It is currently Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:34 pm Advanced search

PlasmaCam

Metal cutting - oxyfuel cutting, plasma cutting, machining, grinding, and other preparatory work.

PlasmaCam

Postby AKmud » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:02 pm

Ok, I'm seriously talking myself into buying a CNC plasma table. I know Jody and JD brag up the PlasmaCam, but I'm also finding a fair amount of negative reviews calling their tables "homeowner" grade. I can't justify a $50k table, but $10k-$12k might just be doable for the new shop. Is there another brand I should be looking at? I know ChuckE2009 ended up with another brand and I haven't really explored it much yet. My use would be for a small fab shop cutting 1/2" or less 95% of the time.
AKmud
Guide
 
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:47 am
Location: Wasilla, Alaska

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby Farmwelding » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:04 pm

AKmud wrote:Ok, I'm seriously talking myself into buying a CNC plasma table. I know Jody and JD brag up the PlasmaCam, but I'm also finding a fair amount of negative reviews calling their tables "homeowner" grade. I can't justify a $50k table, but $10k-$12k might just be doable for the new shop. Is there another brand I should be looking at? I know ChuckE2009 ended up with another brand and I haven't really explored it much yet. My use would be for a small fab shop cutting 1/2" or less 95% of the time.

First, I know chucke2009 has had some problems recently with his cnc plasma, but I have no idea what those are. I'm sure he'll make a video about it. All I know is that both my josh school and tech school have had issues with torch mate from Lincoln. Especially the software. I would like to try a plasma cam someday though.
A student now but really want to weld everyday. Want to learn everything about everything. Want to become a knower of all and master of none.
Instagram: @farmwelding
Nick
Farmwelding
Weldmonger
 
Posts: 1331
Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:37 pm
Location: Wisconsin

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby ldbtx » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:30 am

At FabTech last year, I got demos of the TorchMate software and table and of the PlasmaCam software. Between the two, PlasmaCam wins hands down.

The TorchMate goes through the traditional CNC workflow: Make the drawing, define the cut paths delineating between male and female, convert to G-Code, make the cut. A rather clumsy and time-consuming series of operations. The cut quality, however, was excellent using the Lincoln cutter.

PlasmaCam's DesignEdge software does it automatically all in one application, and is smart enough to determine the gender of a cut path. Other features in the PlasmaCam software, such as the ability to import images and such are very well implemented. PlasmaCam wasn't at FabTech. In a phone conversation they told me that they had too many machines to build and deliver to take the time away for the convention. Jim Colt of Hypertherm very graciously gave me an extensive demo of of the PlasmaCam software on his personal laptop. Thank you, Jim. I appreciate it.

There are other tables, of course. BurnTables is one. The one Lanse (ChuckE2009) got to replace his PlasmaCam is another, but I can't remember the name after only one cup of coffee. From what I've seen, PlasmaCam has the easiest to use software, while the rest seem to have the traditional workflow.

My "retirement program" includes a plasma table in a year or so, and it'll be a PlasmaCam table with a Hypertherm plasma cutter. For me, the ease of use of the software is worth a bit more money than a couple of the lesser-known brands.

For some excellent videos on the PlasmaCam table, check out Keith Fenner's YouTube channel. He's had one for several years, and has done some outstanding work with it. His videos show the operation of the software and the table very well.

Larry
Miller Bobcat 225
Tweco Fabricator 211i
AHP AlphaTIG 200x
Lincoln SP-135+
Hypertherm Powermax 30 Air
ProStar O/A torch
User avatar
ldbtx
Heavy Hitter
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:54 am
Location: North Central Texas

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby AKmud » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:55 am

Thanks for the write up Larry, that's good information I hadn't heard yet. I am looking at the Hypertherm 85 but I'm guessing I could get away with the 65 realistically. Is there a good reason to go with the bigger machine?
AKmud
Guide
 
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:47 am
Location: Wasilla, Alaska

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby AKmud » Wed Sep 13, 2017 12:36 pm

The PlasmaCam 4x4 table is just under $8k. The Arclight 4x4 table is just under $10k. I like the ability to use the hand held torch with the PlasmaCam instead of buying a separate machine torch. The Arclight comes with automatic height control standard where the PlasmaCam has it as an option (I don't remember the additional price for AHC). I'm guessing AHC is a pretty important feature?
AKmud
Guide
 
Posts: 162
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:47 am
Location: Wasilla, Alaska

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby ldbtx » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:48 pm

AKmud wrote:Thanks for the write up Larry, that's good information I hadn't heard yet. I am looking at the Hypertherm 85 but I'm guessing I could get away with the 65 realistically. Is there a good reason to go with the bigger machine?


It just depends on how thick material you're planning on cutting. I'm also considering the 65, but it never hurts to have more capability. As the saying goes, I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Miller Bobcat 225
Tweco Fabricator 211i
AHP AlphaTIG 200x
Lincoln SP-135+
Hypertherm Powermax 30 Air
ProStar O/A torch
User avatar
ldbtx
Heavy Hitter
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:54 am
Location: North Central Texas

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby ldbtx » Wed Sep 13, 2017 1:52 pm

AKmud wrote:The PlasmaCam 4x4 table is just under $8k. The Arclight 4x4 table is just under $10k. I like the ability to use the hand held torch with the PlasmaCam instead of buying a separate machine torch. The Arclight comes with automatic height control standard where the PlasmaCam has it as an option (I don't remember the additional price for AHC). I'm guessing AHC is a pretty important feature?


Yep, AHC is pretty much a must-have feature. Also, it's been recommended to me to put a machine torch on the PlasmaCam table. "It's a machine, so use a machine torch". PlasmaCam doesn't agree, but I'm not sure why. I have another plasma cutter, so I won't be asking the table machine to do dual duty. I'll put a machine torch on mine. The breakaway mounts are cheaper too.

Larry
Miller Bobcat 225
Tweco Fabricator 211i
AHP AlphaTIG 200x
Lincoln SP-135+
Hypertherm Powermax 30 Air
ProStar O/A torch
User avatar
ldbtx
Heavy Hitter
 
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:54 am
Location: North Central Texas

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby noddybrian » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:06 pm

Probably not much help across the pond - but anyone following this post that may consider shipping from the UK - Rtech make in house shall we say a very similar table to the plasmacam ! software was written I believe to do much the same but is not identical - they have a very good reputation here - the price is virtually half the price of the one it resembles - they will supply with their own power source or supply others - a mate is looking into one but is so computer retarded he still has'nt committed ! if / when he does I will post his views on it.
noddybrian
Weldmonger
 
Posts: 1170
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:13 pm

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby Arno » Thu Sep 14, 2017 1:21 am

Keith Fenner did a whole bunch with and for his plasmacam and table on his Youtube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/KEF791/sea ... =plasmacam

Makes a bunch of add-ons too to make the torch easier to remove and replace, table tweaks, etc.

Perhaps some inspiration.

Bye, Arno.
User avatar
Arno
Guide
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Nov 04, 2013 7:51 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: PlasmaCam

Postby jimcolt » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:29 am

Just a few points:

- There are a lot of good choices out there today for entry level cnc plasma machines. I classify entry level as any machine that is complete with a Plasma cutter for under $20k. (Less than a Bass Boat!). These can be used by hobbyists or for light duty at small businesses.

-The next step in quality are machines that sell for between $20k and about $40k that I call Light Industrial. You will see better mechanical design and often better electronics and drive technology (almost always servo drives instead of stepper drives). These more costly machines use the same air plasma cutters, similar software and cut the same parts. The difference is that they are better designed to last under medium production use...less downtime and better cut part productivity. A better choice for light industrial usage.

-And....machines that can cost between $40k and over a million dollars are found on high production construction equipment manufacturers, shipyards, steel service centers as well as any job shop that needs high reliability and accuracy as well as a machine that will still be running 3 shifts a day 20 years after purchase. These machines use industrial oxygen based liquid cooled plasma cutters. Best quality and extremely high productivity are always found on these machines.

- For entry level machines: 1. Please do not buy a machine based on the lowest price as your major criteria! There are some less than desireable machines on the market today! 2. A Plasmacam 4 x 4 (new) for $8,000 will not have good software or height control functions necessary for excellent plasma cut quality and consumable life. The same 4 x4 Plasmacam with advanced height control and advanced machine control is about $12k, and the upgrades are worth every penny. You are going to keep the machine for a number of years....be sure it is equipped to do so!

- Hypertherm plasma cutters recommended for mechanized cutting will be equipped with machine torches and a CPC interface port that connects the plasma to the CNC machine electrically. Yes....you can use a hand torch on many machines but you will need to hack the interface wiring and mounting a hand torch in order to keep the arc perpendicular to the material is difficult at best.

- What plasma to chose? Use the manufacturers pierce capacity as your guideline , since machine torches need to pierce material with the torch perpendicular (you can pierce thicker by hand as you can tip the torch to keep molten metal blowback from destroying the consumables). Pierce ratings: Powermax45 XP, 1/2" Powermax65, 5/8". Powermax85, 3/4". You can edge start with each of these systems at double the pierce rating.

- Good machine motion (smooth, ability to maintain speeds even with intricate cuts) is necessary for good cut quality. Good height control (pierce height, cut height, pierce delay, arc voltage feedback height) is absolutely critical to best cut quality and low operating cost. If someone tells you that you don't need height control....then that person is definitely not well experienced with plasma cutting!

Hope this helps a bit. Best regards, Jim Colt Hypertherm
jimcolt
Workhorse
 
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:11 pm
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Next

Return to Metal Cutting