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Old 12-17-2004, 05:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hey I Built my own CNC Plasma Cutter!

Hello all,

Been readin a bunch of the posts on this message board and felt the urge to toot my own horn a little. My shop is most definately and extension of who I am. My father was not much of a shop man, but I fondly remember spending hours and hours in the garage with my grandfather.

I am very proud of the arsenal of tools I have put together. There is not much that I cannot build out of metal in my shop! I love wheelin, but I truly love building the rigs most of all.

Anyway, one of the tools I have found most useful for building 4x4 parts is my CNC plasma cutter. I bought a couple linear slides from a high-tech manufacturing plant, a stepper motor contoller, an old computer from Goodwill, and a bunch of steel. Slapped it all together and now I can make some pretty trick parts! There is nothing quite like welding on a custom bracket that fits perfectly and has nice radius' in all the right places. It can really make a shade tree project look high dollar.

*Snip* If you want to pimp your wares, you will need to buy a Yellow Vendor Star and post your wares in our vendor section. Mike, PM me if you have questions.
-Steveh-

Later,
Mike

Last edited by steveh; 12-17-2004 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 12-17-2004, 05:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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How about detailed info and pics on the cutter buildup!!! This thread should be for tech on that plasma, not brackets for sale!
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Old 12-17-2004, 06:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJeep77
How about detailed info and pics on the cutter buildup!!! This thread should be for tech on that plasma, not brackets for sale!
10-4 that, post up how you made it. If you only posted to pimp, then god help you when PBB gets through with you!!!

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Old 12-17-2004, 07:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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there was a fellow on the suzuki board who made his own cnc oxyfuel torch table ( accuratemike? ) .... I also have plans of my own for a plazma table........ ( insert Dr Evil laugh here )
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Old 12-17-2004, 08:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Logjam did one.
detailed info has been posted on alaskaoffroad.
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Old 12-18-2004, 06:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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come on mr. bracket you gonna show us how you built you plasma rig so we can build one for ourself ?
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Sorry guys, been goofin' off for a few days. Sure, I'd love to share how I built it. Like I said, I'm quite proud of it.

The components are as follows:
P133 computer (old school/Goodwill special)
Ah-Ha Stepper motor controller and stepper motors (2-axis)
Two linear Slides (one of mine has 60" travel, the other only 15", pretty small cutting area) (bought as surplus, not new but nice preloaded ballscrew positioners)
Hypertherm Plasma torch with machine torch head.
Torchmate Z-axis controller
Simple Flatbar table top, Just cut flat bar to length to replace consumed table top.
I'll try to upgrade my membership so I can post pictures.

Any other questions??

Mike
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:22 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have considered the PlasmaCam unit, but would love to build one myself. Also looked around the web some at sourcing the parts, but it all adds up quickly.

How much do you have in yours?
Got any pics you can post up and show us the final product?
How are your tolerances on cut parts?
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:27 PM   #9 (permalink)
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What kind of software to run the stepper motors?
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Guys you can find all the info you need at http://www.cnczone.com/forums/index.php?

you kinda have to read between the lines some times but any one with most of there brain could build a CNC plaz or CNC router with the help from this sight and its links
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Old 12-19-2004, 02:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The PlasmaCam system looks pretty nice. I strayed away from it several years ago, thinking I could build my own cheaper. Oh well, I guess I've got a little less into mine than you could by one of those for. But, I know my system very well, so when something goes wrong I can get it back up a running quickly. My system also uses ball screws instead of a rack and pinion so it is much more accurate at positioning. But the system is only as accurate as the plasma arc itself.

I'd say I have about $8000 into the whole setup not including the torch itself. It can hold +/-.030" no problem, many times if I'm careful I can keep it withing +/-.010" with brand new tips. I don't usually use it for that precision of work however. Most of the 4x4 parts I've made did not need to be that accurate. The CNC controller software came with the stepper motor controller. I use CADKEY for making my drawings and I use BOBCAD for making the CNC files.

Mike
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Old 12-19-2004, 05:35 PM   #12 (permalink)
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heres the images of his plasma cutter




Attached Images
   

Last edited by DanB; 12-19-2004 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 12-19-2004, 05:45 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Dude!
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Old 12-19-2004, 07:25 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Impressive!!
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Old 12-20-2004, 06:43 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Cool!

One issue I had was with the exposed thread screw and bearings... Plasma cutting dust every where made a big friggin mess of mine. I spotted, but failed to grab, some old "bellows covers" at the metal scrap yard. It would cover the screw from dust/dirt.

I like the exhaust fan, and enclosed computer cabinet (I assume plexiglass on the front of it, not sure).

My "cutting box" looks similiar. Always tempted to keep a pan of water to help collect the cutting dust. Also thought about an exhuast fan and blower tube to vent the dust outside the building. Need to revisit those ideas.

Another month for the shop to be built (moving slow). Six months to get the interior finished out/electrical/machines in place... then time to get back on the projects. My CNC was steppers/Gecko Drives. Vector CAM, Simple "G" code translater (Yeager). Nothing was finished prior to moving.

Tom
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Old 12-20-2004, 07:17 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I have a plasmacam and like it very much. Not to knock you Bracket but you have almost as much into that as you would a plasmacam. The benefits of the plasma cam are as follows. You have a larger working area (4x32 with indexing) The software is awsome. Windows based and easy to learn. I have yet to get an image, drawing, schetch, dxf whatever that I havent been able to convert with basic programs. I can scan in custom brackets off a napkin if I need to. You get a one year warrenty. (although I have had a some additude from plasmacam staff) And the quality and accuracy is WAY better than .030. more like .005. But like you said it can only be as accurate as you torch, so have a good one. The software has nesting and auto keft adjustment (yours may too, I dont know your software) along with hundreds of fine adjustments for nearly anything you could need in a 2 dimensional part. On mine I built a water table that works great for one thing and not so great on the other. I'm working on a better ventalation system now that will help greatly. I also have my computer in an industrial sealed computer enclosure after ruining 2 computers. Plasmcam gives you directions to build one but I didn't use those. Overall its a good system and probably the better of the 2 or 3 out there for home use. Yours looks good and congrats on building it yourself. There seemed to be a lot of questions about a plasmacam and though i would speak up. Later, Tab

Last edited by Bruce T; 12-20-2004 at 07:20 AM.
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Old 12-20-2004, 07:48 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Bruce, just how much do you have into your PlasmaCam unit? I can't stand companies that do their pricing like they do - I wish they would just publish their prices instead of making you call and listen to them "sell" it to you.
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Old 12-20-2004, 09:06 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Yes, I agree I should have put way covers over the ballscrews years ago. I have another one of the 60" linear slides that I have allways planned on using to make the table larger (5'x5'). However, it's not very often that I can't fit a part on my small table and I don't have a forklift (large plates of steel are heavy ) so I don't know if I'll ever do it.
I would have to agree that you really can't build one much cheaper than the PlasmaCam unit. I have a copy of their software that I use from time to time and it is pretty slick. All and all I'm glad I built my own, I learned a lot and for some reason, being able to say I built it myself strokes my ego. It's kind of like designing and building your lift or suspension as opposed to buying one, who wants to be a "Bolt on Queen!"

Should I start a new thread on the Powder Coat Spray Booth and Oven that I built??? Now those are items that I know I built cheaper than I could have bought.

Later,
Mike
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Old 12-20-2004, 09:29 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I wanna say that it was $8900 or so. That includes the software. You need to supply the computer and plasma cutter. I liked plasmacam as opposed to torchmate because its a complete unit. With torchmate you build the table yourself (good luck keeping the gantry square) with their parts. I've talked to others with it and they have all had problems and usually go out and buy plasmacams software ($3500) to run it right. The table on the plasmacams is built for you and that really helps squarness and accuracy. Its a good unit that I have used for a ton of products for myself and other companys. For offroad stuff I've done beadlocks, brackets, adapter flanges, complex body panels, exhaust flanges, diff rings ect. I normally work with local sign companys cutting their aluminum signs that in turn get snap in acrylic and backlighting. But it works nice for its intended purpose. And as nice as laser up to about 3/8 (not counting the slight coning of small holes) without the cost of laser.
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:15 AM   #20 (permalink)
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$8K

I can buy a whole lot of sawzall blades, grinder discs and acetylene and oxygen. Yeah, it's cool, but I just can't see spending that kind of money, even when I have a regular need for such toys.

Someday, someday, someday.

Peace,
PT
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Old 12-20-2004, 10:33 AM   #21 (permalink)
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PLUS you gotta buy a $2200 plasma cutter (or whatever size you want) and a computer. I'm not rich by no means and that is A LOT of money to me but you know what? Its paid for itself in 10 months. Its all in the use and marketing of your services. I still work full time and do this on the side. I have nearly every cutting/welding tool also and NONE of them compare to speed, accuracy, and professional look that this does. I can design a fairly complex gusset or bracket in about 3 minutes. Then cut out a hundred if I want. Good luck getting two link mounts to look the same with a torch and gringer.
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Old 12-20-2004, 11:38 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce T
Good luck getting two link mounts to look the same with a torch and gringer.
Just takes practice.

In reality I use some 1/4" thick WOOD forms. My Hypertherm 900 has just about a 1" diameter tip on it. Cut the wood platform 1/2" smaller than I need. Use a couple of spacers (1/4") to keep the form above the metal, and cut away. Ended up doing a bunch of manifold flanges this way with pretty good results.

Tom
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Old 12-20-2004, 12:42 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Thats how I did it too. Until I got my cnc. I only had my plasma cutter for 2 months before the cnc part. I bought it for that. Making stuff with torches (although easily possible) is a pain in the ass. One or 2 sure but when your cutting enough for a complete buggy its a nightmare.
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Old 12-20-2004, 01:00 PM   #24 (permalink)
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a helpful plasma site

Try checking out fabricationautomation.com. The owner, Randy, is super knowledgable about plasmas,lasers,water jets, and complete automation. I have personally worked with him for years. Great guy also. May take a while to get a response from him though, he tends to stay extreemely busy. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-20-2004, 02:43 PM   #25 (permalink)
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I have the Plasmacam unit. It's by far the coolest investment I have made. It's been a learning curve for me because I don't have a drafting background. I have become proficient in Acad, Illustrator, Photoshop, CorelDraw, and the Plasmacam drawing software. I am always moving different files around between the programs and get what I want. I just did some 3/8" spring perches and they came out awesome. I can take just about any type of file and get something usable from it. I haven't tried the bar napkin yet though

It's $9K for the table and I have about $2600 into a Hypertherm 1250 (way overkill for the stuff I do). I did my research and the HT 1000 or 1250 is the best plasma for the money. Their tech guys are awesome.

And yes, I would liek to see a write up on the powder coat booth and oven.

SeanP
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