View Full Version : Plasma CNC Table?
11-26-2005, 10:52 AM
What brand is everyone using? i am looking into buying one to cut out our own parts. i already have a miller spectrum 625 to use. I have heard plasmacam has bad customer service. looking at torchmate III and practicalCNC
11-26-2005, 12:01 PM
Don't know if torchmate has improved.
I have a friend with one. He is not too fond of the controller running inside the old DOS computer as voltage spikes from the plazma torch periodically wipe out the program. So far not the computer, not the machine, but cause everything to shut down and reboot.
There are some systems where the drivers are better isolated from the controls.
Can't say more than that, as I don't have one other than the borrowed "plotter" I used for the globe.
11-26-2005, 12:45 PM
I ran a torchmate machine for a year before desiding to purchase my PracticalCNC machine.
if your considering 3d work or routing the engineer at Torchmate (who lives near me NOT near the company) basicly backed off any help on the 3rd axis. I wanted to be able to both plasma and use a large router for cutting work on the same machine as I mostly do low volume work and prototyping for my seasonal business.
While I was running the torchmate machine I was unhappy with the VTH system as it required the torch to press down on the material. This is quite a problem on thinner material. That being said the torch height controller works quite well, all my complaints with the system seem to have been fixed on the current model. The Z axis system was a failure waiting to happen and was poorly welded, the new system seems to work well and my friend is pleased with his machine. He is using a powermax 1000 with machine torch.
On a very positive side, torchmateCAD (a customization of signlab) is what i really feel the practicalCNC machine is missing. Very easy to use and intuitive on what your trying to do. That being said, we always draw in autocad and import anyway, but i found TorchmateCAD to quite helpful.
I worked on this a long time before deciding to make the practicalCNC my purchase. Along with the 3d aspect I liked the idea of a torch height controller that did not contact the material as we were having lots of problems with 20Ga copper bending and the height being wrong for the voltage used. Torchmate had a nice advantage that the torch moved up out of the way of tipups, a constant problem unless you tab parts to the plate or use a smaller grid(which i STRONGLY recommend) but the practical machine works very well.
What would I buy now? I think I'd still have to go with the PracticalCNC machine, but BOTH do a great job. I currently use a powermax 1250 and it cuts very well up to 1" plate. I did find that the ways on the torchmate machine stay MUCH cleaner, but I've taken to lightly wiping the ways on the practical machine before cutting, only takes a second or 2.
not that I think it matters but the practical machine I have is a 4' by 4' and the Torchmate machine was a 5' by 10'. I think with the build systems they use I dont find that making a difference
Once again if your considering a z axis the practicalCNC is far better with a heavy duty 6" travel screw type, that is no compairison with the Torchmate which uses tiny fragile parts for the z axis , at least on the unit we had. Also at the time I purchased the practical machine INCLUDED the z axis with it was a very expensive option on the torchmate, making the practical machine cheaper by like a thousand dollars if you compaired.
Please note all this information is my lowly opinion and from my purchase in september of 2004. I wouldnt mind being 'stuck' with either machine and everyone at BOTH companies were friendly and helpful.
my machine runs 1-2 hours a day (practical), my friends machine run s 8-10 hours a day and is over 2 years old (Torchmate) and we are both happy with our results
I'll check both website and see what updates I think would matter.
11-26-2005, 02:37 PM
Thank you!! i am looking at the 4x4 tables due to i dont do large numbers or large items. but im sure i will start doing more to help pay for the machine. I have just noticed that im spending 2-3K a month on laser parts. plus theres been a few time i would like to cut out a few on-offs and i cant afford or get customer to pay for the $90 set up fee
11-26-2005, 09:00 PM
tell your friend the signal generator box on our machine was bad when we first got it up and running. It had many of the same problems where everything would reset itself in the middle of a huge nest , then sometimes just go crazy. They kept telling us we had stuff grounded wrong and we battled with it for a couple months. We finally got Torchmate to replace the signal box and never had another problem. note if your using a plasma with High Freq start your begging for a problem, I'm told the Powermax line does not and both of ours work great.
My experiance with owning a plasma table suprised even me. I started with the thought of making parts myself that I was already paying to have cut. Now we design product directly for the plasma that we would never have made at all before we bought our own.
a good example was today... I needed a strap bracket to hold the bottom of my vise (6" leg vise) to the post it is attached to. In 2 or 3 mins I had drawn and programed a bracket with Maltese crosses on either end and holes for the bolts rather then drilling a bar. 10min later it was done, most of the time was spent waiting for the air compressor to come up to pressure as I wasnt working today.
It allows you to design on a whim and make parts you might never have gotten around to quicker then the time it might take to pulll out the tools to do it another way, then the second one is only seconds away from the first one. I have a product that is normally around 20 parts and welds with forming taking half a day, now it is 2 parts, 2 welds and 20-30 mins. plus it is fancier and i both get more $$ for it AND it sells faster. Win Win
youll be amazed at how much smaller a piece of metal is before you move it to the scrap pile....
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