Milling and Molten Iron: How to Use Your PCNC Machine for Mold Making

Since our customers are always telling us about their latest projects and all my coworkers have an affinity for making stuff, I shouldn’t have been surprised by all the cool things you can do with a mill.

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Tormach’s Busy Brand Ambassadors

The Tormach Brand Ambassadors have been busy making some incredibly interesting widgets, projects, and how-to content.

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More than Machining, We're Makers

For obvious reasons, we're pretty well-versed when it comes to machining here at Tormach. But throughout our company - in several different departments - we also have an array of makers. We've seen Tormach employees create everything from horseshoe lamps to remaking wedding rings to DIY 3D printers.

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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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CNC for the “Now Economy"

As many brick-and-mortar stores are seeing sales drift online and websites like Kickstarter are helping to decide where the market is headed, personal manufacturing has moved from the wave of the future to a tool of production. The “Now Economy” has produced consumers that expect their goods to be high-quality and arrive quickly, which can sometimes be a challenge for traditional manufacturers. That’s why the era of start-ups inside and outside of Silicon Valley has been a booming success. At first, the “now economy” was limited to services and digital goods (ebooks, Uber rides, apps, etc.), but the culture has bled into tangible items as well. Small-run and/or custom manufacturing have emerged as the best choices for most consumers. Though, Walmart still has an empire, the market is changing. For quite some time, Tormach customers have been using their machines for customized and short-run manufacturing in industries that have long been relegated to goliath manufacturing organizations. Mike Ko, who has used a PCNC 1100 at KFx Medical Corporation, said back in 2011, “Both the hardware and the software have been dropping in price and rising in capability, ease-of-use, and quality. On the hardware side, the development of the Tormach PCNC machine is one of the first capable and affordable CNC machines.” Another extension of the Now Economy arrives at highly-custom components for one-of-a-kind applications. For instance, Adam Summers uses his PCNC 1100 to replicate biology in an attempt to understand the function of certain structures within fish – certainly not an off-the-shelf venture – while also making custom brackets and enclosures to interact and record his biological subjects. Reinhard Valle approaches customization in a more commercial sense with his personalized putters. Using input from customers, as well as his PCNC 770, Reinhard Putters makes functional and balanced golf clubs with an artful twist. Nate Kossak of Ideas Squared has taken this small-run manufacturing idea to the community. “We are proponents of ‘neighborhood manufacturing,’ and we’re trying to offer a place where the community can fulfill their low to medium manufacturing needs,” he explains. “We achieve this by providing a place where people can do some of the manufacturing on their own.” Often, major manufacturing partnerships are still needed to develop billion-dollar companies, but those cumbersome organizations are beginning to feel the heat from start-up companies that are enabled through personal machining and manufacturing. While some small organizations will still only look to be bought out by the bigger players, many start-ups are seeing light of real profits without selling out. Thanks to more accessible tools that enable ideas, the next Apple or GE could be in your neighbor’s garage.

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