Metalworking (rec.crafts.metalworking) Discuss various aspects of working with metal, such as machining, welding, metal joining, screwing, casting, hardening/tempering, blacksmithing/forging, spinning and hammer work, sheet metal work.

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Old July 17th 03, 12:32 AM
Heidi
 
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Default newbie question-plasma cutter and CNC systems

Hi all,

I am brand new to this listserve. Hopefully, this is the right avenue
for advice, if there is a more specific newsgroup I should check, please
let me know!

I am a metal artist and find myself increasingly interested in a plasma
cutter. I don't work in or own an industrial shop, I am a small time
artist looking to increase my abilities w/ limited space and resources
$$$. Can anyone recommend a good place to start for a plasma cutter and
CNC system?

I have a bunch of questions...
Can you find these things used and if so where?
I have been told that Hypertherm makes a good plasma cutter compatible
w/ most CNC systems. Anyone have experience w/ these? Any model
recommendations? I'm thinking about the 600.
Has anyone tried the kits such as Torchmate. How difficult is it to put
those together?
Has anyone had experience or can recommend a company that sells CNC systems?
Aside from the kits which require major assembly and additional
materials, can I find a CNC package for less than $7k?
Would I be able to do work w/ just a plasma cutter and not a CNC? I'm
guessing it would be difficult to manually cut out any intricate designs.
Whether I cut manually or w/ a CNC how clean is the cut--how much
grinding will I have to do after?
Finally, I see a lot of cheap (price wise, not commenting on the
quality) metal crafts at local craft fairs--you know things like wall
mounted key holders and welcome signs w/ western theme cut outs. I have
a hard time believing all these folks have plunked down $8 to $10k for a
plasma cutter/CNC system to make all this stuff. Are there other options?

Thanks in advance for any advice or other resources!
Heidi


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Old July 17th 03, 02:07 AM
Sven
 
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Default newbie question-plasma cutter and CNC systems

Hi Heidi
You could buy the PlasmaCam software, design the items you need and have a
PlasmaCam owner cut them for you.That would save you about $9000.00 in
cutting table and plasma cutter costs not to mention dust control measures.
I think quite a few craft type items are done to use up partial sheets left
from cutting items for manufacturing.
Sven


"Heidi" wrote in message
...
Hi all,

I am brand new to this listserve. Hopefully, this is the right avenue
for advice, if there is a more specific newsgroup I should check, please
let me know!

I am a metal artist and find myself increasingly interested in a plasma
cutter. I don't work in or own an industrial shop, I am a small time
artist looking to increase my abilities w/ limited space and resources
$$$. Can anyone recommend a good place to start for a plasma cutter and
CNC system?

I have a bunch of questions...
Can you find these things used and if so where?
I have been told that Hypertherm makes a good plasma cutter compatible
w/ most CNC systems. Anyone have experience w/ these? Any model
recommendations? I'm thinking about the 600.
Has anyone tried the kits such as Torchmate. How difficult is it to put
those together?
Has anyone had experience or can recommend a company that sells CNC

systems?
Aside from the kits which require major assembly and additional
materials, can I find a CNC package for less than $7k?
Would I be able to do work w/ just a plasma cutter and not a CNC? I'm
guessing it would be difficult to manually cut out any intricate designs.
Whether I cut manually or w/ a CNC how clean is the cut--how much
grinding will I have to do after?
Finally, I see a lot of cheap (price wise, not commenting on the
quality) metal crafts at local craft fairs--you know things like wall
mounted key holders and welcome signs w/ western theme cut outs. I have
a hard time believing all these folks have plunked down $8 to $10k for a
plasma cutter/CNC system to make all this stuff. Are there other options?

Thanks in advance for any advice or other resources!
Heidi



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Old July 18th 03, 03:30 AM
Andrew V
 
Posts: n/a
Default newbie question-plasma cutter and CNC systems


"Heidi" wrote in message

Hi Heidi,

I have a plasmacam system that I'm very happy with so I'll try to answer
some of your questions.
I have a bunch of questions...


Can you find these things used and if so where?


Few and far between, heavy industrial cutters are available but the smaller
machines don't sit around long if at all.
I have been told that Hypertherm makes a good plasma cutter compatible
w/ most CNC systems. Anyone have experience w/ these? Any model
recommendations? I'm thinking about the 600.


Hypertherm makes a good product that's well supported, I have a 350
(replaced
with the 380) that works with my table. People also speak well of Thermal
arc products. For CNC you need a plasma cutter that does not use a high
frequency start because it won't get along with the computer very well. You
want to get a model that will cut thicker then your needs to allow for
breathing room.
Has anyone tried the kits such as Torch. How difficult is it to put
those together?


I looked at Torchmate and some other kits and also considered scratch
built. I decided that I had enough projects awaiting my attention so I'd be
better off buying a complete machine.
Has anyone had experience or can recommend a company that sells CNC

systems?

I can recommend Plasmacam.
Aside from the kits which require major assembly and additional
materials, can I find a CNC package for less than $7k?


Not that I'm aware off and If you do find one be sure to closely examine the
quality of the parts,duty cycle, and the software.
Would I be able to do work w/ just a plasma cutter and not a CNC? I'm
guessing it would be difficult to manually cut out any intricate designs.


Yes, people work with hand held plasma cutters all the time, and with
practice cut to a high level of accuracy. You can also use patterns and a
variety of fixtures for guidance.
Whether I cut manually or w/ a CNC how clean is the cut--how much
grinding will I have to do after?


Dross is a fact of life. Different materials and thickness' all have a
"sweet spot" based on amperage, cutting speed and air pressure. When you
find the right settings the dross will be minimal and just about fall off
the work. I use a grinder with a cupped wire wheel to clean up most of my
work.
Finally, I see a lot of cheap (price wise, not commenting on the
quality) metal crafts at local craft fairs--you know things like wall
mounted key holders and welcome signs w/ western theme cut outs. I have
a hard time believing all these folks have plunked down $8 to $10k for a
plasma cutter/CNC system to make all this stuff. Are there other options?


The items you see at craft fairs are not necessarily made by the people
selling them. Many things can be purchased or imported in quantity to make
them cheap. I produce a number of items for local crafts people that they
fold spindle or mutilate into the final product.

Be sure to consider the software packages, as they are not all created
equal. The plasma cam software is easy to learn and use and has lots of
features; but its more then you'll need if you are going to send things out
to be cut. I can import files in a variety of formats as well as creating my
own drawings. If you decide to design your own parts and have them cut,
contact the person doing the cutting and see what file format they can
accept. Some shops can accept files in a wide variety of formats (others
have specific requirements) so you don't necessarily need to spend lots of
money on a cad package.
Other things you will need if you buy a cnc table a a computer to run it,
a good supply of dry compressed air, and last but not least ventilation and
dust collection (the dust will destroy the computer, other machinery in you
shop, and your lungs).

Thanks in advance for any advice or other resources!
Heidi


Enjoy the hunt

Andy

--
www.evolutionironworks.com





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