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Small plasma table shops - opinions

kf4zht

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Someone locally has a crossfire/langmur plasma table, brand new for a decent discount. I have a cutmaster 38 plasma already.

I know that this is on the smaller and lighter end of the spectrum. However I have a small shop (12x24) with a lot of equipment already in it (mill, lathe, weldering table, etc). Its not pratical for a 4x8 machine unless that was all that was in there. I have zero plans for this to be a production machine. It's only for my personal projects and prototyping.

So from the guys that have smaller plasma tables - is it worth it? What would you have done differently?
And finally - would this greatly increase my capabilities for one off/prototype stuff or am I better just CNC converting my mill?
 
I have a crossfire 2x2 table, upgraded with the water bed and to the 24"x33" size (like $150 upgrades each) and I've used it nearly every week since I bought it last October(ish). It is hands down one of the best tools I've ever bought. When it comes to fabrication, I would rank it only behind a welder and a plasma cutter for useful tools (maybe throw a grinder on that list lol). I bought $100 of brackets from Ruffstuff, and had been eyeballing it for awhile and said fuck it, I'll just buy the plasma table instead of spending another $100. Every single part on my buggy, and lots of other things, is now custom made on the fly for that application and turns out fucking amazing. The level of craftsmanship and ease that the plasma table brings can't be overstated (coming from someone who had never used one prior). I run mine with my Hypertherm 30XP. Other things you'll need if you get it is a laptop/computer, mach3 software to drive the electronics, and CAD/CAM to program it. Fusion 360 from Autodesk is free for hobbyists and only a few hundred bucks a year if you make money with it, and it does both CAD and CAM. Also, Langmuir has fantastic instructions and supplies all the codes you need to configure the CAM and Mach3 to talk to the plasma table and they have a huge forum with lots of info too. The whole process is very straight forward.

Cons, honestly not many. Langmuir is a great company, albeit relatively small. I know 3 other guys who bought Crossfires after me and have been very happy with their support. I have had literally 0 issues with mine, and I don't baby it. It sits in the corner and fires up when I need to use it and never skips a beat, at most I wipe down the bearing surfaces with WD-40 sometimes occasionally change the water in the table. The biggest downside to the 2x2 table is the cantilever arm can be finicky, over time it will not hold level, and getting the whole table to stay level with the arm in both axis can be difficult in general. Personally this is not a huge deal, I rarely do pieces larger than 12", but on large stuff sometimes I need to relevel the bed (the easier approach is to put little pucks under the plate and level it vs the whole bed). For 99% of what I cut, brackets, shock mounts, tabs, etc. there's no issue and the lack of Z-axis is not an issue (honestly not sure of the need for Z-axis). It takes a day or two to learn what the best cutting speed is and how to configure everything in the CAM fast, but once you get the hang of it you can literally draw something in CAD and program and cut it in the same amount of time as trying to cut it by hand, and it'll be flawless straight off the table and look like it was professionally cut. The only other "con" is with the smaller tables you need to cut down sheets of steel, I usually cut sheets into 2.5x4ft strips. Thickest I've cut is 1/4" steel and aluminum and it goes through it like butter and the cut quality is amazing, though that's more a function of your plasma and the speed you programmed in.

TL;DR -- I would buy another Langmuir plasma table in a heartbeat. If I walked outside and saw something fell and crushed it, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one instantly (though maybe upgrade to their newer 3x4 table :D ). The 2x2 table, especially with the 2x3 upgrade and the water bed, is $2000 new and doesn't take up much space and will hold its own with expensive tables. 10/10 would recommend.

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In regards to CNC converting your mill, I have a CNC converted Grizzly mill. It depends on what work you do, personally if I had to have one or the other I would go with the plasma table. I use the plasma table way more often than the mill. With that said both have their place obviously. I actually CNC'd the mill and then decided I wanted to build a plasma table since it's all the same hardware, that's when I found out about Langmuir and for their price I was gonna almost spend that much (if not more) building my own plasma table so went ahead and just bought one. They all use the same hardware and control boards more or less.
 
I would go as big as you can reasonably store/work around. I have a 4x4 in my 24x32 shoprage. I built it to be self contained on casters so that it can be moved out of the way. The water table drains into a 60gal compressor tank mounted under the table and I pressurize the tank to refill. That keeps the water from sloshing out when I move it around. The next one is going to be a 4x8 with a downdraft setup mounted on some sort of track system so that it can lift up the wall and out of the way.

I don't have better pictures on my phone, but this is the water storage and air distribution setup. The left regulator and valve are air to the tank to fill the table, the other valve you can't really see vents the tank to drain Chrome regulator goes to the plasma. The plasma and control box are also mounted under the table. One sub panel under there feeds everything, so one power and air connection and I'm up and running. It really helps to keep all the clutter and extra crap under control in a small space.

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TL;DR -- I would buy another Langmuir plasma table in a heartbeat. If I walked outside and saw something fell and crushed it, I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one instantly (though maybe upgrade to their newer 3x4 table :D ). The 2x2 table, especially with the 2x3 upgrade and the water bed, is $2000 new and doesn't take up much space and will hold its own with expensive tables. 10/10 would recommend.

This was super helpful. The table has the water tray already and the laptop arm. The only hold back is that I'm doing less car/heep stuff so it may not get used as much.

This would mean I need to get the compressor finished, especially the filters
 
I would go as big as you can reasonably store/work around. I have a 4x4 in my 24x32 shoprage. I built it to be self contained on casters so that it can be moved out of the way. The water table drains into a 60gal compressor tank mounted under the table and I pressurize the tank to refill. That keeps the water from sloshing out when I move it around. The next one is going to be a 4x8 with a downdraft setup mounted on some sort of track system so that it can lift up the wall and out of the way.

I don't have better pictures on my phone, but this is the water storage and air distribution setup. The left regulator and valve are air to the tank to fill the table, the other valve you can't really see vents the tank to drain Chrome regulator goes to the plasma. The plasma and control box are also mounted under the table. One sub panel under there feeds everything, so one power and air connection and I'm up and running. It really helps to keep all the clutter and extra crap under control in a small space.


I am tempted to do something like this for my table....


Just curious though... Why are you thinking about going to a downdraft setup? I know it lets the parts be a little cleaner, and easier to deal with, but won't you lose the cooling effect of water?
 
I am tempted to do something like this for my table....


Just curious though... Why are you thinking about going to a downdraft setup? I know it lets the parts be a little cleaner, and easier to deal with, but won't you lose the cooling effect of water?

The only reason would be so it could be stored on its side up against the wall, but I could probably use something similar to what I have now too. It would just be harder to package and support since that tank weighs 500lbs full.
 
The only reason would be so it could be stored on its side up against the wall, but I could probably use something similar to what I have now too. It would just be harder to package and support since that tank weighs 500lbs full.

You could always do a burn table setup and have the cnc plasma permanently on the wall.
 
You could always do a burn table setup and have the cnc plasma permanently on the wall.

The thing I don't like about that is drops falling weird and putting all the wear on one part of the table and slats because you're always cutting on the bottom. Plus I like being able to position leftover plate however I need to for those random one off pieces.

Honestly I don't see how that thing ever worked. I had to completely rebuild and retrofit a burn table from the ground up to make it useable, they're the biggest piles of crap on the market :barf:
 
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