It’s about time we give our aptly named prototype Torrent CNC machine a proper introduction. Frank, the first machine to arrive in Element Machine Tools’ inventory, was and is used to test new components and technologies to be incorporated into Element’s current and future machines. It’s been thru several revisions of control panels, three motion controls, two servo systems (and ready for its third) and had its upper body removed and reattached where it shouldn’t be, or should it?

Frank with it's first control panel and getting ready for paint.

Frank with the new  paint job.

After posting pictures and a brief video of Frank with the column removed, turned 180 degrees and bolted down to the table there was some questions on why we would do this and what the machine could be used for. Here’s the how and why: Late in the afternoon on February 10, 2016 Ben and Brian were sitting in the conference room discussing how our machines might be applied to the fabrication industry, prepping for a big meeting the next day. I was in the shop quietly working on a Torrent-R. Next thing I know, the two of them come walking out into the shop, Brian calling out, “You’re gonna hate me!” This made me immediately suspicious and curious at the same time. Then he announced the idea, pick the column up, spin it around and bolt it to the table. In a period of time only measurable by heartbeats my brain raced thru a dozen possibilities for this configuration, a brief thought of “why didn’t I think of that?” and then I said, “let’s do it!” Two hours, some sparks and a bit of creative rigging and the job was done.

Modifying sheet metal for the conversion.

Repositioning for the final lift.

Rigging the column for the move.

Column temporarily fastened to the X and Y axes. Frank is ready for motion testing.

We stood around marveling at our creation discussing the possibilities of a low cost traveling column machine such as this. Sure, it isn’t as rigid as a purpose built machine, but does it need to be? It’s purpose is not for massive material removal rates on multi ton parts. The purpose is smaller, lighter and simpler. Looking at the machine the ideas started to flow; pallet systems, conveyors, table to weld parts to, a couple variations of 5 axis, a type of rotary transfer machine, add a robot or a stewart platform, etc.

The possibilities are many, we can’t possibly think of them all. How would you use this machine? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear your thoughts!