How to Crash Your CNC Mill (Responsibly)

Mistakes Happen: Turning Student Crashes into Teachable Moments with Your CNC Mill

College freshman are immersed in new experiences at the start of the fall semester – their first time away from home, shopping on a budget, and, many times, their first time coming face to face with a CNC machine. We’ve all seen them. Their hands shake terrified they’re going to break something. So – why not let them? Just like other parts of their first-year experience, freshmen are going to learn the limits of CNC machining by going a little too fast, pushing a little too far. In a controlled environment with you watching them crash a CNC machine, this can help them gain that level of confidence they’re going to need as they learn the theory of CNC milling and turning. Just like cars, some CNC machines crash better than others, and here’s a guide to not busting your budget as students learn to machine, the hard way. 

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Making in the Big City

Here at Tormach, we always welcome customers (and potential customers) to come visit our facilities near Madison, WI, but sometimes it’s easier for us to make an appearance at various events. This past weekend, Tormach employees were all over the map. Saturday and Sunday we showed off the PCNC 440 just down the highway from Tormach Headquarters at the Milwaukee Maker Faire. The event was held at the Wisconsin State Fair grounds and exhibited everything from lightening in a box to working replicas of R2-D2. Also over the weekend, a Tormach crew found themselves at the second largest Maker Faire that Make: Magazine hosts, in New York. While we were milling fidget spinners and talking shop, there was still a lot to see in and around the New York Hall of Science. The Maker Faire events attract both young and old inventors and makers, and gives some folks their first opportunity to see many machine tools first-hand and ask questions. The International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces (ISAM) is still happening in Cleveland, OH at Case Western Reserve University, where a Tormach team is busy introducing academics and makerspace creators to the world of CNC. This event is a collaborative effort by several universities, including Yale, MIT, and Berkeley, among others, to help educational institutions develop makerspaces and provide more hands-on opportunities to students and teachers. Tormach is teaching a class at this event, where we're taking attendees from art to part, so they can experience exactly what goes into machining a part – we taught a similar class during Tormach Tech Days at the beginning of August. Coming up, we’ll be at Gamehole Con in Madison, WI on November 2-5 with a PCNC 440.

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Learn to Turn in New Tormach Lathe Workshop

Special Discount - Save $600 on First Class, Scheduled Nov. 8-10 Tormach has always prided itself on providing approachable and affordable machines to anyone who has the desire to make things, or operate a small shop. Education is a key part of this accessibility mission, and for more than a decade, we’ve helped customers of all backgrounds learn the fundamentals of milling in our popular CNC Fundamentals Workshop. So, why not lathes? That’s what our customers have been asking us, and we’ve developed the Lathe Fundamentals Workshop to help you realize the potential of your 15L Slant-PRO and to work through any of the learning curves lathes can present, such as tooling, and workholding. The workshop series will launch in November, and all courses will include:

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Making Meets Education: Teachers Using Tormachs

With their size and approachable design, Tormach machines have found their way into a number of classrooms at high schools and colleges around the nation. While the uses for a CNC mill or lathe in the classroom may seem obvious – teaching kids to machine parts – you may be surprised at how many teachers are doing much more than just teaching machining.

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Restoring a Piece of Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin Home with the Tormach PCNC 770

When the University of Wisconsin-Platteville sought to add equipment into their school's Industrial Studies program they chose the Tormach PCNC 770. After purchasing four machines, instructors and students quickly incorporated the mills into the curriculum. Tormach staff recently visited the campus to see firsthand how the mills are being used and to learn more about an exciting project students undertook for one of Wisconsin's most historic homes.

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Recap: CNC Knifemaking Workshop

About a year ago, we started toying with the idea of creating a specialty CNC workshop at the Tormach Training Center here at the company headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. The workshop would fit into a niche-interest like knifemaking, RC car modding, or model railroading. We already had the training facility and qualified machinists—the only factor missing from the equation was an instructor willing to come up with a project for the class. Partnering with John Grimsmo on his popular Knifemaking Tuesdays video documentary, we put the challenge in John's corner, asking him to design a knife that could be built from a raw piece of waterjet cut from 5160 high carbon steel over the course of three to four days. Describing the workshop as a hands-on specialty course designed for CNC enthusiasts with a special interest in the craft of making high-end custom knives, students would also receive practical experience in CNC programming, machine control, and machining. He came up with the Tor, a fixed blade hunting knife each student would make as a "take home" project at the end of the week. [singlepic id=526 w=320 h=240 float=center] Scheduling the class for the first part of November, five students registered—one from Texas, two from California, and two from here in Wisconsin. Following a daily itinerary, blades were machined, heat treated, tempered and hard-milled for a surface finish. G10 handles were then machine contoured and installed with the blade before using a Wicked Edge knife sharpening system on the final edge. Between classroom instruction and making their own Tor, students worked together and even hung out at the local brew pub one night. Knowing a few people might be interested in seeing what went on during the class, we took the opportunity to roll the camera throughout the week. Talking about their overall experience and impressions on the last day, here's what they had to say.

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