dealer who offers that service, and bills you for time and materials each time you pick up the phone. Only available in the $500k-and-over division.

  3. #3
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    I think you are presenting a realistic view of the machine. As long a you go into buying one with your eyes open I'm not sure how you could be terribly disappointed.

  4. #4
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Bob;
    Sounds about spot on....

  5. #5
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    If you plan to make parts for NASA, no.
    If most of your parts are +/- .005",heck yes.
    If you want a machine you can fix when it breaks, heck yes.

  6. #6
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    After thousands of hours I never had a single problem. My end mills never dull, using same one for years, coolant is always clean and full. Pdb is always adjusted and never need maintenance. I can hit millionths.. My cam software never has errors and is simple to use. My shop is always 72 deg. My 4 th axis weighs 25 lbs and is easy to move onto mill. How can I not be a fanboy or zealot lol after 6 years would I buy their tools, yes and plan to buy a new machine this week.

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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    I think more fence-sitters will buy Tormachs than not based on this review because it peels away the hype. I’m a 770-3 owner and my experience has been similar. I don’t push it, and have avoided the less reliable bits: No tool changer, only mist cooling, no tooling over 3/8”. Within that envelope, it works pretty well without consuming my entire garage.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Quote Originally Posted by lens42 View Post
    I think more fence-sitters will buy Tormachs than not based on this review because it peels away the hype. I’m a 770-3 owner and my experience has been similar. I don’t push it, and have avoided the less reliable bits: No tool changer, only mist cooling, no tooling over 3/8”. Within that envelope, it works pretty well without consuming my entire garage.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    That is where I get confused about these threads. I don't see one thread around this forum that hypes this brand. I see people that take the time to share what and how they build using their tools and methods. I also read threads about people that have a problem with a tool or process and come here to find an answer or get help. Giggle, 6 years ago if I had followed what they said on this forum about Tormach. I would have absolutely made the wrong choice. I was told in thread after thread how these machines suck, cant make anything, the tools pull out. wont hold any tolerance, not repeatable, will burn up and fall apart in a year, total waste of money, people around here would even troll threads to argue about wd40. Not clear why so many people would take the time to do this but it made for fun reading at times. Was easy to spot these people and still is.

    In short I trusted my own judgement. Wanting a complete system that I could use out of the box. It was not hard to see who was developing a tool system over time and improving their product everyday. Not a company that JUST SELLS TOOLS with no intent to develop their products or user experience. I have been a developer most of my life I wanted to be a user this time. If enjoying using and learning how to get the most out of this system makes me a fanboy I guess I am. Personally I consider myself an avid user of my shop.

    Final note imho all cnc machines are over priced boat anchors without good cad/cam skills and good cad/ cam/ control/ software to drive them.

  9. #9
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    ***
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  10. #10
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Quote Originally Posted by lens42 View Post
    I think more fence-sitters will buy Tormachs than not based on this review because it peels away the hype. I’m a 770-3 owner and my experience has been similar. I don’t push it, and have avoided the less reliable bits: No tool changer, only mist cooling, no tooling over 3/8”. Within that envelope, it works pretty well without consuming my entire garage.
    Quote Originally Posted by lens42 View Post


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


    For some the 770's 10K spindle might make a better machine. It makes up in small cutter performance for what it lacks in larger cutter performance. I can't speak to its accuracy and rigidity as I don't have one. I have three 24K machines and one in the build stage that do that job for me though. I needed something that would do the rough work as my Hurco was down at the time and I wasn't sure I was going to fix it. (I did, the Tormach just wasn't up to heavy roughing in some materials.)

    "+/- .005" ? I am not questioning the experience. Just surprised. (Trying not to sound like a Fanboy here, LOL) My 1100 can usually cut a lot better than that even if I just do a "programmed" light finish pass and/or spring pass without actually measuring and creeping up on the dimension. If I NEED to get around .001 or better I do need to measure and recut sometimes. The key for me is to never finish with a heavy (heavy is relative) cut if dimension is somewhat important. Even a much heavier larger and more rigid machine can be subject to tolerance stacking and deflection. It might be less, but its still there.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  11. #11

    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Yeah, +/- .005" isn't much of an endorsement.

    That said, I'd probably buy an 1100 used. Definitely not new. It's not enough machine for the price to justify a new purchase.

  12. #12
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    hy bob, i don't have time to read all, but all i can tell is that many shops consider buying another new/used machine, without considering 1st the possibility to increase productivity with less cost compared to the new machine
    ... if you are working in 1 shift, go 2 shifts
    ... if your tools are neah, try better tooling
    ... when the spindle is stopped, what is the cause ? make a list with all the causes and their duration; after few months you should now exactly how much time was lost and why; it seem to be a mill; common causes that leads to mill downtime are :
    ...... less preparatory operations, downtime with setup, etc : invest in diy fixtures, quick-change types, etc
    ...... too much time to edit and reload the program
    ...... chips evacuation
    ...... restart issues during long operations
    ... when the spindle is spinning, what is the productivity ? like is it possible to do this job in 50%-75% of actual time ?

    if you wish, considers the improvement costs, and compare them to the monthly costs and long term costs of getting another machine

    a cnc has to be considered a cost unit, and there are cases when a new machine is decreasing the profits, even if it is running / kindly
    Ladyhawke - My Delirium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_bFO1SNRZg

  13. #13

    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    If you didn't read it all then why should anybody care about your response? Seems a little neurotic, eh?

  14. #14
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    what others do/think is their business this does not mean that i don't respect others, but i avoid thinking for them ... i can't
    Ladyhawke - My Delirium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_bFO1SNRZg

  15. #15
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Quote Originally Posted by CL_MotoTech View Post
    Yeah, +/- .005" isn't much of an endorsement.

    That said, I'd probably buy an 1100 used. Definitely not new. It's not enough machine for the price to justify a new purchase.
    Was going to say my machine will hit any preset offset from home switches at +/- 0.002 or better after machine is shut off for day and parts are all next digit out or better.

  16. #16
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Quote Originally Posted by deadlykitten View Post
    hy bob, i don't have time to read all, but all i can tell is that many shops consider buying another new/used machine, without considering 1st the possibility to increase productivity with less cost compared to the new machine
    ... if you are working in 1 shift, go 2 shifts
    ... if your tools are neah, try better tooling
    ... when the spindle is stopped, what is the cause ? make a list with all the causes and their duration; after few months you should now exactly how much time was lost and why; it seem to be a mill; common causes that leads to mill downtime are :
    ...... less preparatory operations, downtime with setup, etc : invest in diy fixtures, quick-change types, etc
    ...... too much time to edit and reload the program
    ...... chips evacuation
    ...... restart issues during long operations
    ... when the spindle is spinning, what is the productivity ? like is it possible to do this job in 50%-75% of actual time ?

    if you wish, considers the improvement costs, and compare them to the monthly costs and long term costs of getting another machine

    a cnc has to be considered a cost unit, and there are cases when a new machine is decreasing the profits, even if it is running / kindly
    When I bought the Tormach 1100 it was intended primarily to prep and size blanks for the high RPM machines, and do a few secondary operations. In theory (and in practice) it should do some types of roughing and prep work in less time than the "faster" machines that have no torque under about 8000RPM. 60 to 75% time savings resulted in some of these operations in spite of having to set the same part up twice. Then I began playing with ideas to design jobs around the 1100s capabilities so it would not be sitting idle when it wasn't roughing blanks. Then jobs came in that were ideally suited to the 1100 as well. It got so it was so busy doing its own jobs I often didn't have machine time available to do prep work for the other machines. Now the other machines can do their own prep work, but when you look at huge time savings by splitting the jobs between machines ideally suited to different types of operations its hard to want to go back to that. It actually motivated me to repair my Hurco KMB1 when I had previously planned to salvage it out, and eventually replace it. I'm glad I didn't salvage it out. Its an awesome machine for that heavy slow steel cutting work that the Tormach struggles with. Anyway, when I said I considered buying another Tormach it would pay its own way. This one is already doing a lot more work than it was originally planned to do. I already do layouts so I can cut multiple parts at one time, and recently discovered ATP5 tooling plate which is considerably less expensive than MIC6 for doing multiple setup fixture plates. Now I have the Hurco doing prep work for the Tormach (larger work envelope) prepping fixture plates.

    Recently I was doing a largish multiple piece order with the Tormach running continuously doing a first set of operations on two work pieces at a time and the Hurco was doing several short cycle time secondary operations and setups on the same parts. Tied up both machines for weeks. The poor little high speed mills wasted hours doing prep work that the Tormach had been doing for them before.


    HOWEVER NONE OF THAT WAS WHY I MADE THIS POST.
    Bob La Londe
    http://www.YumaBassMan.com

  17. #17
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    ... you seem to know your kitchen well; good luck
    Ladyhawke - My Delirium, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_bFO1SNRZg

  18. #18
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    If you want to get one according to the Tormach website there is only 1 left.
    That could be the last one made & going forward it might only be the M series???
    I can hardly believe I've had mine for 6 years.
    The question now is would you buy an M series?
    I'm not in the market but I would want linear rails, servos, BT30, an 8K to 10K spindle and at least 3HP.
    The MX gets close but for the money I would be looking at the whole field of offerings.
    There are more now than there were 6 years ago!

  19. #19
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Quote Originally Posted by rdsi View Post
    I'm not in the market but I would want linear rails, servos, BT30, an 8K to 10K spindle and at least 3HP.
    I just bought that exact spec.

  20. #20
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    Re: About 20 Months Later - Would I Buy Another One? - PCNC1100

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenny Duval View Post
    I just bought that exact spec.
    Please post a thread somewhere on what your doing and using. I like to see what others are up to.
    Industrial user, Cottage industry user, Job shop, Casual maker and home shoppers all have interesting experience that I learn from. I must say a couple home shop people I follow closely are by far the most experienced and talented engineers, machinist and builders that share their work on the net. 1/4 scale 12 cylinder Merlin engine complete with blower is just one example that comes to mind.

    Anyway I like your picture. I did the mx thing for a few years long ago and still an avid fan. Didn't last long because I didn't understand how to ride at 80%. Always went 110+% and the results were broken machines and inconsistent finish. A lesson I learned much later in life playing golf of all things.

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