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Tormach 1100MX opinion

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burkLane

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Couple bullet points from a Tormach user
I enjoy drawing models, designs and building them.
I wanted a system that looked like its being supported and developed not just a tool "mill"
I have a 6 year old series 3 with power draw bar, stand, very well tooled and 4th axis.
I also have a New Tormach 24r router that is also well tooled.
I take good care of them both with regular cleaning, maintenance and wear part replacement.
They are in a heated and cooled shop with good clean dedicated power.
The mill looks brand new after 6 years of regular use "no production"
They both work reliably with no issues or drama.
Imho all cnc tools including Tormach machines are large boat anchors without good cad and cam software and cad/cam skills.
No way your going to hand program anything I draw!
No way to setup a cam program without the detailed 3d model drawn in a cad program.
I rely on modern dedicated material specific tooling and good cam tool paths to get results.

I tried to buy a brand new Mini mill and they told me no! Buy one used, we are not interested in selling to a home shop. "7 years ago, I guess they changed their toon now "

I would agree a large vmc would out perform a tormach in every way.
Haas and other VMC's also have a high entry cost and tooling.
Imho It takes high dollar cad -cam and cad -cam skills to get full use of a vmc.
"Use free software to drive a $50k tool is ok I guess! but I wonder what your missing."

10 hp vmc with 3ph converter will cost me no less then 1$ an hour in power just to have it turned on and more running full tilt where I live.

In short buy the best you can afford and try to avoid the boat anchors :)

Few things to consider anyway.
 

Shopgeezer

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Hmmmm, I might lean towards the airplane myself. I was terrified of CNC until I bought a 3D printer. That has been a lot of fun and is kind of like a CNC machine. A motor moves each of the 3 axes. It is a good workout in CAD but the slicer software does all the CAM work. Just push “start”. I hoped that CNC CAM would do the same but it sounds like there is more to it for metal work.
 

kvom

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5-10 ipm in steel isn't unusual for me, although in aluminum that would be overly cautious. I tend to be overly cautious with depth of cut in steel, when F&S calculator tells me the same speed is appropriate at a greater depth. But I never have 5 hour run times.
 

Busted Bricks

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I can't afford Haas or Tormach so I'm considering importing a VMC from China. Both my CO2 and fiber laser cutters are from China and I've never had any problems with them. $15000 will buy me a machine with ATC and a Siemens control.
 

GaryLa

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I have a friend who bought one of those mills. Not impressive.

For 15K there are a lot choices in older iron. I've seen FADALs and similar for less than 10K. Have a trained tech go over it when you get it, tune it up, etc. I know someone who did that and paid the tech 3K.

He paid 7.5K for the machine (VMC40) and got some tooling with it, too. He told me had about 12K in it all tolled, including the tune-up and some more tooling he bought. That machine will last him for a lifetime.
 

Busted Bricks

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I have a friend who bought one of those mills. Not impressive.
Could you qualify that? Was were the issues with it? Most feedback I see on Chinese machines is anecdotal - very rare to get a first hand opinion. There is a big difference in quality from mfg. to mfg. Some people seem to just pick the cheapest they can find off Alibaba without doing any research and are then surprised when what they have bought has issues. I've been involved with laser cutting for 10+ years and know that a bit of time spent asking pertinent questions and getting references can make a world of difference. My 1kW fiber laser has run without any issues for 18 months now.

A second hand Haas Mini Mill would be a great machine for my use, but there are very few around in my part of the world. The ones I know of are installed in metal colleges and have to be scrapped rather than resold. Most used milling machines that come up for sale are huge, old, lumbering monsters. Too big for my workshop.

AutomateCNC in USA import machines from Z-mat in China and the users seem to be happy with the machines.
 

GaryLa

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It was called a "Sky Fire" or something similar. Very much like the Tormach -- Specs, shapes, and colors that made it look impressive and professional.

When it got down to cutting, not so good. Also, remember that when you buy any machine, you'll also spend a small fortune in tooling for it. The unit was BT30 and the hold-down set was an unusual T-slot size.

I would hope that if someone is importing new equipment, someone else is importing used equipment.

All I can really say about the Chinese mills is they usually look great and sound great on paper. But from the paint coming off early, to motors that don't actually have the specs they said, to castings that flex like butter, to a limited or nonexistent parts supply -- they always disappoint.

Show me someone who loves their Chinese mill, and I'll show you someone who doesn't use it very much.

Is it out of the question to buy a used machine in Germany and drive it back?
 

Busted Bricks

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The Skyfire is very much hobby grade and from what I gather not good value for money. I very quickly passed on that as an option.

Most second hand imports are people buying directly from abroad. It's an option but I've not come across anything that suits budget and size. There are a few Mini Mills available from UK, but transport costs are very high. If I go that route I will need have the money in cash as my bank will not do a leasing deal on machine tools that are over 7 years old.

This is the type of mill I've been looking at: BL-Y400 CNC Machining Center

PS: "..doesn't use it very much" probably describes me. I will be doing low volume jobs on an infrequent basis. I struggle to buy in parts as no one is hungry for work and therefore not interested in low volume orders.
 
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kvom

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What's the delivered cost of that mill?
 

Busted Bricks

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Depends a bit on config but standard with 12-tool ATC, Siemens 808D control and 3.7kW spindle it's $18000 FOB Shanghai. Upgrade to 5.5kW spindle is $290.
 

SomeSailor

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I purchased a Tormach 1100MX at the beginning of summer. I've been really impressed with the precision and accuracy so far. Most unexpectedly the customer service is absolutely amazing! My machine has flood cooling, 12 tool ATC, automatic oiler, touch screen control, electronic tool setter, vice, tooling and 4th axis for around $35K delivered. .Hitting 001" accuracy is pretty easy to get and .0002 all day long without any special effort. The MX is an amazing evolution from the 1100. I can answer any specific questions anyone has... but so far I'm loving it.
 

SomeSailor

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I really like it. The MX is a LOT different than the older 440/770/1100 series. It's all servos now with an encoder on the spindle so rigid tapping works. They also switched over to BT30 tools. There new control is great with speed/feed/velocity knobs. Really nice for easing into an op and then adjusting in real time. I use that a lot for running the first few parts, adjusting on the fly and then altering the recipe in Fusion while it runs. They also redesigned the stand and enclosure to give easier access to the ATC and slide door and nice LED lighting.

I dunno.... I only have single phase power here and at $35K that's an all-up system. 20 or so tool holders over the past month, a grand in carbide and a 3 year Fusion license. It's earning it's keep for me.
 

MrMetric

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I suspect that 35K would be well out of the range of most people, but given that I'm griping about the 3yr Fusion, you know that! LOL. I was following the MX Tormach press releases because I have a thing for smaller machines. I think they are the cat's meow. It looks quite nice. Will it hold up to large parts at an industrial level? Probably not, but that was the intention either. It isn't trying to compete against much bigger machines, with much higher prices. It is an unfair comparison. For what it is, I think the Tormach looks quite nice.

I will say that for we mere mortals, there *are* alternative too, though... If someone is so inclined, they can often get some older machine that is past its prime and rework it. I was retrofitting a Hurco KMB1 (basically a CNC knee mill) to LinuxCNC. BTW, I also bought PathPilot from Tormach, which looked *very* nice. Anyhow, the KMB1 was essentially done when a Dyna Mechtronics DM4400m showed up for the cost of moving. It has BT30 based, has a 10 ATC, AC servos, working Mitsubishi M3 control, and an SMW 5C indexer. There were TLC items, but generally speaking it was in pretty good condition. It weighs in at about 4000 pounds. I couldn't fit the full enclosure into my garage, so that went to storage.

BT30 is small for big tooling, so be careful with that on your MX. But your machine and mine are roughly the same beast. Mine probably weighs more and it more rigid, but I wouldn't say it is horribly different in the end. I think it will be an excellent change for me. I was deeply saddened by the Fusion360 license change because I was literally getting ready to cut a part that would allow me to make the indexer into a full 4th axis. I can still use the ATC by editing the g-code manually, but the 4th axis is a loss. We've covered that, ad nauseum, in the other thread though, which I've intentionally stepped away from.

Oh, you do have the advantage of single phase. Because my machine was targeted to a different crowd originally, it really does require three phase. That kind of sucks. Anyhow, I'm curious to see how the Tormach lives up to peoples needs and desires. One thing owners do have, though, is customer support. Most of these 'old iron' rescues have zero. If the manufacturer is still in business, they have long moved past this old stuff. And if they haven't (for instance, Mitsubishi still supports the drives on my machine), they price things in the way that is commensurate with the machine's birth--industrial pricing. Frankly, if my drive dies, and I cannot find a reasonably priced replacement on eBay, then it will be a full retrofit (again) for me. That is a lot of work. So, buying a Tormach has definite advantages there. You absolutely get something for that 35K.
 

mfrick

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So I too looked at the Tormach mill and I decided to go with a used 2002 Haas TM1 the machine that was in great condition. It use 220 single ph power and has a 40 mm taper which handles the larger tooling and a tool turret that holds 10 tools. I like its table size and how solid it is . Put into basement garage with 8ft ceiling. I would look for good used machines there out there and the price of a good used machine fits a lot of budgets. This machine came with kurt vise and 20 tool holders that are in great condition. Paid half of what a new machine costs. I had a Hass Mini mill at school where I taught and it is a great machine but limited in size of job that will fit into the cabinet. So keep looking.

Mike
 

SomeSailor

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Much like the conversation around Fusion 360, you like to push the numbers in favor of your argument for sure.

While I do have about $35K in my machine, you can definitely get to work for a lot less. I have a bunch of redundant tooling (manual tool setter and ETS, Haimer 3D and Passive Probe, etc) and bought many options most folks don't need or could work without.

You can get the machine I have in it's base configuration (1100MX) for around $20K.

Base machine (w/shipping) ~$20K

Options you could do without initially:

$400 - Automatic Oiler
$435 - Flood Coolant Kit
$1800 - Pathpilot Touch Console
$5250 - ATC
$2400 - 4th Axis
$400 - Passive Probe
$500 - Haimer 3D Probe
$1200 - Electronic Tool Setter
$500 - Vice
$1200 - Tool Holders
$801 - Fusion 360 license :)

It's all a section 179 deduction as well which is a 35% savings to do this all at one time. I did cut a few corners when I bought my other machines as I was getting started, I was committed to not doing that this time around. I always seem to regret it. I'm spending some time on my router this morning and it kills me to change tools now knowing how easy it is on the mill. :)
 
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MrMetric

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I hope that everyone pushes number in their favor. Ultimately, that is how you justify a purchase of one product or another. It would be a sad day when you say, "yes, this machine makes no sense for me, over that other one, which is why I'm buying the one that makes no sense..."

Some are running a business and can deduct the machines. I can definitely see why those folks are bottom feeding the way the rest of us are. It puts them into the same bucket as those people that are multi-millionaires and just don't care. I know a total amateur machinist that has several hundred million dollars. He wasn't even that 'into' the hobby and he bought a whole shop of CNC and manual machines. All of these were top end products. But, let's face it. Other than people like that, or people who are running a business (and, therefore, care much more about cutting time, support, etc), most of us are counting our pennies. It isn't greed, it is necessity.

I think SomeSailor did his research, and decided that the Tormach was what worked best for him. To that end, congratulations to him are in order and I hope he has a wonderful time using the machine in his business and hobby endeavors.

Mfrick... One area where I think the Tormach will have an edge over the Haas is the cost of support. I've also heard that Haas machines vary in price greatly over the country. I find that surprising, but that is what I've read. There was recently a Super Mini Mill 2 (which solves a lot of people complaints about size) around me that had 300 hours on it. I think it sold for $20K or something like that, and included tooling, vises, and even a CADCAM system (full license, not lease). That, I think, was a stellar deal... Also way over anything I could afford. I did drool though. :)
 

mfrick

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Well I paid 12k for the Haas TM1 and I have had zero problems with it. I gets lots of use. I would love to have a CNC lathe we had a Haas GT10 chucker with 8 tool turret great little machine we ran the wheels off of it and had zero problems with it, having students hammering away on it shows its toughness.

Mike
 

SomeSailor

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It is a good workout in CAD but the slicer software does all the CAM work. Just push “start”. I hoped that CNC CAM would do the same but it sounds like there is more to it for metal work.
Yeah... it's pretty much the opposite of additive manufacturing (3D printing). They do compliment each other very well. I'll often 3D print a small part jut to be sure it's gonna work. Also, 3D printers are used to make fixture parts, tool holders and other accessories. They both certainly have their niche.
 

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