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CNC Plasma Cutting In The Home Shop

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  • CNC Plasma Cutting In The Home Shop

    Many home shop machinists/welders regard CNC plasma cutting as being totally out of reach because they lack adequate space, ventilation, etc. My purpose is starting this thread is to show how this fabulous process is possible for just about anyone with a garage or walk-out basement. I personally solved the problem 25 years ago with a 2' x 2' setup on casters that I kept in my garage and rolled outside to use (first picture).

    More recently I built a similar sized unit that I keep under my deck under a fire pit cover (second picture). The plasma cutter, compressor, and computer are just inside my basement door ten feet away. It takes 5 minutes to connect my cables and machine torch. An added bonus of using the machine outdoors is that the plasma dust, smoke, etc. becomes a non-issue. I also attached images of some of the shapes I cut out with my pint sized unit.
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.
    Last edited by Tmate; 01-19-2021, 10:41 PM.

  • #2
    I could easily convert my CNC mill to a plasma cutter because the table doesn't move, the spindle moves along all 3 axis. So all I need is torch and a water pan with the vertical ribs to hold the material. It is fully enclosed too so just an exhaust fan would do the trick. Something to think about.

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    • #3
      A plasma table is my first venture into CNC machines. I have to say its awesome and I'm just getting warmed up. The only negative if there is one is that for every 5 minutes of cut time I can spend a couple of hours in CAD working up a design. I know I will get much better and more efficient with time. And it makes me want a CNC mill even more. My machine has a water table and yes its a dirty messy process, not something you're going to want to do in your basement.
      Mike
      Central Ohio, USA

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      • #4
        I saw your post about your mini plasma table elsewhere and I'll admit the concept is very intriguing. You are correct, that for the most part most of what I do would fit on a 2x2 table. I am not sure how the table would fare outdoors during our New England winters, but I suppose something workable could be devised. I have had the inkling to buy a plasma cutter for general handheld use, so CNC even on a smaller scale like this has a lot of appeal.

        I appreciate and admire your out of the proverbial box thinking on that.

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        • #5
          Lately i have been hand cutting a lot of 3/16ths plate steel with my plasma cutter and i decided to add a water tray. I had a piece of steel tread that i was using as a grate for my plasma cutting. About 20x30 inch in size. I bought a piece of 24x48x 24ga stainless sheet metal on ebay. I don’t own a brake but with a mallet, clamps and heavy plate scrap i knocked out a 2 inch deep tray and tig welded the corners. O my! How out of practice i was with thin material welding! Not pretty but no leaks. The point of the anecdote is that water tray really helped with the airborne particulate matter from plasma cutting. It also helped in reducing accumulated heat in the parts being made which stopped warping on thin stuff and kept the dross from fusing to the back of the plate. So i would recommend adding a water tray to your system.
          i also saw a chap make a little wrap of kao wool around the head of his cnc plasma cutter to curtail side spray at the start of a cut.
          just some thoughts.

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          • #6
            Are the flumes from plasma that dangerous to our health? I like the smell and it is messy.

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            • #7
              What resolution and accuracy do you aim for on a DIY CNC cutter? Are you able to cut 'on the line' or what allowance do you need to leave?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Baz View Post
                What resolution and accuracy do you aim for on a DIY CNC cutter? Are you able to cut 'on the line' or what allowance do you need to leave?
                The kerf is usually around .040-.050 with 'Fine Cut Consumables'. You can have the software, I use SheetCAM, cut with 'Outside Offset, Inside Offset or No Offset'
                and it will also adjust for holes or circles.
                Larry

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