There are many things to consider if you’re looking to add a CNC plasma cutting table to your fabrication shop. But, with proper preparation and a well thought-out plan, it will make the installation and start-up process much easier. The list below covers some of the most important issues before your new plasma system arrives.
1) Table Layout – It’s crucial to have an appropriate amount of space while making sure your system is positioned in the most practical area of your shop. Make sure to review the positioning of the CNC plasma system components. These items include: the cutting table, plasma cutter power supply, controller, compressed air/gas, and the computer. Below is an example of the recommended layout for EZ Cut CNC systems. Notice the location of the table in relation to the wall, the earth grounding, and the electric power supply.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE THE LAYOUT)
2) Input Electrical Power – Your fabrication shop will require single phase or three phase power depending on the plasma cutter that you have selected for your system. It’s very important to have the correct input voltage to power the controller, plasma cutter, and computer. Having an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for the computer system should also be required.
3) Grounding – Electrical noise from the plasma inverter, high frequency, and other transit voltage could interfere with the CNC controller and control cables, causing the system to malfunction. The extent of the grounding will depend on the type of plasma that you’re using. We recommend consulting the plasma manufacturer operating manual for grounding specifications.
4) Ventilation – There are two types of plasma tables, down draft and water tables. Water tables control the smoke and dust so that an exhaust fan is not required. On the other hand, down draft tables typically have a plenum with a 12” hole in the middle of the table. At EZ Cut CNC, we advise customers to buy and in-line turbine exhaust fan with a miniumum 1750 cfm capacity. You should also attach duct-work from the 12” hole to the side wall or roof where the exhaust fan is positioned. This allows for the best possible ventilation of metal smoke and dust, which can be harmful over time.
It’s also a good idea to consult state and federal EPA regulations for management of exhaust outside of your building. You will want to avoid any problems if your shop is in an area where the exhaust will bother neighbors or near-by businesses.
5) Compressed Air/Gas – Depending on the type of plasma cutter, you will require compressed air and/or gas, which will be connected to your plasma cutter power supply. Using a desiccant air dryer will help keep the air dry. The use of in-line oil and water filters are also recommended. If you’re using a plasma cutter that requires gas, you must also make sure to have high-pressure gas regulators and a gas hose. Always consult with the plasma cutter manufacturer to get proper specifications for compressed air and gas supply.
6) Plasma Torch Consumables – When your plasma cutter arrives, it will come with a limited amount of consumables for the torch. We suggest purchasing extra consumables from your local Hypertherm or Thermal Dynamics distributor. Make sure you provide the distributor with the correct part numbers and description for the consumables. The life of the consumables will be determined by the number of pierces you make, the amperage of which you’re cutting, and the cleanliness of the air going to the plasma cutter. You can learn more about the cost of consumables on Hypertherm’s website.
7) Operator – Figuring out who will be the primary operator is one of the most important items to consider before your plasma system arrives. The operator must have a minimum level of capability using a computer and mouse. A basic understanding of plasma cutting is very helpful as well. For maximum productivity, on-site plasma training is included when purchasing a system from EZ Cut CNC.
8) CAD Software – A complete CAD drawing software is not always included when purchasing a CNC plasma system but there are many inexpensive options available. DraftSight and Google SketchUp are two options that offer free versions of their CAD software. There are also many software packages for advanced cutting applications such as ShopData Systems. By having DXF files of the parts you want to cut available, you’ll be able to start cutting once the system is set up.
9) Material for Cutting – Buying sheets of steel and aluminum can be very expensive. Figuring out what type of metal and the thickness you’ll be cutting is important when budgeting for a plasma system. Make sure to cover the cost of material as well as the margin you want to make in the price you charge customers. If you’re buying material to keep in your inventory, then plan accordingly.
10) Plan for Profit – It’s absolutely necessary to have a business plan before you ever consider buying a CNC plasma system. You should always think about how you will make money from your system, whether you are bidding on a job or designing a product that you will fabricate and sell.
We hope our list will help you in preparing for a CNC plasma system. If you are interested in learning more about EZ Cut CNC plasma cutting tables, please contact us at 888-759-7184 or visit our website at www.ezcutcnc.com