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  1. #1
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    Default purchase plasma table

    Hi, we are in the market for a small CNC plasma table, about 4 x 4. preferably one that will let you index a sheet for the VERY few larger parts we do. Need to burn up to 0.5" but most work will be with 16 gauge steel.

    We are NOT after the low end stepper machines made in China. OTOH, this will be low volume production, only a part or two a week on average. of course, it will be steady by jerks. Not get used, then get a job and run a bunch.

    Any suggestions on what we should consider?

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    Not sure what your budget is but we just spend $130,000 on a high def cnc plasma table 5x10

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    I guess we'll start at $25K, and then move up if nothing fits the bill. Yep, knew hi def would be too spendy.

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    I can tell you what not to buy. Piranha https://piranhafab.com/plasma/ We have the c series table at work. Below is from my conversations with the operators and first hand experience

    The training, guy came out from factory. Spent most of the day on the phone trying to figure things out. Gave us a very short demo at end. Certainly not the 8 hours we has coming.

    The software, nothing but problems. It will randomly skip features. But if re run it may or may not do them. Other issues as well. The offline software has to be rebooted and often wont produce code. When you call them they tell you to go to the online forum and ask questions.

    The machine, constantly have to fiddle with connections, grounds etc. Identical parts run consecutively without fiddling with control will produce very different cut quality. Think the THC is barely working if at all.

    Control... First page shows piranha. But when you get a few screens in chinese characters.

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    Do NOT get a table without a THC. You need to be able to probe the piece and have it adjust the arc based on voltage. I've built a few tables over the years and you can put together something really nice for say 5 grand plus a plasma. I've always owned Hypertherm machines and have had great success with them. They are over built and I've never managed to time one out on duty cycle.

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    Big thanks on the piranha experience. that was one we looked at. Looked to me like it was a stepper only control - no feedback. I will cross this one off.

    Yep, I am sure you can build one cheaper. In our case, we'd rather make and sell parts with that time. but yep, THC is a must.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardplates View Post
    Do NOT get a table without a THC. You need to be able to probe the piece and have it adjust the arc based on voltage. I've built a few tables over the years and you can put together something really nice for say 5 grand plus a plasma. I've always owned Hypertherm machines and have had great success with them. They are over built and I've never managed to time one out on duty cycle.
    What did you use for a thc? I am seeing new shopbuilt models offered all over craigslist. Look hobby level at best. Wonder what control and THC they use?

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    Watching. I just ordered new drives and controller to hopefully bring my machine from hobby level to light commercial.

    Sent from my SM-G930R4 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mebfab View Post
    What did you use for a thc? I am seeing new shopbuilt models offered all over craigslist. Look hobby level at best. Wonder what control and THC they use?
    I built my own THC with a 4 channel comparator board and some caps, resistors and a potentiometer. If you wanted to get fancy you could do it with an Arduino fairly easily. Why the cheap ones seem to start at $300 is beyond me. There is definitely lots of total crap out there. IMO a plasma table is the perfect use for cheap linear rails the hobby guys put on mills. Last table I built was around 52" x 52" and there may have been $1000 in 20mm and 16mm linear rails.

    There is nothing wrong with steppers on a plasma table if they are sized and set up correctly since there are zero cutting forces involved. I run 1600 ipm rapids with steppers. I have servos for the table but never bothered putting them on cause it works fine how it is and has made me loads of money.

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    Theres a guy close to me using a tracker table, he does quite a bit of work with it. These are only like 10 grand and he seems to be getting great results.

    I think these use hybrid steppers with encoders, probably no better performance then steppers but at least there is feedback and should be no loss of steps. I really hate steppers, but id probably give the hybrids a shot on something simple like a plasma table.

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    I bought a "Plasmacam" a few years back, it was nothing but problems and poor support. I think it cost around 15k then you had to buy a plasma cutter, I got a hypertherm. You have to take apart the plasmacutter and modify it to work with the plasmacam. It would work great for a while then dive into the part wrecking it and the tips. 2 years of screwing around with it and sending parts back and forth to Colorado, I sold a few hundred dollars worth of parts with it, ran ad after ad and finally was able to sell it for 4k

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    The maker of my router table does Plasma if I were looking for plasma I would at least see what they had Shop Sabre. I don't have a Plasma table or know anything about them but this company has free tech support they are made in the US and they answer the phone.

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    A friend has a ShopSabre Sidekick 8. The 4x4 version is about $12k I think. It uses a Hypertherm torch and has THC. The control is WinCNC and is running pulse/direction servos. The control has a few quirks, but for Plasma cutting it's decent. I haven't measured parts to be able to tell you the accuracy, but it's "good enough" for the work he does.

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    Dynatorch 4x4 superbee table would work well for what you guys are wanting but unfortunately they just closed up shop. We have a 4x8 version. We've had it for 4 years. Its been a great machine. The head tech guy is taking them over so it may be a while before he gets up and running.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanielG View Post
    A friend has a ShopSabre Sidekick 8. The 4x4 version is about $12k I think. It uses a Hypertherm torch and has THC. The control is WinCNC and is running pulse/direction servos. The control has a few quirks, but for Plasma cutting it's decent. I haven't measured parts to be able to tell you the accuracy, but it's "good enough" for the work he does.
    I was curious so I just looked at their site it looks like they have 2 levels the side kick is their lower cost version start about 13K Shop Master is their upper level and they start about 32K. I use the Wincnc control on my router and I like it, it is pretty easy to learn especially with the Vectric software. MY Router is their IS 510 it is al servo driven and ball screw no racks or stepper motors. It makes good parts for me I have had it since 2014.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardplates View Post
    I built my own THC with a 4 channel comparator board and some caps, resistors and a potentiometer. If you wanted to get fancy you could do it with an Arduino fairly easily. Why the cheap ones seem to start at $300 is beyond me. There is definitely lots of total crap out there. IMO a plasma table is the perfect use for cheap linear rails the hobby guys put on mills. Last table I built was around 52" x 52" and there may have been $1000 in 20mm and 16mm linear rails.

    There is nothing wrong with steppers on a plasma table if they are sized and set up correctly since there are zero cutting forces involved. I run 1600 ipm rapids with steppers. I have servos for the table but never bothered putting them on cause it works fine how it is and has made me loads of money.
    What are you using for the actual motion? Belts seem forgiving but unreliable, screws seem impossible to keep clean as does rack and pinion.

    Sent from my SM-G930R4 using Tapatalk

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    If you want industrial quality, and are willing to pay for it, call these guys- The Aviator DSD/DXD CNC Plasma Cutting System : C&G Systems

    I have a machine of theirs I bought in 1992, its actually optical trace, not full cnc, but its pretty bulletproof. The only thing that has ever given me trouble is the pickup board that goes inside your plasma cutter to sense voltage for the THC, and that is not really an issue with their current machines at all.
    They charge real money, though. Not a garage startup, they have been building cutting tables since the 60s.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    What are you using for the actual motion? Belts seem forgiving but unreliable, screws seem impossible to keep clean as does rack and pinion.

    Sent from my SM-G930R4 using Tapatalk
    I've played with them all and my current setup is steel core timing belts on X and Y and ballscrew on Z. Belts get a bad rap from people under sizing them and not using the correct type. Proper belts are $$$ Forget the 3d printer type belts and think more along the lines of sprint car motor

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    Quote Originally Posted by kustomizer View Post
    I bought a "Plasmacam" a few years back, it was nothing but problems and poor support. I think it cost around 15k then you had to buy a plasma cutter, I got a hypertherm. You have to take apart the plasmacutter and modify it to work with the plasmacam. It would work great for a while then dive into the part wrecking it and the tips. 2 years of screwing around with it and sending parts back and forth to Colorado, I sold a few hundred dollars worth of parts with it, ran ad after ad and finally was able to sell it for 4k
    Quote Originally Posted by Mebfab View Post
    I can tell you what not to buy. Piranha Piranha Plasma Tables: HD CNC Plasma Cutter Tables We have the c series table at work. Below is from my conversations with the operators and first hand experience

    The training, guy came out from factory. Spent most of the day on the phone trying to figure things out. Gave us a very short demo at end. Certainly not the 8 hours we has coming.

    The software, nothing but problems. It will randomly skip features. But if re run it may or may not do them. Other issues as well. The offline software has to be rebooted and often wont produce code. When you call them they tell you to go to the online forum and ask questions.

    The machine, constantly have to fiddle with connections, grounds etc. Identical parts run consecutively without fiddling with control will produce very different cut quality. Think the THC is barely working if at all.

    Control... First page shows piranha. But when you get a few screens in chinese characters.
    Oh my.....I got (2) torchmate systems up & running, and they are horrible. They doo all those things.

    I thought they were the only brand to exhibit all these problems.

    as far as opening up the hypertherm supply, yes, torchmate does this...even thought there is a very nice amphenol plug
    on back just for CNC.

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    Reconsider a 5 x 10 table. Cutting down sheets will get old very quickly. Also don't forget about sheet handling equipment. Magnets work, but I really love my (3) 12 inch vacuum cups mounted on a spreader bar with forklift pockets.


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