5' X 12' CNC Plasma Table


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Thread: 5' X 12' CNC Plasma Table

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    Default 5' X 12' CNC Plasma Table

    I've been working (off and on) on building a 5X12 CNC plasma table at work for a little more than a year. Since it is nearing completion, I think it's time I start putting up some pictures.

    (click all images for larger view)

    Some of the first pictures of the base/table:


    The water tray slopes from one end of the table to the other. It is 3" deep on the shallow end and 8" deep on the drain end:


    Here's me welding in the bottom of the water tray (this table uses a water tray instead of a downdraft blower):


    Here's that last section of the water tray welded in. I put two slight bends in it so it not only slopes to the end of the table but also towards the center (press brakes are handy). I hadn't cut the drain hole yet:


    Here's a better view of the holding tank. It holds about 180 gallons of water which is slightly more than the capacity of the water tray. The tank isn't welded to the table itself, instead it has flat bar welded along the sides that sit on top of the two lengths of 3x3x1/4 angle so, if necessary, it can be removed (I doubt it will ever be necessary).


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    More pictures:

    In this set I'll show the "gearboxes" I cast and machined from aluminum for the drive motors. (I put "gearboxes" in quotes because there aren't any actual gears, just toothed belts and pulleys.)

    The gearboxes were cast using the "lost foam" method, so the first step is to make the patterns. This is one of those times a CNC router comes in handy:



    Patterns for two gearboxes (right and left hand):



    The patterns then get sprues added and are coated in drywall mud, dried, and buried in dry sand. Then, just add molten aluminum:



    After the aluminum has had a chance to cool and solidify, the raw castings are pulled from the sand (the burned drywall mud flakes off as the part is pulled):



    The raw castings:



    Obviously, one of the castings didn't fill completely (aluminum wasn't hot enough). Fortunately, all I had to do was put a new chunk of foam on the router and have it make me another pattern to cast.

    The castings were then finish machined on my CNC Bridgeport:



    The finish doesn't look that great, but it feels smoother than it looks.

    Here's the other sides:



    Part of the reason the finish looks so bad is because the aluminum I used just isn't very good, especially for machining. I call the alloy I used "mongrelloy" because its a mongrel alloy of just about any type of aluminum I can get my hands on and can fit into the furnace (i.e. lawnmower engines, lawn chairs, scrap extruded shapes, plate/sheet scraps, those razr scooters that used to be popular, outboard boat motor parts, aluminum wheels, old cookware).

    But, I think, the main reason the finish is so bad is because I have no meaningful machinist training (I'm, a weldor by trade and training), so all of my feeds and speeds are just guesses based on various machinist calculators I've found online.

    Top view of an open gearbox with motor (right), belt, and pulleys installed:




    The pulleys provide a 4:1 ratio.

    Different angle:





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    Amazing build.

    What type of CNC bridgeport are you using? A little elbow grees plus time will get rid of any of the tool marking.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Shefron View Post
    Amazing build.

    What type of CNC bridgeport are you using? A little elbow grees plus time will get rid of any of the tool marking.
    My Bridgeport is a rigid ram Bridgeport Series 1 CNC. When I bought it a few years back it had a Boss 5 control (paper tape reader), but I removed the old controls and retrofit it with a VFD and Gecko drives all controlled by a PC running Linux EMC2 (in my opinion, EMC2 is God's gift to CNC).

    I'm not really concerned about the finish for aesthetic purposes, I'm concerned that it indicates that I'm doing something wrong as far as machining technique.

    On to more pictures!

    Here's a crappy cellphone picture of one of the gantry uprights partly machined in the mill:



    These parts were not cast first but were machined out of 1/2" plate aluminum.

    One side of the gantry with finished gearbox:



    The gantry itself is 3" X 3" X 1/8" aluminum tube with a 25mm HyWin linear rail mounted on top. The Z-axis was bought as a pre-made sub assembly from K2 CNC.

    The other side of the gantry:



    The 3" aluminum tube has holes all along the underside, partly to save weight, but mostly because the linear rail is screwed down from the bottom.

    Last picture for the night, the table almost ready to make it's first moves:





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    Tensaiteki,
    That your C beam is really angle. I built same as yours, I found that my beam not really angle (90 deg), so I have to put some shim on it. I put my linear on top of that beam.



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    Tensaiteki,
    That your C beam is really angle. I built same as yours, I found that my beam not really angle (90 deg), so I have to put some shim on it. I put my linear on top of that beam.



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    Good job, I would not wory about the finish, if that is your biggest problem. I like your gearbox idea a new approach, one hell of a fine loking table, Keep up the good work
    Mike



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    More pictures!

    I formed up a cabinet and lid to mount/house all the electronics under the table:



    Another view:



    The large box on the left is the power supply and drives for the motor (there is a cooling fan behind this box). The box to the right of that is the torch height controller (THC). The space to the right is where the PC that controls everything will go. The blue grid looking thing in the top right of the cabinet is an air filter to ensure that the incoming cooling air is free of shop-dust.

    Cabinet closed (I haven't installed a real handle to open it with so I just tacked on a piece of scrap):



    I also designed, CNC cut, formed, and welded up some gantry ends caps to cover and protect the motors and wiring and such:



    And the other side:



    Here's the quick-and-dirty torch holder I made for the doesn't-fit-any-standard-torch-holder-style Chinese import "machine torch":



    For what its worth, the other end of that torch is connected to a Longevity ForceCut 80i.

    Now some videos!

    This first one shows the machine cutting out a decorative key holder from 10 Ga. steel (the three long tabs are supposed to be bent into hooks to hang key rings from):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV42zne37p4]5' X 12' CNC Plasma Table Test Cut 01 - YouTube

    This next one shows the cutting of the same part but also shows the action of the z-axis as it senses the height of the material before starting the cut and of the Y-axis pinion moving around in it's rack:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-30bfoaX_RE]5' X 12' CNC Plasma Table Test Cut 02 - YouTube



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    My K2 Z-axis made the same noise yours is....a little bit of grease smeared on the threads of the leadscrew made it shut right up.

    Carl


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    Quote Originally Posted by I Lean View Post
    My K2 Z-axis made the same noise yours is....a little bit of grease smeared on the threads of the leadscrew made it shut right up.
    Yeah, sometime after I made those videos, I lubed mine up too.


    Back to the story (and pictures)!

    The reason I was running the machine with the Longevity plasma cutter was because the boss-man didn't want to buy a whole new plasma cutter until I could prove that the table actually worked. So, I connected my (personal) ForceCut 80i and ran a bunch of parts that were, while not great, better/faster than what we had previously done by hand.

    The boss was convinced, and a few weeks later:



    A shiny new Hypertherm Powermax 85 with CPC and serial interfaces.

    Also, a box of goodies; machine torch, interface cables, work lead, and a small fortune in consumables:



    To celebrate (and prevent rust), I removed the gantry and electronics from the table, added some masking, and hauled it over to the paint booth to make it look pretty:





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    Great looking table. I like your control cabinet with the filter. My $.02 worth of free advice is to seal your door frame with foam tape. It will further keep the shop dust out of your computer.



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    Quote Originally Posted by PlasmaGuy View Post
    Great looking table. I like your control cabinet with the filter. My $.02 worth of free advice is to seal your door frame with foam tape. It will further keep the shop dust out of your computer.
    That was the plan, I just didn't want to put on the foam tape before painting the table.

    ----------------------------------

    Anyway, now for the most recent pictures I have:

    Here's the machine painted, reassembled, and sporting a real machine torch (M85) connected to the new Hypertherm Powermax 85:



    Here's the first batch of parts cut with the new Hypertherm (1/4" steel), most of which fell through the slats:



    Since I cut those at the end of the day, I just drained the table and came back to unload them the next morning when the table was dry:



    Note the lack of rust. The water has been treated with Sodium Nitrite to act as a corrosion inhibitor and Physan 20 to prevent the growth of algae and such.

    Here's the (surprisingly small) Powermax 85 sitting next to the unnecessarily large refrigerated air dryer (54 CFM capacity):



    Now a video cutting a bunch of parts from 1/4" aluminum (6061-T651):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZeNTYsJPEQ]CNC Plasma Table Cutting 1/4" Aluminum 6061-T561

    All the aluminum parts cut:



    That run alone produced 144 parts and required the plate to be pierced 213 times. The PM85 didn't miss a single one.

    After cutting steel, the water in the table turns a murky brown, but after cutting aluminum there is just a slight white haze to it. Makes fishing out all the parts that fell through the slats easy:



    Next up, more 1/4" steel:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12xpBeMMud4]CNC Plasma Table Cutting 1/4" Steel

    36 parts 144 pierces:



    Now some 3/8" steel, all the parts in this post were done at 65 Amps with the same set of consumables:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5nfLMlPpg4]CNC Plasma Table Cutting 3/8" Steel

    Manually nested on almost-scrap plate:



    Surprisingly narrow kerf for 3/8" plate:



    Skeletons leaning against the wall. I think I'm going to save the big aluminum one and hang it up somewhere:



    A little less than a day-and-a-half's work all done with the same (first) set of 65 amp consumables:



    That picture shows 282 parts representing 682 pierces. I went on to cut with that same set of consumables for almost two more weeks before finally changing them out (last week), and they might still have some life left in them anyway.



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    Your machine is AMAZING! Totally in love with it. A few question, why are your consumable metal slats that support the pieces to be cut radiused slightly (buy like that or did you roll them)? Is that so the x/y tables cuts them less when it moves left to right because they would be directly inline? Also, how much of a "waterbed" is needed? could one get away with a 1" water bed?

    My machine is going to be made out of 80/20 (frame). I will have to think of a way to insert the steel supports and have them removable so when they need replaced.

    As far as your Z axis, how does it zero out on the material? I saw a "floating" design, but didn't know if that was junk or not.
    http://cncpartskit.com/plasma_floating_head.htm

    You have the same Z axis on your machine from K2, as i have on my router. its very accurate and has worked well.

    Thanks for your time!!!



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    In reference to the steel consumable supports, How thin could one go? 1/8-1/4"? material? also, how deep does the bed of water have to be? Can it be 1" deep? Underneath my water table will be aluminum 80/20 supports for the table. I need to know what is the safe distance so that my structure never gets cut, or heats up.



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    Quote Originally Posted by diyengineer View Post
    In reference to the steel consumable supports, How thin could one go? 1/8-1/4"? material? also, how deep does the bed of water have to be? Can it be 1" deep? Underneath my water table will be aluminum 80/20 supports for the table. I need to know what is the safe distance so that my structure never gets cut, or heats up.
    My slats are 1/8" x 2.75". No problems, but I think when these need to be replaced I'll go thinner next time.

    My water is 3" deep, depending on evaporation. I've cut with it at probably 1.5" or so, and I could see the air was blowing all the water away and reaching the bottom--so definitely go deeper than 1". (it didn't make any marks on my 14ga. bottom, but still...)

    Carl


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    what is the max IPM that i will ever probably cut with a hypertherm in any material/thickness size? Just would like to know a max so i can start designing around that.



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    CNC Routers, Routers for Wood, Routers for Plastic and CNC Plasma Cutter

    This would be really nice since it would all bolt together. X axis is only 70 ipm though, and the usable is only 42" wide... tempted but i wouldnt be able to load a 48" wide sheet in which would be reallly annoying.. i sent them an email to ask if i can pay more to get the full usable width. Prolly to expensive, but figured id inquire.



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    If i wanted to add on a small engraver so that i could mark bend lines, what would i need to do additionally?



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    Quote Originally Posted by diyengineer View Post
    what is the max IPM that i will ever probably cut with a hypertherm in any material/thickness size? Just would like to know a max so i can start designing around that.
    The Hypertherm manuals are available online from the Hypertherm website. The manuals list the reccomended cutting speeds for a wide range of materials.

    Quote Originally Posted by diyengineer View Post
    CNC Routers, Routers for Wood, Routers for Plastic and CNC Plasma Cutter

    This would be really nice since it would all bolt together. X axis is only 70 ipm though, and the usable is only 42" wide... tempted but i wouldnt be able to load a 48" wide sheet in which would be reallly annoying.. i sent them an email to ask if i can pay more to get the full usable width. Prolly to expensive, but figured id inquire.
    With the exception of the Z-axis, leadscrews do not work well for plasma tables. It is next to impossible to spin them fast enough to get the required speeds for good cuts. So far, the only time I've cut at less than 70 IPM is cutting 1/2" steel and thicker. Thin stuff likes high speeds, usually 200 IPM and up.

    Quote Originally Posted by diyengineer View Post
    If i wanted to add on a small engraver so that i could mark bend lines, what would i need to do additionally?
    Try searching through the older build threads. I know several people have added plate markers/engravers.



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    Thank you very much. I have started to build the frame in solidworks out of 80/20 aluminum extrusion. Should have pictures and models loaded up in a few days. As far as the steel slats, what is the generic slat size and material? Also how the heck do they put the slight curve in the steel. Is it just so long that it will bend freely a hair to make it looked curved?

    Does the water usually come up to the top of the steel slats or half way? I need to make a waterpan out of something, unsure of what i will use.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tensaiteki View Post
    The Hypertherm manuals are available online from the Hypertherm website. The manuals list the reccomended cutting speeds for a wide range of materials.



    With the exception of the Z-axis, leadscrews do not work well for plasma tables. It is next to impossible to spin them fast enough to get the required speeds for good cuts. So far, the only time I've cut at less than 70 IPM is cutting 1/2" steel and thicker. Thin stuff likes high speeds, usually 200 IPM and up.



    Try searching through the older build threads. I know several people have added plate markers/engravers.




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