Our company has grown quite a bit from modest beginnings. Like many of the businesses that use our PCNC machines, Tormach was started in a 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.