M version ATC Reliability

I got a hold of an older PCNC 1100 series 3 that you can install a retrofitted ATC on. Every person I talked to that had installed an ATC on their machine said it was finnicky and didn’t work and wasn’t worth getting. From what I’ve read the first generation of ATC was made by a different company with the 2nd generation designed for the M models being made in house.

What I want to know is if the new ATC is reliable enough to justify spending $5k on or if I’m just going to end up like my friends and just hide it away in a box in storage.

You didn’t specify what tool holder you are running.

If it is TTS…I can speak to a Tormach TTS ATC on a 440, used for what I would categorize as a prototyping use case with a “green” operator/CAM programmer, which means that every time I hit cycle start…it’s still a bit of a dice roll if everything is going to work out “perfectly”… :rofl:

As I worked through troubleshooting mine, I ran across similar opinions online. If I had the option to switch to a BT30 with the taper, I would do that, since it allows for more “play” when the spindle goes down to pick up the tool and less likelihood for broken plastic mounting bolts / carousel tool holders. Once I really took the time to properly adjust mine 100%, it has been working reliably and no more broken forks or plastic hex bolts. I would get the TTS setup tool if it’s not included in the kit.

The only recent issue was with a tool being pulled out during operation (which caused other issues) where it had slipped down and wouldn’t go into the carousel and didn’t break anything.

I have a 770M with ATC that I’m fond of. The nature of TTS doesn’t leave much room for error so it does require more maintenance than I would like but it’s no where near as bad as the stories I hear of older setups. That said, I have never had to mess with the ATC on the 1100MX in the showroom and it gets plenty of action.
Therefore, if you are buying a machine based on the least amount of headaches with the tool changer then I would say buy an MX. However, if the decision is between manual tool changes and an M style tool changer then I would argue that having to mess with the ATC every now and again is worth it.
Note: I work here and didn’t pay for any of the ATCs I interact with so I haven’t had to evaluate them in the frame of dollars per nonsense

Whats the tts setup tool? You mean the tool offset scale?

Thats a 770m with tts right?


Didn’t have it on hand. Don’t know if it ships with the ATC kit you buy.

You could try and use a tube or something else (I tried that) but for the $ it’s pretty convenient to not have to fab something to set it up and know your alignment tool is up to spec.

Yes. M is TTS. MX is BT30

The tech that came to fix my machine said the #1 issue with the tormach tool changers is that people don’t have enough air. He said the small compressors pressure drops before the cycle finishes and they end up erroring out. #2 was alignment. He said once it’s aligned properly there aren’t many problems if there is enough air.

You could always build your own. Quite a number of people have gone this route now. DIY ATC for Tormach mills | Facebook

1 Like

For the diy approach I liked this one.

This is a baller solution

Regarding #1, a standard issue 115V 20 gallon 1.5HP that is my spare/portable has worked without issue. It is significantly louder than the suggested California Air Tools.

I’ve looked at getting something quieter with similar airflow to be able to run ATC and MQL but you run into the standard triad choice:

  • High airflow
  • Low noise
  • Low price

Choose two…

I purchased the TTS 12 tool changer for the 1100S3 mill. The internal air line connections leaked like a sieve, I don’t know if the company that manufactured the tool changer actually did an air test of each changer before shipping. A little soppy water helped locate the leaks and they were fixed. Now the ATC holds air pressure and the compressor doesn’t run as frequently.

As mentioned the alignment is complex, but once completed the ATC is very reliable.
On the 1100S3 mill you may need to check that the spindle power cable that exits the spindle enclosure does not hit the ATC during some Z axis travel.
The 12 tool ATC has a much simpler power drawbar interface, which is a great improvement over the stock 1100S3 power drawbar control.

Be aware the air blast that is used to clean the TTS holders has no way to adjust the blast pressure, and can be very noisy and can consume a lot of air. I added a flow control to the air blast circuit so that I can adjust the amount of air used during the tool change.

As a side note the recommended air filter/regulator/lubricators supplies lubricated air to the air blast circuit. After a long time of doing tool changes you can see the results of oil laden air on the TTS tool holders.

I modified the air blast to only use dry filtered air this now keeps the TTS shanks dry and clean.