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Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

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KMAPRO
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Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby KMAPRO » Thu Feb 09, 2017 2:42 pm

Sorry to sound so harsh but I have had nothing but problems out of the one we have - well ever since I took over the shop that is.

I can not keep it consistently working and Torchmate assistance has not been much, if any, help at all.

Right now, I can not get this thing to cut a perfect circle to save my life. I actually see the movement hesitations when it is running and I will end up with a "tit" in the same spot every time (without any setting/material changes). Thinner material usually has more spots in it than thicker (so far, the thickest I have cut is 1/4" - this go round).

Our table is "Pre-Lincoln" and i am tired of struggling with it and I am tired of having to farm out base plates and connecting plates....

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby tnbndr » Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:12 am

well ever since I took over the shop that is

What was the nature of the take over?? Was it used successfully before to do what you are trying?
Perhaps settings, cut parameters etc were jacked.
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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby ajk2004 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:13 am

If its pre lincoln, that could be a scary deal. I am a school teacher and we were able to buy a table a couple of years ago. It was a torchmate 1, which is the DIY kit. That is a lincoln kit and to me, it is junky. I think I did the best job someone could do as far as building it. Everything is true and square. The problem lies with the components of the system. The AVHC is clunky and slow, and the engineering of the table is bad. The rack gear sits upright on the inside of the table so it catches any dust/debris which is not desirable at all. They did away with this design and their guys even acknowledged the problem. I built a table for myself in my shop and it was a fraction of the cost of the TM and it will run circles around my school CNC. More power at the motors the DTHC is much better and more responsive and I took all of what I didn't like about the TM and fixed with the one I built. TM looks to be much improved now then a couple of years ago but if you are talking pre Lincoln, that could be a scary deal. Do you have any pictures of the table? If the table is good and solid, I might recommend beefing up what you have and possibly go with another motion control setup, like C and CNC. That is what I went with and it was a great decision.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby KMAPRO » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:18 pm

tnbndr wrote:
well ever since I took over the shop that is

What was the nature of the take over?? Was it used successfully before to do what you are trying?
Perhaps settings, cut parameters etc were jacked.


I started here in June of last year. Technically, I am the engineer and only got involved because nobody else could, or would, figure out what was wrong with the system.

According to the previous shop manager, the table hadn't worked for about 4 months before I came on board. I was able to work through a lot of the bugs and get it running (somewhat) again. We were still experiencing issues with operations and I was on the phone with Lincoln several times but wasn't really getting anywhere...then finally, I was able to talk to someone at Lincoln who seemingly knew what they were talking about with these older tables.
Keep in mind, I had already been told that they didn't really support that table any more but they would try to help me...the table just always seems like it has a problem: software related, motion control related, etc...now I am having torch problems and i am being told that Torchmate no longer supports that torch at all and I have to go to Hypertherm for support.

Hypertherm also tells me that they are no longer supporting that model torch and that when they are out of parts on the shelf...that's it. So now, I have to upgrade torches...

It is just one thing after another after another after another...it is down more than it is up. Lincoln wants me to pay a technician $3000 to come and take a look and I am refusing to pay that. I will replace the drive system before I do that.

And - yes, you are correct in your thinking right now. I am NOT an experienced plasma table operator. This is the first one I have ever worked with. However, I took the time to study it and figure most of it out through some trial and error. I did have it working pretty good until the last mishap.

The previous shop manager is no longer here and I am the ONLY one at this place who even remotely knows how to turn it on. I have no doubt that some of my frustrations are from pure lack of knowledge on the equipment. I can't say that ALL of it is the tables fault...but most of my frustrations comes from the lack of support I have received.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby KMAPRO » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:21 pm

ajk2004...

"Pre-Lincoln" may be a misnomer. It is my understanding (and someone please correct me if i am wrong), Torchmate was always, or has long been, part of Lincoln - it has just recently (last few years) become public knowledge.

My table is approximately 10 - 11 years old; Which is before the Lincoln name was associated to (again, from my understanding) Torchmate. My table is NOT a DIY kit. It was a true purchased 5'x10' table with complete Hypertherm cutting system and Torchmate software package as well.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby ajk2004 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 3:53 pm

Im fairly certain TM hasn't always been with Lincoln. I believe lincoln bought torchmate and vernon tool and those two companies are housed together in Reno, NV. I went there for a training a year ago. Neat place. If it is 10 years old, I'm sure it looks like mine, or worse? Do you have any pictures. If I could see your table/the avhc controller, and motion control box, I'd give you a better idea of what you should do. As far as holes not being round, biggest thing you can check is to make sure the gears are meshing good with the pinions and all of the setscrews are tight. Is the slipping in one spot (x axis vs. y axis....) that could help you narrow your problem. My guess is that you will have to upgrade to a different motion control, whether TM or something else. My system at the school is probably 3 years old and I'm hoping to get another 3 out of it before I will likely upgrade everything. The engineering is terrible but I followed their blueprint on how to put it together. I just don't like the height control. It is very slow and not very quick at responding to variations to the work. For $3000 for a tech, that is more then you could buy a new C and CNC setup for. I'm not affiliated with them, just going with what I know. Thanks.
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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby gamble » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:00 pm

Best thing I did to my torchmate was convert it to flashcut cnc.
Better software, more advanced hardware upgrades I did. Really good height control
Worth every penny
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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby tcaudle » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:25 pm

Torchmate for years has be a totally independent company. They bought their controllers from Flashcut. The had a separate source for their THCs'
Lincoln acquired TM a little over 3 years ago. They instantly made TM raise prices even on tables that had been ordered and were being built (that went over real well) . Lincoln has never been much of a player in the plasma world (they make good welders!) and TM was selling both Hypertherm and Thermal Dynamics . Slowly (like the Borg) TM was assimilated into the Goliath Lincoln monolith. Last year they announced they would stop selling and providing spare parts for the earlier TM 1, TM2 and TM3 series. Then they acquired a controls company and dropped Flashcut and announced their "New" table series at higher price points. There are still a lot of TM1/2/3 tables out there but they are not Lincoln tables.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby Gamelord » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:09 pm

I have a TM table and thus far am pretty happy with it (going on 9+ years or so). It cuts very nicely and having worked on some other tables (plamacam, Arclight) I would have to say my TM is on par with both of those, some features on the TM are better, some are not. Mine does cut perfectly round without the issues you are talking about so something obviously is not correct.

Couple things to check:
Do you have gear drive transmissions or belt drive gears? Both have to have proper gear meshing to work right. If it binds or 'bounces' as it goes from one gear track to the other or if any teeth are buggered, it will show on your cuts. It MUST run smooth at all times.
If belts (most common) then you will want to make sure that your belts are not too tight, if so then it will cause excessive wear on the brass bushings where your gear shafts go through, causing play which will make cut issues. Too loose and you will have backlash. If your bushings are warn they will need to be replaced. To check, remove the drives from the gear and table and wiggle the shaft that the rack gear is attached to, they should be solid and tight with zero play. Then rotate them and make sure they are not bent, a bent shaft will cause binding and excessive wear on the bushing which will be bad. When you have the motors pulled off, it is a great time to check your gantry for movement. It should be easy to slide up and down the table. It should move smoothly with no slop or play at all. If it jars or binds then you need to find out where and fix it. Do the same with your Y axis when you pull that motor to check it. It should slide back and forth across the table easily and smoothly.

Next, check EVERY SINGLE allen set key and make sure they are all tight. Turning them by hand will not test them properly, they have to be checked with a wrench. The rack is under extreme torque as it moves and they WILL SLIP, even if you swear they are tight. Double check them all just to save you some major headaches. You have two set screws on the drive gear, the stop collars and two on the larger motor gears for the belts. Any of these loose will be an issue.

Check your drawing to make sure it doesn't have a funky stop/start point in it. Easy way to check is to just draw a circle in TMcad about 4 inches diameter and then have it cut without any toolpaths or anything. The start and stop should end up exactly at the same point. If it is off then either your gantry is binding, something is slipping/loose (check those pesky allen screws again) or your may have the motor calibration ratios off in your cutting software.

Another thing to check is to make sure all your wiring and plugs are all connected firmly. I had one issue where a pin in one of the motor plugs had come loose and was barely making contact. As the gantry would move every once in a great while it would jiggle loose for a second and the cut would be screwed. To check, unplug each plug and look at the pins and make sure they are all in the plug at the same distance/length. You can also push on them with something small (lightly) to make sure they are firmly in the plug. I would check all the plugs on the gantry as well as the ones going into your motor controller.

Last thing - keep your machine as clean as possible. Plasma dust is very fine and gets into everything. I blow my machine off at least once or twice a week to make sure it is all good, paying special attention to the guide rails and the Z axis. Also, don't grease anything!!! Grease works good for about 30 seconds then it becomes a giant magnet for dust and grit which will start to gum everything up. Check your drive gear tracks as well as all the sliding surfaces on your gantry to make sure you don't have any build up of gunk that could be causing the gantry to pop or bind.

If the divots are on the stop and start point of your piece then to fix this you will want to create a lead-in and lead-out so that the divot ends up away from the piece as the torch pierces and then stops. Lead-in's and lead-outs can be created with your toolpaths.

A couple pictures of your cut pieces with the issues would be a big help. Also if you could post up your cut file so we can look at it too would be good, that way we can see if it is the file or if it is the table.
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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby tnbndr » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:57 am

It may be easy for me to say but in my opinion if you are going to use this to support an operation in a business you need reliability and support.
I wouldn't invest another penny or minute of time in it. Cut your losses and sell the machine to a hobbyist and purchase something that you can get support and training for.
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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby Redneck » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:56 pm

If you're having problems with round holes, you either have mechanical issues, backlash or worn gears, loose set screws, or worn out consumables. I've had a TM table since 2010, hole issues always go back to one of those. I recently switched to Flashcut, and at this point, the jury is still out as to which is better. Both have plusses and minuses.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby KMAPRO » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:37 pm

i did read where setscrews have been the culprit. I did go through and tighten the ones that I could easily see/get-to. Maybe i really need to go ahead and do a complete tear down to tighten every screw and nut I can find.

Belt drive or gear dive? I don't completely follow you but I will post pictures soon.

This "bump" when cutting round pieces seems to be happening in the X direction.

My control box has a blue screen - if that helps anyone out.

Honestly, if I could just get proper support, i am sure I could get the table to act accordingly. the support I have received has been hit or miss...took 4 months to resolve the first problem because nobody there knew what they were talking about on the older machines.

i have purchased/ordered a new torch and lead set. This one is the newer one from Hypertherm - don't remember the name of it off the top of my head. My plasma unit is the HyperMAX 1650 G3...

Pictures to follow shortly...

Thanks to ALL who are contributing

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby KMAPRO » Mon Feb 13, 2017 3:00 pm

Well, I don't have any pics online anywhere. So, apparently I can't post them...

My table is a T4 by the way...

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby Gamelord » Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:56 pm

I upgraded my drives to transmission drives instead of the normally used belt drives. Some tables were available with the transmissions, most were the belt drives. Here are a couple pics of the two. First one is the upgraded transmission drives:
drive1.jpg


And here is a picture of the belt drive setup (in front of the trans drive)
drive2-oldvsnew.jpg


And here is the other upgrade I did, this is the "T" bar add on. This took all the wiggle out of my Y Axis and really stiffened up the entire gantry:
drive3-T-barsetup.jpg


IF I remember, the entire upgrade was about 2K but it made a ton of difference in the cut quality.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby crbattery » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:18 am

For anyone running the older TM tables with the Animatics smart motor. We have that same system at work. We have had it since 05 and i have been primarily the sole operator. The boss can figure things out when I go on vacation but no one knows all of its quirks like I do. Anyways, when we upgraded to the AVHC system I was very unhappy with how slowly it would respond to material warpage issues.

I was able to get in contact with the fellow who originally wrote the code for that system and he told me what to rewrite to fix the response time issues I was having.

If your AVHC motor cable has the extra plug hanging off of it that is to get codes and send codes to the motor. I wrote several codes for different programs but eventually settled on one of them as being what I liked.

I do not recall the procedure for for sending and receiving codes to the motor but I have all of my codes I wrote saved to dropbox. If anyone would like to reprogram their Torchmate height control animatics smart motor interface let me know and I will email them to you.

Also as far as those old AVHC systems go the red face unit is the best on. The blue face is a joke if you ask me. Unable to change voltage control on the fly without looking at the controller box.

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Re: Does anybody else really despise their Torchmate?!?!

Postby crbattery » Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:31 am

One more thing. Mike Aielio is one of the best at torchmate tech support. He is technically in engineering now but if you make a point that you want to talk to him you can get him. Daniel Stewart is another Tech support that knows whats going on. You want to talk to someone that has worked there since pre lincoln.


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