The 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.
PlasmaCAM 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.
The 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.
Here 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.
The 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.
First, you build the frame which holds the material support slats.
Then you loosely bolt on the legs and flip the table over.
The material support slats are then inserted into the table frame.
The video instructs you how, and which bolts to tighten as you begin to firm things up.
Next the gantry rails go on, and the gantry slide into the rails and is bolted in place.
The cable swing arm is installed (which will keep the cables out of the cutting heads way)
Then the torch head holder connects to the gantry.
Finally, 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.
Now, 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!)
John P. is a former CEO, former TV Show Host, and the Founder and Wizard behind Texas Metal Works. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Feel free to send shoutouts, insults, and praise. Or Money. Money is good.