CNC plasma cutting used to be available only to large industrial manufacturers who could afford the price tag of $100,000 or more. Advances in technology have made CNC plasma cutting more accessible and more affordable to almost everyone.
Some essential elements to consider in selecting a CNC plasma cutting system include the mechanical components, the CNC control, and the fume management system. The CNC plasma system’s mechanical elements include the moving components, including the gantry, torch carriage and Z-axis. These are the components that do the physical work required to produce the desired parts. The CNC control directs the motion control system by converting the cutting program into electrical signals. These signals then direct the direction and speed of the machine. This control also dictates the height control and operation of other peripherals. Therefore, a fume control system is necessary to manage the smoke and fumes generated by the plasma cutting process. Downdraft tables draw smoke away using fans and exhaust ducting. Water tables absorb smoke and fumes. Both systems are effective, but exhaust fans and ducting require additional cost.
Plasma cutting systems use a CNC controller, which is an industrial grade computer with internal motion and machine control software. A wide range parameters control the drive motors, plasma cutter, height control and other mounted tooling included in the system. The CNC controller receives inputs from both the machine operator and the Computer Assisted Manufacturing (CAM) software. THe controller software converts the inputs to precisely timed electrical signals that control cutting.
In particular, CNC plasma cutting offers these advantages:
- Enhanced Accuracy & Precision – CNC plasma cutters assure accuracy and precision through predetermined parameters entered prior to the cutting process.
- Higher Levels of Efficiency – CNC plasma cutting systems require minimal training for the operator, offering ease of use and greater efficiency.
- Faster Cuts & Higher Productivity – Since the cutting process does not require complicated adjustments and cutting speeds are faster, production is increased.
- More Materials Can Be Cut – non-ferrous and ferrous metals can be cut with CNC plasma cutting. Consequently, plasma will cut metals from gauge thickness to 6 inches (in special applications) without any problems.