PlasmaCAM – Part 1

PlasmaCAMToday a dream came true. For about two years now I’ve been planning, comparing, procrastinating… but today my new CNC Plasma Cutting machine arrived.

After comparing a wide variety of machines including DynaCNC, PlasmaCAM, Practical CNC, TorchMate, Dynatorch, and MultiCam, I settled on the PlasmaCAM for the following reasons:

  • PlasmaCAMThe machine breaks down and ships in a container approximately 5′ x 2′ x 2′. Although it weighs 380 lbs, they shipped it to a Dallas distribution center from Denver for under $250. It arrived in less than 48 hours and I took my trailer to the distribution facility where they loaded it for me. Once home, I was able to uncrate it and move the parts into my garage for assembly by myself.
  • PlasmaCAMPlasmaCAM is the 900lb Gorilla in the “hobby” CNC plasma cutting market. They have a huge installed user base, and there are many people who are quite active on the Yahoo groups PlasmaCAM Users Group and PlasmaCAM Technical Forum.
  • The control software is supposed to be some of the easiest around to use. And although I’m an expert users the last thing I want is another software learning curve.
  • PlasmaCAM TorchThe machine will work perfectly with my Hypertherm 1000 plasma cutter with the handheld torch.

There are a few drawbacks.

  • This machine is not as big as I’d like. But then again, some of the larger machines weigh over 700lbs and their shipping weight is 1600 lbs. Rather difficult to move without a forklift handy.
  • This machine does not natively support a routing head, which I would have really liked to have.

Still, I intend to work this beast like crazy and already have designs I’ve been waiting for a year to cut.

PlasmaCAMHere is the initial table setup process in a nutshell. First I must say that the setup DVD that comes with the machine is possibly the best instruction manual I’ve ever encountered. I took my laptop to the garage and watched the DVD as I completed the install. It took me a total of 3 hours from crate to completion, and I did it by myself in 100 degree heat.

PlasmaCAM CratingThe crating was amazingly efficient and extremely solid. They thought of everything! They even used different colored screws so that you could easily tell which ones to unscrew while uncrating. Now, the video talked about how to uncrate the machine, but it was packed in the crate so by the time you see that you’ve probably already taken everything out. No matter, it was very intuitive.


The video walked you through every step of the assembly.

  1. PlasmaCAM FrameFirst, you build the frame which holds the material support slats.
  2. Then you loosely bolt on the legs and flip the table over.
  3. The material support slats are then inserted into the table frame.
  4. The video instructs you how, and which bolts to tighten as you begin to firm things up.
  5. Next the gantry rails go on, and the gantry slide into the rails and is bolted in place.
  6. The cable swing arm is installed (which will keep the cables out of the cutting heads way)
  7. Then the torch head holder connects to the gantry.
  8. PlasmaCAM AdjustmentsFinally, everything is tightened up and checked for clearances.

My machine went together very smoothly and easily (keeping in mind that I am a skilled worker). In fact, it was much better than I expected.

PlasmaCAM SetupNow, I’m not done yet. Next I have to build a computer and a mobile stand so that I can move my PC which will control the machine in between my office and the garage. After the PlasmaCAM PC is ready, I’ll hook it to the machine and run through some sort of set up diagnostics… and then I need to do some special wiring to hook up this machine to my Plasma Torch so that the machine can tell it when to turn on and off.

Stay tuned to see how things go as the saga continues. And don’t worry; once the machine is fully operational I’ll be posting demonstration videos of it in all it’s glory. (I feel like the emperor talking about the completion of the Death Star!)

Continue on to Part 2 of the PlasmaCAM story.

Edit: I also added a review of the PlasmaCAM sales video which many people have found useful for seperating fact from fiction.

Article Written by
John P.

John P. is CEO of Livid Lobster and co-host of Geek Beat TV. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Comments

  1. Troy Kick says:

    I was wondering if someone could give me any tips on cutting somthing longer than the table. Is it just a mater of shifting the uncut pattern to the edge of table and restarting?

  2. jacob kephart says:

    Does anyone live close to Louisville KY that owns a PlasmaCAM? I am thinking about getting one and would like to see one operate before I bought one.

    Thanks
    Jacob K.

  3. khaled says:

    hi
    am from Palestine , can you tell me how to buy a plasma cam , i saw many plasma cutter , but i like to ask about yours plasma cam , price and everything about it ,

    thank you

  4. Dan says:

    I’m just getting things around to get myself ready to purchase a PlasmaCAM but I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on an air compressor that would work good? I was wanting to run a couple air tools off of it too. Any suggestion of size, power requirements, or brands would be a help. Thanks!

  5. Rockon says:

    Thanks for offering your help BTW! I hadn’t had any luck with getting this done till now.

  6. Elliott says:

    I Just purchased my PlasmaCam DHC2. I finished building the machine yesterday, and now I need to wire my Plasma tourch to the trigger controller wire. My plasma tourch is a Miller 375 spectrum.

  7. Shaun Myers says:

    Ive’ been a user for 5yrs. just upgradded to the 5×10 I wiork in a structural steel facility and we made our own table first the outer two have rollers, the work table is made of angles and square tubing all vertically adjustable. With this setup you can do 12×12 square tubing for street lights and the such I have the freedom to do anything I want and have made a million adjustments to this machine I feel you made a wise decision in you purchase however make a better table that is adjustable and the world is at your finger tips…. Shaun

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