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A new plasma table.

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A new plasma table.

Postby JodiB » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:36 pm

How's everyone doing? I would like to reach out and ask for advice and opinions about the purchase of a new plasma table. We currently have a Spidercut CNC table that isn't meeting our needs and doesn't produce a satisfactory cut (Don't get me started on this table, there isn't enough time or words to get all my frustrations out) I've searched and searched the internet and so far I am unable to find the table I'm looking for.

I'm looking for a table that is: 4'x4' and solid, rolled ball screw drives on all the axis, and has 16 pole stepper motors.

I know I'm opening up a lot of discussions here. From my research, the above specs would work best for us. I don't want to see a slightly serrated edge on all the cuts that come from; the gantry being to heavy, rack and pinion drive, V bearings on cold rolled steel, or not being able to cut fast enough to prevent warpage of the metal... The list is endless.

For the past two years, we have been down every road and avenue with our current table and software.

Is there a hidden gem of a table out there that will give me the results I want, let me know, please. Tracker, Torchmate, Plasmacam, delusional CNC, Lonestar, Fab cam..... I've looked at them all and read the reviews and I'm nervous about what I read and see in their specs.

Does some person build an amazing or is there a kit out there?

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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby weldguy » Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:58 pm

That's a real bummer your having so much trouble. I am not at all familiar with Spidercut but all of the cut quality issues you describe can happen on any machine if not being used properly in terms of amperage, speed, cut height, etc.

Don't get to hung up on specs, I have used PlasmaCam, Tracker, Shop Saber, and Starlab with flawless results and all are dramatically different in terms of specs.

All machines I have listed above are very reputable, have been around many years and will serve you very well. Your budget should help narrow down the options between the long standing reputable manufacturers out there and from there it should not be too tough to choose. Good luck in your search!

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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby JodiB » Thu Aug 30, 2018 6:29 am

Thank you for the reply. I should describe what we are doing. I make decorative metal art, lots of words and fine cuts. I use14 gauge metal. I spend way too much of my time cleaning the edges of my cuts to get a satisfactory result. The table we have right now has some mechanical issues and we've decided that a new table would be the best route. So when I read the specs. of another table that is constructed much the same way as our current table, I get nervous.

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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby acourtjester » Thu Aug 30, 2018 7:32 am

I cannot comment on any manufactured table as I built my own, but there seems to many here that use Arclight, and LDR. If you go through the post here below the post many have their table names listed, and there are many that do art type cuttings. You did not list your location you may be able to visit some table manufactures for a first hand look at their table, or a member from here.
You also did not list a THC as part of your want list, but were concerned about warpage. Maintaining the correct cut height has a lot to do with cut quality along with nozzle size, cutting amps as well as the Plasma unit itself.
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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby jimcolt » Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:28 am

Actually there are a number of companies that build highly precise, industrial grade cnc plasma tables. Ballscrews are generally not used for inertia and accuracy reasons (at plasma speeds) , helical racks and pinion gears are most common along with zero backlash planetary gearboxes. ServoMotors are always used on high end machines with closed loop encoder feedback, servos offer a far superior torque / rpm curve that works best with speeds and acceleration rates needed for best plasma cut quality. Purpose built, hardened industrial grade cnc controls are used on these machines to eliminate electrical noise interference as well as to improve coordination of each axis including Z (height).The supporting lower frames of most precision machines are welded, then stress relieved, then the way surfaces are milled parallel and square (this is costly but certainly separates industrial quality machines from their low cost counterparts). Moving parts (gantry, torch carriage, etc.) are designed of light weight aluminum (to keep the moving mass manageable) and drive motors are inertia matched and gear reduced to enhance speed, acceleration and path following error. Downdraft fume control further improves cut quality on advanced machines. Take a look at the for some good examples of high end precision cnc plasma machines. Expect to pay a lot more! A 4 x 4 machine with the highest accuracy and performance will likely be above the $80k mark. If price is an issue then look at the 30 or more manufacturers of low cost cnc machines....there is some pretty good technology with the top players in this market for prices between $25k and $40k, stepper driven, rack and pinion drive. Jim Colt Hypertherm
Last edited by jimcolt on Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby Scratch » Thu Aug 30, 2018 8:55 am

What kind of unsatisfactory cuts are you getting? Do you have a picture?

If it's just that you are cleaning the edges of your cuts, you might just have your settings wrong (IPM, Amperage, TH...). You will have unsatisfactory cuts with any table if you don't have your settings right.

I have a 15 year old Practical CNC table that got such a bad reputation they went out of business shortly after I bought it, I'm using a Thermal Dynamics torch, not a Hypertherm like the overwhelming majority on here, am working with outdated software that most people on here would laugh at, plus I don't even have ATHC on my table and my cuts are great!

Now I don't have any experience with Spidercut tables and maybe cut quality is only a drop in the bucket of problems with your table, but it seems to me it might be less expensive to fix your mechanical issues and then figure out your cut settings. I mean all the table really does is simply move the torch around at the speed and height you control. I assume it's decent enough that you can adjust the cut settings somewhere?

Again... I don't know all your reasons for wanting to replace it, but all the above tables should produce acceptable cut quality. Especially for art. I think the torch itself is where the cut quality can suffer.
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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby Ironken » Thu Aug 30, 2018 2:04 pm

I have been very happy with my JD2 MAD 4X4. A ton of high end components (servos, built SOLID, excellent support). I have done some signage and am pleased with the results. My bread and butter is parts for contract work that I do and I run the crap outta this thing without a whimper. A very well thought out package for the price.

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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby tnbndr » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:20 am

You may want to seek out users near you of other machines and check them out in person. It may be that your expectations are above what a plasma can do and should be looking at water jet or laser for fine smooth cuts.
I have an LDR and PM45 and produce signage and artwork that has acceptable edges for what it is. I did spend a lot of time with test cuts and settings at each gauge to set up my tools in SheetCam.
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Re: A new plasma table.

Postby JodiB » Fri Aug 31, 2018 7:49 am

Thanks for all the reply's, they've been helpful.

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