What Type Drive Motors Are Best for CNC Plasma Table

What Type Drive Motors Are Best for CNC Plasma Table

CNC plasma tables have complex mechanisms with many components working together to perform even the simplest tasks. The motor’s role is to move the torch according to the specifications in the CNC program. But what type drive motors are best for CNC plasma table? 

Knowing that can help you create a better machine or upgrade your current one. Computer numerical control manages the axis; however, it needs the motor to power the actions. CNC plasma machines utilize electricity through the motor, which converts it into mechanical power. 

There are various types of motors for CNC plasma tables, and each type serves a slightly different purpose. We will review the types of motors used in CNC plasma tables and try to give you pointers on choosing the best one for your business or hobby.

What Type Drive Motors Are Best for CNC Plasma Table?

Different categories of motors can be appropriate to certain types of CNC plasma tables. The type of tasks will determine the power demands, and the motor has to provide sufficient energy. 

Some CNC plasma tables have separate power sources for the axes and the other supporting components. This is because sometimes the parts have different power requirements from one another. It also helps limit damages when there are voltage spikes or short circuit problems.

The most common motors used with CNC plasma tables are stepper and servo motors. There are some fundamental differences in how they’re designed and how they generate the power for the CNC machine to run.

Choosing an adequate motor is essential, but don’t forget that to be successful, you also need the best possible CNC plasma tables. Here at Squickmons, our priority is to supply you with choices so you can find the ultimate tool that will take your business forward.

Stepper motors

They are electrical motors that produce precise motion control of the X and Y axes. It receives signals from the CNC controller and drives the torch along the designated path. As a result, it can provide high torque at low speeds.

The stepper motor is more suitable for sequences of moves with a consistent range of motion. In size, they are relatively small and able to fit in most CNC plasma tables. However, the stepper motor isn’t adequate for use with more demanding tasks carried by more powerful machines.

Stepper motors are the cheaper and simpler option. It doesn’t incorporate sensors, so it uses steps to determine its position. When the motor cannot produce the mechanical movement to follow the electrical supply, the motor can lose steps resulting in bad-quality cuts.

Selecting motors of the right size and capacity is imperative to prevent losing steps. Proper use is also essential, i.e., steady and gradual acceleration and acceleration of the motor’s speed through the use of ramps.

Servo motors

Servo motors are the preferred choice for CNC machinists as they precisely control angular position, velocity, and acceleration. They incorporate sensors that measure the position of the shaft and adjust the voltage accordingly.

To choose the best servo motor for your CNC plasma table, you need to consider the voltage and frequency of your power supply. Servo motors can have different winding types and frequency ranges, so you need to find one compatible with your setup.

Size is another important consideration, as the servo motor has to fit inside the plasma table. The cooling method must follow the conditions, i.e., the temperature, humidity, and dust present in the working environment. 

If there are too many of these factors, then go for liquid cooling, as it will also enable you to pick a motor that takes up less space.

Linear motors

Linear motors aren’t as commonly used with CNC plasma tables as the other two options. Even though they are effective at executing specific tasks, they’re still the less cost-effective solution.

Due to their shape and size, these motors are easier to install within the CNC plasma table. This feature offers particular advantages when a smaller amount of room is available. They also are much easier to maintain because they don’t have belts and gears as part of their mechanism.

Linear motors allow for executing cuts at higher speeds with consistency that isn’t characteristic of conventional CNC plasma table motors. 

Still, the high price isn’t the only thing that’s limiting their adoption. They are also more difficult to operate with demands for technical skills in setting their working programs. Furthermore, they generate more heat which is already a problem with CNC plasma cutting.

In general, linear motors are superior at cutting complex shapes from thin material because they are the kind of projects that require high speed and high precision cutting.

How to Choose the Best Motor
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Zoran Zeremski

How to Choose the Best Motor

The motor you choose for your CNC plasma machine will determine its level of performance in terms of power, quality, and speed. All motor types have advantages and disadvantages. 

Therefore, what type drive motors are best for CNC plasma table depends on the tasks and the required production speed.

An underrated factor to consider is the maintenance requirements. Be mindful of the amount of work needed to keep the motor functioning and the skill required to repair or replace parts.

Another thing to consider is the cost. Some motors may be cheaper than others, but over time, they may require more maintenance and give you many limitations when taking on more demanding projects. Sometimes the more expensive a device is, the more it will allow you to accept more lucrative offers.

Performance

Stepper motors fall behind servo and linear motors regarding overall performance – their way of operating limits their capacity for speed and acceleration. Stepper motors are still perfectly capable of performing tasks that don’t require high-speed cutting.

Between the other two options, both servo and linear motors offer high-speed cutting with precision. However, servo motors have higher acceleration and offer better dynamic motion control. Linear motors perform better in terms of accuracy.

Maintenance requirements

Although they lag behind the others in terms of performance, stepper motors lead the way in having the least maintenance requirements, which is a significant factor for many. The advanced control systems and other components make servo motors fast and effective. However, it comes at the price of being relatively complicated to maintain.

The control systems of servo motors have encoders and sensors that provide many benefits. But they are also very complicated to configure when new cutting parameters exist. Servo motors are demanding devices that require technical knowledge to perform proper maintenance.

Linear motors are also complicated and demanding when it comes to maintenance. Their complex design requires technical knowledge and experience, while their constant need for realignment and calibration is a hassle.

It’s worth noting that for all motors, the maintenance demands increase with the change of cutting parameters. If, for some reason, there’s no need to change the parameters, then the maintenance part for all motors would be much simpler.

User-friendliness

Stepper motors are the most user-friendly motors of the three. Their control system is easy to operate using a microcontroller. This is why stepper motors are a popular choice for hobbyists and enthusiasts who aren’t concerned with mass production or finesse.

Servo motors aren’t overly complicated to operate, but they do pose a challenge nonetheless. Setting up the mechanism and tuning the control parameters will require some knowledge.

Linear motors are the most difficult motors to operate of the three. This is because they use fairly complex algorithms that accurately control linear motion.

Cost

Another factor where stepper motors stand out is cost-effectiveness as compared to the other types. They’re a lot cheaper. Whether it’s about performing a business task or a mere hobby, it’s important for the work not to be financially burdened if not profitable.

Again, the extra features of servo and linear motors come with a price. So, it’s vital to know the demands of the projects before making a final decision on any component of the plasma table, including the motor.

Although certain motors may be more expensive, the investment will pay off in time as you can execute more complex tasks, like cutting thicker metals or contouring intricate designs. This is why it’s imperative to conduct a calculation of the costs and the benefits of each motor while having the nature of the tasks in mind.

Drive Motors for CNC Tables
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Zoran Zeremski

Summary

Electricity powers the CNC plasma tables, and they need a motor to convert the electrical energy into a mechanical one that will move the plasma torch along the workpiece.

Stepper and servo motors are the most commonly used motors, with linear motors becoming a viable option for CNC machines lately. But what type drive motors are best for CNC plasma table? It will depend on the tasks ahead of you and the demands of the material’s proportions.

Stepper motors are the cheapest type of motors, but they have certain limitations with more complex jobs. Servo motors are powerful devices that can power the CNC machine to cut thicker pieces. Also, linear motors are best utilized when executing more delicate designs.

 Simon Patterson

Simon Patterson

Simon Patterson is the owner and founder of Squickmon's Engineering & Engineering. With over 15 years of fabrication and manufacturing experience, alongside a mechanical engineering degree, he knows exactly what it takes to create a quality product for small fabrication shops as well as large industrial manufacturing companies. He set out to create a company that stands by their products with confidence as well as integrity. His goal was to build a company with a strong foundation, quality product, satisfied customers, and a product that is 100 percent designed and built in the USA.

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