Improving Manufacturability with a Tormach CNC machine

One of the biggest challenges CNC engineers and designers often face (whether they realize it or not) is designing for manufacturability.

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Supplyframe Speeds Up Design with a PCNC 1100

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Tech and Spectacle Intersect at Two Bit Circus

[youtube]Hie2kcemJng[/youtube] As if the name didn’t give it away, Two Bit Circus is not your traditional engineering firm. The company places itself on the crux of developing technology and interfaces that are just too difficult to fake. Live-action video games, virtual reality experiences, and the cutting edge entertainment for groups are what make Two Bit Circus a whole new kind of company.

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Women in STEM: Connecting With the Next Generation of Leaders

More than 100 middle school students eagerly watched machines run, listened to technical explanations of how things worked, applied their math skills to engineering demonstrations, and got to meet with engineers, machinists, and other leaders.  What made this group is unique is their gender – they were all female.

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RapidTurn: Origins

As the oft repeated adage goes, the design process is more often than not an evolutionary process rather than a revolutionary one. Nowhere is this more true than the case of our newest product, the RapidTurn. The saga of the RapidTurn begins nearly 10 years ago with its predecessor, the Duality lathe. The Duality Lathe offered users affordable CNC turning capabilities when they needed it and a manual mini-lathe for the times they didn’t.   Over the years we have sold hundreds of Dualities, and we have seen some truly amazing parts produced with them, such as the titanium bone screws made by Eisertech, shown above. While the Duality met the needs of many, it wasn’t compatible with the PCNC 770 and some customers found that its size and weight made it unwieldy to setup and take down. Additionally, as we spoke to customers it became apparent that only a small fraction of them ever made use of the Duality as a manual lathe. Being the engineers, machinists, and tinkerers that we are, we knew we could do better, thus pushing us down the path to the RapidTurn. The initial design documentation for the RapidTurn called for a standalone headstock driven by its own dedicated AC induction motor - cutting down on unnecessary weight compared to the Duality’s base casting and giving the machine the oomph to handle tougher turning jobs. This motor is connected to the spindle via a two-position belt drive - affording the operator the torque they need for machining both high and low surface speed materials. At this stage the control system still resembled that used by the Duality with a manual spindle controls and an encoder sending spindle speed data back to the controller to allow for single-point The above image is the first prototype of the RapidTurn. It was downright ugly and built like a tank, but we knew we were on to something so we grit our teeth and went back to the drawing board. The first prototype was still too bulky and clunky to get on and off the machine (hence the hefty carry handles), so the next design iteration opted for an aluminum headstock and base plate with a side-mounted spindle motor that could be easily removed when moving it on or off of the mill. The second prototype also included a sealed spindle nose enabling it to be used with flood coolant systems – something that wasn’t recommended with the Duality. With the functional design finalized, the next iterations focused on optimizing the design’s manufacturability as we geared up for our first production run. Critical factors such as product kitting, packaging design, technical documentation, and fulfillment logistics fell into place at this stage. Like our full size machines, each RapidTurn is inspected by a member of the Tormach quality assurance team before it is approved to leaves the factory. RapidTurns are now in stock and will be available to order in June alongside our expanded lineup of 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch indexable lathe tooling. While the R&D process isn’t always pretty, it sure is exciting. The progression has left us with a product that we’re proud to be able to offer alongside our mills. For more information on the RapidTurn check out its product page or if you just want to see the RapidTurn throwing chips subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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The New Tech Ed – Making, Teaching, Tools, and Mixing It All Together

Last week, we had a visit from the Milwaukee Maker Space, which is just a short drive down the Interstate. And the week before, folks from a Madison, WI makerspace, known as The Bodgery, joined us for a product demo. Last fall, another Madison makerspace, Sector 67, got a PCNC 1100 for their growing shop. At Tormach, we’ve always had an affection for makers. We’ve witnessed, first-hand, how the world of making and tinkering has helped to usher STEM/STEAM movement and how making and educating have continued to evolve. Educators are becoming makerspace owners/organizers, and makers are becoming teachers, and as a machine tool-maker, we couldn’t be more excited. Makerspaces have always provided crowdsourced tools to their members, like Sector 67’s PCNC 1100, but now more than ever, we’re seeing schools and colleges take advantage of these spaces as well. What’s more, these organizations are embracing the insertion of education into their spaces. You go to a makerspace to both use tools that may otherwise be unavailable and learn how to use new tools – all of which, looks to inspire more creative engineering and fabrication. Proper education is key to cultivating successful makers, while making helps to both galvanize and stimulate education. The evolving combination of education and making is sure to continue expanding the horizons of the tech world, and engineering in general. Getting tools in the hands of these students is important to making sure that both makers and educators are successful. We’re excited to have so many makerspaces using Tormach machines to do so – and many great makerspaces and schools right in our backyard. Tormach will be making appearances at the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) conference on March 2-4 and we’ll also be at the Bay Area Maker Faire May 20-22.

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