pic: FRC228 Tormach CNC Mill

15 years in the making, we have finally done it. GUS Robotics’ Tormach CNC mill! We received a grant for $10,000.00 to purchase this machine from a local foundation, The Meriden Foundation. It feels good to know all of the work, all of the demos, all of the community service, everything was entirely worth it. With this machine we will be able to teach every student that walks through our shop door the complete engineering process. Always remember that with hard work, you can achieve anything! It wont happen overnight, but with determination you can reach your craziest goals! Good luck to everyone this season, hope to see you on the field!

Only $10,000 dollars? I’m buying one for home use!

Seriously, that is awesome. I know 422 is just beginning a major tool upgrade; they just need to find a place to put one of these things.

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Congratulations, we have a Tormach as well, it’s a great machine! We cut everything on it!

It was about $9,000.00 for the machine itself, plus the add ons and shipping we’ve got about $13,000.00 into it. They did a good job making everything an optional upgrade. :rolleyes: We can’t really complain though, we’ve already learned a lot on it and cut some awesome parts! I’ll defiantly we buying one for home use someday!


im soo excited that we have a new piece of machinery in the shop! its looking really good!


I use the same mill at work every day. You’ve got a real honey of a machine there.

Tormach is an awesome company. If you haven’t already, make sure to let them know how excited you are about the mill. They’re very FIRST aware and would, I’m sure, love to know how their machines are helping students get into STEM fields.

My team needs to get better at fund raising…13K is our entire budget for the year…Thank goodness we have a material sponsor who can cut stuff out for us…Would be nice to do it “in house” though.


Out of curiosity what are you using to program the machine?

This machine is so simple and capable, Tormach really did an awesome job with it. We’ll be sure to let them know what it’s being used for!

We create all of our tool paths and other programs with Vectric Cut2D, which just allows you to convert .dxf to g-code, then Tormach has it’s own software that came with the machine that reads the g-code. We will soon be upgrading to Cut3D. I highly recommend it over any other program i’ve used. After using it we’re actually thinking about running the machines we have at work using this program.


Looks for grants and search for donations, there’s tons of free money out there, you just have to figure out where to look! You guys will get there, it just takes determination and dedication!

Some things i have been making with it, i need to teach my team how to use it now including the mentors :smiley:


It appears you are running water for coolant… and I see rust spots forming. You want to use actual coolant mixed with the water to prevent rust and it cuts better.

If you guys use Solidworks this may be worth checking out: http://www.hsmworks.com/hsmxpress/

The xpress edition is a free plug in for Solidworks, and lets you create 2.5D tool paths within solidworks (it adds another tab), it’s quick and really easy for anyone to learn. It also has a Mach2 post built in that runs happy with the Tormach branded Mach3. Also I recently called them up and they gave us the full edition (which includes 3D Milling/4th axis/etc) for free on a educational license.

We are using water based coolant, which was came with the machine. The vice itself was donated to the team by my father who had it sitting in my basement, we just haven’t had time to polish it yet. :rolleyes: :yikes:

We’ll defiantly give hsmworks a call and ask about the full edition, that would be awesome! Thanks for the lead!


Ah, that makes a bit more sense. :stuck_out_tongue:
Just don’t do anything to abrasive to clean the rust, I have been told using something abrasive can mess with the squareness of the vice.

You guys also plan on getting the tool changer/power draw bar?

Cut2D is for 2-dimensional (or 2.5D, such as flat pockets) cutting, such as plates and stuff. Cut3D is right for 3 dimensional cutting, where parts need a smooth transition between Z-axis levels.

Using Cut3D for 2D parts is not really the best use for it, and Cut2D cannot easily make smooth Z transitions or shapes (like a bowl)

Get proficient with Cut2D before you also buy Cut3D, but be sure to ask yourself if you are really cutting 3D parts.

If you want a standalone CAM package, you may want to look into OneCNC XR5. We’ve been rather happy with it.

yea, the power draw bar is next on our list then the tool changer,

Sorry to hijack this thread, but I am currently in the process of trying to secure funds through our district for a CNC machine for aluminum cutting. I am deciding to get a Tormach 1100, or go with a Shopbot buddy alpha.

I like the large build area of the shopbot, and that it could be used for wood as well. I got a quote with shipping for the shopbot for just under 17000 with shipping. Seems like the Tormach with a lot of extras would run the same or less.

I would love any advice on what machine would be a better use of funds for regular FIRST specific uses?

Thank you so much

That is such a good deal!! Congratz

I haven’t personally worked with either (working on getting a Tormach for our buildsite). But the Tormach 1100 is a very impressive machine, especially for how little it costs. It’s got a lot of rigidity and power at it’s disposal. I’ve been following a fella on youtube who uses his to make high-quality pocket knives. He mills titanium and exotic stainless steels no problem, and even hard milling. Not that those are things that you’ll do in FRC much, but it speaks to the capability of the machine.

The only advantage I can see to the Shopbot would be the work area, but I think the PCNC 1100’s work area is big enough to do just about any FRC part you can think of. The Shopbot might be a bit better for making some sheet metal parts, but I think having proper toolholders and the capabilities of a real mill are worth that tradeoff.