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Suggestions for a plasma table

Discussion in 'Welding' started by treemuncher, Dec 22, 2020.

  1. treemuncher

    treemuncher Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    eatin' trees, poopin' chips
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    Seems like I do quite a bit of repetitive cutting with my Hypermax 1000. Normally, I make patterns out of 1/8" aluminum flat stock, oversized to accommodate the size of the torch tip, in order to trace out common cut parts. This works reasonably well but there is always variances with the hand held torch.

    Rather than send all of my money into to the tax (and spend) government system, why not purchase a plasma table for my business? It will save me time, open more opportunities for builds and business, and make for better parts than hand cuts. Lots of times when I'm making tools for pullers, bearings or fixtures, I could see a CNC plasma table saving me lots of time.

    I'm looking for suggestions as to what system to look for. My Hypertherm is designed for a machine torch but I'm not sure if it will work with these newer systems that are available. I was going to build my own table years ago but I stay way too busy with my normal work to even think about that anymore.
     
  2. Tags

    Tags Senior Member

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    So I have a friend that bought a PlasmaCam 4x4 table about a year ago. I belive all in with the software he was somewhere close to $20k. He had never used a table before but he has gotten quite good with it over the last year, the hardest part is learning how to run the programs efficiently. He has cut up some parts for a static screening bucket I was making, 3/4" plate, it did an amazing job once we got the profile right. He has been getting more and more more small jobs from local guys. This is not his primary business so the plasmacam table seems to work perfect for what he does with it. I would imagine if it's primarily for you and a small side job here and there it may work out for you. If you get one I would suggest a water table or a very good down draft system to get rid of the smoke.
     
  3. DirtyHoe

    DirtyHoe Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Albany, Oregon
    I have used a variety of CNC plasma tables for over 20 years. PlamaCAM, ArcLight, Burny, and one other I can't think of the name. If you can afford it get a dedicated machine torch. At work a few years ago I went through the process of getting several quotes to replace the ArcLight(problem child). We purchased a Koike Aronson ShopPro 4x8 for around $26,000. Absolutely the best machine I have operated and maintained. It uses a Hypertherm PowerMax 85 plasma cutter with a machine torch. Touch screen and a water table. Downdraft tables get expensive because you need to catch the sparks with a spark rated dust collection system. The system will cost more than the plasma machine. We have had zero problems after cutting hundreds of sheets of material on the ShopPro.
    Realize you will need to learn how to draw your parts in CAD, then program your cutting paths. Plus learn how to correctly set the machine up for cutting amps, cutting speed, pierce time, and different types of consumables.

    The most important part is clean and DRY shop air. You really need to install a refrigerated air dryer to do it right. Any moisture will half-life your consumables.

    https://www.koike.com/shoppro

    Let me know if you have any other questions,

    Steve
     
    treemuncher likes this.
  4. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    I don't know if there's a bad CNC plasma??? Torchmate are popular but not sure if they can hook up to a Hypertherm machine. These JD Squared seem like a reasonable price. I worked with a guy briefly that was associated with Kickass Machines plasma tables but they have since gone out of business. I would think you might find a good used plasma table with the downturn in the economy.

    Torchmate 4000 Series CNC Plasma Tables | 4x4, 4x8, 5x10 Plasma Cutting Machines | Torchmate

    JD2. MAD MP CNC TABLE
     
  5. lantraxco

    lantraxco Senior Member

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    If you normally don't cut big pieces, try getting your feet wet with a Langmuir like the Crossfire Pro. Then after you are much better informed maybe write that $10K plus check for a real production unit.
     
  6. treemuncher

    treemuncher Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    eatin' trees, poopin' chips
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    I ran into a guy with a local welding fab shop at the metal sales place the other day. He told me he purchased a GoFab unit for well under $10k with everything needed and he is staying VERY busy with it. I doubt it is a very high end unit but it looks like something that would fit my needs. I plan to stop by and look at his if I can ever find some free time or happen to be close to his shop. I've already got the air compressor and my Hypertherm 1000, not to mention the schooling for CAD and CAM from years ago.

    I've looked them over on the web site and some others. My budget will be $10k max as I don't plan to use it very often. I'm not looking for big production but just for my occasional needs. I would rather spend money on something like this that is a write off rather than spending it in taxes that gets wasted by some government tool. If it saves me 10 hours per year, it is a justified tool in that price range. I see the potential to save much more time than that and allow me to get involved in other projects as well.

    This is the way I justified my lathe and vertical mill. Those have been some of the best purchases that I've ever made because I can make many of my own parts when time is of the essence or factory prices are outrageous. Just last year, I saved well over $750 because I could make 2 Menzi Muck bushings out of a stock $65 bushing in my shop. I make a lot of custom parts as the need arises or when I have a better idea.
     
  7. DirtyHoe

    DirtyHoe Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Albany, Oregon
    Welder Dave,
    Yes, there are bad CNC plasma's out there. Most manufactures are building the frame and using 3rd party for all the hardware, linear bearings, controllers, torch height control, and drive motors(servo or stepper). Then they put it all together to make a working machine. The problem I have first-hand experience with is when the machine doesn't work. This machine would cut fine most of the time, then it would lose its Z height position and fire the torch 3 inches off the plate and air cut the part. The manufacturer would not accept responsibility or find a solution. It's your ground system they said. So I had the electrician install a separate 8-foot ground to the frame. That didn't work. Try these parts...that didn't work. It's your Hypertherm unit. Sent it to Hypertherm under warranty. Nope, that wasn't it either. Change the parameters, no wrong again. We offered to pay for their wages, travel time, lodging, and meals to come fix it. They said we only offer phone support! We are both in Oregon. We got rid of the machine.

    The more expensive machines do a better job of protecting the linear bearings and other moving parts from the cutting splatter. Regardless, all machine need to be wiped down and lubed regularly.

    Treemuncher-
    When you select a machine be sure to read their reviews and find out about technical support and warranty support. You will need strong support for a new machine. I would lean towards a machine that has an active user forum. It will speed up the learning curve.

    Steve
     
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  8. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    What brand was yours?