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Talon2006 CNC Plasma table build

Talon2006

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I am still pretty far out from starting this, but with graduation from graduate school being behind me the possibility is more real. There are a lot of good entry model machines out there, and they are tempting, I still think this might be a better situation for where I am. First, I want to learn how to hook up and program all of the electronics and control software. Second, the personal challenge is exciting to me, and third, I excluding my time, I think I could build a slightly better machine then I could buy outright dollar for dollar. This is still a fun hobby for myself.

I already have a bunch of stuff in my garage to start a build and at this time this is guiding the direction I am going. Ideally a small table will be built for now, but a larger one will come into play later or be constructed later. First off, the direction I am thinking about going.

Basic overview: 2x5 cnc plasma table, with an THC running a hypertherm powermax 45 plasma. Will use cold rolled steel and skate bearings for x and y liner motion along with pack and pinion drive with stepper motors. I don't see needing more then 300 ipm cutting, but can always use the hypertherm fine cut slow speed settings (150 ipm)
  1. Frame
    1. 2x2 1/8" steel. At this time I am pretty set on 5 foot width because I already have a gantry that is 5" wide. If I do not use this gantry and build one I would like the idea of being able to build a larger table later, and only having to move over my gantry.
    2. Water pan: This is almost not an option. Though I have debated a down draft option in the past.
    3. I have debated using 3x3 1/8", but i already have the 2x2 in my garage and don't think it will greatly hurt me in rigidity.
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  2. Gantry:
    1. I have a steel cnc plasma style gantry sitting in my garage. It is big enough to give me a 5' wide cut width. It already had CRS on it for rails and mounts for the CNC router parts style rails.
  3. Z axis:
    1. I do not have a plan on this yet. I have not decided if I want to build this from scratch, or buy one. I am pretty tempted to buy one, but it seems anything decent is 300 bucks. In contrast I found this kit of amazon that has all the parts to build a decent one.https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...YEPQ0S7Z&psc=1
  4. Linear Travel:
    1. As stated earlier, I already have pre-drilled CRS that is 3"x1/4" and the CNC router parts style carriages. While HIWIN style rails seem to be about the best that is out there, and several manufactures are moving to this as an option, I think at this time keeping the budget low, and using what I have is the best bet
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    2. Motion control is going to be 3:1 belt reduced rack and pinion drive. According to Jim Colt and others, cnc plasmas do best when 1 stepper revolution=1 inch of travel. I might try to build my own belt reduction, and this would be idea, but I have had a hard time locating parts that would be much cheaper then simply buying the CNC router parts gear reduction units. The only thing I don't like about most units out there and they are spring tension. This seems to increase wear, which later decreases accuracy, but for hobby use it is negotiable about how much this will matter. Sure, I have illusions of grandeur that show me making millions with this table cutting 24/7, but in reality this probably won't happen. If I was going to use a non spring tensioned gear reduction, it would probably quickly guide me down the path of building a whole gantry pretty quickly.
  5. Motion Control: At this point, Linux CNC seems to be the best out there, all of the current manufactures are moving to linux based programs as mach has shown to be buggy. Personally I go back on forth on this frequently between three options.
    1. Linux cnc with a Mesa 7I96 card, with their THC cad. This seems to be about the best option out there for use with Linux CNC. This also emcompasses option one and two below.
      1. Find the cheapest stepper motor and drivers on ebay/amazon to keep the budget low. With this route I would probably go with Nema 23 425 oz/in motors.
      2. Realize, if I build a decent motion control now, I can most likely use it on a larger or upgraded table alter, and get 640 oz/in Nema 34's from automation technologies along with their kelling drivers and power supply. I believe this option will be about 300-400 dollars more expensive based on current calculations.
    2. Mach3/4/windows based cnc controller. If I go this route, I will most likely get this cut, that has the BOB and software with it, use that to get moving and upgrade to mach from there, or linux cnc later. Here are a few examples.
      1. https://www.ebay.com/itm/worldwide-W...oAAOSwuzRXe1NK
      2. https://www.ebay.com/itm/FREE-SHIP-W....c100012.m1985
      3. https://www.ebay.com/itm/4-Axis-USB-...0AAOSwdKddjsuM
      4. NOTE: There is a lot of information on sizing nema steppers to gantry weight and there are a few good formulas. Essentially you need to get the IPM speed for the thickness of material you are cutting, while still maintaining adequate acceleration in g's for cnc plasma.
This is the 20,000 foot view. I still need to figure out things like, limit switches, what wire to buy, how much and other ancillary items....E, stop, cable management ext. I am also still kind of wondering if I should throw caution to the wind, buy one cry once and go build a system that would use liner rails, extrusion for the gantry and side pieces, and top of the line electronics with Linux cnc. The budget build is looking at about 1000 bucks. The all out hit 2400 pretty quick in parts. I am sure both are missing lots of stuff. Share with me your thoughts and experiences, or any questions you might have.

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Dethmachinefab

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I don't think the linear rails will be worth the extra expense. Add some triangulation to that frame, would be easy to knock it out of square loading a heavy plate or getting some vibration from quick direction changes. Put a bunch of drains in the water table pan. I have to shop vac out most of mine because the valve in the corner is useless when it's got 4" of slag in the pan. Building a big table the way i want has been on my list for some time, but I need to learn more about the motion control side so ill be paying attention to this build.
 

Talon2006

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I don't think the linear rails will be worth the extra expense. Add some triangulation to that frame, would be easy to knock it out of square loading a heavy plate or getting some vibration from quick direction changes. Put a bunch of drains in the water table pan. I have to shop vac out most of mine because the valve in the corner is useless when it's got 4" of slag in the pan. Building a big table the way i want has been on my list for some time, but I need to learn more about the motion control side so ill be paying attention to this build.

I was probably going to add a bunch of guessets, but more tube never hurts either.

i have also debated the 3x3 1/8, but like I said above I already have a ton of 2x2.

I am still a newb on the motion control, but have been reading a ton. So hopefully I can be helpful.

Great idea on all the drains. Thanks.

details on your table?
 

Dethmachinefab

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I've got a 4x4 torchmate. Overall it's been great besides some control issues occasionally but being 4x4 means I need to shear every plate down to size. I want to build a heavy duty 6x20.
 

Flatbed

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@OP, have not been there in years but CNCzone. com used to have a dump load of info on these types of projects. Would be worth the look. :beer:
 

Talon2006

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@OP, have not been there in years but CNCzone. com used to have a dump load of info on these types of projects. Would be worth the look. :beer:

Defiantly have spent hours on that site.

i probably need to copy this build thread over to see what I’m missing.

im. Hoping to create something somewhat inclusive here on, how to build my first one and what I want tI consider.
 

tracyb

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if your going small it might be worth building a plasma/ work bench and a movable/ storable cnc frame. when i was starting out and didnt have the space thats how i did it and as things got bigger i changed the table as i needed.

here is the a pic of when i first started making cuts. yes theres allot that was quiclkly redone in this picture, and i dont have a better pic. but what i'm trying to show in the 'cnc' part lifts off the table and stored on the computer cart vertically. this was 5 years ago

i still use this same table today. still removable from the base, but on a 4x8 cut capacity and it lives in an inclosed trailer. the trailer was a temporary thing until i realized how great it was to be mobile, and keep the plasma mess contained in one area. it has a water tray 8"ish under the cut and 2 800cfm? side/down draft fans and its still more mess than i want in the shop.

View attachment 0SeJQ84hWIdQvw0ENggQyUgLy287LUaeTbPFrX2aZ77paf022mN-V17t_znRPjfJIMY4xWbSFa2cSjpSw3-qvkRcuMPiy7UH6ini
 
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tracyb

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found some other old pics...

i still have it in this trailer, but have rebuild the top again to lower the linear rails. trailer inside looks brand new compared to what the inside looks like now.

in the time i've used it i would estimate the table has processed 250-300,000lbs of material. so it gets used allot. at times running 4hr cut programs 24hrs a day, i'd start the cut and set my alarm to wake up when its done, clear table, load, and repeat.

View attachment kRFiwIsy4TWG6hEXTcSl7-j4rOaPne4yyX8JPd2ZPnsmDhK21XiLMqxfKljHZyR_IcauL3MG8Xpxb4Wr5wTYYHfeaDgeL5pbMtDG View attachment J2dw4fReNNqdYebh35712AqHNFQ0egGWD8J66kXQhes_PrhU9EB6YCabbQh0xGhJmNYDoUz3k-yDaxNPsJkSy4qyVYCVZILR1Wvt
 

Talon2006

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if your going small it might be worth building a plasma/ work bench and a movable/ storable cnc frame. when i was starting out and didnt have the space thats how i did it and as things got bigger i changed the table as i needed.

here is the a pic of when i first started making cuts. yes theres allot that was quiclkly redone in this picture, and i dont have a better pic. but what i'm trying to show in the 'cnc' part lifts off the table and stored on the computer cart vertically. this was 5 years ago

i still use this same table today. still removable from the base, but on a 4x8 cut capacity and it lives in an inclosed trailer. the trailer was a temporary thing until i realized how great it was to be mobile, and keep the plasma mess contained in one area. it has a water tray 8"ish under the cut and 2 800cfm? side/down draft fans and its still more mess than i want in the shop.


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I have really contemplated making a small frame CNC plasma like these... though I really think a 3X5 table would probably be the best for me as far as size, and portability.

I think I am going to want a bigger one pretty soon after building. I like how yours is in a trailer, I have debated a prebuilt shed for mine.


What electronics are you running?

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tracyb

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the initial idea with my table was a portable service, the top removable to do staged cuts on large sheets and the local shipyard. business took off and i never persued that avenue, but quickly realized the removable frame and trailer are super nice. for example the table is set up as 4x8 if needed i can easily cut 5' x 10' doesn't take much time to change and even change back. i dont even use the trailer as much mobile as i expected. but again, being in a trailer is very nice for the mess and mobility.

the table in the pictures is a Precision Plasma gantry kit and CandCNC electronics. a windows xp computer running mach 3

the last table i built about 8 months ago. i used cncrouterparts carriage/ motor reduction and again went with CandCNC electronics, and the z-axis they offer. it ran the linex based program, not sure it has a name. but works really well. the Mach 3 has always been really glitchy for me the linex stuff was flawless, but i really dont have nearly the time in on it like i do with mach 3 (i built the table for a customer)
 

Clemson13

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the initial idea with my table was a portable service, the top removable to do staged cuts on large sheets and the local shipyard. business took off and i never persued that avenue, but quickly realized the removable frame and trailer are super nice. for example the table is set up as 4x8 if needed i can easily cut 5' x 10' doesn't take much time to change and even change back. i dont even use the trailer as much mobile as i expected. but again, being in a trailer is very nice for the mess and mobility.

the table in the pictures is a Precision Plasma gantry kit and CandCNC electronics. a windows xp computer running mach 3

the last table i built about 8 months ago. i used cncrouterparts carriage/ motor reduction and again went with CandCNC electronics, and the z-axis they offer. it ran the linex based program, not sure it has a name. but works really well. the Mach 3 has always been really glitchy for me the linex stuff was flawless, but i really dont have nearly the time in on it like i do with mach 3 (i built the table for a customer)

Ive been wanting a CNC plasma, but refused to consider one at 10k+. THat just didnt make sense for a toy i might play with 1x a week. If i could build one ising the precision plasma and keep the price down towards 5k thats starts to sound much better. Wonder if i could do the linux and the precision plasma gantry kit.
 

Talon2006

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Ive been wanting a CNC plasma, but refused to consider one at 10k+. THat just didnt make sense for a toy i might play with 1x a week. If i could build one ising the precision plasma and keep the price down towards 5k thats starts to sound much better. Wonder if i could do the linux and the precision plasma gantry kit.

It is very doable. Precision plasma says that nema 34's with 670 oz in of torque is more then enough for their table, I think they also suggest the 570's from automation technology.


My biggest hold up right now, is I have not decided that size steppers I need. Some say 425 is more then enough, others 570, 640's and 908's. They get progressively more expensive as you go up in size.


I also need to clean up my garage and make space, and weight my gantry. Gantry weight would greatly help me decide. Texas heat is slowing me down.
 

Talon2006

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I was going to be a big pussy, and wait to update this thread untill I knew I was going to be able to make it happen.... but I figured I should just man up.

I started typing a long detailed post about how to pick the right stuff... but couldn't figure out what direction to go with it, so here is the TLDR verison.

I ended up upgrading my electronics package to this. https://www.ebay.com/itm/US-Shipping...QAAOSwVHJbK-5Z

Why you might ask? Well while nema 23 425 oz might have been strong enough, if I go the nema 23 way I would also have to get the nema 23 drive reduction from CNCrouter parts. If I needed to upgrade later it would have cost even more. Also, this kit has beefier drivers that will support a larger motor later on if I need to upgrade. Figured a little more money now would save money later.

I did call the guy, and he did swap the motors in this kit for their 5.5 amp motors. They have a much better inductance rating. This is what determines what voltage your steppers should run at for peak performance. The torque curve also looked decent on these motors.

Ordered this for my controller http://store.mesanet.com/index.php?r...product_id=311

I also got the CNC router parts 3:1 reduction https://www.cncrouterparts.com/pro-r...-34-p-226.html
 

Talon2006

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I got some presents in the mail!!!

Now I just need to mount it all to a sheet of aluminum and start wireing.

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Talon2006

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Computer: So I needed to find a decent computer for this rig. At this point I am starting to realize there are a TON of decisions that need made, and a bunch of research that goes into each decision. I have found a few mentors on the way through other forums but nothing super good. Lots of information at the linux cnc forums and cnczone. After the research it seemed that the Dell Optiplex 780's were a decent computer, and easy to find. They are almost good enough to do direct controls through the parallel port, but considering I am going to run a MESA 7I96 card this would not really matter for me anyways.

Found a computer on Facebook market place for 120 bucks with keyboard monitor and mouse. Got there to find there was a green line in the screen and talked the guy down to 90. SCORE!

Got it home and spent hours figuring out how to put Linux on there, then had to figure out how to update it. I got it done, but I am not sure if I could do it again. lol Whole new computer language. Granted, I did have my success.
 

Talon2006

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Made some more progress. Have all the electronics mounted up to the aluminum sheet. I tried to make sure that I separated high voltage items, like the power supply’s and the cabling from the low voltage items, like he control boards and wires going from the motors to the drivers.

I measures and laid everything out, then used a center punch to mark my holes, and used a marker so I wouldn't forget where they were. I also wrote some notes on what tap to use.

For the card I used brass standoffs to mount them to the sheet. This helps keep an adequate distance from the card to the sheet to keep it from short circuiting. IIRC I used M3 5+6mm standoffs.

The power supplies have threaded screws in them already. I through drilled those holes to mount directly into the power supplies. They were a M3 thread.

I was going to also tap the bolts for the drivers, but the local tool supply shop put the wrong drill size in the package I ordered. I discoved this after I drilled my holes and went to tap them. So they are through bolted, which works.

Next is wiring plan. I ordered some 18/4 shielded alarm cable off of amazon to wire from the Mesa card to the drivers, and from the drivers to the motors. I also ordered some Ferrules to help make clean connections to every component.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

For the power supply to driver wiring, and power supply to the MESA card I used 14 gauge wire. I started using some wire I got from lowes, but it was so stiff I hated it, so I ended up ordering some silicone wire from amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I also managed to snag a sweet labeler off of Facebook market place. It is able to write labels on heat shrink and will hopefully pay off on this project. It was new in the box and I got it for 100 bucks.

https://www.amazon.com/DYMO-Rhino-In...86&s=hi&sr=1-3

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Talon2006

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Made a little more progress today. Also got some sweet self leveling casters From amazon. After flipping this frame 50x I’m happy with how easy it rolls across the shop.

now, I need to reorganize my shop so I can get more work done on this... can’t wait to get into a larger garage.
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Talon2006

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Well, made some big progress. The heat in Texas, and the size of my garage has held me up a little bit. I had to reorganize my garage to get the table in a spot where I could work on it. Thank god I only have a few more months of being in a 1 car garage.
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You can see from the other photos, that I had to move the table from the back of the garage, to the front. Lots more room to work around it now.

So, I am going to try outline what I did in detail, as I have not seen this well written out. Let me know if it makes sense, or if I suck at writing. When it comes to mount the cold rolled rails, it is typical to see some smaller 11ga 1.5 square tubing placed on top of the plasma frame, and it is generally drilled and tapped with 5/16-18 bolts to bolt down the 2.5"X1/4" Cold rolled steel rails.

The first thing I did was mounted the bearings to the gantry, and put a couple of pieces of cold rolled steel in the bearings so I could figure out exactly how far apart I needed the rails to be. First I ended up at 67 1/7", but later moved them in to 67 1/32". That put me in about the middle of my rage of adjustment.

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The first thing I did was clamp down the two sections of 1.5" 11ga square tubing. After some math, I figured out that I needed it to be around 64" apart on center, as the edges of the CRS rails needed to be at 67 1/32".
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Did a couple of tac welds on the ends to keep them from rolling from side to side.
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I checked the measurements then I did some more tacs alternating on each side to keep them from rolling.

Next I clamped down the rails, and got everything nice and square. I knew that I wanted 1/2" of overhang off of each side of the rails. In theory, I don't have to get the rails perfectly square, because I can always lay the sheet down in reference to the actual torch movement.... but I wanted to get it as close to perfect as possible to help prevent headaches later.

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After getting the rails clamped down, and was happy with the measurement I stared center punching, drilling and tapping the side closest to me.
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I bought a starrett tap handle just for this project. I was expensive... but it is so freaking worth it.
After getting the rail drilled, tapped and bolted down, it was time to mount the gantry.
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Now, at this point, I have spent 2 hours moving the gantry back and forth, making sure it was happy. At this point I have only drilled and tapped one bolt in the center of the opposite rail, but it was time to call it a day and get inside. Hopefully tomorrow night I can finish drilled the rest of the bolt holes, and that that point I should be ready to move on to the gear reduction drive installs and the gear rails.

I also have all of my buddies gear setup tools here... his dial indicator came in handy.... Turns out I am withing .020 from end to end... which I am pretty happy about.
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Talon2006

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Not sure if anyone is really following this build....

but got the gear racks and drives installed.

at this point I need to get the electronics in a box, install the limit switches and the table should have motion.

not sure what I want to put the electronics in. I need a 22x22 interior size box to put them in. Nema electrical cabinets are super expensive. I’m thinking about grabbing a rubber maid container for now, then cut something nice on the table later. Not having a truck right now will make getting materials a little difficult.
 

Firstram

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Definitely following. I'm going to build a 5x7 table as soon as I can get back to work, post plandemic.
 

Clemson13

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I am another following along. I am on the fence between this, precision plasma, or just paying for the crossfire CNC pro.

Seems like this is the difference in those three:
Build yourself - Heavy duty, cheap, high time input
Crossfire pro - not super heavy duty, low cost, low time input
Precision plasma - Heavy duty, not so low cost, medium time input
Buy commercial machine - fuck no, I cant afford that as a toy, no time input :lmao:
 

Firstram

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I am another following along. I am on the fence between this, precision plasma, or just paying for the crossfire CNC pro.

Seems like this is the difference in those three:
Build yourself - Heavy duty, cheap, high time input
Crossfire pro - not super heavy duty, low cost, low time input
Precision plasma - Heavy duty, not so low cost, medium time input
Buy commercial machine - fuck no, I cant afford that as a toy, no time input :lmao:

I have a buddy that went with PP in January, spendy but really nice. I liked the fact I can customize the table. The width of a 5x table isn't a problem ( I have 6'-7") but, I need to keep the total length just under 8'-4" so I can store it in my trailer jockey box. I've got enough height if I make the legs/base bolt together.

Talon, sorry for the hijack.
 

Talon2006

Yellow Skull
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
282
Messages
295
I am another following along. I am on the fence between this, precision plasma, or just paying for the crossfire CNC pro.

Seems like this is the difference in those three:
Build yourself - Heavy duty, cheap, high time input
Crossfire pro - not super heavy duty, low cost, low time input
Precision plasma - Heavy duty, not so low cost, medium time input
Buy commercial machine - fuck no, I cant afford that as a toy, no time input :lmao:

I am on a few CNC plasma facebook pages. They have talked me out of the crossfire machines, along with the wright machiens. Everyone seems to like the SVT machines though.

My gantry is essentially the same as a older precision plasma. I am using it because I had it... but in the future I will be changing this gantry for one more like the SVT machines. I figure I can go from 54 ish inches of X cut area, to 64" of cut area by changing the setup of the gantry. Lots of wasted space with how it is set up now IMHO.

There is a good amount of time locked up in this project... though I would defiantly consider doing this again. Most of what I have done could be done in a weekend in a decent sized garage, without work hour restrictions. The electronics took me 3-4 days. Another thing to ask yourself, if you build it yourself. How many hours will you save on tech support chasing an issue?
 

Clemson13

Evernoob is a douchcanoe
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
218
Messages
358
Loc
Upstate SC
I am on a few CNC plasma facebook pages. They have talked me out of the crossfire machines, along with the wright machiens. Everyone seems to like the SVT machines though.

My gantry is essentially the same as a older precision plasma. I am using it because I had it... but in the future I will be changing this gantry for one more like the SVT machines. I figure I can go from 54 ish inches of X cut area, to 64" of cut area by changing the setup of the gantry. Lots of wasted space with how it is set up now IMHO.

There is a good amount of time locked up in this project... though I would defiantly consider doing this again. Most of what I have done could be done in a weekend in a decent sized garage, without work hour restrictions. The electronics took me 3-4 days. Another thing to ask yourself, if you build it yourself. How many hours will you save on tech support chasing an issue?

I know.......i keep dicking up your thread with questions about an over the counter solution but I am interested in that comment. :flipoff2: What was it that the pages had against the crossfire machines? Was it so do with the single arm on the non crossfire pro version? That looked janky to me. I would love to know this before i buy one :lmao:. It seems everywhere I look is practically spammed saying how awesome they are.
 
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