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What can I expect from DIY plasma?

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RyanS
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What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby RyanS » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:32 am

I'm a new member from Australia. I've been doing some research into building a CNC plasma table but am wondering what tolerances and cut quality I can expect from a DIY CNC plasma.

I have single phase power and from everything I've read the Hypertherm Powermax 45XP is going to offer the best results. I'm fairly sure I would use CandCNC electronics with steppers, but I'm not ruling out servos. I think I would build the table with a combination of welded and bolted square hollow steel section.

Do holes for bolts and tapping threads into need to be drilled or will the plasma cut to that resolution (+/- 0.1mm)? The kerf width, according to the Powermax manual is around 1 to 1.5mm, so perhaps not. I'd like to be able to plasma cut most of the parts for a belt grinder, a benchtop size pan brake. Are they useful for these sort of projects?

I know steel, stainless and aluminium can be cut, but the cut charts in the manual don't mention copper and brass. I've seen you tube videos of thin copper being cut to a high standard, but not brass. Can it cut copper alloys? What about high carbon and alloy steel?

Duty cycle is 50% at 45 amps but 100% at 32 amps. Does this mean that in a CNC setup i'm limited to 32? I'd be happy if I could cnc cut 10mm plate

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SeanP
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby SeanP » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:18 pm

Hi Ryan.
When I built my table I started out thinking a bolt together frame would be best, but soon swapped over to being fully welded apart from the rails that the linear rails bolted onto, it was easy enough keeping the main frame square but wasn't sure it would be good enough to run the linear rails, very handy being able to get them running perfect with the adjustment.

No chance at tapping holes cut with plasma, cut under size by 1.5mm or so and drill/tap.

You will get fairly decent holes for bolts depending on dia vs thickness, not laser quality but ok though, just drill out if you want perfect.
5mm dia and over in 3mm or say 12mm dia and over in 10mm less than that is pushing it, even then you might need a tidy up with carbide burr on likes of 10mm.

You will cut all carbon steel with a nice quality cut, aluminium is a more rough edge, but once dialled in is still good, same with stainless really.

I can cut 12mm base plates all day with the old 45 no problem, you could well be a bit warmer over there so that might reduce it a bit, I have cut in some fairly hot weather and it's never been a problem, the fan kicks in to cool it, great machines!

Have a look at the link in my signature at my build, it runs every day like a good un.
Powermax 45XP
Home built table, Candcnc DTHC 2, Dragoncut 620-4
R-Tech 210 Tig, Jasic 250 mig
Sheetcam, Scanything, Coreldraw X8, Solidworks
Table build gallery

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acourtjester
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby acourtjester » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:48 pm

Hi Ryan
I'm with Sean weld the table and forget it, to many stops and turns at speed bolts will loosen. If you plasma cut holes and try to drill or tap them tools will break. Many DIY table owner's here are happy with the tolerances, just many sure you do the steps per MM calibrations.
Very good choice of the Hypertherm and CandCNC electronics.
keep us informed and have fun :D
DIY 4X4 Plasma/Router Table
CandCNC DTHC-IV & Feather Touch
Hypertherm PM65 Machine Torch
Drag Knife and Scribe
Miller Mig welder
13" metal lathe
Small Mill
Everlast PM 256 tig

Rodw
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby Rodw » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:20 pm

Hi, I'm another Aussie thats just getting his DIY table cutting. It depends how much DIY you want to do but I have done the lot! Its not that difficult to build a table with tolerances in my view if you are prepared to use the right motion components. I can easily cut M6 clearance holes and think I could go lower. There are options available to Aussies that don't require the expense of importing control equipment.

tcaudle
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby tcaudle » Tue Sep 05, 2017 6:52 pm

Really? Send us some photos of M6 clearance holes you have cut with an M6 bolt as reference. Something in 3mm or thicker material.

Bobkovacs
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby Bobkovacs » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:25 pm

A lot of folks have been having issues with the 45xp- you may want to do a search on here to find out more, and look at another cutter. I'm one of the lucky ones who hasn't had many issues.

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SeanP
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby SeanP » Wed Sep 06, 2017 4:47 am

These are typical from my machine.
.15mm taper on 3mm & .25mm on the 6mm

IMG_20170906_094022.jpg


IMG_20170906_093624_01.jpg

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Powermax 45XP
Home built table, Candcnc DTHC 2, Dragoncut 620-4
R-Tech 210 Tig, Jasic 250 mig
Sheetcam, Scanything, Coreldraw X8, Solidworks
Table build gallery

RyanS
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby RyanS » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:23 am

acourtjester: Tools breaking because the heat of plasma hardens the edges? Perhaps undersize holes by 50%? Your example holes should be ok for brac

I guess if I require precision, I could have a pneumatic engraver on the machine to mark drill hole locations and spot drill.

Rodw: options in Australia for turnkey electronic packages? I would take the DIY option but I'd have too much money invested for it to fail. I can do basic wiring but getting the THC and everything working together gives me a headache.

Bobkovaks: What sort of issues? I've read that finecut consumables are hard to set up correctly.

Rodw
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby Rodw » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:50 am

tcaudle wrote:Really? Send us some photos of M6 clearance holes you have cut with an M6 bolt as reference. Something in 3mm or thicker material.


Tom, you really should read what you write before posting on a public forum. No need to be sarcastic or disrespectful. I'm no threat to your business. Just a hobbyist on the other side of the world. It seems somebody's already posted a hole in 3mm, but here's a 6mm clearance hole in 2mm plate plus a M6 nutsert inserted in a 10mm hole. Sorry but I had already chamfered the holes before your request but they have not been drilled through.

Image

This is a prototype which served its purpose. Am I going to run it on my plasma cutter? Well no. I need a commercial production run of these, I don't have a press brake so keeping a few hundred 3 degree bends consistent would be a problem. I can get the parts cut, powdercoated and nutserts inserted without me lifting a finger. So this will be laser cut from here and returned as a part ready for sale.

RyanS wrote:Rodw: options in Australia for turnkey electronic packages? I would take the DIY option but I'd have too much money invested for it to fail. I can do basic wiring but getting the THC and everything working together gives me a headache.


Originally you said DIY, not turnkey electronics. As you know there are not many turnkey options anywhere. Those that are there become quite expensive by the time you get them to Australia and then you are faced with remote support in an unfriendly time zone. Thats why I went with the DIY option and would be willing to help another Aussie along the journey. I don't think it would be hard to turn my work to date into a turnkey package but it would be a bit more bare bones than what is available commercially. As for complete commercial offerings, there is a very serious manufacturer here in Brisbane but you might need $130k to play (very nice but) http://www.advancedrobotic.com/

tcaudle
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby tcaudle » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:01 pm

Rod the intent was not to bemean you or your work but all I have seen is theory (" I SHOULD be able to....") I am certainly not afraid of competition. I know what it takes to develop, bring to production and support a complex product and I am fully aware of the issue of selling and shipping into Australia....been doing it for many years. The AU government does everything it can to discourage it's users from sourcing goods outside the country. At one time we could ship our larger systems into the country via USPS International express in conjunction with the AU postal express, and at pretty good rates. Mysteriously one day we were notified that USPS could no longer take boxes above a certain size and weight (but only to Australia).

I am glad you are willing to help someone build a table, and that is important because not everyone will have the dogged determination to make a bunch of components from various vendors work with beta software, and spend the necessary time to make it work. By your admission you are still doing the initial setup and testing on your own machine and some users may want to avoid that stage. We have an out-of-the box solution for using a plasma with an internal divider (20:1 50:1 and soon 30:1). Also a simple solution for other machines.

The only (from us) solution is not to just buy a whole controller with motors: We have other products that are just the front end control, computer , software and THC to drive several motor options and power sections. . Most notably is the Gecko G540 as a 4 axis stepper driver One cable. Other options include discreet driver setups. It's small. light and ready to run. Control box weights a few lbs.

As I have stated before: For some it's the journey , for others it's the destination.

Rodw
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby Rodw » Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:22 pm

OT for a moment here. The tyranny of distance is the biggest impediment to doing business in AU and our location favours logistics out of Asia over the US. With the AU-US free trade agreement, there should be no duties on your products if YOU complete the paperwork correctly. The government fees then only become AUD $83 and a newly trumped up fee of about $20 for biosecurity!!!! Sure, they'll slap on our 10% GST. But if you are a real business, this comes off the tax you have to pay at the end of the quarter so its no big deal. I've recently opened an account with DHL. We bought in 70kg ex-US the other day via a US freight fowarder who only quoted us USD $345. After a holiday in Hawaii, it arrived with an $800 bill 10 days later. about $350 was the GST and government taxes and the rest was the 3rd party customs clearance. DHL charge just $20 for customs clearance and will get it to me in 3 days. Its hard to compare rates, but next time we'll use my DHL account and THINK we'll save money over the other methods we've tried.

And yes, I never set out to get so in depth into my build. I don't have much time to devote to it and its very complex as you say. The problem is I do prefer excellence over mediocrity and the LinuxCNC developers have been changing the goal posts in a good way since I started my build. Somebody had to be first. I think I'm there now as my results have been fed back into the LinuxCNC code base. Currently I'm held back by plamsa machine issues on my cheap machine so I can't cut. Surprisingly Hypertherm was much better priced than I thought and had stock available locally except the CPC cable. But all my budget is currently being spent on business growth strategies so the hobby has to take a back seat for a month or so.

jimcolt
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby jimcolt » Thu Sep 07, 2017 6:43 pm

Bobkovacs , maybe you could enlighten me regarding these issues? We have thousands of the Powermax45XP's on cnc cutting machines around the world, Hypertherm is not aware of any issues! The 45 XP is the best selling plasma cutter in the world.....I suspect it would not be if there were issues! Jim Colt Hypertherm


Bobkovacs wrote:A lot of folks have been having issues with the 45xp- you may want to do a search on here to find out more, and look at another cutter. I'm one of the lucky ones who hasn't had many issues.

RyanS
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby RyanS » Fri Sep 08, 2017 2:31 am

Anyway I'm now the owner of a 45 XP and a few thousand poorer.

I've seen copper sheet being plasma cut on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLiuzjo8pkw

Brass too (a bit rough): https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... +cut+brass

How come the 45 XP manual doesn't have a cut chart for brass and copper? Is it not recommended to cut?

jimcolt
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Re: What can I expect from DIY plasma?

Postby jimcolt » Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:10 am

99.9% of the metals used in the world are steel stainless and aluminum. There are literally thousands of other alloys including brass and copper that fit into the 1% left over. If we had a chart for each the manual would need maybe a thousand or so pages!

Bottom line is that all metals that are electrical conductors will cut with plasma.

-For most alloys of brass I recommend starting with aluminum specifications. Make sure your cut height is always at .06" (adjust arc voltage until the physical height stays correct), increase or decrease speed to minimize dross and lessen edge angularity.

- For copper thinner than 1/8" you can use the steel cut specs, again....stick with the recommended height. adjust speed to get the cut you want. On thicker copper you definitely will need to cut slower, and or at higher amperage levels.

Jim Colt Hypertherm


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