Generating an informed Determination on the Up coming Cutting Machine
If you are a primary time buyer or have existing installations of plasma and/or oxy-fuel shape cutting systems, continuous advancements in technology and an increasing landscape of low-cost manufacturers and integrators has clouded the automated plasma shape cutting machinery landscape.
Plasma cutting is caused by introducing an electrical arc through a gas that’s blown through a nozzle at high pressure, evoking the gas to become plasma and creating a focused flame that reaches temperatures of 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Automated plasma cutting systems are classified as either conventional or precision (high-definition), on the basis of the characteristics of the cutting flame. Precision plasma systems are capable of producing parts to tighter tolerances, achieving faster cut rates, and producing less kerf and bevel than conventional plasma systems. The price of these units can be significantly more than conventional plasma systems. It’s therefore extremely crucial that you properly match the design cutting machine with the appropriate plasma cutting system.
One of the most common and costly pitfalls buyers encounter is when manufacturers or integrators mismatch machines and power sources. That is often caused by manufacturers not making the effort to understand the buyer’s requirements, having a limited or single-product line of machines, limited OEM access to power sources, and/or too little industry/application knowledge. These manufacturers will often sell with an emphasis on lowest price in place of lowest cost of ownership, highlighting the strong point of the plasma system or the device without regard to the limitations of the other. The very best precision plasma power source available will not provide users with the required cut quality and accuracy when it is not mated to a proper base machine.
You can find various kinds of plasma shape cutting machines available on the market today. The most frequent machines are bridge or gantry style machines created from either fabricated steel or extruded aluminum. Construction of the device is very important relative to your application. Machines made out of extruded aluminum are generally considered to be hobbyist or artisan machines and most appropriate when carrying out a limited quantity of cutting or when cutting light gauge materials. The plasma and oxy-fuel cutting processes create large amounts of heat which will be retained in the materials being cut and could cause deflection or warping of aluminum machine components traveling on the hot cutting surfaces, greatly effecting accuracy and cut quality. Fabricated steel machines are strongly recommended for any kind of continuous cutting process, cutting of plate steel, and where auxiliary oxy-fuel torches might be used. Auxiliary heat shields may also be available to further protect the device and components from extreme heat conditions.
Cutting machines are available with a number of drive systems including single-side drive, single-motor dual-side drive, and true two-motor dual-side drive systems. A well constructed single-side drive system or single-motor dual-side drive system will perform quite well in conventional plasma applications. The advantage of the additional precision provided by two-motor dual-side drive systems will not be realized in conventional plasma applications due to the limitations in the precision of the standard plasma cutting process itself. Two-motor dual-side drive systems will provide the accuracy and performance required to achieve optimal results from a precision plasma process.
Sizing of the motors and gear boxes relative to the mass of the device is also extremely important. Undersized motors and gearboxes will not have the ability to effectively change the direction of the mass of the device at high traverse and cut speeds, causing un-uniform cut quality and washed-out corners. This not just affects the cut quality, but will also result in premature mechanical failures.
The CNC control is the system that ties together all of the functionality and options that come with the device and plasma source. You can find basically two classes of controls utilized on most of these machines today. Most industrial applications use industrial PC-based control systems such as for instance those created by Burny or Hypertherm. These units have user-friendly touchscreen display control panels and are housed in enclosures that may resist the harsh environments they operate in. Smaller machines of the hobbyist or artisan types often utilize standard PCs with I/O cards to regulate the drives and plasma systems. Industrial based controls are strongly recommended for almost any application, were created for industry specific requirements, are less prone to the normal PC problems, but can be cost prohibitive in smaller applications.
Another important, and often overlooked, feature to take into account when selecting a device could be the construction of the rail system. Plasma cutti CNC material flatbed cutter ng machines produce and reside in a harsh environment. It’s therefore critical that the components used in the construction of the rail system be robust enough to exist in this environment. All rail surfaces should be made out of hardened materials and cleaned frequently so they do not become pitted and gouged by the splatter of molten steel that’ll inevitably fall on them. Self-cleaning wheels may also be a recommended feature to keep the wheels clean between regular preventive maintenance (PM) cycles. Sizing of the rails must also be robust enough to stop deflection as the device travels across them.
The mixture of all of the above factors results in the precision and accuracy of a system. Unlike other mechanical machining processes, it’s difficult to assign a typical tolerance to plasma cutting processes. Many manufacturers will strongly promote the fact their machines have positional accuracy of +/-0.007 in. and repeatability of +/-0.002 in.. The fact is that almost any machine on the market holds tolerances that far exceed the tolerance and convenience of the plasma cutting process itself. There are lots of factors that’ll influence the cut quality you’ll achieve on your own parts including: the characteristics of the part itself, power settings, consumables, gases used, material type, gauge/thickness of material, part layout on plate, etc.. Ask the maker to give you cut types of your parts or parts that closely approximate the parts you is going to be cutting, made on a machine/plasma combination that’s comparable as to the you’re looking at. This will give you probably the most realistic representation of what to anticipate from a particular machine/plasma combination and the plasma cutting process itself.