CNC Mill Vote 2017

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Andrew Camardella, Tucker Tomlinson


  • Open for discussion:
  • Language Locked: January 4, 2018
  • Vote: January 9, 2018


Anyone that wants to get training under this vote, as mentioned in the language, can apply using this form:


Pumping Station One has long had a rational need for a CNC machine capable of cutting parts out of metals such as aluminum, brass, and steel. At least two attempts have been made towards this end: Circa 4 years ago, a member donated a Grizzly mill with a ballscrew kit for CNC conversion. The motor on that machine burned out, and it has been defunct for the last 4-years. More recently, a vote was passed to fund the purchase of a used CNC mill. The funds allocated were only adequate for an older, non-operational machine. That vote resulted in the acquisition of the Bridgeport Series I Interact that currently resides in the shop.

General Motivation

There are several reasons to pursue the acquisition of a new CNC machine: safety, ease of use, and reliability are prime among those. A new machine will help to alleviate the safety and reliability concerns associated with Pumping Station One’s existing options. Purchasing a new machine will also open up additional training resources which will improve Pumping Station One’s ability to get novice users up-to speed and allow avid users to explore more advanced training opportunities. There is also a difference in the type of support available to users, with Manufacturers like Tormach and Haas providing factory training courses, community colleges offering training on these machines, and online communities like practical machinist with specific experience in the machines in question. An ancillary benefit that may not be immediately apparent is that many CNC operator jobs ask for some years of direct experience operating modern CNC machines. While training is available from several places, there is little opportunity for young machinists to practice with CNC technology and gain this experience. In keeping with Pumping Station One’s educational goal, a new CNC would enable members interested in a job in the trades to develop their skills with demonstrable projects, enabling them to apply for more selective jobs.

Current Situation

Both the Grizzly and Series 1 Bridgeport have serious limitations and have suffered multiple mechanical failures. In the case of the Grizzly, it will not be cost effective to repair the current damage when compared to the cost of a new Grizzly mill. In the case of the Series 1 Bridgeport, despite extensive effort by the membership and 2 different danger committees, the machine has never been fully operational, with new failures appearing regularly. We should consider the fact that both the Grizzly and Series 1 Bridgeport will forever be project machines, with all the idiosyncrasies and quirks of hacked machines but with the added danger of metalworking CNC.

Additionally, neither machine has an enclosure with electronic safety lockouts, tool changer or flood coolant-- all features considered standards for safe use on modern CNC mills. While it is conceivable that we could retrofit either machine with these safety features, this places both machines firmly in the position of ‘projects’ rather than tools.

Lastly, both the Grizzly and Series 1 machines have essentially no extant material available to assist in training users. While some information is generic, and will be transferable from machine to machine, it is preferable to have specific instructional materials for the machine to be used. If Pumping Station One choses to maintain either the Grizzly, or the Series 1 Bridgeport, Pumping Station One will need to develop all the machine specific training materials in-house. In contrast, there are resources available to train users on specific modern machines.

New Equipment Options

Two prominent CNC mill manufactures are Tormach and Haas. Tormach and Haas approach Pumping Station One’s market segment from different ends of the spectrum:

  • Tormach
    • The Tormach company focuses on the garage-shop and very light industry, with the 1100 series mill being their most robust option. Tormach machines have found a place in many other hacker and makerspaces and have a good community of youtubers and users that provide an abundance of knowledge and tutorials even before those provided by Tormach themselves. The Tormach 1100 should meet the needs of all but a small few of the most demanding users, and the cost for a complete machine is in the realm of other machines Pumping Station One has purchased.
  • Haas
    • The Haas is a notably more powerful, rigid machine and has become the industry standard for CNC mills in the small shop environment in large part because of their commitment to dominating the educational landscape. Haas focuses on small to mid-sized production shops and the Mini Mill is their lightest duty option- targeted at training programs more than production. There are community college programs in Chicago that provide vocational training on use of Haas mills in the evenings, and a distribution center in Elk Grove that provides training on use of Haas machines. With these resources we believe we can create a robust authorization pipeline to increase access of this machine to as many members as possible. The downside of the Haas machine is that it is substantially more expensive than the Tormach option. Prior to this proposal Tucker Tomlinson contacted Haas to see if they might have programs for working with 501c3 charities. All of the charity from Haas, goes through the Gene Haas foundation, which is wholly owned by the Haas family. The foundation is legally prohibited from purchasing from the Haas machine tool company as that would constitute double-dealing. Instead they focus on scholarships at places that offer certification programs. Since PS1 is not equipped to offer certifications, we are ineligible for these scholarships.


We believe that the best course of action will be to allocate funds sufficient for the purchase of a CNC mill, and then contact the respective companies to see if they will agree to provide support via donations to us as a charitable organization. Since the Tormach machine is the more cost effective option, we will use that machine’s price as a basis for allocating funding. Should Haas and Tormach decide not to donate equipment with the purchase, this will allow us to still obtain a fully functional turnkey machine with a full year warranty.

We also believe that it makes sense to take advantage of the available manufacturer training in order to ensure that we are providing the best information possible during our authorizations. It is therefore sensible for Pumping station One to sponsor several individuals to attend the training courses provided by whatever manufacturer we select. This should include (if applicable) travel and housing expenses, as well as the course fees. In exchange, the individuals sponsored must agree to assist in creating a training plan and agree to be authorizers for the new machine. Generating a training plan and getting people authorized, has been difficult for other large CNC machines in the past, and sponsoring some members through manufacturer training should help bootstrap that process. Potential Locations Along the wall in cold metals- adequate 3 phase power already exists in this area, requiring only a new drop at the machine location.

Vote Language

  • Authorize the board, or an individual deputized by the board, to spend $28,500 on a CNC milling machine and related expenses.
    • Authorization to spend these funds will expire 6 months after the vote approval.
    • The purchased machine must be new or freshly rebuilt (with warranty), and must include all accessories needed to run the machine without modification or hacking
    • The purchased machine must have current factory support, and preferably be a machine that is currently in active production.
    • The purchased machine must have modern safety features such as a full enclosure, coolant and tool changer.
    • Instead of directly purchasing a machine, the Board may elect to apply for financing, either with the manufacturer, or via a 3rd party. If financed, monthly payments should not exceed $2000. In this case, the above authorization to spend $28500 is rescinded. Instead, the Board or an individual authorized by the board may spend up to $10,000 to cover setup costs not included in the financing. (e.g. shipping costs, tooling, consumables etc.)
  • Once machine is purchased, authorize the board or an individual deputized by the board to spend up to and additional $7500 to cover training expenses for 4 authorizers on the new machine.
    • Authorization to spend these funds will expire 12 months after vote approval.
    • Trained individuals must agree to serve as authorizers for at least 6 months.
    • Trained individuals must agree to act as members of the Danger Committee for the new machine, and assist the CNC and cold metals area hosts in formulating authorization plans that will work for PS1.
    • If more than 4 individuals volunteer, the CNC and cold metals area hosts will be responsible for selecting the 4 candidates.


  • Vote passes, 31 for, 12 against, 6 abstain at the January 9 member meeting


Appendix A

  • Tormach 1100 series mill Price Breakdown.
    • This information provided as a reference for the budget allocated in the vote language. The purchased machine does not need to be this exact model if a more appropriate machine becomes avilable.

PCNC 1100

  • $28,286.00 PCNC 1100 Series 3 with accessories
    • Floor Footprint 61" x 53" x 78"
    • Table Size 34” x 9.5”
    • Machine Travel 18” x 9.5” x 16.25”
    • 5140RPM 1.5Hp spindle
    • 220V 20A, 3 phase power
    • 1 year warranty
    • $8,412 Base machine
    • $1644.50 Delux machine stand with coolant kit
    • $ 2460.00 Full enclosure
    • $4200.00 Tool changer
    • $93.21 lifting bar
    • $39.95 cable kit
    • $ 715.00 path pilot controller
    • $84.02 jog shuttle
    • $32.88 usb bulkhead port assembly
    • $195 machine arm for keyboard/monitor
    • $259 touch-screen kit
    • $126.5 automatic toolchanger pressure sensor
    • $1193.5 power drawbar
    • $68.45 power drawbar foot pedal
    • $89.00 filter/regulator/lubricator
    • $495.00 5” vise
    • $14.03 vise alignment kit
    • $64.63 clamp kit
    • $795 TTS operator set
    • $173.75 TTS ER 20 collet holder
    • $372 ER collet set 30pc
    • $29.95 TTS wrench set
    • $82.38 TTS touch tool
    • $148.5 TTS super fly flycutter
    • $862.40 tool setter
    • $1,259.50
    • $10.35 floating tramp oil collection pillow
    • $34.5 machine oil
    • $29.95 1 gal coolant
    • $98.50 enclosure door switch kit
    • $1295 SprutCAM 11 - PCNC Post only
    • $79 G-wizard machinist calculator for Tormach
    • $400 Electrical
    • $1000 shipping. Goal will be to have members pick machine up directly at Tormach’s Kenosha Wisconsin facility. In that case shipping costs will be a fuel reimbursement and trailer rental.
    • 5% buffer for additional shipping and install costs
  • Quotes for Tormach training:
    • $7329 tormach factory training for 4 authorizers 3 days instruction in Kenosha Wis
      • $1295 per person Course costs
      • $150/night Hotel accommodation (assume 3 nights/authorizer)
      • 5% buffer for additional costs (e.g. transportation)
  • Total costs for Tormach system and training assuming no donated equipment:
    • $35615.00