This machine was reviewed as part of our 2017 Desktop Fabrication Shootout. See more machines in our 3D Printer Guide and non-3D printer reviews here.


Most of the CNC machines that we test are targeted towards cutting wood, plastic, and other sheet material, with the possibility of light metalworking. The Tormach PCNC 440, on the other hand, is purpose-built for cutting metals — and lots of it. Metal is hard, and so is working with it, but in trained hands the 440 is production ready. However, getting your skills up to speed can come with a few bumps in the road.

Money Well Spent

The deluxe packages may double the cost of this machine, but the included specialty tools (measurement gauges, an auto coolant system, an enclosure, a selection of end mills, collets, and tool holders, etc.) are well worth it.

The most important accessory included in the deluxe package is the control system. A custom PC comes with Tormach’s Path Pilot software pre-installed. On first boot, you will choose which machine you are connecting to and it will load up all the configurations to run it. One thing to keep in mind if you decide not to order a deluxe package: The PCNC 440 connects to your computer with a DB25 cable, which has been long phased out from your average PC. The frame and table of the PCNC 440 are cast iron and you need an engine hoist to lift and move the machine, so you should definitely consider purchasing the stand.

Metal Tests Your Mettle

In our tests, cutting wood was smooth and easy — it felt as if you could just crank up the speed and it would still cut like it was passing through tissue paper (although I wouldn’t suggest doing so). Moving to aluminum, however, was a pretty steep learning curve. Tormach has a few very good instructional videos on their site and a great community independently generating content. I would love to see Tormach create example aluminum projects that are set up to use their included bits and tools.

Spending time on the PCNC 440, I know I have a lot to learn, but the machine has a lot to reward anyone interested in putting forth the effort.

Details

Manufacturer: Tormach

Base Price: $4,950

Price as Tested: $9,895

Accessories Included at Base Price: None

Additional Accessories Provided for Testing: Deluxe package: control system, mills, vice, and numerous tools

Build Volume: 254×158×254mm

Materials Handled: This machine will work with just about anything you throw at it — wood, metal, plastics, wax, foam, etc.

Work Untethered? No

Onboard Controls? E-stop and activation button only

Design Software: The PCNC 440 comes with a yearlong license for Fusion 360, which can be used for design but is also the primary CAM package for the 440

Cutting Software: Path Pilot from Tormach

OS: Path Pilot comes installed on its own control machine

Firmware: Proprietary

Open Software? No

Open Hardware? No

Pro Tips

Measure your movements before attempting your first cut. There is a known issue that some machines are shipped with incorrect step settings. This was the case with the unit we received.

Why to Buy

The PCNC 440 puts the power of industrial-grade CNC metalworking in a package that can fit in almost anyone’s garage or workshop.