CNC Plasma Machines: What to Consider When Choosing One

Computer numerical control plasma cutting machines can be pre-programmed with instructions to perform a number of tasks. CNC plasma cutters are able to move a high-definition plasma torch in different directions.

The cutter itself operates by forcing either compressed air or gas through a nozzle at very high speeds. An electric arc is then added to the gas, which creates the plasm for cutting through varying types of metal, including steel, copper, and aluminum.

The machines are available in a broad range of different sizes and prices, and they include various functionalities, so they are ideal for both large manufacturing plants and small workshops.

In order to find the right one for you, you will need to spend time identifying your precise needs. To get started, here is a look at some of the key things you should consider when choosing a CNC plasma machine.

 CNC Plasma Machines

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Your Budget

Before looking at the specific specifications you could require from your CNC plasma cutter, you first need to consider your budget. By knowing how much you can afford and having a fixed budget in place, you can narrow down your search for buying a CNC plasma machine.

The good news is you can find refurbished CNC plasma cutters from leading brands that work just as well as brand new ones. So, you can make substantial savings by purchasing used machinery.

The Cutting Thickness

You need to determine which materials you will be using with your CNC plasma cutting machine and how thick you want the equipment to cut. Begin by looking at the size of the sheets you will be using. You can then determine what plate size you require.

Different CNC plasma cutters are designed for a different range of plate sizes. Depending on your needs, you may require a larger machine model.

Most CNC plasma machines are sized for a single plate width, but you may require a more specialist option, such as a plasma cutter that is wide enough to cut two side-by-side plates.

You need to ensure the machine’s rails are long enough to cover one or more plates as well. However, you can usually add more rail if required, whereas you cannot make a CNC plasma cutter wider, so considering the width you need is the most important thing.

The Process Tools You Require

Another thing you need to identify is the type of cutting process tools you will require. By identifying such needs, it will be much easier to narrow down your machine model options.

You may need one plasma station or two. You may need two oxy-fuel torches or eight. Bear in mind, the more tools you have, the wider your plasma cutting machine will be.

Carefully consider the process tools you need for your specific operations to determine the type of CNC plasma cutting machine you should get.

Whether You Need to Cut Bevels

Do you need to cut bevels? If so, you will need to consider how sophisticated your bevel cutting requirements are.

You could need simple weld profiles or more complex radiuses. Depending on your needs, you may wish to look for a CNC plasma cutter with full height control, and one that can change from plasma to oxy-fuel beveling quickly.

Your Drill and Tap Needs

Many CNC plasma cutters come with basic drilling and tapping capabilities, but you need to consider how powerful you require the mechanism to be. By calculating how big a hole machine can drill or tap, you can find the right CNC plasma cutter model for you.

It may make sense to go with a powerful drilling system that comes with a large tooling library so that you can perform more processes than a single setup.

The Machine’s Speed

The speed of CNC plasma machines is measured in inches per minute. When looking at different plasma cutters you are considering purchasing, take note of the IPM of each. You can then easily compare the speed abilities with how fast you need to be able to cut.

The Weight of the Machine

You may not think the weight of the machinery matters that much, but if you intend to frequently transport your CNC plasma cutting machinery, you will want to take its weight into consideration. You can then determine what your transportation options are.

The Duty Cycle of the Machinery

The duty cycle refers to how long a CNC plasma cutter machine can remain operational without needing to cool down. If you want to regularly use CNC plasma cutters for long periods, you will want to find one that has a long duty cycle.

The cycles are expressed as percentages. A 50% duty cycle usually means the machinery can run up to ten minutes at the specified amperage.

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