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Old 07-11-2010, 12:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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PowerMax 45 shuts down torch during cut sequence

Hello everybody,
After some searching on this forum and following the suggestions I've found I'm left with a few more questions.

Here is the my set-up:

Torchmate 2x2
Powermax 45 w/hand torch ( trigger start modification performed)
compressor specs ( pic below)
torch height and ground proximity ( pic below)


What could be causing the torch to shut down and yellow light sequence as indicated in the video? ( the PM45 owners manual is not conclusive)

YouTube - Hypertherm Powermax 45 diagnostic lights



My compressor performance is similar to the performance that Dallas indicated did not work for her.

Does this look like a compressor performance issue?

Does the PM45 shut the torch off when optimal airflow is not detected?

Any insight would be appreciated

thanks

Phillip
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Old 07-11-2010, 07:14 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Yeah I’m having trouble with my powermax 45 doing the same thing to a lesser extent. I have an 80 gallon tank not sure the hp but it does something like 16cfm at 90psi. My regulator is a Sharpe water separator / regulator, the same one I use to paint cars and powder coat without trouble. So this has me scratching my head as well.
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Old 07-11-2010, 09:26 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi abnaasefmb,

Are you using the hand torch or a machine torch?

I was almost sure it was my compressor's performance but it seems like your compressor is robust enough yet you still get the shut-down that I do.

Hmm

Phillip
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Old 07-11-2010, 01:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm not familiar with the PM45 but it appears your air pressure gauge is dropping sharply during the cut.. bottoming out about the same time your yellow "error" light comes on.. I'd look hard at your air supply.


How are you filtering the air? I had a regular cheap water separator at the tank and the filter element (bronze?) got so crudded up it restricted flow. It would be okay for a short burst but long cuts ran the pressure down until my plasma cutter triggered an error (air pressure).
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Old 07-11-2010, 02:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have a Powermax 45 w/ machine torch. I would say your air pressure is dropping off very fast this will cause the orange light to come on and your torch will cease cutting.

Gord
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Old 07-11-2010, 04:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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X3 on the air pressure issue. I'm running your same setup and mine is working fine. The PM45 will shut down if the air supply gets low and kick the light. Your compressor looks really weak....I would say it's the compressor not keeping up and or an air flow problem.

Also, your using the drag tip for table cutting? They make certain tips for your hand torch if using in a machine. I'm not sure but I would guess because of the optimum cut height. The drag tip sets your cut height for hand cutting but you wouldn't want it dragging on the material as the machine moves it around. Where the other tips stand off the material. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-11-2010, 06:02 PM   #7 (permalink)
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With the compressor you have shown pics of I would say your right on the edge for capacity so it will not keep up. I have a 60g with the powermax and it loves it. I have never starved air even with a file I ran that was just over 11 minutes on the 2x2 table. Don't get flustered you have a killer plasma and a excellent table from Torchmate I just think you will need to upgrade your air supply.

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Old 07-12-2010, 05:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It is clear that your air pressure is dropping dramatically as soon as the system tries to fire the torch.....the air pressure indicator is the series of LEDs to the right side. To properly set the airpressure, first ensure you have 85 to 135 psi at the rear panel of the Powermax45, then (with the plasma on) turn the Amperage control knob fully counterclockwise...this activates the air flow through the torch.....while the air is flowing adjust the regulator on the 45 so the the air pressure LED indicates proper air pressure. Turn the amperage control back to the proper setting...and you should now be all set. If the problem persists...then you likely have some sort of restriction on the upstream (between the plasma and the compressor) that is allowing proper pressure to the plasma under no flow conditions, but cannot maintain pressure when flowing. This could be something like a piece of teflon tape (which should never be used when plumbing air to any plasma system, the manual mentions this!), or some other piece of debris that is creating a blockage.

Your air compressor is adequate for short cuts.....but is rated at the same flowrate that the Powermax45 requires for operation. This means that your compressor will run continuously on long cuts.....and when the inlet pressure to the 45 drops below about 45 psi, the plasma will shut the arc off.....this feature is to protect the torch from damage.

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Old 07-12-2010, 05:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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p556,

I have a Powermax 45 w/ hand torch too. My compressor is only a 20 gallon but what I did to help my plasma was, bought one of the extra air tanks I think its a 5 or 6 gallon and tied it in line. This helps keep pressure if the compressor volume runs a little low and gives it a buffer zone to get the pressure built back up. Might want to give it a try. Good luck.
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Old 07-12-2010, 05:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by p556 View Post
Hi abnaasefmb,

Are you using the hand torch or a machine torch?

I was almost sure it was my compressor's performance but it seems like your compressor is robust enough yet you still get the shut-down that I do.

Hmm

Phillip
Mine is a machine torch, also mine does not “shut off” my regulator just tends to fluctuate, i.e. it reads high then low throughout the cut sequence.
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Old 07-12-2010, 06:42 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It is absolutely clear from the video...that the pressure to the plasma is dropping dramatically as soon as the plasma air solenoid opens to allow air flow to the torch. This creates a low pressure to the pressure switch inside the 45, which shuts of the DC power, then the arc goes out and airflow stops (after timing out). At the point the air flow stops, pressure builds back up, the pressure switch is satisfied, and the unit will fire again. This is caused by a flow restriction.....anywhere between the air compressor and the pressure switch in the plasma.

To test it.....take it to someones place with another air hose/compressor, set it up (pressure while air is flowing) as I stated in my earlier post. If it works on this system...then the problem is in the hose/coupling/plumbing attached to your compressor. If it stills displays the same sysmptoms, then look at the inlet coupling, and internal plumbing on the plasma system for restrictions. The plumbing is all very simple, and is outlined clearly in the Hypertherm manual. I doubt you will find an issue in the plasma, 999 out of a 1000 times it is in the air hose couplings or plumbing fittings. Also....the air hose should be at least a 3/8" ID hose, and all couplings should be a minimum of 1/4" NPT, and the hose should be less that 100' long from your compressor.

Jim Colt
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:43 AM   #12 (permalink)
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As Jim mentioned, with the dramatic drop in pressure when the Plasma start "consuming" the air, the volume and pressure may not be there in order to keep the torch running, especially when the tank starts getting low. If you're running a small Inner Diameter line the pressure may drop below the Plasma Cutter's minimum amount and shuts itself off.
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Old 07-12-2010, 07:57 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Hello everybody

Thank you all for replying to this thread with your experiences, diagnostic in-sight, and even words of encouragement!

I will most certainly look into every suggestion and procedure posted and see if the problem goes away.

This really gives me some new direction!


Thank you

Phillip
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Old 07-18-2010, 12:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Victory
You guys absolutely nailed the problems. The air supply was poor and much to feeble to allow the plasma cutter to start correctly let alone keep up with the demands of an entire cut sequence. More specifically, I believe I had a really cheesy set-up. My airlines were to long, I had narrow PVC hose compounded with old grumpy fittings, and more then a few examples of teflon tape gone wrong- a nightmare. After reading the advice on this forum I really looked into how to set up a proper air delivery system. ( fortunately I really enjoy learning)

The Fix
I lugged the compressor out from the basement where it's noise was muffled quite and put it smack in the middle of the shop where it's noise seems to be amplified! I created an efficient airline run from the compressor to the plasma cutter ditching all the old fittings along the way. I tested the air pressure at the end of the run and got the PSI I was hoping for. Plugged the line back in, dialed the correct pressure setting on the plasma cutter: Green lights right in the middle!

I dialed up Ol' Line speed test 130-10 on the computer, triple checked everything again, crossed my fingers and hit start. For the first time I did not watch the plasma cutter torch turn steel into dust, I was completely fixed on the PSI indicator lights on the Hypertherm powermax 45 front panel. All green right in the middle! Holy cow for the first time ever the entire system was working perfectly-God Bless America.


Currently
Towards the end of the speed line test the compressor did kick on to keep up with the demand just like everybody predicted. The test was cut to completion however.

I have been cutting longer programs since the initial success. With a little bit of patience and a quick hand on the computer keyboard, I stop the sequence when the compressor starts to get low. Once it's back up to capacity I can restart the sequence. I would estimate the maximum length of cut sequence I can currently cut before I have to pause to be around 3-4 minutes.

To Do
I am absolutely going to look into a larger capacity compressor and re-plumb the airlines correctly.
I am absolutely going to move the compressor back to the basement. Who needs that racket!
I will be replacing the drag-tip that came with the torch to a machine type tip as suggested.


Once again thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge as well as offering a few words of encouragement along the way.

Cheers

Phillip
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Old 07-18-2010, 03:13 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Might try watching CL for a used compressor. I picked up a used 220v 2 stage compressor with a rebuilt Kellog pump on it.. thing cranks out like 16cfm @175psi... cost me about $450. The nice thing with those big shop compressors is they're slow RPM and alot quieter than most of the high RPM pumps you see in retail stores. You can stand next to it and hold a conversation while it chugs away...
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Old 07-18-2010, 05:33 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I agree with using CL to find deals on good compressors. I put my compressor outside under the eaves of my shop 4 years ago.....its in NH, gets down to maybe 25 below zero on occasion. Much quieter for me, although it spooks the horses occasionally when it cycles at 2 AM.......I need to put a timer on it as I forget to shut it off at night!

Jim
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