If the software is the brain of CNC Plasma Cutting, then the CNC Plasma Table is the heart of the entire process. The high-velocity stream of ionized gas can easily cut the metals. It is used for cutting different metals of various sizes and shapes for industrial purposes. When they start cutting, they need different processing tables according to their strength.
CNC plasma cutters can produce repeatable quality cuts when compared to a handheld process. You have to find the most suitable table that can fulfill most of the demands and requirements. Worry not! This article will provide a basic understanding of the plasma cutting technology, what to check before buying a CNC plasma table, the uses, and where you can find them!
History Of CNC Plasma Table
The plasma cutting traces its origin from plasma welding technology during the 1960s. The old plasma technology was not sophisticated because it created a lot of metal chips, produced jagged edges, and lacked the accuracy of modern CNC plasma systems. The plasma tables were also crude, expensive, and heavy.
CNC cutting technology was added to plasma tables in the early 1990s. It revolutionized the production industries as it gave the user more flexibility, allowing for more cut diversity and ease in creating new shapes. Now, it is possible to produce smooth-edged cuts in a fraction of the time on a CNC plasma table. You just need to make a set of instructions, programmed directly into the machine.
What Is CNC Plasma Cutting
Plasma cutting is one of the sophisticated technology for cutting metals through hot plasma. The CNC plasma cutting is a computer-controlled process where you have to give commands through CAD and CAM files to the plasma torch to achieve the task. The entire plasma cutting system runs on a computer to direct the motion of the machine based on numerical codes in a program.
The system operates with the help of inert gas or compressed air at high speeds through a nozzle. To create the plasma, electric currents are generated in the cutter. The electrical arc ionizes some of the gas, thereby creating an electrically conductive channel of plasma. After completing the electric circuit, the machine starts to cut the metal on the working bed or plasma table through ionized plasma.
Components Of A CNC Plasma Table
If you want perfection in the plasma cutting of metals, then good plasma tables are a must. It will directly affect production. A plasma table is the main component in a CNC plasma system used for cutting shapes from flat sheets of steel or metal. To perform this task, a plasma table must be coupled with other machinery.
To start a CNC plasma cutting process, you will need a desktop or a laptop for running the commands through the software along with a good internet connection. Assemble the machine with proper connecting cables at appropriate electric watts.
Most of the cnc plasma cutting machines have their own software. Then make your intended sign or design by using CAD software and save the 2D drawing as a .dxf file. Now export the file. It is a standard file format for exchanging 2D files between CAD and CAM. The CNC machine takes the M-Codes and G-Codes from CAM and converts codes into machine control instruction.
For cutting different metal sheets, you will need different processing tables according to their strength. You have to find the most suitable table that can fulfill most of the demands and requirements.
It is a very important component of the plasma system as it does the actual cutting. The electrical arc ionizes some of the gas, thereby creating an electrically conductive channel of plasma. After completing the electric circuit, the plasma torch starts to cut the metal on the plasma table through ionized plasma. It is attached to the gantry.
Gantry is a part of the table and handles the working of the plasma torch by moving it as per the computer instructions. The CNC machine controls the gantry through commands in the computer.
How To Set CNC Plasma Table
The plasma cutting technology involves a lot of sparks and metal dust. Thus it is very important to consider a well-suited place for the table setup. Also, these tables are bigger in size and the entire plasma system requires properly ventilated areas and bigger spaces. Any safety compromises can directly land you in hazardous situations.
Apart from the required space, you must also leave buffer space to avoid stray sparks and the floor should be concrete or another flame-resistant material. The plasma table requires a thorough connection with the computer. To prevent the plasma arc from interfering with the computer itself, the machine must be earth-grounded.
Important Gases Used In Plasma Cutting
For making plasma, the heat and steam are combined, and the gas becomes ionized and electrically conductive. A plasma arc begins when a gas, such as oxygen, nitrogen, or argon, is forced through a small nozzle orifice inside the torch. The different types of gases are used according to the quality of the cut and type of material.
Compressed air is commonly used as both a plasma gas and an assist gas because it works well for low current cutting applications in metals up to one inch thick. For cutting mild steel, oxygen can be preferred but it will produce a rough-looking cut on stainless steel and aluminum. To achieve smooth cut quality on stainless steel and aluminum, we recommend a mixture of argon and hydrogen gas. Other used gases for plasma cutting are nitrogen and methane.
The Proper Ventilation Setup
While setting the CNC plasma cutting table, proper ventilation is a must to avoid any injuries, hazards, and defection of the components. For ventilation purposes, sufficient space is necessary but you can also choose different plasma tables. There are two main types of CNC plasma cutting tables.
Downdraft/ Downdraught Tables
The downdraft tables can pull fumes and debris away from the metal being worked on due to its built-in ventilation. The perforated surface of the table whose underside is connected to a dust collection system can draw material dust through the holes. You can also attach a turbine-style of the exhaust system to the plenum, in the center of the table.
The Water Table
A water table does not require a dust collector and allows the part being worked on as well as the plasma torch to quickly be submerged and resurfaced. It also reduces noise, eliminates dangerous arc flash, reduces heat distortion, and keeps parts cool. Moreover, it is less expensive to purchase.
Importance of Height Control Of Plasma Rays
The accuracy of the plasma arc varies depending on the quality and condition of the plasma system, torch, and consumable parts because the worn consumables and poor air quality will result in higher deviation. Thus, it is necessary to regulate the height of plasma rays by adjusting the plasma torch.
What You Can Cut On A CNC Plasma Table
Plasma can cut any electrically conductive materials like steel, stainless steel, aluminum, carbon, copper, bronze, Lead, Tin lead, Titanium, and cast Iron. CNC plasma tables are used for a wide range of metal fab applications in fabrication shops, manufacturing, automotive repair, restoration, and training centers.
CNC Plasma Table cuts by flaming or oxidizing the metal. Plasma cutting does not depend on oxidation to work, and in this way, it can quality cut aluminum and some other conductive material.
Different Kinds Of Plasma Used For Cutting
You can go for air plasma tables for low-volume manufacturing and used on entry-level steel fabrication machines. The oxygen plasma offers better quality than the air plasma. It is used in mid-range fabrication shops. However, high-definition plasma is the best choice for high-volume processing in fabrication shops. The system may utilize multiple gases like hydrogen, argon, nitrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, or compressed air. CNC Plasma table cutting is easy for beginners to ace on slender materials.
Importance In Steel Fabrication
The plasma tables improve the quality and speed of the cutting and benefit to steel fabrication industry. The CNC plasma cutting runs on an automated operation that requires one technician to operate, helping to reduce labor costs. It also helps to reduce the risk of damage to the raw product and can produce repeatable quality cuts when compared to a handheld process.
Things To Consider While Buying A CNC Plasma Table
You might have understood the basic knowledge of the CNC plasma cutting table. They are available with power levels from 30A for thin material and light-duty work to 800 amps for industrial fabrication use. Also, material thickness capability ranges from 6mm to 160mm on various metals. The table sizes start from 2ft x 2ft to 5ft x 10ft.
It is good for hobbyists as well as small business endeavors. The reliability and cut quality are going to be important considerations for the industrial fabrication machine buyer. Also consider the current needs in terms of part thickness, plate sizes, accuracy, and productivity requirements.