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  1. #41
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    Hello all, Ive been reviewing pros and cons to several Plasma CNC's. Honestly its all a bit much, eventually I will learn the technical side of these set ups. However at this point in time im tired of subbing work out to laser companies etc. Especially for prototyping purposes the turn around just isn't there, nor the $$$. Its also hard getting accurate questions answered sometimes being salesman monitor the forums pitching there equipment. From what I have gathered I figure the main Plasma's out there are PlasmaCam,torchmate,Blaze2,Samson,Multicam,ez router. From what i see online most people have a plasma cam or torchmate. Features I am looking for, THC, Router attachment and the ability to upload DXF's do to my background in CAD. I dont want to have to set up all kinds of configurations or purchase additional equipment to make the plasma work. I just want a plug and play set up, also to be able to cut up to 3/4" plate. Say my budget is 10k what route would you go? Thank you guys for your expertise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx09 View Post
    Hello all, Ive been reviewing pros and cons to several Plasma CNC's. Honestly its all a bit much, eventually I will learn the technical side of these set ups. However at this point in time im tired of subbing work out to laser companies etc. Especially for prototyping purposes the turn around just isn't there, nor the $$$. Its also hard getting accurate questions answered sometimes being salesman monitor the forums pitching there equipment. From what I have gathered I figure the main Plasma's out there are PlasmaCam,torchmate,Blaze2,Samson,Multicam,ez router. From what i see online most people have a plasma cam or torchmate. Features I am looking for, THC, Router attachment and the ability to upload DXF's do to my background in CAD. I dont want to have to set up all kinds of configurations or purchase additional equipment to make the plasma work. I just want a plug and play set up, also to be able to cut up to 3/4" plate. Say my budget is 10k what route would you go? Thank you guys for your expertise.
    All I can say is good luck if you just want a plug and play set up. I've started from knowing zippo about it, to building my own table. Plasma cutting has a lot of complexities to it and there's only so much a ready made table and bundled software can do for you. Is there such a thing as a plug and play cnc machining centre, mill or lathe. Frequent a forum specific to cnc plasma machines and look at all the threads there. Once you've done the learning things get a lot more "plug and play" but a lot of that is coming from the operator and his knowledge. Plasmacam is one brand that make everything look so simple. I could be wrong but you may have to own one of their tables to become a member of their forum. If I am wrong then join and see what all the threads are about if everything is so plug and play. If I am right then what have they got to hide ??

  3. #43
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    It really depends on what you expect from a machine.
    If you are talking about the occasional piece of 3/4" plate, once every few weeks, that is less than a foot square, and you are ok with pretty severe draft angles, then, yeah, the low end machines you are talking about will work.

    There are two issues here- the plasma power supply, and the cutting table.

    the thickness of plate, and the quality of cut, are the department of the cutting supply. the thicker you need to cut, the bigger, and more expensive, power supply you need. 3/4", on a regular basis, means something like a hypertherm 105 at a minimum- and thats a four thousand dollar machine. For production cutting, you probably need a bigger, better, more expensive power supply for 3/4". with a machine torch, hoses and wiring, thats half your budget right there.
    My guess is you will, instead, settle for half the machine, that will do 3/8".

    Then, there is the table. The brands you listed are not the "main" plasma tables out there- they are the extreme low end, home shop models, which will work, for very low production levels, home type use. They are not production machines, and must be carefully treated. Certainly not industrial grade plug and play, which is more in the $40k to $100k range.

    All that said, for low quantity prototyping, especially in 1/4" and thinner stock, you will probably be plenty happy with a Plasma Cam or Torchmate and midrange hypertherm power supply. Dont overthink this- there is no huge difference between these machines, they are all priced pretty similarly, but those two have the most machines in the market, the biggest experience base of other users, and are relatively reliable and supported. You are not going to find a 20 grand machine for 8 grand- you will get what you pay for.

    A ten grand, industrial grade, plug and play machine that will cut 3/4" simply does not exist. The same way that you cant buy a ten grand bulldozer new, or a ten grand 1 ton dually pickup new.

  4. #44
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    Plus a lot of people new to plasma cutting don't realise how much air volume they'll need for a continuous cut. Then the conditioning of the compressed air (drying and cleaning). These are all extra expenses in addition to the table and the plasma unit (power supply). I use Candcnc electronics and software, together with Sheetcam for the cam side of things. Then of course a cad package is needed to produce your initial dxf file. The Candcnc gear is for those who are going to build there own table and is a very good system, but be prepared for a long learning curve. It's definitely not plug and play but is the closest thing to industrial control at amateur prices.

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    Good point about air- for running small (up to 1/2" thick cutting or so) plasma tables, you would want a genuine 10hp compressor (not Home Depot horsepower, which are smaller horses- maybe ponies). It should have at a minimum an 80 gallon tank- 120 gallon is better. Should be good quality, 2 stage, or even better, rotary vane- figure three to five grand, at least, for this.
    I have been running a simple Motor Guard "toilet paper" air filter since 1992 on my machine- no need, at least in my climate, for fancy air driers. You need to change the filters regularly, of course.

    Then, there is fume extraction- another few thousand or more, depending on your space and volume of cutting. Plasma cutters make a big mess. The cheapo machines dont have any spark catching to speak of- first, I would build a water table. Downdraft would be better, but complicated and expensive. Then, you need fume extraction- either big fans, lots of cfm, or electrostatic air cleaners like a smog hog. Either way, another few grand.

    Personally, I see 20 grand as a more realistic target figure to get a "plug and play" 4'x4' machine like a Samson or PlasmaCam, including software, compressor, fume extraction, initial install, and so on.

    And what about material handling? got a bridge crane? or forklift access? I schlep 4x10's or up to 1/4" or so onto my machine manually, two guys- but anything thicker, it means using the forklift. Meaning, of course, you have to have a forklift, and room to drive it up to the table.

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    Dead right - fume extraction & material handling. As someone explained it, plasma dust gets on every surface perpendicular to gravity. After one single cut it's amazing how much dust is produced. Anything drawing in air (computer, etc) had better have good filtration or be totally enclosed in a sealed container. I have 2 fans built in the wall at one end of my table but it still takes a while to clear the dust out of the air. The table is in a shed 3.8m x 3.8m. A water table is on the cards when time and money permit.

    Another person described a plasma table as an accessory for a forklift and overhead crane. I dragged a 1/8" x 4' x 8' sheet on my table. Hit home real quick about material handling doing anything thicker. No problem for bits and peices but a real consideration for standard size sheets. Then if its' applicable, there's storage of any unused / uncut sheets.

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    I don`t quite agree with the need for a 10hp compressor to cut 1/2" plate,unless 10hp in the States is a lot less than 10hp in the rest of the world.
    A rough rule of thumb for industrial quality air compressors is 4 cubic feet at 100 psi per horsepower per minute,so you`re saying at least 40 cu ft needed to cut 1/2" plate.
    My plasma runs at 100 amps on 5/8" plate from a 5hp compressor which is 60ft away on the end of a 1/2" hose and air pressure and quantity is never a problem I have.

    Edit: Have checked Hypertherm manual and air requirement for a MAX100 is 7.5 cu ft at 100 psi.

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    I just know that as a practical matter, my compressor, which is 7.5hp, runs pretty much continuously when I am doing production cutting. I certainly wouldnt want less.I briefly had my shop in a location without 3 phgase, and for a short time I used to run it on a little 2.5hp, and the duty cycle of the plasma cutter exceeded the duty cycle of the compressor by quite a bit.

    I would rather err in the direction of too much than too little. Possibly a real 5 hp would do it- I dont know. But in the USA, there are a lot of "5hp" compressors that are single stage, 2 or 3hp motors, that will not do continuous cutting.

    Again, it depends on the OP's actual requirements. I often will run the machine for hours on end, starting and stopping a lot, and find that 7.5 hp is really not enough- and this is a big, industrial, two stage compressor. Hence, my recommendation for a ten horse. I would prefer that my compressor not run over about fifty percent of the time, as I think it will wear out sooner if its running at 100% for hours on end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post
    I just know that as a practical matter, my compressor, which is 7.5hp, runs pretty much continuously when I am doi

    Snip

    I would prefer that my compressor not run over about fifty percent of the time, as I think it will wear out sooner if its running at 100% for hours on end.
    Must be a very poor quality compressor you have or a worn out plasma torch.
    I`m basing air produced on known figures from Atlas Copco.Ingersol and Broom Wade.All single stage machines,all recipocating piston compressors.I have a lot of experience of them using 5 - 300hp motors and the rule of thumb never changes,at least not in the forty odd years I`ve been at it.
    Now compressors are rated at free air deilivered or FAD as it`s known.This was a marketing ploy which started in the seventies and which was based soley on making the prices look good.
    These figures I`ve quoted don`t apply to the cheap aluminium bodied compressors which run at about 2800 rpm.These are very inefficient and short lived.
    As for time on line,Ingersol Rand publish recommended figures on run time.
    Pump up time should not exceed 30 minutes or be less than 10 minutes.Shut down time should at least be equal to pump up time.

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    No, I have a good quality cast iron two stage compressor, mine is a Johnstown, which is definitely industrial quality, and is operating correctly.
    And my torch is not worn out, consumables are changed regularly.

    Maybe in Blighty you use Imperial horsepower, and they are just bigger, more muscular horses.

    I can only tell you what my actual experience is, since buying my cutting table new in 1992. Mine, for whatever reason, uses more air. Perhaps it is because many of the things I cut require lots of starts and stops- so compressor run time, which is based on airflow both pre and post cutting, is far more than actual cut time. I may be cutting 20% of the time, but the air is running thru the tip nearly 100% of the time, as my machine runs the air for a few seconds pre cut, and then for probably thirty seconds post cut. The machine is moving to the new cut location, so the torch is off, but the air still runs at full pressure. That may just be the vagary of my machine- its a C&G- maybe they all dont work that way- but thats what mine does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ries View Post

    Maybe in Blighty you use Imperial horsepower, and they are just bigger, more muscular horses.
    No,that`s Texas.

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    in 1997 i was looking for a plasma table, 10x5.. my gas supplier was a dealer for koike aronson and took me for a demo at a new installation.never had seen a setup before up close.for 30000 you got rails ,carriage, torch holder , burny console , no water table, no slats , no plasma unit , no torch. single drive on the carriage.they would sell me the plans to build a water table for 250.00. software was extra. i was underwhelmed . had never built any type of motion control device before but did went ahead anyway. 200"x72" with hypertherm powermax 1100. used everyday and cuts about 25000 lb per month of 12ga 11ga 3/16 1/4 3/8 1/2. have cut 4" with oxy torch. regularly cut 3/4" 1" 1 1/2" plate. started out with shopbot tools software, and in 1997 switched to mach. gecko drives , 34 stepper motors to timing belt reduction drives. still the original belts on the drives.do it yourself builds can be industrial quality , spend the extra money to build it robust.

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    Quote Originally Posted by najnielkp View Post
    in 1997 i was looking for a plasma table, 10x5.. my gas supplier was a dealer for koike aronson and took me for a demo at a new installation.never had seen a setup before up close.for 30000 you got rails ,carriage, torch holder , burny console , no water table, no slats , no plasma unit , no torch. single drive on the carriage.they would sell me the plans to build a water table for 250.00. software was extra. i was underwhelmed . had never built any type of motion control device before but did went ahead anyway. 200"x72" with hypertherm powermax 1100. used everyday and cuts about 25000 lb per month of 12ga 11ga 3/16 1/4 3/8 1/2. have cut 4" with oxy torch. regularly cut 3/4" 1" 1 1/2" plate. started out with shopbot tools software, and in 1997 switched to mach. gecko drives , 34 stepper motors to timing belt reduction drives. still the original belts on the drives.do it yourself builds can be industrial quality , spend the extra money to build it robust.
    Completely agree. The top of the frame of my table I built out of 6" x 3" x 1/4" tube. That sits on 3" square tube legs with diagonal bracing. Ball bearing linear rails. Excluding the plasma cutter itself I reckon I could get close to paying $10K for the table build. That gets me an accurate heavy duty 5' x 8' water table. However, the learning curve and construction time would be counterproductive for many who would lose more in time than what they saved on money. Plus a "homemade" table may have little resale value.

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    We bought a Samson machine through the local sales guys in NZ. We find the software it came with really hard to use. Does anyone know if there is a Torchmate pro conversion that will allow us to use our Samson Table easier?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaroy View Post
    We bought a Samson machine through the local sales guys in NZ. We find the software it came with really hard to use. Does anyone know if there is a Torchmate pro conversion that will allow us to use our Samson Table easier?
    "Torchmate" is somehow better ?

    Switch to Mach3 & sheetcam.

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    torchmate is locked into Lincoln, so no.
    I would not touch Design Edge for drawing or designing; I use real cad and adobe illustrator. It as a nesting and preflight (post processor to machinist) is good, a rebranded hypertherm pro-nest iirc. Plasma cam is far better than torchmate. Torchmate wont even keep up with your tables speeds with a thc if you could shoehorn the logic i/o. Spend an hour a day with it, in a week or two you will be comfortable with it.

    Check out plasmaspider.com . There are sections just for each design edge and plasmacam.

    Steel Solutions does offer an custom heavy industrial pc software interface for most controllers (hypertherm, abb, bekenhoff, burny) but likely cost more than the table you have.

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    Jon,

    if you haven't already done so, I would take a look at JD-Squared as well. They've been designing and selling "pro-sumer" grade metalworking equipment for almost 40 years and have what you're looking for: a 4x4' table with which you can use your existing Plasma-Therm power supply, servo drives, ATHC, and a straightforward UI. They offer great service after the sale and their machines use mostly OTS mechanical parts for easy maintenance. They offer downdraft and water tables, depending on how frequently you plan to use the machine, the space in which you plan to put it, and your budget.

    I learned about the company when the owner's son obtained his engineering degree at the university I teach at. The company supported a lot of the hands-on design teams (and still does), and I got a chance to tour their facility and talk with a lot of people who use their products. Having been down the same road you're traveling now, I don't know if you'll find a machine as capable or as reliable for less than twice the cost of their tables.

    Anyway, they're just another brand you may want to look into before making your final decision.

    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by mbraddock View Post
    Jon,

    if you haven't already done so, I would take a look at JD-Squared as well. They've been designing and selling "pro-sumer" grade metalworking equipment for almost 40 years and have what you're looking for: a 4x4' table with which you can use your existing Plasma-Therm power supply, servo drives, ATHC, and a straightforward UI. They offer great service after the sale and their machines use mostly OTS mechanical parts for easy maintenance. They offer downdraft and water tables, depending on how frequently you plan to use the machine, the space in which you plan to put it, and your budget.

    I learned about the company when the owner's son obtained his engineering degree at the university I teach at. The company supported a lot of the hands-on design teams (and still does), and I got a chance to tour their facility and talk with a lot of people who use their products. Having been down the same road you're traveling now, I don't know if you'll find a machine as capable or as reliable for less than twice the cost of their tables.

    Anyway, they're just another brand you may want to look into before making your final decision.

    Mike
    Jon ???

    post #54 dredged up the old thread, question asked is very different from the OP

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    My apology; I completely missed the date of the OP / thread.


    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    Jon ???

    post #54 dredged up the old thread, question asked is very different from the OP


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