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Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

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camerond
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Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby camerond » Thu Jan 04, 2018 6:37 pm

I'm new here. I have no doubt the following questions have been asked many times but I couldn't seem to find any threads of similar nature so I'm asking. I apologize if this has been discussed at length.

I am an engineer by trade and have been looking for a little side business I could do to make some extra play money. For some time now I have been thinking and researching about the concept of starting a little plasma cutting gig.

Here's my plan. I'd like to buy one of those really nice prefabbed sheds, say a 10'x12' or maybe a 12'x16' for the backyard. Then I'd have my electrician buddies run sufficient power out to it. Next I'd buy a decent CNC setup and install it, along with ventilation and such, the works. Most posts/articles I've read say I'd regret a 4'x4' table and I'm sure I will but that's what I would start out with as my intention would be to do mostly art work and maybe small part orders. Perhaps I would add a welding setup at some point but I want to keep it simple and light. I don't intend to get into heavy, or even medium fabrication.

Drafting won't be a problem as my drafting in various CAD software is at the ninja skill level, which is why this is enticing for me. Again, I'm just looking to use my existing skills to do a little extra work and play on the side, perhaps something I could pass along to my son when he gets older.

The questions are... am I crazy? Is the shed a bad idea? I know bigger is always better but what size do I realistically need to make this work half decently? I've been looking, but how much is a decent CNC setup going to run me? Include everything I'd need, ie a compressor, ventilation fan.

Again, I apologize if this is repetitive but I appreciative any input I can glean from all the experience represented on this forum.

Cheers

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acourtjester
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby acourtjester » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:34 am

Here is my take on your question, one reason for some wanting a larger table like a 4'X8' is that is the size of most metal plate, so you load a sheet and cut parts from it. With A 4'X 4' you just cut the sheet in half and load a half sheet for cutting and store the other half. So both have advantages, larger sheet are heavier and if your working by yourself that is something to consider. The shed is not a bad idea if the climate mild unless you insulate the walls and roof. Are you going to have a concrete floor for your shed? Something I would suggest is putting your compressor outside the shed to reduce the noise you could have an open cover for it.
Now the money making part, are there other in the area doing the same thing, don't look at commercial operations as they most likely will not do what you are looking at. How do you plan on marketing your products, are you planning un-finished, painted, of power coating. You will also need ways to clean your products, grinder, acid baths. Have you looked into the local codes that may cover what you are wanting to do?
I'm sure other will chime in with other info.
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Bobkovacs
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby Bobkovacs » Fri Jan 05, 2018 1:43 pm

One thing to bear in mind is that you'll want access on at least three sides of the machine- whether it's 4x4 or 4x8, trying to lean across the machine to reach a piece that has tipped up on the far side isn't any fun. My 4x8 sits in a 12' wide space and I have a 2' counter along one side, so it's tight on the long sides (remember that a 4' wide table actually ends up being more like 5' wide once you add the drives and cable track). Without the counter, 12' would be fine, but 10' is too narrow, IMO.

Regarding 4x4 vs 4x8, that's up to you and what you want to do with it- if you're only doing small wall art, etc., and not doing production work, 4x4 may be fine, but the first time someone wants a 5' long sign you may kick yourself. People say "ohh, just index the sheet", but it's not as easy as they make it sound, and you need the excess space past the table to slide the sheet into, so you might as well just put a bigger table in. My 4x8 was only $1,000 more than the 4x4 from the same company, so it was a no-brainer for me

Granite
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby Granite » Fri Jan 05, 2018 2:17 pm

Here are some of my quick thoughts.

1. Allow decent space for metal storage and scraps. Its amazing how fast you can accumulate scrap. (I save most of my scraps for Xmas ornaments and freebies for friends and family. But even as a hobby, your scrap pile can quickly get out of control) A good rolling storage cart is a must in my opinion. Use big pneumatic tires if you plan on rolling it in gravel or grass.

2. Insulate and vent your shed, irregardless of what climate you are in. Making some effort to keep a consistent operating environment, with regard to humidity and temperature control, will save you many headaches with clean/dry air wreaking havoc on your torch and THC settings. That said, I agree with "acourjester" regarding placement of your compressor. Just take steps to keep it contained in a manner to maintain the same climate settings as your main shed. (A remote temp/humidity sensor works great to monitor that)

3. Make sure your 4 x 4 table footprint still accommodates a 4 x 8 sheet of steel. I use a 4 x 4 table and at first would cut my sheets to 4' x 4'. That gets old, and wastes material. Soon enough you will learn to index your sheets and need to make cuts longer than 48". I fabricated an adjustable jack pipe stand with a 24" wide roller to support the 4' of steel hanging off the table. Just remember that this method actually takes 12 feet of footprint as you load your steel with 4' hanging off the back. Make your cuts, then slide the sheet off the front to cut the remaining 4' of steel. Sounds complicated but I do it all the time. Having just one jack pipe stand works fine.

4. And yes, as "acourtjester" said: "You will also need ways to clean your products, grinder, acid baths", and powder coat/paint." In my opinion, I'd think a 12' x 16' shed would be about the smallest I would go with. 12' x 20' would make a world of difference.

Owning a hybrid CNC plasma/router has been an absolute blast. Given your technical skills, I'm sure you will not regret it.

Mtw fdu
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby Mtw fdu » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:45 pm

I own and operate a 2 x 2 table. I also do small jobs which have no minimum charge which most bigger companies do.

At the moment I am flat out trying to keep up with demand. You don't need a bigger table for it to be successful.

Having said that, I do sometimes think I should have gone bigger.

I "echo" what everybody else has said. It is really up to your specific needs and budget as well.

Hope this helps.

Mtw fdu.
Camcutcnc 2 x 2 plasma cutter with UC 100 Motion Controller
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steel 35
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby steel 35 » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:36 pm

I Have been struggling with the same type scenario for years,
1.5 years should I & How big =ed 4 X 8
Current; still considering cutting down to 4' Gantry X 5' . My preferred sheets only come 4X10
Hypotherm 65 Knew I would like to cut 1/2" Ok so close to max!, without stupid power and heavy equipment.
Current; Want the XP 45 Will take care of that Plus.
C&CNC DTCHIV with 5th axis Wouldn't change a thing. Router & Rotary are fun.
Layout of my 3 car shop = 1 car that hopefully moves.
I would check on the largest portable size shed you can have.
Draw the thing up and build it, but it magically would not be wood floor, and the walls fire retardant.
PPL HDG 4X8
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plasmartist
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby plasmartist » Wed Jan 10, 2018 1:21 pm

I will Chime in on what I have done for my home business. Given the extensive tools I already have in my 2 car garage, I opted to build a 4x4 table. I built my table to the exact height of the bed of my pickup bed, and of course have the table set up with the back just inches from the garage door. This allowed me maximize my floor space. I also left 4 feet open in front of the table for the rare occasion that I need to index the sheet ie move it forward to continue a cut that is larger than 48". The way I load my material is via a winch mounted to the table and a homemade hook made from scrap 3/16", I have loaded 1/2" with no problem. This has worked great for me. From your post is sounds like you have fairly limited tools, and probably no forklift or crane, so I would highly recommend that you consider what method you will use to load the material onto the table itself. If your shed isn't accessible by vehicle, it will get really old moving 48x96 sheets by hand. I for one am happy that I built a 4x4 table, but if I had a larger shop I would without a doubt move to a 4x8

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acourtjester
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Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby acourtjester » Wed Jan 10, 2018 3:09 pm

for moving and loading material for a single guy shop check out what Sean has posted ( 2 videos)
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=19897&p=115044&hilit=sheet+mover#p115044
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

Granite
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 4:57 am

Re: Space needed for a 4'x4' CNC plasma cutting rig

Postby Granite » Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:30 pm

for moving and loading material for a single guy shop check out what Sean has posted ( 2 videos)


Wow! That is so slick. Thanks for sharing.


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