cnc plasma thoughts

jakeinc17

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im looking to buy a cnc plasma (torchmate or plasma cam) to make tabs, bracketry ext.. i dont have much experience using one and i dont have the money for a water jet so before i spend to 12K on this machine i wanted to know if anyone had suggestions or experience they could pass on (is it user friendly?does it produce a nice cut?do you have to be a computer ace to operate it?). from the youtube videos this machine looks like it produces a clean cut and i was told its easy to program. thanks
 

DBMETALWORX

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I use the torchmate 1, which is a kit that you build yourself.. The table is your own design. I also made it a water table, cuz it helps stop warpage as well as trapping smoke.. The guys @ torchmate are really good @ walking you thru the cad and operation of the machine.. The plasma cams that i've looked @ are pretty cheaply built, they look pretty wobbly... You can SEE a pic of mine on the torchmate website under the photo of the month for august... It saves so much time, with so much more precision than the old way. Besides they support racing, and are @ bitd tech, i think score too... Support those who support offroad racing....
 

DBMETALWORX

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Actually its the july pic of the month..
 

jakeinc17

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thanks a lot for the thoughts. thats a bitchen table you have. when you say you designed that table, does that mean you built it yourself or you made a drawing and torchmate built it. does having the water make that much difference and how hard is it to convert it to a water table. if i went through torchmate and got the same type of set up you have, with a table about 4' X 5' with the plasma and software how much do you think it would cost. thanks again
 

DBMETALWORX

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thanks a lot for the thoughts. Thats a bitchen table you have. When you say you designed that table, does that mean you built it yourself or you made a drawing and torchmate built it. Does having the water make that much difference and how hard is it to convert it to a water table. If i went through torchmate and got the same type of set up you have, with a table about 4' x 5' with the plasma and software how much do you think it would cost. Thanks again

yes i built the table . The water trapping the smoke helps alot, you can breathe.. As far as the water table goes, i just welded a bottom onto my table and put a cooler float to maintain the level.. I also use plasmaquench, to help stop corrosion, along with a thick coat of epoxy, that when mixed is like jb-weld.. So the whole inside of the tank is covered in jb-weld type stuff.. The cost depends on which model you get.. Mine is a torchmate 1, which is a build it yourself kit. I dont remember the bottom line as far as cost. But the staff @ torchmate is very helpful. They have walked me thru the cad many times.. Just tell them what you want to do, and your budget, and i'm sure they come up with a machine that fits your needs..
 

mikeyfrombc

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i don,t think plasmacam is still around i seen a flyer at our shop that had a company advertising a set-up that looked exactly like the plasma cam set-up but it was a different colour . i know my buddy had a cnc plasma table he paid good $$ for and he was never satisfied with the set-up , he eventually sold it and bought a older cnc laser table and has not looked back . truthfully to offset the cost of buying a machine you,d better have a product that is being cut on a daily basis to justify the costs IMO . we get stuff cut sometimes daily and we have not done enough cutting to justify setting up a inhouse system .

i think before you buy get the supplier to do some cuts off the items you want to cut and see if they are acceptable for your requirements and needs , no point in wasting $$ on something that is not gonna produce to your standards .

if your set on a plasma system look into HIGHDEF PLASMA we had some 1" plate cut on highdef and i thought it was lasered the kerf was so straight and smooth .
 

WoodyW

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I have the Torchmate 3 and have used it for so many different things I can't even remember half of the projects. I love it...it is an awesome tool, and I'm always finding new ways to make money with it.
 

etl450

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I would agree with pretty much everything that has been mentioned here. Iv had a couple different plasma systems over the years, running 24/7 in the automotive industry. Now i have had the luck to move up to lasers. Build a water table, you cant beat it. Especially for smaller shops, it keeps so much dust and smoke down. All of ours we just used an air compartment and valve to raise and lower the water lever. Most of the time we would cut with the water about .25" below the plate, but some people have the plate actually in the water. As far as the different companies out there, its hard to say. All of them use someones else's power supply. Either hypertherm or thermal dynamics for the most part. The power rating on this is what is going to give you your cut thickness. Higher end machines will be water cooled and lower end will not. Unless you are burning plate 8 hours a day all day long I wouldnt worry about it. I would focus more on table design as far as the drives and the track they run on. This is what is going to give you a better cut quality than anything. You can spend over 100k on a high def plasma, which cuts almost as good as a laser or 80k for a standard plasma. The only difference between the two is the drives. I know this is the far extreme, but just using a reference. Try to find a company that has more than just a single drive on the Y axis. This will normally create alot of slop in the cutting edge. To move up to dual drives will be costly but worth it, imo. There was a company here in Ok that used a single drive on the Y, but had a shaft that went across the gantry and was geared on each end. The rail side with the motor also turned the shaft, which in turn went to the other side of the table and there was a track on the other side for the gears to turn on. The reason for this is that it eliminates alot of swinging motion from the gantry when the machine turns corners or switches directions. Hope this helps
 
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jakeinc17

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all this info is helping a lot. thanks for all your input. im going to look for a table thats in the range of 4' X 4' with a water table and has more than just one drive axis. would a torchmate 3 or a plasma cam qualify as one of these? thanks again
 

etl450

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all this info is helping a lot. thanks for all your input. im going to look for a table thats in the range of 4' X 4' with a water table and has more than just one drive axis. would a torchmate 3 or a plasma cam qualify as one of these? thanks again

I looked on both their websites and i cant really tell on the drives besides the info they give. I would ask them on the y axis, if there are any gears in place to eliminate the gantry from swinging when it changes directions. Ask them specifically on the oposite side of the motor for the y axis. I would say that the torchmate is a far better system then the plasma cam, imo.
 

WoodyW

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Torchmate 3 has dual drive motors on the Y axis...only trouble I have ever had with resolution was traced back to the spur gear spinning a little bit because a grub screw wasn't tight enough. No comparison between the T3 and the plasmacam IMO.
 

etl450

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Send me an email, I have a guy that has a 4 x 8 water table plasma, with a hypertherm 1250, ready to sell. Computer and all software, servo motor drives, very nice machine. Its in Oklahoma hooked up, Iv seen it cut 10ga at around 100 IPM and 1" outer contours. It wont peirce holes higher than .625". He is wanted around 12k for it, he has over 20k in it, about 2 years old.
 

BuggyBrad

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I know this is an old thread but for anyone still looking check out ArcLight (https://arclightcnc.com/)

Having had a Torchmate and a Plasma Cam the support and quality given by Scott and his guys at Arclight CNC makes the Arclight CNC Plasma the best out there. It is hard to explain till you start cutting but you realize pretty quickly than the actual Plasma is only half the equation. It is the support and training that makes the difference.

We just finished the NORRA Mexican 1000 in two cars we pretty much built in under 30 days. The main reason we could do this is the quality of the tools and people we have in the shop.

If anyone is in SOCAL ( 92082) I am more than happy to show you our 5 x 12 table and you can see what it looks and performs like after over 2 years of heavy use and 100's of sheets of material.

Trust me when I say look at the support and the understanding of the vendor as well as the feedback from customers, it is what will make the Plasma Cutting experience enjoyable and profitable.

 
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