Tormach PCNC milling machines seem to be the only semi-professional option for the serious hobbyist machine shop. But it took me a long time to get to this decision and the investment it involved.
The path followed the route of finding Fusion 360 as a software package, finding NYC CNC on Patreon, attending the NYC CNC training course on Fusion 360 and using the PCNC440 as part of the course. After that I was sold – well almost. The debate raged in my head whether it was to be a 440 or the larger 770.
My workshop is not large and I had a compact line up of the Myford Super 7 lathe, BCA Jig Borer and the Myford VMB mill. If I took the 770 the VMB and BCA would both have to go and the 770 would totally overpower the shop. If I took the 440 instead then I could just remove the BCA and keep the VMB.
The BCA was a little used facility. For those not familiar with it there is a good write up on lathes.co.uk. It has a rotary table on an X and Y bed with a belt driven Z head. I decided anything I had ever done on the BCA could have been done on a 440. The BCA had to go.
The VMB was different and I admit I had come to love it. I was very reluctant to commit totally to just a CNC machine when I did so many ad hoc jobs quickly and easily on the VMB. I had added DRO and had invested in extensive tooling to match its R8 taper. I had made a laser centring tool (see write up) and Angel Light illumination collar. The VMB would be staying.
So what is different between the 440 and 770. Larger X,Y,Z movement, the 440 spindle does not reverse and the motor is lower rated. A reversing motor is needed if you are doing conventional tapping of threads on the mill. As a way round this you can mill tap larger threads or tap off line. I decided this combination of mill tapping and off line would work for me. Following my trip to NYC CNC and seeing their tapping arm, I have added a Roscamat Mosquito Tapping Arm to the workshop assets with a range of collets to cover M2 through to M8. I am surprised how well this performs. It will drive a M8 spriral tap into 25mm aluminium without the clutch breaking.
Both the 440 and 770 have power tool bars. The budget would allow the full enclosure to be bought on the 440 but the 770 was huge in comparison.
440 it was to be.
I watched the Dollar/Pound X/F and it crept up to 1.3 for a few days and I bought the dollars and transferred them to Tormach. I arranged a UK freight forwarding company called ACC to do the paperwork and importation for me and sat and waited for delivery. Follow the story ….