Starting a Machine Shop #2: Buying The Machine

Hello machinists! It has been a few months since the last update. Several things have happened, so now we actually have content to blog about! This post is going to be about buying the machine.

If you watched the video on our youtube channel for Starting a Machine Shop, you’ll know that we decided to buy a Tormach 770MX as our first machine. We turned in all the papers on it in October and received it mid-November. Well, we received most of it. The lift bar for assembly got here in December as well as the coolant system. So for anything besides basic cutting, we had a 1000lb paperweight sitting in the garage. Let’s start out through each part of the process!

Paperwork and the Numbers

Buying the machine itself was actually a fairly painless process. We purchased the Tormach 770MX with most add-ons such as the touch probe, automatic tool setter, automatic tool changer, a 4-inch vise, some basic tooling/fixturing. Grand total for all that is around $30,000. The machine is financed through Geneva Capital with a 3 year lease owing 10% value to buy the machine at the end of the term. It was a $2,600 down payment then around $1,100 a month which includes insurance on the machine. Geneva Capital was super helpful, giving us several different options for payment and walking us through the whole process. We plan on using them again for our next Tormach as well!

Receiving and Assembling the Machine

This is where things started getting a bit hectic. We received the machine in 2-3 weeks after locking down financing. We purchased the lift bar which was kind of moot since it arrived a few weeks after the machine and I had already assembled the machine, managing without the lift bar. The date for the coolant system kept getting pushed out by Tormach, which in Covid times is completely understandable. Only annoying point on that is it wasn’t a proactive update from Tormach about the delays, I reached out every time to get an update. The first order I had lined up was out of stainless steel so I was itching to get that coolant system in. I worked with Tormach to get a MQL in quickly at least so I could have some sort of cooling system. Kudos for helping me out with that! All in all, I was able to have the machine running by Christmas after ordering it in October. At that point, I was 2 payments in after my initial down payment. $4,800 deep and not a dollar made yet.

Assembling the machine took about 2-3 weekends to complete. Nothing was overly difficult besides the small workspace I’m in to begin with. Make sure you’re problem solving skills are ready, there was several parts of the manual that did not match the equipment on the MX series of machine as well as having to buy some additional hardware that was not included with the machine. And have your wrist ready for a lot of tight spot allen wrench use!

Once the machine was together, the first cuts made were to make some custom T-Nuts to bolt the tool setter down to the table. That was my first experience with conversational programming on Path Pilot, and I must say, I love this controller! Very simple and straightforward, the touch controls are very nice and having a full keyboard is handy as well.

The First Job

For our first job, we managed to make a small batch of some basic car parts for a family relative. Ran in 2 ops with OP1 being in the vise and OP2 on a custom fixture. Finally about to bring in some money nearly 3 months in! After buying some tooling, basic inspection equipment and covering website stuff, we are about $6,000 in at this point.

Running our first job was definitely a learning experience on the Tormach. Don’t come into it thinking you can just back off a little bit from what you do on the big machines and get by. This machine is very capable of cutting aggressively, but it is very particular about how it’s done. I’m still sorting out some ideal feeds/speeds for it. Tormach teams up with a company called ProvenCut to give out some recipes for the machine. I haven’t used that yet, but G-Wizard by CNC Cookbook has definitely been helpful. I’ve put in the machine specs and it gives me some good numbers to start with as I hone in my programs. Starting out with my own cut recipes, definitely bogged down the spindle a couple times.

Our first job on a larger machine would have been around a 15 minute cycle time with a conservative program, on the Tormach is was around 25 minutes. But that was also a very conservative program using a 0.500 endmill. I think this machine actually cuts faster with a 0.375 endmill. But we ran the job over a weekend, and shipped them out the following week! This would have been in mid-December using the MQL coolant.

What is next?

At this point, the machine is here, assembled, and ready for work! How do we get our name out more? Where do we find more work? We are going to dive into that in the next segment that will be out in a week. Until then, let us know if you have any thoughts or questions! We’re new to this and am sure a lot of you are as well!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s