Tormach 8L CNC Lathe Review [2021]: Affordable Lathe

Tormach 8L CNC Lathe Review [2021]: Affordable Lathe

Tormach 8L CNC Lathe Review [2021]: Affordable Lathe

The Tormach 8L is a compact and entry-level professional CNC lathe from the Tormach.

The 8L in the name refers to the maximum diameter of the workpiece that can be turned, which is 8 inches. 

Tormach 8L made waves when it was launched, due to the affordable pricing.

It is the most affordable for its capacity and quality which makes it popular among hobbyists, educators, R&D, and small businesses.

You have three packages to pick from when purchasing the Tormach 8L CNC lathe, the Entry Package, the Deluxe Package, the Premium Package.

In the Entry Package, you get the desktop CNC lathe with enclosure, owner's kit, and PathPilot CNC controller for a starting price of $6,995.

The Deluxe Package with a starting price of $9,445 has storage drawers, coolant tank, a stand, separate chip drawer, waterproof keyboard and mouse, controller arm, OXA tool holder kit, LCD monitor, and deluxe professional lathe tool kit in addition to the Entry Package equipment.

Premium Package adds PathPilot Operator Console, and Coolant kit to the Deluxe package and starts at $10,615.

Tormach 8L CNC Lathe Review

For this review, I evaluated the 8L CNC lathe for its size, build quality, linear motion, material capability, controller, and ease of use.

Machine Footprint 50’’(L) x 26’’(W)
Weight838 lbs
Spindle1.5 hp, 180 - 5,000 RPM
SoftwarePathPilot Control Software
Assembly time~3 hours
Warranty1 year

Quick summary of Tormach 8L CNC Lathe

1. Size of Tormach 8L

Footprint of Tormach 8L with stand and side shelves
Footprint size of Tormach 8L with stand and side shelves

Tormach 8L CNC lathe has a footprint of 50’’(L) x 26’’(W), which means it is well suited for small shops having tight workspaces.

It weighs 838 lbs and you will need a sturdy table to place it on. The footprint is small enough to fit on most tables.

The base has 3.25” long standoffs that help you keep the CNC lathe level and also helps you mount it on tables.

The deluxe and premium package of the Tormach 8L CNC lathe comes with a lathe stand to support the CNC lathe. 

You can also choose the entry package and DIY the stand or get it done at a local shop.

The stand has a coolant tank to store flood or mist coolant required for machining. It also has a chip drawer and storage drawer.

The dimensions of the lathe machine with the stand and side shelves are 89’’(L) x 26’’(W) x 52’’(H).

The side shelves are optional, and you can remove them to reduce the length to 50 inches.

2. Material Capability

You can face, turn, bore, groove, and thread on the Tormach 8L CNC lathe.

Tormach 8L CNC lathe can cut a wide variety of materials, it can cut soft materials such as woods and plastics.

It can process hard materials like ferrous and non-ferrous metals with an HRC(Hardness Rockwell C) scale value below 60.

In perspective, high-hardness steel has an HRC of 60 and Grade-5 Titanium has an HRC of around 41.

Some of the metals that can be turned easily using Tormach 8L CNC lathe are 6061-T6 aluminum, CA 360 Brass, 304 Stainless steel, and 6AL4V Titanium. 

You can turn workpieces with a maximum length of 10" if it needs to be supported with the tailstock.

If the job does not require a tailstock, you can turn workpieces with lengths up to 16".

The maximum diameter of the workpiece that can be turned is 8 inches.

However, if you need the tool carriage to pass under the workpiece the maximum diameter reduces to 4 inches.

3. Chassis/Frame of 8L

It has an all-metal body that weighs around 838 lbs. The weight of the machine helps it to dampen any vibrations which in turn improves the accuracy of the machine.

The lathe is attached to a hand-scraped cast base that weighs 140 lbs.

It comes with an enclosure which is great for safety when you are turning metal.

The enclosure has a transparent window that allows you to watch the process safely.

4. Linear Motion

The Tormach 8L CNC lathe uses polyphase open-loop controlled stepper motors to control the X-axis and Z-axis motion.

The X-axis has 4.5 inches of travel that allows you to use the full 8” of available working diameter.

Tormach 8L has a feed rate of around 150 IPM in the X and Z axes.

It has 2-axis motion and is suitable for turning operations. You cannot use this machine for material milling.

The tailstock has a travel range of 2.2’’ and it comes with a standard MT2 taper with a 0.9’’ diameter.

Tormach 8L CNC lathe tailstock
Tormach 8L CNC lathe tailstock

5. Spindle

Spindle of Tormach 8L
Spindle of Tormach 8L

The spindle of the Tormach 8L lathe is powered by a 1.5hp (1.11 kW) AC motor that is coupled to a VFD for speed control and you can change the speed through PathPilot control software.

The spindle has a variable speed range between 180 RPM and 5,000 RPM.

There is sufficient torque for comfortable cutting in the entire speed range.

There are two speeds ranges in the 8L lathe- low range and high range.

In the low range, the lathe operates between 180 RPM and 2,500 RPM.

While in the high range, the CNC lathe operates between 350 RPM and 5,000 RPM.

Typically, low range is used for cutting hard materials and high range is used for soft materials.

You can change the spindle speed range by manually changing the belt position on the pulley.

The spindle comes with a 5C collet and can hold a workpiece with a maximum diameter of 1’’.

If you need to use the entire 8" diameter size available in the Tormach 8L lathe, you will need to purchase the three or four-jaw chuck separately.

6. Controller and Electronics

Gigabyte BRIX 1900 Mini PC running PathPilot CNC Controller
Gigabyte BRIX 1900 Mini PC running PathPilot CNC Controller

The Tormach 8L lathe machine uses a Gigabyte Brix ultra-compact PC kit which has 80GB of in-built storage.

It uses an Intel Celeron-based mini PC to run the PathPilot Software.

The mini PC acts as a CNC controller and is configured to run PathPilot CNC Control software, the proprietary software from Tormach that runs all Tormach machines.

If you choose the Premium Package you will get the PathPilot Operator Console with some additional bells and whistles and 40 GB of storage.

You can connect a jog shuttle, keyboard, mouse, and monitor to the controller to interact with it.

You can plug in Tormach 8L lathe into any standard 110V power outlet with a 15 A breaker in your house and does not require any wiring upgrades.

The stepper motors used on this CNC lathe are driven by Leadshine micro-step driver which is a premium stepper motor driver.

In terms of connectivity, it comes with WiFi, USB input/output, and a VGA card to connect a monitor.

However, you do not require an additional computer to run and control the machine and most basic designs and shapes can be programmed right from the interface on the machine.

7. Software

PathPilot Software Interface
PathPilot Software Interface

The Tormach 8L lathe machine is controlled with its proprietary PathPilot control software.

Pathpilot has a reputation for running without glitches and for being very user-friendly.

You can use this CNC software even without G-code knowledge because of its intuitive conversational programming feature (graphic interface).

This programming feature allows you to program your lathe machine without CAM/CAD software.

In conversational programming, if any of the parameters are filled incorrectly, the machine will display an error.

This makes it easy to spot errors that can be hard to spot in plain G-code.

Pathpilot comes with all the features you expect like rigid tapping, single point threading, constant surface footage, and many more.

It includes built-in Dropbox support, which enables seamless synchronization and transfer of files through different PCs.

You can add photos and videos to G-code to help you understand what a set of G-code in your program does.

  • The subroutine feature of PathPilot assists you in creating and customize subroutines for faster programming.
  • The second home positioning feature allows you to set the desired location for inspection and tool loading easily.
  • The predefined trajectory and four-axis simultaneous machining are additional features, which facilitate you with high-speed cutting.

The full-featured PathPilot software comes pre-installed on the Brix controller that is provided with the 8L CNC lathe and does not require you to install any software.

You can also upgrade to its latest version by downloading it through the website and transferring it to the controller.

The PathPilot HUB is a browser-based simulator, which means you can program from anywhere and upload your code to the controller later.

Pathpilot is a free software program and hence no yearly subscription is required like many other CNC software programs.

You can use PathPilot offline as well but if you need to use the PathPilot Hub or Dropbox features you will need an active internet connection.

8. Accessories

USB M-Code I/O Interface Kit

USB M-Code io Interface Kit
USB M-Code i/o Interface Kit

The USB M-Code i/o Interface Kit upgrade lets you control devices through M-code written in the program.

For example, if you want to use a coolant system, you can use this accessory to connect the coolant system and write M-codes in the program to turn the system on and off automatically.

It has four optically isolated inputs and four relay contact outputs to connect various devices and sensors.

This kit costs around $250 on the official website.

Electrical Noise Suppression Kit

Electrical Noise Suppression Kit
Electrical Noise Suppression Kit

It has three RC filters to suppress electrical noise created by switching on and switching off of machine contactors or any external devices connected to the equipment.

You can buy it from the official website of Tormach for around $50.

Coolant Kit

Tormach 8L Machine Stand Coolant kit
Tormach 8L Machine Stand Coolant kit

You’ll get the coolant kit as standard equipment with the Premium Package.

But if you purchased the Deluxe kit or already have the stand from Tormach you need to get this stand coolant kit that costs $295.

If you do not have the stand you can use the desktop coolant kit from Tormach that costs around $275.

Both these kits are excellent and come with a coolant pump, coolant tank, and the required pipes.

You can use it for flood cooling. It is also chip tolerant meaning you can also use it to clear the area around the cutting tool.

9. Assembly

The 8L CNC lathe machine comes almost pre-assembled with an enclosure, so the installation process is easy.

Just lift it out of the crate and set it on the workbench or tabletop.

The only assembly required is in bolting down the lathe to the base/stand, connecting the wires, and setting up PathPilot software all of which will take a maximum of three hours.

The Tormach 8L CNC lathe ships with an operator’s manual, including steps with pictures to make the task easy for you.

For the deluxe/premium package, the lathe stand is shipped in a separate crate and you will require help from a couple of people to set it up.

Further, you will need a pallet jack and engine hoist crane to place the CNC lathe onto the stand.

You can find the online version of the manual and assembly video on the official website.

10. Community

The Tormach online community is quite big and you'll find users of this lathe all over the internet.

The official YouTube channel of Tormach is also a useful resource that will keep you updated with new launch information, machining tips from experts, and success stories from Tormach users.

Tormach Labs blog includes tutorials on getting the most out of your CNC lathe.

They do not have an official community forum but they have a few active groups on Facebook where users share issues and new ideas.

11. Customer Support

Tormach 8L CNC lathe comes with a one-year warranty which covers any manufacturing defects in materials and craftsmanship.

If you need an additional 12 months of warranty you can purchase an extended warranty plan separately.

Tormach offers Tormach Technical Support to address any issues that crop up with the 8L CNC lathe.

Also, Tormach offers US-based telephone and email support to its users.

The company Tormach LLC is based in Waunakee and they offer free shipping within the US.

12. Final Thoughts

Overall, the Tormach 8L CNC is a well-built CNC lathe with a compact size.

The ease of use and conversational programming feature makes the operation of this lathe super smooth.

It is quite feature-rich and has excellent accuracy making it a good choice for prototyping and entry-level production work.

For small shops looking for an affordable solution for their turning operations, the Tormach 8L CNC lathe is a good choice that can provide near industrial-grade quality.

Below the price of the Tormach, your only options are very small CNC lathes like Sherline, Taig, and Proxxon.

Once you go beyond Tormach 8L in terms of price, almost all CNC lathes have a cost upwards of $20k.

Thus the Tormach 8L CNC is at a price that falls between highly expensive CNC lathes and very small CNC lathes, making it quite a unique value proposition.

Tormach 8L CNC lathe is designed in the US and manufactured in China.

Importantly, this helps Tormach keep the cost of this lathe affordable.

However, they have a dedicated QA team that ensures quality in the manufacturing process.

Among the packages offered by Tormach for the 8L, I recommend the deluxe package, which might be the best option for most people.

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)

Q. Is it possible to operate this lathe machine in regions with a 230v power supply (such as Europe)?

It does not come in a 230V version. You will need to add a step-down converter that conforms with your local building codes.

About John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

DIY Profile
John

Hey I'm John. I talk about CNC's and Power Tools at Mellowpine. I'm a CNC hobbyist who has been making CNC's and writing about CNC's for a while. I currently also work as a consultant for business owners and hobbyists setting up their own CNC's. If you have any questions related to CNC, I'd be happy to answer them. Reach me at john@mellowpine.com

Thanks for signing up.
Some error occured. Please try again.

Comments

Add Your Comment