We have some exciting new developments that are worth mentioning.
We’ve been working hard on cutting down lead times on our products. I can remember about a year ago when every order was on about a 3 week lead time, but we have since increased inventory levels, moved to a new facility, and made new investments in production equipment. Some orders even ship the same day we get them in now. We had the Power Route cut down to a week or so lead time until we got hit with a huge rush of orders on them earlier this month. The goal over the next month is to produce enough of those so we can ship those almost as ordered too.
Great employees and improved production processes have allowed us to start working on new products. The next machine that we manufacture will be a plasma cutter. Expect it to have a range of around 2’x2′ and a unique, space saving design. I haven’t decided if we will package it with a plasma power supply or let the customer supply his or her own, but I know with the right unit you’ll be able to cut 3/4″ steel plate. If we do bundle a plasma power supply with it, I’ll make sure it cuts at least 3/8”. There are still a lot of the design elements to work out, but the core of the mechanical system has already been prototyped and some of the prototype electronics came in yesterday. As much as I want this to be ready right now, it will be a process. I know from experience with the M3, Carve King, and Power Route that this machine will see several different conceptions in CAD and prototypes before it reaches production.
It may seem unusual that we are going with a plasma cutter as our next development project since a poll I ran a few months ago had “5 axis machine” as the #1 response for the next machine customers wanted from us. There is even the early stages of a 5 axis machine living on my computer in CAD. During all this though, I visited another shop to look at a hobby-level 5 axis machine they had. I looked it over and decided that with the right modifications it would actually be a really good machine. We have one in the shop right now torn apart as we make our list of improvements and tweaks we want to make to the machine, which is an import. This represents a big change for us. The core of our business is manufacturing CNC machines right here in our machine shop in Georgia (this will remain the core of the business), but I see this machine as a great way to offer customers a 5 axis machine that many have been asking about since the poll was published. The plan is to buy them, add some rigidity where it counts, make a couple control modifications, QC check each unit, and pair it with a control computer with a screen-set ready for 5 axis control. Our sister company will be taking care of the procurement and modifications end of things and we’ll be listing it on our website. This one will probably beat the plasma machine we are developing to market since the 5 axis machine is already “90%” there. Look for us to start taking orders possibly as early as next month.
We get contacted by a lot of people who are looking to do serious metal work. Our machines are darn good for what they are and the price we charge, but I always tell people that high volume steel work should be left to a full-fledged industrial mill. A lot of customers have convinced me that we understate the capability of our machines, such as this M3 customer who cuts titanium. Yet, being involved in production work myself, I know that there’s no substitute for a really heavy duty cast iron mill when you’re planning to do extra tight tolerance metal work, or a lot of it. Enter the Torus Pro Industrial Mill.
There’s one “major” player in the market for milling machines that a small shop or “high end” home hobbyist can afford. Yet, John at Novakon has developed a damn serious milling machine that I think outshines that “major” company in essentially every way. I’ve been watching videos of his Torus Pro for a while,and he and I had a few conversations. Earlier this weak I drove to North Carolina to look at the machine and see their operation. I was impressed with the machine, the operation, as well as John at Novakon and his associates. Today we finalized our first round of purchases. I’ll be placing this machine in our machine shop to showcase its capabilities. We didn’t even need another mill in the shop as we already have some big industrial mills that we use in production, but I know that the Torus Pro will be a productive asset too. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to talk more about this machine. We have them available for purchase now. Check out the specs on this monster here.
Finally, I want to thank our customers for helping make this possible. When we sold our first machine ever back in July of 2016 (to this guy who still uses the M3 in his business), I never dreamed it would grow to what it has. Your support has allowed us to gain market share in our own competitive space and expand into new ones. Thanks for that.