It’s that time of year once again. And let’s be honest, most of the folks reading this are looking for goodies to buy themselves for the holidays… but we figured it was easier to justify a purchase to your significant other if it was on a list from a trusted resource. Right?
While we sell some of these items here at Tormach, none of them are official Tormach products, which makes them officially “aftermarket.” We work with a number of partners to provide the best products to all skill sets, and these are some of the best products out there that can help bring your CNC work to the next level.
You want the best possible way to keep your tools organized? Kaizen foam is unquestionably your answer.
This stuff is simple and straightforward - all the best tools are. You figure out the layout of your tools within your workbench or tool chest, cut the shapes into the Kaizen foam, and fill the spaces with the tools that fit. This way, your tools always have a home, and if there is an empty spot in your drawer, you know exactly which tool is wandering the shop.
TalonGrip Vice Jaws from Mitee-Bite
You know the name Mitee-Bite. If you don’t, a quick Google search will reveal the broad array of ways these little workholding wonders can help you hold parts, even if you don’t have a lot of material to grab.
These vise jaws allow you to leverage Mitee-Bite holding power with a vise - providing you with flexibility while lessening some of the traditional headaches of using a vise.
Pierson Pallet System
The Pierson Pallet System provides an incredibly secure way to use pallets in your machining work. A pallet system allows you to quickly and repeatably swap out your workholding. Meaning, you can prep your work outside the machine (while other parts are running) and then swap the pallets when one piece is done. It allows you to utilize the time when your CNC machine is doing its thing. While your machine makes chips, you can swap parts, increasing efficiency and the number of parts you can make with fewer machines.
The best part about the Pierson Pallet System is that it only utilizes air to open the locking system. Which means, the natural state of the workholding is in a locked, holding position. To remove the pallet, you initiate air through the system to open up the locks - bringing extra peace of mind, in case you have an unreliable air compressor.
While feeler gauges are a fairly simple tool, it’s incredibly useful. These gauge can be used to get accurate estimates for tool touch-offs or help give a better visual of just how much needs to be faced off with parts that need a better fit.
These certainly aren’t the best tool for absolute precision, but they can be handy anytime you are looking to “eyeball” something.
SMW Tooling Plates
Whether you’re looking to use some of the above workholding options or have a unique way to hold your parts, the SMW Fixture Plates provide an accessible and flat place to hold your work in a number of ways. Specially designed for Tormach machines by John Saunders, these fixture plates are made to make your machining more efficient.
We use these fixture plates throughout the Tormach facilities because when creating content, our machines need to be flexible and have the workholding replaced at any given moment. Fixture plates make that process so much easier.
Dead Blow Hammer
These hammers will get beat and chewed up in a machine shop, but they are vital to helping make sure work is set in place, as well as removing stubborn parts and tools without damage.
When you put a raw piece of stock in your machine to be cut, it’s important that things are flat. There are a number of things that can get in the way of your work sitting flat - from stray chips to a vise that is a touch too tight. A couple solid whacks from a dead blow hammer can help make sure that your work is sitting right on top of the workholding.
This inexpensive tool is essential to any shop, but they also seem to disappear often. So, it never hurts to have a couple extra lying around.
Santa Cruz Electronics ToolRack
Last but certainly not least is the ToolRack from Santa Cruz Electronics. We’ve talked a lot about efficiency on this list, and if you don’t have a lot of open bench space in your shop, this rack is a lifesaver.
Santa Cruz Electronics has designed this tool rack to mount directly to the front panel of the Tormach mills, putting your tools within arm’s reach. And, because they are a partner of Tormach, Santa Cruz Electronics has even put in the effort to make sure that the finished color will match your machine.
You’ll wonder how you ever went without having your tools so accessible!
While the microARC 4 isn't technically an aftermarket component, it is an incredibly valuable accessory. A 4th axis adds an array of new cutting angles and the ability to create multiple setups, which can help you make more accurate parts and make them faster. Plus, this unit can be used on any Tormach mill!
A 4th axis can even help add some efficiency to your day-to-day work. Read "A 4th Axis Is for More Than Just Special Use Scenarios" to see what it could do for you.
Be sure to share this list with your loved ones while you’re munching on Turkey. That way, you can get what you actually want for the holidays!