When adding a plasma cutting system to your operation, it is important to consider logistical factors prior to system installation. You will want to have a plan in place before your new system arrives, so you will have an easy install and a smooth start up.
1. Desired Table LayoutBefore system installation, confirm the space required and consider the positioning of the plasma system components. These include the cutting table, plasma cutter power supply, compressed air/gas and CNC controller. Your plasma cutter supplier will be able to help you determine a layout that optimizes workflow and operational requirements. Cutting surfaces should be a foot wider and three feet longer than the cutting area, to accommodate for loading and gantry parking. Additional options may change that footprint.
2. Required Power SupplyMake sure you have the correct input voltage to power your entire plasma cutting system. This will depend on the type of plasma cutter you have selected for your system: some plasma cutters will need single-phase power, but most will require 3-phase. Before system installation, let your sales representative know what kind of power you have as input voltage is set at the factory. You may consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for the controller.
3. Compressed AirThe systems requires a stable, dry compressed air supply of 15 CFM at 130 PSI with a 150 PSI regulator and pressure gauge at the machine. The compressed air supply can never drop below 120 PSI. We recommend a dedicated air compressor, as plant air systems often fall below 120 PSI when the plant is in full production.
4. Necessary VentilationThe type of ventilation you require will depend on whether you have a water table or a downdraft. Water tables control the smoke and dust, so an exhaust fan isn’t required. However, downdraft systems will require a smoke and dust collector to clean the exhaust and return the cleansed air to the work area. Consider additional exhaust system requirements and location prior to system installation.
5. Proper Grounding for the Type of Plasma SystemTransit voltage or high frequency electrical noise from the plasma power source could potentially interfere with the CNC controller and control cables, leading to a malfunction in the system. Grounding requirements will depend greatly on the type of plasma being used and soil conditions at the installation site. All systems require an earth ground rod located as close to the plasma system as possible. Your system manufacturer can assist in determining the required grounding.
6. Required CAD Drawing SoftwareIf CAD drawing is not already a part of your business, you will need to select and purchase a program. Lite CAD programs included with controller software are not really useful except for light editing. The controller software includes a ‘Shapes Library’, therefore you will have access to fifty common shapes. These shapes will need a dimension entered prior to cutting. There are several very good CAD software packages available for a few hundred dollars, so you won’t have to pay thousands to get a program equal to AutoCAD.
In order to cut a part, you need a CAD drawing saved in either a DWG or a DXF file. If you have DXF files of the parts you want to cut ready, you’ll be able to start cutting right away. For a shortcut to getting up to speed on CAD, contact your local high school or tech school, many of which now teach CAD. Students interested in working part time can help your people learn CAD or do it for you.