The more cost-effective choice is to build your own CNC table, which may be customized to meet your needs and tastes. Building your table allows for more flexibility with making upgrades later on.
Assembling a plasma table requires a fair amount of skill and experience with fabrication and electronics. If you feel confident about the project, then you can begin preparing. We will also guide you from the beginning to the finished product.
Building a CNC Plasma Table
There are several steps to successfully construct a CNC plasma table. It can be a challenging project, especially if done for the first time, but ultimately it will be a rewarding experience. After you’ve built your first table, you can do it again and implement the knowledge you’ve gained from the first project.
You can build a CNC plasma table on a budget or make it with high-end components. If you’re doing it on a budget, you can find some of the materials for cheap or in scrapyards. If you’re more serious about the project, then you can buy the materials and components from specialized stores.
Here are the steps that you need to take:
However, if you’re looking for premium quality CNC plasma tables, then look no further. We have a vast array of products that are powerful enough to satisfy even the most challenging tasks.
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Zoran Zeremski
A Detailed Guide
Creating the design
The design will set the level of functionality and efficiency of your plasma cutter. All parts, their position, size, and materials need to be determined in the design.
Then you will have to get adequate materials and components that would fit your blueprint for the CNC plasma table. The framing is made of steel or aluminum, as is the cutting bed. You will need to shape those elements yourself by cutting and welding.
Other components which you will need to buy as part of the CNC plasma table are the plasma torch, CNC controller, power supply, gas delivery system, and software.
So, let’s see the things you should be configuring in your design.
The available workspace and the type of products that you want to make will be the determining factors for the size of your CNC plasma table. It is also important to consider the type of plasma cutter and other machine components. The standard sizes for do-it-yourself plasma tables are 4ft x 4ft or 8 ft x 4 ft.
When you determine the size of the machine, you should move on to determining the size of the cutter. The CNC plasma cutter should be positioned in a way that allows for ease of access to the torch and controls.
You should also consider incorporating other components into the design and how they affect the proportions. You don’t want to find out your working area is too small while you are mid-project, so plan accordingly.
The machine’s weight will be crucial to determining the load-bearing capacity of the machine. The weight depends on the materials you will use, mainly for the cutting surface and frames. Steel is heavier than aluminum and thus provides a bigger load-bearing capacity, but it’s also more difficult to work with.
When building a CNC plasma table, assessing its load-bearing capacity is important, for example, how much weight it can withstand. This is very difficult to determine with accuracy, but you can have a provisional number for overall weight considering the materials you’ve used.
You should always inspect the machine for weak spots and places where some strengthening can be done.
The frame dimensions will depend on what you decide for the overall size and weight of the machine. If you want a machine that is lighter and doesn’t need weight-bearing capacity, go for aluminum.
The frame will be instrumental to the stability of the table, so make sure you are accurate with your measurements and consider all the other components that will need to be fitted on the framework. Cutting surface, gantry, and the material that is going to be worked on, are all factors that should be accounted for when making the design.
You will need a material that is resistant to heat and sparks for your table surface, and the go-to metals for this purpose are aluminum and steel.
Aluminum is lightweight and resistant to corrosion, but its most important feature is that it can dissipate heat quickly and efficiently.
Steel’s high durability and resistance make it a good choice, depending on the projects that will be performed on the table. Steel is less susceptible to distortion and better for heavy-duty cutting, while aluminum is better for finer cutting. Having components made out of steel increases the load-carrying capacity of the machine, especially the table surface and framework.
Therefore, if you’re new to building a CNC plasma table, you should probably go for steel as it allows more room for mistakes and is cheaper.
The gantry is what moves the plasma torch. It is one of the most important components when building a CNC plasma table.
You need a solid gantry, which should move across the surface without vibrations. Instability can cause vibrations which will result in inaccuracies with the cuts.
You can order this component online or get it in a specialized shop like Squickmon’s.
The software for the plasma table should be considered as early as the initial stages of the design process because it has to be compatible with the CNC controller. There are many options to choose from, and they’re all downloadable from the Internet.
Software for CNC plasma is available in both free and premium versions. If you’re a beginner, you should choose from one of the many free packages.
This step is the most difficult and requires a certain amount of skill and experience. You must have determination and grit in order to succeed since there will be many obstacles in your path.
It’s important to remember principles like having a smooth and level surface and always checking the component’s compatibility with the other parts.
Shaping the materials
It’s best to create the table frame first so that you can install the rails. Afterward, you should make the cutting surface. The steel (supposedly, you chose steel when making the blueprint) must be cut and welded to adhere to the proportions in the design.
You can use a CNC plasma cutter to shape the surface into your design’s dimensions. You can also use a saw, but it creates a rougher cut leading to uneven surfaces, which can be detrimental to the success of your project. It’s an absolute must that the frame is leveled because otherwise, the cutting will be inaccurate later.
Adding the components
The next step is setting up the linear rails onto the frame. You can find these components in all sizes on Amazon. Make sure the rails you order are in accordance with your design. Linear rails come in sets containing rails, blocks, and bearings.
When cutting the steel to make the table surface, you should ensure it’s on a level in order to allow a smooth and accurate cutting process later when it’s in use.
The rails go on the frame, and their purpose is to hold the gantry. The plasma torch goes on the gantry above the cutting bed.
After the CNC system is connected (which isn’t adjacent to the table), all it takes is for the gas supply to be connected, and you can move on to the software installation.
Operating the machine requires software. If you’re just getting involved with plasma cutters, it’s better to choose one that is more beginner friendly. The purpose of the CNC plasma cutter will determine the type of software you choose for it.
As previously stated, the software should be chosen at the start of the process when the design is being made. Once you select the software, it should be installed on the computer that will be used to control the machine.
After installing, you should optimize it for the tasks you plan on performing with the CNC plasma table. Additional calibration and testing may be needed before proceeding with the actual work.
Building a CNC plasma table can be easy if you have basic technical skills in cutting and welding metal.
The first thing you need to do is create a blueprint for your machine. The machine’s design will be relative to the space, materials, and budget you have at your disposal. You can design a solid plasma table even when working on a budget.
Moreover, the main components of the machine are the cutting bed, gantry, plasma torch, CNC controller, gas supply, and power supply. The cutting and welding are performed on the framework and the cutting bed, so they must be smooth and leveled to allow accurate cuts.
Finally, you need adequate software to run the machine through the CNC controller. Most software options are accessible online through paid or free plans.