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I Can Afford A Tormach Pcnc 440, But Do I Need One ?

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burtonbr

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#1
I've been needing to replace my G0704 manual mill I sold almost 2 yrs ago and was seriously looking at the PM727 and thought I'd get all the options, DRO, X power feed, stand & milling package. that comes to $3095. I know I could save a few hundred installing the DRO myself and a few other things but am ready to start milling projects rather than modifying a machine, so thought if I'm going to spend that much I should look at getting what I really want and after looking around the Tormach PCNC 440 has some great features and I don't find any negative comments about it, it's a little over $8000 shipped. The only thing that concerns me a little is the 10x6x10 limits but I think there are easy ways around the short X travel when needed & the Y travel on other machines this size are not much bigger, the Z is more than I need for now I think.
I don't have anything specific to make or machine but I always find projects that I would like to build and I think with CNC I'd find more I'd like to do.
I've been doing CAD most my adult life so that's no problem. I've played with Fusion 360 over the last few days and design some test parts, and created tool paths etc, still a lot to learn but it is not too difficult and the path pilot program looks even simpler so a few manual operations looks easy and quick enough than designing a whole part.
Someone talk me out of it quick before they get them back in stock and I order one
 

DAT510

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#2
I guess it comes down to what you want make...... I've used some manual machines converted to CNC and Pure Lab size CNC machines like the Tormach. I personally found the convert machines, if they kept the manual capability, to be ok, when I needed to do manual milling. But my preference was always to go to a pure manual mill, if available, when I needed to do manual milling. As for trying to do a quick/simple cut (for a manual mill) on a cnc, I alway felt it took a lot more time and effort. If money was not an issue, my personal choice would be to have a Manual and CNC Mill.
 

JimDawson

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#3
That one is a tough call. I only have one mill, and would be lost without the manual/CNC capability. I had a manual mill for about 20 years before I purchased a CNC. But....I used the CNC as a manual machine for about a year before I had enough guts to use that new fangled computer thingy for anything but a DRO. Glad it came with hand wheels.

I would also want a bit larger work envelope than the Tormach PCNC 440.
 

jbolt

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#4
Unless you have something specific in mind to make I think the travel limitations would rear themselves pretty quickly. CNC opens up a whole new world of parts you can make that you would not have been able to do as easily on a manual mill. The Z travel disappears quickly as soon as you factor in a vise and put in a drill chuck or boring head.

My mill is CNC only and yes there are times when I want to do something simple that takes longer than on a manual mill but the ability to make complex parts quickly more than offsets that for me. If I had room I would also have a manual mill.
 

TomS

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I'm one of the lucky one's that has both a manual and CNC mill. But since building my CNC a couple of years ago I'm always looking for ways to do work on the CNC. The manual mill (Enco mill-drill) gets used maybe 10% of the time.

I agree with jbolt's comments about travel limitations. After you load the table with a vise then put a boring head or drill chuck and drill in the spindle you don't have much usable travel left over. Have you looked at the 770? I have no idea what one costs but the work envelope is much larger and their advertising says it has manual and CNC capability. Just a thought.

Tom S.
 

Boswell

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#6
I can use my PM45-CNC as manual or CNC but I find that I never use it in manual. If I need to make a simple cut, I skip the CAD/CAM cycles and just type in GCODE directly or use the Pendent. .
 

maker of things

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#7
Seems to me like the z travel is the only direction that there is not a relatively easy workaround for over sized parts. If you are just making parts for yourself the smaller footprint of the 440 might be nice. I would strongly suggest NOT doing a conversion. Especially if you have parts to make. That is a whole other hobby unto itself. Ask me how I know ;)
 

tmarks11

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#8
I would highly recommend you get a 770 instead of a 440.

There are some negatives about the 440:
1. the 440 uses an all-in-one Leadshine MX3660 (BOB and 3 axis driver in one) that is a new piece of gear and might not be ready for primetime. The first revision of them had some serious issues (un-commanded spindle) and were immediately replaced by Tormach. Some users are still having problems with the second revision (e-stop causing the controller to go haywire).
2. The 440 has a brushless DC motor; nothing bad has come out about that yet, but previous manufacturers of hobby grade equipment who went with BLDC motors have ran into problems.
3. The 440 uses lower spec'd ballscrews than the 770 and 1100 (p4 rolled instead of c7 ground).
4. The stand for the 440 was not designed AT ALL for flood coolant, whereas the 770 stand is a great design. This is assuming you buy the optional stand instead of building your own; if you buy a 440 than I strongly recommend you build your own stand.

The 770 just seems to be a much better value for only a little more money. The Tormach products are very well built. I have a number of Chinese and Taiwanese machines, and the Tormach are the best of the bunch.

Disclosure: I have an 1100, not a 440 or 770.
 
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burtonbr

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#9
All good points, thanks for the input. Been thinking on it heavily and I'm sure the small work envelope will be restrictive at times but all machines have limitations and the manual mills I look at all leave me wanting more features so I keep going back to Tormach, I don't think I can afford the 770 though the extra travel and horsepower would be nice. I think the 440 is as capable if not more, as cutting goes than any manual mill this size I see and I think there's a lot I can learn and make with a 440. Been trying to talk myself out of it all week but think I'm going to have to give it a try.
 

RJSakowski

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#10
I have had a 770 for five years and l looked closely at the 440 when it was released as the price difference between the two wasn't that great. I did an apples to apples comparison of the two in this thread: http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/tormach-440-pcnc.44072/#post-377977 post #7.

Considering the increased performance, I still think the 770 is the better way to go but that depends upon individual needs. I chose the 770 over the 1100 at the time because of size to a large degree. The 1100 would have been difficult to fit in to my shop. Another plus for the 770, shared by the 440, is the higher maximum spindle speed. However, as I view posts by 1100 owners, its better performance is painfully apparent. If I had it to do over again, I would most likely go with the 1100.

As far as CNC vs. manual mill, I look at the enabling ability of the machine. There is machining that is simply not possible with a manual mill. I probably use the 770 as a manual machine more than I do as a CNC. I use the jog pendant to traverse x, y, and z. It is not the most efficient way to mill but it works well enough that I have used my manual mill/drill perhaps a dozen times for milling in the past five years.

One final note is that the 440 is, to a certain extent, a beta machine. There have been quite a few posts on various forums concerning hardware, firmware, and software issues. Tormach is working diligently on eliminating bugs but it can be frustrating when you really want to be making chips.
 
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