Should I even consider buying a plasma table made in the 80s?
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  1. #1
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    Default Should I even consider buying a plasma table made in the 80s?

    So I've never owned any type of cnc machine outside of 3d printers, am I crazy to buy a really old cnc machine/controller?

    I found an old lockformer cnc plasma table for sale probably slightly over what I could buy it from my scrapyard for. No plasma machine with it but the gantry works under power on all of its axis. Condition wise from the pictures it looks decent for it's age. I had plans to build a plasma as a way down the road future project and I understand the electronics of how modern machines work, not so much this 1980s thing though. Worst case I store it for a few years and then strip it to the frame and build a stepper motor plasma out of it?

    Is anyone familiar with this picopath control system? Say I were to use it as is how would I load programs to it? Buy an external floppy disk to use with my computer? lol. Would any program today that can create g code possibly work?



    plasma-computer.jpgplasma-computer-2.jpgplasma-computer-3.jpg

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    No.
    Walk away.

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    If the table itself (frame, slats, rails) are in good shape I may pay scrap value for it after I removed the electronics. Simply to save myself the labor of building a table.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cole2534 View Post
    If the table itself (frame, slats, rails) are in good shape I may pay scrap value for it after I removed the electronics. Simply to save myself the labor of building a table.
    A table with ?
    1. crappy guide rollers and way system
    2. a single sided drive (so no guiding ways on that side at all)
    3. no torch height control (or retrofit) able

    The price has come down so much on these, the one company is selling a kit that builds the bridge, 90% of the work is in that compononent, the rest is a simple table weldment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    A table with ?
    1. crappy guide rollers and way system
    2. a single sided drive (so no guiding ways on that side at all)
    3. no torch height control (or retrofit) able


    The price has come down so much on these, the one company is selling a kit that builds the bridge, 90% of the work is in that compononent, the rest is a simple table weldment.
    If it's any of those things, it's not in good shape.

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    I have no experience with that control, but in general, I wouldn't buy any out-dated control requiring a gamble of your own time and resources to keep it running (as in, not having parts or software support via OEM or established "cult followings"), UNLESS you have prior experience and have your own solutions for parts, software support, etc. If you just want a retrofit project, maybe, but I wouldn't tie it into a livelihood until it's running and you are comfortable keeping it that way.

    Most machinists can rebuild an obsolete manual machine and make their own parts and enjoy doing it, but not every dude knows how to fix a burned up motherboard.

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    Don't buy anything with an old outdated control that isn't popular, no matter what the price. If it was something like a Fanuc there are still parts available and companies that specialize in different generations of the control going back 40 years. On the other hand there are some controls 20 years old that you won't find parts and support for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.B. Naegle View Post

    Most machinists can rebuild an obsolete manual machine and make their own parts and enjoy doing it, but not every dude knows how to fix a burned up motherboard.
    It also could have proprietary chips on it that are no longer anywhere to be found.

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    Do you have any pictures of the entire machine? I wouldn't put any money towards the ancient controls, but if the machine is mechanically sound then I would probably buy it to retrofit. Buy this machine, and another 4k on a control system you could be up and running in a week. With a table better than anything you could buy for anywhere near 5-6k.

    Lockformer made industrial machines and I suspect it to be robustly built. On the same note though industrial quality machines are used accordingly and might have lived a hard life. Though for near scrap value, unless it was dropped from a crane you will still be saving time and money even if all you save is the slat table. That is if you are planning to build one anyways soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johfoster View Post
    Do you have any pictures of the entire machine? I wouldn't put any money towards the ancient controls, but if the machine is mechanically sound then I would probably buy it to retrofit. Buy this machine, and another 4k on a control system you could be up and running in a week. With a table better than anything you could buy for anywhere near 5-6k.

    Lockformer made industrial machines and I suspect it to be robustly built. On the same note though industrial quality machines are used accordingly and might have lived a hard life. Though for near scrap value, unless it was dropped from a crane you will still be saving time and money even if all you save is the slat table. That is if you are planning to build one anyways soon.
    Lockformer made machines for "Sheetmetal shops" and are not very "Robust".
    The table itself can't stand a very thick piece of plate on it.

    And...Everyone back then made "single side drives".

    Lockformer didn't even doo torch height control, so the whole torch holder/z-axis is considered junk.

    They simply ran an air cylinder to ram the torch down tight to the plate, added a "salad bowl" on the torch to smash down any tip ups.
    Vulcan Plasma Cutter - heavy equipment - by owner - sale

    At least CMC did a proper torch holder.

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    mr digger, that is a modern plasma welder! the retro fit is worth way more than 7000 - for automated plasma welder.

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    At least as robust as anything that can be had for anywhere near 10k. Look at a plasmacam, and I helped load a 4x8 1" plate on one of those once. (Not that it seemed like the best idea) Easy enough to beef up the Lockformer table if needed. Most low dollar plasma setups won't have the power supply to cut very thick anyways probably.

    The mechanics for a floating head Z axis can be had for a few hundred, and yes would need to be added for sure as part of the retrofit.

    Retro(Hornet) still does make their base model table one side drive. (which sells for 50-60k iirc) Not to mention all the waterjets that don't even have support at all on the end of the gantry, and they are actually cutting to tight tolerances.

    I would probably buy that one you showed for near scrap value if it was down the street, but near scrap value is really just a few hundred dollars at best for that thing. This is all factoring in that the OP said he was already planning to build one from scratch too. I wouldn't buy that if I needed a plasma table to put right to work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by memphisjed View Post
    mr digger, that is a modern plasma welder! the retro fit is worth way more than 7000 - for automated plasma welder.
    Yeah...the craigslist advert called it a "Plasma Welder"....Jeesh

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    Thanks for the advice. I ended up passing it by. They wanted $500 for it and were throwing in a welding fume extractor too. The more I thought about all the shit I'd have to tear off it and clean up the more I didn't want it. I'm not too familiar with servo motors either. Way too much work for a weekend hobby machine.


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