cnc plasma table recommendations wanted
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  1. #1
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    Default cnc plasma table recommendations wanted

    I am looking at getting a CNC plasma table for the educational institution where I work. Any recommendations?

    max size would probably be 4x4' we don't have much room for more than that. I have perused some of the offerings available, but don't really know where to begin because there is so much out there.

    Money may or may not be an issue, so I'm interested in some quality options, both low and high priced. I don't mind a kit that I have to spend a day bolting together if it has high quality components that won't wear out and break in short order.

    I have seen a few machines that can take a router head also and be switched over to do CNC routing of wood/MDF/acrylic, having a more versatile machine, even if it is not the fastest thing on the market would be interesting.

    My main interest is that I already have a ton of equipment to maintain, so I am looking for something reliable and well made, with good availability of replacement parts if anything breaks/wears out.

    we currently have a thermal dynamics powermax 1000G3 machine with manual torch, and would be looking to adapt that for use with a machine torch on this CNC system.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

    -jon

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    at the very least, can someone point me to a web page or other info source that will inform me about the different options I should look for, such as the advantages/disadvantages of various types of motors/rails/etc?

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    Look for one with USA components only. Any machine that uses a G540 avoid and any machine that doesnt even look stout ...avoid. Does it have a real rail? Does it come with torch height control?

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    what is a "real rail" I have never done anything with this stuff before, total newb here on this.

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    I setup a torchmate cnc plasma machine for my college last year.

    I thought construction was reasonably good. I was very impressed with customer service when I called for help trouble shooting and issue we were having. The machine hasn't be run super hard but there also haven't been any issues with it thus far. We got the 4 x 4 model.


    Website : Torchmate CNC plasma cutters, CNC cutting systems, CNC plasma tables, and CNC Routers.


    Steven
    Last edited by Flying Freak; 10-30-2012 at 08:43 PM. Reason: Added website

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedie View Post
    Look for one with USA components only. Any machine that uses a G540 avoid and any machine that doesnt even look stout ...avoid. Does it have a real rail? Does it come with torch height control?
    Why the Gecko hate?

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    I have been running a C&G since 1992. Made in america, industrial quality, used it this evening. Not cheap.

    Plasma Metal Cutting Machines, Plasma Metal Cutting Systems, Plasma Metal Cutters, Metal Plasmas C&G Systems

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenbuggy View Post
    Why the Gecko hate?
    Why would you say that?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Freak View Post
    I setup a torchmate cnc plasma machine for my college last year.

    I thought construction was reasonably good. I was very impressed with customer service when I called for help trouble shooting and issue we were having. The machine hasn't be run super hard but there also haven't been any issues with it thus far. We got the 4 x 4 model.


    Website : Torchmate CNC plasma cutters, CNC cutting systems, CNC plasma tables, and CNC Routers.


    Steven
    USA made CHECK!
    THC included NO
    Real rail NO

    Get something that uses Hiwin or another rail with scrapers

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenbuggy View Post
    Why the Gecko hate?

    I'm with greenbuggy. GeckoDrives are excellent stepper controllers. The choice for many cncrouter designs and very reliable, with excellent customer service. Granted the G540 is their lower power step controller, but I have a 213v(7amp max) and could not be more pleased. Please don't write gecko off completely. Their larger drives do require a heatsink, as they don't come with one, but that isn't rocket science (any cpu heatsink will work)

    I have nothing to gain with this endorsement, just a satisfied customer. This is the first time I have heard anyone not care for the geckos. You definitely want to avoid any with the cheap Chinese chopper drives that have a high rate of failure and a high tendency for resonating. The gecko's are a PWM drive that microsteps when moving slow and morphs into full step at higher speeds to maximize power/torque, thereby minimizing motor resonance.

    Now that I think about it, maybe he is referring to the G540 in the sense that it would mean the plasma table is stepper controlled, not servo w/encoder feedback, which he may prefer.

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    For a learning institution and light (under 5/8") plate, the Samson tables are pretty reasonable. They have height control. 5X10 table with plasma cutter came in at about 12k if I remember correctly. It's a toy compared to the 140k table that we originally had in the budget, but it has got us out of a few jams.
    i_r_

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Freak View Post
    I setup a torchmate cnc plasma machine for my college last year.

    I thought construction was reasonably good. I was very impressed with customer service when I called for help trouble shooting and issue we were having. The machine hasn't be run super hard but there also haven't been any issues with it thus far. We got the 4 x 4 model.


    Website : Torchmate CNC plasma cutters, CNC cutting systems, CNC plasma tables, and CNC Routers.


    Steven
    A friend recommended the same earlier. did yours have a z-axis/torch height control, or is that something that needs to be done manually? price is more than reasonable at about $5k, but not sure what else I should be looking at beyond the base model.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedie View Post
    USA made CHECK!
    THC included NO
    Real rail NO

    Get something that uses Hiwin or another rail with scrapers
    what is "real rail"? what is THC? do you have any specific machines that you would recommend?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JidoukaSS View Post
    I'm with greenbuggy. GeckoDrives are excellent stepper controllers. The choice for many cncrouter designs and very reliable, with excellent customer service. Granted the G540 is their lower power step controller, but I have a 213v(7amp max) and could not be more pleased. Please don't write gecko off completely. Their larger drives do require a heatsink, as they don't come with one, but that isn't rocket science (any cpu heatsink will work)

    I have nothing to gain with this endorsement, just a satisfied customer. This is the first time I have heard anyone not care for the geckos. You definitely want to avoid any with the cheap Chinese chopper drives that have a high rate of failure and a high tendency for resonating. The gecko's are a PWM drive that microsteps when moving slow and morphs into full step at higher speeds to maximize power/torque, thereby minimizing motor resonance.

    Now that I think about it, maybe he is referring to the G540 in the sense that it would mean the plasma table is stepper controlled, not servo w/encoder feedback, which he may prefer.
    Nothing wrong with the Gecko company. The G540 is definately not suited for plasma.

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    Thanks for your input, i_r_machinist. what is the benefit of height / z-axis control? I imagine we will use this machine pretty much exclusively for flat sheet stock, and we will not be cutting over 5/8" plate, as we are probably not going to get a second plasma cutter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedie View Post
    Nothing wrong with the Gecko company. The G540 is definately not suited for plasma.
    I've seen this come up here a couple times lately, and I think that if you want to be taken seriously you should at least give us some sort of explanation as to why you feel that way, or what makes the 540 different from other Gecko products that makes it unsuitable for a plasma table (if it wasn't in JidoukaSS' post)

    Geckos pack a lot of power in a small package, are US made and very reasonably priced (and while I don't have anything to gain by this endorsement either, they had the best cost/benefits ratio I could find when seeking drives for my CNC retrofit - though I know nothing about the 540 since I bought 320X's for my mill) Their inclusion in a lot of hobbyist-grade machines or DIY conversions is no reason to discount them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedie View Post
    Nothing wrong with the Gecko company. The G540 is definately not suited for plasma.
    Agreed(maybe). Their larger drives(203,213) are definitely suited for a 4'x4' table as there is no cutting load, just the gantry. Many cnc routers use geckos and can get few 100lbs of cutting force(granted gecko 213 with nema 34 motors) But I can't see why a G540 w/nema 23 motor(cutting force probably under 100lbs) couldn't push the torch head around, with no cutting load; it really all depends on the application and what kind of speed you want to get.(there are a lot of variables)
    Would we all like servos? Yes, but the cost and complexity may be prohibitive for some.

    For anchorman, if you find a table that is stepper controlled, and it has these drives(see pics) RUN!!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails cnc-control-4axis-stepper-driver.jpg  
    Last edited by JidoukaSS; 10-30-2012 at 11:47 PM. Reason: clarification

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    The G540 does not have an isolated power supply. The inputs will use a 48V power supply as their ground and as their safety ground. Once you get some stray frequency you start to degrade the inputs to the point they burn out. The system will move anything around but is not made for certian applicaitons. It may even last a *while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JidoukaSS View Post
    Agreed(maybe). Their larger drives(203,213) are definitely suited for a 4'x4' table as there is no cutting load, just the gantry. Many cnc routers use geckos and can get few 100lbs of cutting force(granted gecko 213 with nema 34 motors) But I can't see why a G540 w/nema 23 motor(cutting force probably under 100lbs) couldn't push the torch head around, with no cutting load; it really all depends on the application and what kind of speed you want to get.(there are a lot of variables)
    Would we all like servos? Yes, but the cost and complexity may be prohibitive for some.

    For anchorman, if you find a table that is stepper controlled, and it has these drives(see pics) RUN!!
    Servos require reduction and that gets expensive. A servo is either on or off and requires an encoder for movement. This also does not guarantee position which is one of the sale hypes you hear in the CNC world. Without a scale to check actual position and a feedback logic you are not guaranteed position with a servo. A solid developed torque curve where you running your table rapids is always a good bet.


    Look if you want a plasma that will last you a long time that is a different ballgame. If you want to cut for a year then move on you can buy just about anything on the market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anchorman View Post
    A friend recommended the same earlier. did yours have a z-axis/torch height control, or is that something that needs to be done manually? price is more than reasonable at about $5k, but not sure what else I should be looking at beyond the base model.

    Our machine does not have z axis control setting the height is very simple and for out application (cutting sheet metal) Iv never really seen a need for it. That being said I know that you can get it with the extra axis.

    For our use i think this machine will serve very well. Its not a production environment its used to quickly cut out sheets for projects.


    One thing to note: Make sure you got a good air compressor we had some issues with ours not being able to keep up.


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