While I cannot make any specific promises for price or availability at this time, I can tell you that expect to be offering a full enclosure for the PCNC 1100 mill in the near future. This will be a full enclosure with integrated lights, cabinet ventilation, side panel access, and a variety of other features.
Over the years, many customers have made their own PCNC mill enclosures and we’ve seen a lot of interesting designs and solid quality craftsmanship. As an OEM, our challenge in bringing an enclosure to market has been to provide something that is economical, highly functional, and most importantly, meets safety conventions. With this new design, I think we’ve finally found a solution that balances these three criteria and provides good value to the existing PCNC owners’ community a a retrofit / upgrade.
I think the story behind this development is interesting and hopefully an inspiration for others. Not only is Tormach a small business itself, but one of our largest market segments is other small businesses. As the leader in affordable small scale CNC machines, we’re a natural choice for owners of small business startups. One such owner was Jeremy Kliewer of Tennessee. After many years of working in the metal fabrication business he decided to strike out on his own, beginning with a Tormach mill as one of his shop tools. Jeremy’s design and fabrication experience led him to create his own enclosure for the mill. His entrepreneurial instincts led him to offering his enclosure to others via Ebay.
It wasn’t long before other Tormach users brought his efforts to our attention. We got one ourselves to take a look and were duly impressed, but noted a few deficiencies that prevented his design from being an OEM solution that we could offer. In short order we had Jeremy visiting our Wisconsin R&D shop, deep in discussion with Tormach engineers, designers, and machinists. Jeremy’s design showed the same balance that we seek to achieve; a careful balance between the competing forces of performance, economy, simplicity, and value.
As people who have visited our shop can attest to, we’ve had a few enclosure designs in development ourselves. Nevertheless, seeing strong potential in Jeremy’s design and sensing a similar design philosophy, we shelved one of our designs and began a collaborative development for a 2nd generation version of Jeremy’s. Working together, we addressed several of the problem issues and introduced a number of design improvements, including integrated safety switches and overhead lighting. The test prototype for this 2nd generation design has been completed and we’ll be checking it out more next week. Some shop photos are shown below.
If things go as planned, we’ll be offering these enclosures soon. Jeremy’s business, MtlWrx.com, will be the OEM supplier to Tormach and manufacturing the enclosures in Tennessee. We’re seeing this as a 3 way success. Not only has this collaborative effort accelerated Tormach’s product line and made a great product available to our customers, it should also prove to be a great boost for his new business. We’re expecting this will be a great foundation product for his shop and will shift him from selling a few enclosures on Ebay into a ramped up production which may eventually add $100,000 annually to his business sales.
I find this little story inspirational because it strikes to the heart of our corporate mission here. We’ve managed to facilitate another bit of success in design and manufacturing, we’ve furthered the ambitions of another startup business, and we had fun doing it. We’re already working on a PCNC 770 enclosure.
You’ll be able to see one of these new enclosures in person at two of our upcoming events: Cabin Fever in York PA, and the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC.