Tormach: Enabling Your Ideas With Personal CNC Machines
At Tormach, our mission is to empower people who make things. We are dedicated to providing exceptionally engineered small CNC machines, tooling, and related products with best-in-industry technical support and customer service. Our focus is to help our customers turn their concepts in to reality by providing the tools and information that help them be successful with CNC. Our flagship products are our PCNC, or Personal CNC, series of machine tools. PCNC mills have become the CNC machine of choice for inventors, small/boutique manufacturers, garage entrepreneurs, product developers, hobbyists, educators, and people who make things around the world.
The Personal CNC Story
Our company has grown quite a bit from modest beginnings. Like many of the businesses that use our PCNC machines, Tormach was started in garage – not too far from our current shop near Madison, WI. Back in 2001, two friends had a series of casual conversations, basically maligning how there were no good small CNC machines available for inventors, R&D professionals, or small manufacturers. Both had expertise in manufacturing automation: one of the two owned a specialty tool company, and the other was general manager of a technology research company. Both agreed they could really make use of an affordable small CNC machine – whether for prototyping products or for specialty manufacturing – if only such a machine existed. They came up with the concept of Personal CNC – paying homage to some of the same ideas that spawned the personal computer revolution in the late 1970s, and began to put together a list of design criteria for a PCNC. These included:
- Capability to meet/exceed typical machined part tolerances: a PCNC Mill should not sacrifice the end result part quality. Machine frame rigidity and position resolution are critical; if needed, compromises can be made in spindle power, and maximum motion speed –attributes that affect throughput, but not product quality
- Affordable to justify occasional, as needed use: a PCNC mill must not need to be constantly producing to pay its own carrying costs. It is not designed as a replacement for a production capability, but rather as a CNC tool to assist with R&D, Design, and Product Development
- Open-source, user serviceable architecture: PCNC mills should be based on simple and robust machine architecture for minimal maintenance and repairs. PCNC mills should not require specially trained service personnel, and repair components must be obtainable and affordable.
- Expandable, modular design: a PCNC Mill should minimize upfront investment with options that could be added on an as-needed basis – 4th axis, Automatic Tool Changer, Coolant Kit, etc. Components such as tooling, etc. should be sold on an a la carte basis to allow customers to pick and choose exactly what they need.
- Minimized delivery charges – hidden delivery/installation fees can be over 25% of the sales price of a conventional CNC machine. A Personal CNC is designed to minimized acquisition fees – even to residential addresses.
Not long after, the 2001-2002 recession hit hard on technology companies. When investment pulled out, the research company shut its doors. About that time, the tool company owner called up the former research manager and reminded him about those first conversations concerning thePersonalCNC Machine and that the time might be right to do something more than just talk about it.
That was the start of Tormach LLC. Fast forward 10 years and several thousand CNC machines sold. Tormach has seen much success – with a staff of experienced engineering and manufacturing professionals, dedicated to creating unsurpassed value in CNC machines – and grown significantly because of it. Now, the company is 100% employee-owned and known as Tormach Inc. through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, or ESOP. Employee ownership keeps Tormach on its already successful trajectory while allowing the employees to take greater leadership in the organization.
What makes Tormach Different
Our business model is different than your traditional CNC machine companies – that’s by design. Here’s what we’re about:
Tormach was started because we felt there was a real need among entrepreneurs, researchers, educators, and hobbyists for affordable small CNC machines, what we called personal CNC machines or PCNC machines. If we seem to know what you want, it is probably because we have been in your shoes. We're a company of engineers, machinists, and "tool guys", just like our customers.
At Tormach, we also feel that the best method for sustaining and developing the manufacturing base of a nation is through a wide spread understanding of manufacturing processes. Trade barriers and factory subsidies pale in comparison to the potential of thousands of entrepreneurs with ideas, ambition, and smaller scale machinery to bring their ideas to life. Tormach applauds the innovators among us and is dedicated to providing the affordable small CNC machines (PCNC) and other tools they need to support their ambitions.
Geeks with Tools
Tormach has a significant technical staff. More than 60% of our staff has science or engineering degrees, more than 40% have their Masters' degree and two staff members have PhD's in engineering. This may explain some of our preoccupation with testing, design, and documentation.
One job description that you won’t find at Tormach is Salesman. We believe strongly that the key to selling our products is thoughtful design, sound engineering, attention to detail, and dedication to after-sales customer support – not slick sales pitches and false claims.
Combining Quality and Value
Prior to the release of our PCNC Series of CNC milling machines, there were no suitable options for affordable small CNC machinery. Companies associated with low cost CNC machine tools, such as Grizzly, Enco, or Smithy, are essentially resellers of machinery made in China. They may select the color and a few options, but they do not have an engineering staff that truly controls the design of their CNC machines and tooling. The cost is low and quality is variable. In contrast, CNC machine tools, such as those from Hardinge, Mori Seiki, and others, are highly engineered products, designed and manufactured by companies in USA, Germany, or Japan. This provides high quality but at a tremendous cost.
In creating the PCNC mill, we pioneered a new way, working closely with asian factory partners to provide the best value in CNC machines to our customers at an affordable entry point. Our experienced USA-based engineering team guides every detail of product design and development, while our independent China-based QA team inspects all products prior to shipment. This combination of western technology and Asian manufacturing provides quality and value that is unmatched anywhere.
Tormach is dedicated to helping people enter the world of CNC manufacturing, by providing affordable small CNC machines (personal CNC machines) and related products. But that is only a part of what is needed to accomplish that. Through our website, engineering documents, manuals, training, software, tooling, and engineered accessories, we are working to make CNC machining easy to learn and productivity quick to achieve. There is a learning curve, but it is not a brick wall, and Tormach makes the process easier!
Visit our e-store to select the personal CNC machine and accessories that are right for you!