For our latest blog series, we wanted to tell real stories from real people. Today, we're in conversation with Paul Bater, one of our Tormach community members who recently purchased a 770MX.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, Paul!
A: By day, I design RF power generator equipment for the semiconductor industry. During evenings and weekends, I run my own CNC design consultation and prototype shop.
Engineering and mechanical design have always interested me. I’ve always been good with my hands and really enjoy making something others can’t, and seeing ideas come to life. It was actually my wife that helped talk me into getting my own CNC, after she got sick of hearing me complain about work. That was probably the turning point for me and one of the key reasons I now run my own business.
Q: What machine do you have?
A: I’ve recently bought a 770MX, but I’ve also had a 440 for a few years. Now I have the 770MX, my son is going to use the PCNC 440 to cut his CNC teeth. I can’t wait to teach him.
Q: What do you make?
A: In the first six months, I managed to get a side hustle through a friend, making 7,000 nylon parts for a local business. This small job paid for the machine, meaning I was already on my way to covering my operating costs and growing my business.
I’ve also recently won a high-profile contract making brass fittings for a long-established American-made eyewear company supplying products to both commercial outfits and the military.
I’ve been blessed to be able to shadow an expert toolmaker there for a year now, and they’re planning on me taking on tool and fixture creation after he retires. But I also have other clients who’ve found me through both word of mouth and LinkedIn.
Thanks to my 770MX, I can pretty much make or prototype anything a client needs at a fraction of the time and cost it would take to outsource it. This allows me to tackle design options that would normally be too risky due to project schedules or cost.
Q: Why did you choose a Tormach?
A: About five years back, the company I worked for had a CNC machine but it was always booked up. They didn't seem to be interested in getting another one, so I decided to get a PCNC 440 myself and make all the parts I needed without having to wait. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
As my business grew, I needed to upgrade my machine. I was so impressed with the PCNC 440 that an upgrade to the 770MX just felt right. I knew how reliable Tormach machines were and the affordable price for so much machine was too good to turn down.
Q: What do you like about your Tormach?
A: Three words—Price. Size. Reliability. Because I’d already owned a Tormach, I knew they were reliable and a fraction of the price and size of most of the bigger competitors. It just seemed the logical choice. It also fits in my garage, leaving me room to work with ease. I couldn’t do that with some of the bigger machines. They wouldn’t even fit!
The learning curve was pretty short, thanks in part to PathPilot’s easy interface and the fact I already knew my way around the 440. The home installation was also a breeze if you know your way around a toolbox.
My Tormach also permits me to fail—it doesn’t matter if I make mistakes because it’s so easy to start again. This means I can take bigger risks, which have led me to win new business, as I can adapt on the fly if the customer’s needs change (which they often do!)
Q: What advice would you give to anyone thinking about a Tormach?
A: Without naming names, some of Tormach’s competitors have great machines. But unless you’re running a large CNC shop on an industrial scale, why fork out anywhere between $40k and $100k for a machine that likely won’t fit where you need it, and that’s too extreme for your needs. It’s like buying a $40k sledgehammer to knock in a nail.
Ask yourself: Do you want to make money, or have a big shiny expensive toy? The monthly payments on the bigger machines can sometimes be as much as a house payment. That’s a big business overhead. With Tormach's affordable entry point, not only can you free up more money to spend elsewhere on your business, you can also easily upgrade when (not if) the technology improves.
In my opinion—buy a Tormach. They’ve cut everything I've ever asked them to with accuracy, they’ve been affordable, easy to set up and dismantle, and the company has been really helpful if I've ever needed advice.