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CNC Plasma Tables: Finding the One for You

Updated on August 30, 2013
The incredible detail afforded by your CNC plasma cutter.
The incredible detail afforded by your CNC plasma cutter.

One of the most powerful tools in the shop, CNC plasma tables mix top-of-the-line technology with heavy-duty precision plasma cutters. Since it is also one of the safest options when it comes to cutters and torches, as the plasma cutter or torch alone is very dangerous to handle and the CNC table and technology allows for a more removed and less manually involved approach, this table has become one of the most coveted pieces of equipment to have in a shop. The dilemma is how to pick the right one for you.

What is a plasma table?

The CNC plasma table is essential a robotic arm that is controlled by computer cnc software that is attached to a table. This arm guides the plasma torch, arguably the most powerful kind of cutter, over the work surface to create more precise, detailed, and complex patterns of cutting. The production time is lessened greatly, which allows you to do more projects in less time, and also the CNC technology can be re-entered to allow for repetition of shapes or projects with ease, just set the coordinates and hit warp-drive!

Some people have created their own DIY cnc plasma cutting table, but those who can must be very careful and very knowledgeable to do to; you do not want to make a mistake on such a powerful and potentially dangerous tool. The best bet is to buy your table, but be sure to do your research on what kind of tables suit your needs, and plan for the allowance in the budget.

CNC plasma cutter art.
CNC plasma cutter art.

Pros and cons of each plasma table type

There are many different designs, materials, motors, bells and whistles that can affect your choice of CNC plasma tables. For example, you will want to check the quality of the materials, since steel is much stronger than aluminum, and you want the strongest table possible. The catch is that since aluminum is weaker than steel, aluminum tables will appear bulky and stronger, and steel will be stronger and so use less material and could look on first sight to be flimsy. Either machine will get the job done, but these considerations should be kept in mind. As far as design goes, one of the things to put your attention towards is the gantry, which can affect the speed and accuracy of the actual torch since that is the bar that slides up and down the length of the table to guide the torch. A lightweight gantry will be the one to look for, as well as other small factors that make a huge difference in production. For a motor, servo is usually the way to go. These motors are widely considered to be better than the normal stepper motors, which have finite positions and do not provide constant feedback to the controller. This of course means that the servo motor is going to be pricier, so be sure to include that in your budget. Also a CNC plasma table is nothing without its software, which is responsible for controlling the table and cutter, but also for designing the product itself. While there are very high-end softwares that come with loads of extra abilities and features, be sure you’re not spending your money needlessly when software that is specifically designed for CNC plasma table drawings will do just fine.

Getting started

The step you do not want to miss is checking the warranty on the table. How long is the warranty good for? Does it cover just some parts or the entirety of the table? What’s going to happen when the warranty expires and something malfunctions? Also be sure to ask about the price of replacement parts. Once you’re convinced that you are making a wise purchase you can get started with your brand new CNC plasma-cutting table!

For more information on CNC plasma cutters, go to http://www.burntables.com/!

Have fun!
Have fun!

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