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View Full Version : Question... Torch Height Controller for Mach3 / Hypertherm Powermax1000 Set Up



xendau
02-16-2011, 06:10 PM
Okay guys...

Here is the deal: I am going through consumables faster than I like (even though I think it is about average, the boss does not), I am tired of having to adjust and readjust the Z to try and obtain the best cutting height to keep the quality of the cut for the parts being made, and hopefully add some life to our consumables.

So I have started looking into THCs for our set up...
Our setup:


AutoCAD 2010 (Parts designed)
LazyCAM (dxf to tap)
Mach 3
Precision Automated Equipment Table and Stepper Drive
Hypertherm Powermax 1000 G3


Now I have searched and searched and have came up with many solutions that may apply...

Hypertherm's "Bruce" (I think was his name) informed my the THC's they offer only adjust the intial setting of the cut height. So if the metal was to warp the torch would NOT adjust to keep the optimum cut height.

Something I found strange/alarming is that he said he didnt know what I meant by "warping of the metal when it was being cut". Then he immmediately went into discussing about a more expensive set up that could cut under water to avoid the "warpage" I had to describe to him in full detail.

Even further to my amazement, is that he said there were no products that could adjust the torchhead's height during cutting. So either I have completely misread any number of webpages and posts saying there is a way, or he is poorly informed.

So far I have found the MP3000, but it would require us to either fabricate a "Plasma Floating Head" or to purchase one.

My question is... this product adjusts the torch height as it cuts? Correct?

We cut 1.3mm(18GA) to 1.9mm(14GA) mild steel and aluminum about the same thickness. Well, when cutting the metal can tend to warp or bow in and out from the heat of the plasma. Causing the torchhead to either be too far away from the metal or coming in direct contact with the torchhead ruining the consumables.

I see it directly works with Mach 3... which is a great thing, but are there any additional codes required to be generated by the CAM software? We use LazyCAM.

Any help or input for something to help with this problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

lowpull
02-16-2011, 11:08 PM
You really need the floating head. they are not hard to make. How else will you know where the top of the metal is when you go to cut on a warped piece. It also saves parts if you drive the head down into the metal. I use candcnc's older product the mp1000. I think I spent 20 bucks making the floating head.

jimcolt
02-17-2011, 05:51 AM
Let me clarify a couple of things:

Hypertherm has been designing and building plasma cutting torch height controls (THC) since the mid 1970's, every one of our height controls has been arc voltage feedback based, and control height during steady state cutting as well as set initial pierce and cut height.

Currently Hypertherm produces 4 different modes of THC systems, all of which are designed for high duty cycle, 3 shift a day production cutting machines.

One of the height controls, the Sensor PHC, would work fine for your application, and it comes complete with the z axis lifter, and an interface cable is available for the Powermax plasma system. Here is a link: Sensor PHC (Pierce Height Control) | Hypertherm (http://www.hypertherm.com/en/Products/Controls_for_Automation/Torch_Height_Controls/sensor_phc.jsp)

The Sensor PHC is a "standalone" THC that has its own control panel and operates independantly of any software or controls you will have on your machine. Our other torch height controls are designed for interfacing with Industrial PC Based cnc controls that are specifically designed for high duty industrial plasma machines that use liquid cooled, high frequency start plasma torches op to 1000 amps.

Keep in mind that this THC is designed with industrial use in mind, it is not an entry level or hobby class THC. The reason I say this is because the price, which is around $5k scares a few people away.....although over time it more than pays for itself with improved consumable life and productivity as well as cut quality improvements.

Since you are using a stepper motor machine that is Mach3 controlled...you may want to look at the lower cost solutions from CandCNC electronics. These will require that you fabricate some components (such as the floating head z axis lifter) but if cost is of concern, may be the best solution.

Best regards, Jim Colt Hypertherm






Okay guys...

Here is the deal: I am going through consumables faster than I like (even though I think it is about average, the boss does not), I am tired of having to adjust and readjust the Z to try and obtain the best cutting height to keep the quality of the cut for the parts being made, and hopefully add some life to our consumables.

So I have started looking into THCs for our set up...
Our setup:


AutoCAD 2010 (Parts designed)
LazyCAM (dxf to tap)
Mach 3
Precision Automated Equipment Table and Stepper Drive
Hypertherm Powermax 1000 G3


Now I have searched and searched and have came up with many solutions that may apply...

Hypertherm's "Bruce" (I think was his name) informed my the THC's they offer only adjust the intial setting of the cut height. So if the metal was to warp the torch would NOT adjust to keep the optimum cut height.

Something I found strange/alarming is that he said he didnt know what I meant by "warping of the metal when it was being cut". Then he immmediately went into discussing about a more expensive set up that could cut under water to avoid the "warpage" I had to describe to him in full detail.

Even further to my amazement, is that he said there were no products that could adjust the torchhead's height during cutting. So either I have completely misread any number of webpages and posts saying there is a way, or he is poorly informed.

So far I have found the MP3000, but it would require us to either fabricate a "Plasma Floating Head" or to purchase one.

My question is... this product adjusts the torch height as it cuts? Correct?

We cut 1.3mm(18GA) to 1.9mm(14GA) mild steel and aluminum about the same thickness. Well, when cutting the metal can tend to warp or bow in and out from the heat of the plasma. Causing the torchhead to either be too far away from the metal or coming in direct contact with the torchhead ruining the consumables.

I see it directly works with Mach 3... which is a great thing, but are there any additional codes required to be generated by the CAM software? We use LazyCAM.

Any help or input for something to help with this problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

agelkom
02-21-2011, 01:52 PM
Okay guys...

Here is the deal: I am going through consumables faster than I like (even though I think it is about average, the boss does not), I am tired of having to adjust and readjust the Z to try and obtain the best cutting height to keep the quality of the cut for the parts being made, and hopefully add some life to our consumables.

So I have started looking into THCs for our set up...
Our setup:


AutoCAD 2010 (Parts designed)
LazyCAM (dxf to tap)
Mach 3
Precision Automated Equipment Table and Stepper Drive
Hypertherm Powermax 1000 G3


Now I have searched and searched and have came up with many solutions that may apply...

Hypertherm's "Bruce" (I think was his name) informed my the THC's they offer only adjust the intial setting of the cut height. So if the metal was to warp the torch would NOT adjust to keep the optimum cut height.

Something I found strange/alarming is that he said he didnt know what I meant by "warping of the metal when it was being cut". Then he immmediately went into discussing about a more expensive set up that could cut under water to avoid the "warpage" I had to describe to him in full detail.

Even further to my amazement, is that he said there were no products that could adjust the torchhead's height during cutting. So either I have completely misread any number of webpages and posts saying there is a way, or he is poorly informed.

So far I have found the MP3000, but it would require us to either fabricate a "Plasma Floating Head" or to purchase one.

My question is... this product adjusts the torch height as it cuts? Correct?

We cut 1.3mm(18GA) to 1.9mm(14GA) mild steel and aluminum about the same thickness. Well, when cutting the metal can tend to warp or bow in and out from the heat of the plasma. Causing the torchhead to either be too far away from the metal or coming in direct contact with the torchhead ruining the consumables.

I see it directly works with Mach 3... which is a great thing, but are there any additional codes required to be generated by the CAM software? We use LazyCAM.

Any help or input for something to help with this problem would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Hi,
If you have height control problems with thin metal cutting, floating head not solve your problem. Please visit our web page at Cap01PWM (http://www.agelkom.com.tr/prod02.htm)
Torch head under floating head control, touch the cut material and it actually might push it down. When the head travels upwards, material may also change height upwards just before cutting begins. We actually observed many head crashes with expensive replacements following afterwards, with much time spent as well. CAP01 relieve this problem due to contactless and fast sensing.
Please let me know if you need additional information
Best regards,
Argun Gucdemir
Agelkom Ltd

TAProwler
02-25-2011, 01:54 PM
Xendau,
Yep, the MP3000 setup definitely adjusts the height "on the fly" during the cut. Tom's system @ CandCNC is definitely (IMHO) the best cost to value in the Auto Torch Height Control systems (excluding all the high $$ heavy duty industrial applications like those that Jim Colt discussed above). Tom's is an all digital design too, in that the only analog part of his system is the portion that actually samples (continually) the torch voltage. This is why he calls his design a DTHC system.

Tom recommends using SheetCAM for the toolpath generation, and I recommend this as well. SheetCAM works great and is less than $200 for a license. Tom has written Post Processors that import into SheetCAM and provide for coding various (some optional) functions - directly into your Gcode. I'm not certain that these can be used directly into LazyCAM, but Tom has mentioned LazyCAM on occasion and he would know if this can be done.

I use BobCAD/SheetCAM/Mach3/MP3000 on a modified TM1/Hypertherm1000 and I am very happy with the results. I have intentionally propped up one end of the material that I'm cutting several times just to test the system - and it keeps a perfect height above the material each time.

The CandCNC MP3000 systems are not exactly simple plug-n-play to set up. You can't just take this thing out of a box, plug it in, push a button and start cutting parts. It does take some reading, studying, doing some homework and inevitably some troubleshooting to get it setup correctly on your machine - but once you get it installed, it works very well. This is not a criticism of the system, just a reality of setting up a system on each different table - something that Tom has stated on several occasions. If you purchase one of Tom's AIO (All In One) systems, some of this set-up troubleshooting is reduced. If you want to try to adapt your system to include one of CandCNC's MP3000 systems - it isn't rocket science, but it will take a little expertise, effort and advice.

Yes, you will have to buy or build a floating torch head holder. This is not a huge deal. Most torch holders can be modified (somehow or other) to hold a floating plate that your torch mounts on to. I designed and built my own for less than $200, but spent so many hours building it - it would have saved me time, money and headache to just buy one of the $400 designs that are out there to purchase. But, live and learn.

That's been my experience, hope the information is helpful.
R/Todd