Robots Making Robots: R2-D2 in All Aluminum

Video game company co-founder and Tormach PCNC 1100 owner Jesse Hayes of Rohnert Park, California just put the finishing touches on a project a year in the making—an all-aluminum re-build of R2-D2. Documented on his R2-D2 build blog and with the help of, an R2-D2 builders club, Hayes answered a few questions about his CNC background and experience as well as a few other projects he’s currently working on.

How did you hear about Tormach? I learned about Tormach though heavy Internet research, including feedback from other users and on various forums. Tormach seems to have a very loyal user base and after owning my own Tormach PCNC 1100 for a while now I can see why.

Were there any particular factors in deciding to purchase a Tormach mill (footprint, electrical, cost)?

The working envelope and accuracy vs. cost were the major factors for me. I also had heard so much good word of mouth about Tormach and its customer support. Ultimately that is what pushed me over the edge to make the purchase. Also the accessories and upgrades are something I was (and am) still very interested in. I’m looking at getting a 4th Axis very soon.

What is your PCNC background? What do you enjoy most about your job?

I actually don't have much machining background other than High School shop class. However from an early age I've always created things from electronics, models, woodworking, etc. By day I’m the co-founder of a video game company and our products are virtual so I find it very enriching to create real tangible objects/projects in my spare time. I found using/learning the Tormach system and SprutCAM incredibly easy to get into. Even with no real experience.

What types of projects are you currently working on?

I work on all sorts of different projects. I just finished up a life-size all aluminum R2-D2 where I used the Tormach to machine many of the various parts. I’ve also created other movie prop replicas using my mill. I also am an avid astrophotographer and have used the Tormach to machine camera housings and other telescope parts. Beyond that, I also dabble in gunsmithing and have designed and milled an AR-15 Lower Receiver from scratch.

Do you face any unique design challenges (complex parts with tight tolerances)?

Many of the telescope and gunsmithing parts I've created have required very tight tolerances and highly accurate mating surfaces. The Tormach PCNC 1100 mill has delivered every time with no issues. It is incredibly liberating to have the ability to create and prototype extremely accurate and high quality parts on the fly. Owning a CNC mill has really opened my eyes as a hobby engineer. I think differently now. When I look at a product or a part, I always think how could I make that better and the PCNC 1100 gives me the chance to make it happen.