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CNC Cost efficiant

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CNC Cost efficiant

Postby scotty17 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:53 am

Hi Folks,
Which of the CNC controlled cutting methods are the most cost effective?
Water Jet

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Re: CNC Cost efficiant

Postby weldin mike 27 » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:36 am

I've done lots of work with plasma cut and laser cut parts. On some plasma parts you can lose definition of details. This means that you get out of square cut edges (kerf), miss-shaped holes and similar. This means it's not great for accurate parts that must fit together well. But things like simple base plates gussets and parts like that are well suited to plasma.

Laser cutting is far more accurate and can provide extremely well formed parts that require "Tab A into Slot B" fabrication.

Laser does not require dressing or grinding and I'm pretty sure you can cut all material. The advantage of no dressing may make it cost efficient for you to got laser for everything.

I have heard (may be a dirty lie) that waterjet can impregnate the material with the abrasive used in the water, making it hard to weld.
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Re: CNC Cost efficiant

Postby noddybrian » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:45 pm

In my opinion it goes

Water jet - most accurate & clean but massive power consumption & slow ( never heard of contamination issues but maybe on soft material ) - least efficient

Laser - faster & good accuracy but only used on laser grade brand new super clean material & uses a lot of power & nitrogen so middle of the road in efficiency

Plasma ( HD ) with a good setup & operator - accuracy is acceptable for most work & still decent cut speed plus power / gas costs make it likely the most efficient for general purpose cutting especially on steel

Plasma ( regular low end ) yes quality of cut & dimensional accuracy is not always that good - depends a bit on the operator & machine - some clean up often needed so less efficient .

All of the processes have plus & minus points & each are best suited to certain jobs plus the maintenance & operator plays a part in the overall results - does the OP have a specific job in mind ?
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Re: CNC Cost efficiant

Postby jimcolt » Tue Jan 09, 2018 11:50 am

scotty17 wrote:Hi Folks,
Which of the CNC controlled cutting methods are the most cost effective?

Plasma......there are air plasma systems on CNC machines (very low purchase price compared to any other process) and there are High Definition class plasma's that provide the best plasma cut quality and far better productivity in their thickness range (3/16" to 2" thickness on steel. Capital equipment cost, operating cost and maintenance cost for these high definition plasma cutters are all better than Laser or Water jet. You can buy a 5 x 10 cnc table with an air plasma that can cut to 3/4" for less than $25,000.

Laser...... Laser's advantage is primarily with sheet metal to about 1/4" thickness, although plate lasers can cut steel to about 1" (at a cut speed about 1/4 that of High Definition plasma.) You can buy a 5 x 10 laser cutting table with the ability to cut 3/4" steel for about $500,000.

Water Jet.....The advantage here is with the ability to cut anything, as well as the fact that there is no heat affected zone that could affect metallurgy. Water jet is the slowest process on metals, but is the most accurate. You can buy a 5 x 10 cnc table with a 60,000 psi waterjet for about $150,000.

So...the bottom line is that your question about which process is the most cost effective needs to be changed to fit what materials and thicknesses you need to cut.

-If you are cutting steel that is 1/4" to 2" thick the high definition plasma will be the most cost effective.
- If you are cutting steel from gauge to 1" and purchase price is the biggest factor....,maybe an air plasma is the best choice.
- If you are a precision sheet metal shop and purchase price does not matter, then the laser is the system of choice.
- If you need to cut a variety of materials and productivity is not the most important factor but quality is...then it is the waterjet.

I have visited a number of companies that have all of these processes under one roof, and each is used to its advantage.

Best regards, Jim Colt Hypertherm

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