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Thread: Plasma table recommendations

  1. #1
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    Plasma table recommendations

    Ok guys, good news - the superintendent at my new school job wants me to source a plasma table, a good one.

    Financially, $20k did not seem over budget.

    So I'm hoping you guys and gals have some recommendations for an excellent machine to use for teaching High School students.
    (I know this market moves constantly, so that's why I'm asking)

    I've been approved to make skid steer attachments in this welding/machining program.
    They will be sold to pay for materials and consumables for the program.

    Edit: anyone used the Lincoln 4800 table?
    Last edited by MinnesotaDave; 05-28-2021 at 02:27 PM.
    Dave J.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    Ok guys, good news - the superintendent at my new school job wants me to source a plasma table, a good one.

    Financially, $20k did not seem over budget.

    So I'm hoping you guys and gals have some recommendations for an excellent machine to use for teaching High School students.
    (I know this market moves constantly, so that's why I'm asking)

    I've been approved to make skid steer attachments in this welding/machining program.
    They will be sold to pay for materials and consumables for the program.

    Edit: anyone used the Lincoln 4800 table?
    I don't know one from the other but that's cool they are ponying up for one. Only suggestion I would give is to get a big enough table to handle what you may envision. Is there a forklift or overhead crane available for loading the table?

  3. #3
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    I don't know one from the other but that's cool they are ponying up for one. Only suggestion I would give is to get a big enough table to handle what you may envision. Is there a forklift or overhead crane available for loading the table?
    I'm hoping there will be budget for 4x8 or 5x10 table. I feel the 4x8 would be minimum to be useful for the bobcat attachments.

    There is a bobcat here and one of those bobcat side-by-sides with a forklift too.
    But I highly doubt I'll be allowed to use it during class - maint uses them almost daily.

    I expect I'll be loading with sheet clamps (or magnet) and a rolling gantry.
    Dave J.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    I'm hoping there will be budget for 4x8 or 5x10 table. I feel the 4x8 would be minimum to be useful for the bobcat attachments.

    There is a bobcat here and one of those bobcat side-by-sides with a forklift too.
    But I highly doubt I'll be allowed to use it during class - maint uses them almost daily.

    I expect I'll be loading with sheet clamps (or magnet) and a rolling gantry.
    The gantry would work well. Still most likely need the forklift for unloading the delivery.5 by 10 would make the most sense for optimized material use.

  5. #5
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    We had one of those at work, but sold it to another department, as we are getting a 3rd waterjet.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by M J D View Post
    The gantry would work well. Still most likely need the forklift for unloading the delivery.5 by 10 would make the most sense for optimized material use.
    True, and the maint staff does the unloading of deliveries so that's covered.

    Space may end up being a problem for a 5x10 unfortunately.

    I will end up taking back an area that maint took (from the shop program) to bring in the plasma table.
    Sheet storage and gantry crane access will take up room too - and that back room is small.

    School currently does not have storage space other than in the rooms.
    There are two 20' shipping containers out back near the shop overhead door though. I have some steel in one of them.
    Dave J.

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  7. #7
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Mac's Crew View Post
    We had one of those at work, but sold it to another department, as we are getting a 3rd waterjet.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    Did you find the Lincoln tables were of good quality and had good computer programming?
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    True, and the maint staff does the unloading of deliveries so that's covered.

    Space may end up being a problem for a 5x10 unfortunately.

    I will end up taking back an area that maint took (from the shop program) to bring in the plasma table.
    Sheet storage and gantry crane access will take up room too - and that back room is small.

    School currently does not have storage space other than in the rooms.
    There are two 20' shipping containers out back near the shop overhead door though. I have some steel in one of them.
    Might as well go big then figure what needs to be done to make everything fit. I would think the gantry could be stored over the table when not in use.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I can't give you any name per se, however I suggest you go over to Plasma Spider. There are many vendors over there. I have seen many have good luck with FastCut CNC tables and have had good results. Not sure what 20K will get you but I will tell you this. I built my table using Precision Plasma gantry kit, CandCNC Command CNC controller set up and a Hypertherm 85 machine with water table. I have a spread sheet where I kept track of every part/steel/material/nuts and bolts and I total in at 13K. My table is a 4 x 8 table. I did not factor in my air compressor with this either because I had a large one. I will also tell you there is quite a big learning curve so do your homework on vendor support as it is critical. If all the processes and steps are not taken, the machine will give you sour grapes. If you do shop make sure you get a torch height control set up as this system measures "voltage" to control the space from the cutting tip to the work. This helps in warpage as well as aids in better cutting. I can go on and on. I am sure @acourtjester will be by as well to add to this. He builds table from scratch.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Dave,
    I am new to the plasma table game but here is my experience.

    One of the offices where I work has a 4x4 Lincoln Torchmate. It has a proprietary software installed that isn't bad, but is a bit different to learn. Overall, it is a very well built machine and performs pretty well. It is more expensive than your budget allows though. On the upside, there are plenty of videos to watch, Lincoln is a great company for service and support. Lincoln has a student version of the software you can download and perform nearly all actions except export to g-code. The Torchmate program does allow you import dxf files from any other program so that helps. The company made videos from Lincoln are not all that helpful. It seems as if they are tailored for people who have a decent amount of experience already. At work, there have been several times we have had a video playing, stop, do the action on the computer, then keep watching. Third party videos of Torchmate are not too bad and I like them better.

    A few months ago, I purchased a 4x8 table from Arclight Dynamics with a Hypertherm 65. This package is within your budget. It looks like they have sold over 2000 systems so far. I went with Arclight since I was able to get a turnkey product with a lot of extras. I ended up getting the optical tracer, tube cutter and engrave options installed on the system when I bought mine. All that ended up costing about $25K delivered. In hind sight, I probably should have held off on the optical tracer. I also opted to get the extra slats installed so there is less gap. I had experienced some pieces tipping up and the torch hitting them while using the Lincoln at work. I received my Arclight table about 4-5 weeks after ordering.

    The Arclight table comes with Q-CAD, Inkscape, and Sheetcam. I have been playing with these programs and am slowly learning them. I have had the QCAD program for a while and was using that to draw items and then bring the files to work and cut them on the Lincoln table. There are a lot of videos on all three of those program on YouTube and Arclight has a lot of videos they put out.

    I recently joined a few plasma table groups on Facebook. "CNC Plasma Tips and Tricks Uncensored" and the "Arclight Dynamics User Forum". Both are pretty good groups, but the Arclight forum is a little less populated since it is a smaller group. I have seen plenty of users ask questions on the Arclight forum and get some quick responses from other users and Arclight.

    CNC Plasma tips and tricks is a lot more active and members have a wide variety of tables. This seems to be a pretty good group for asking questions, sharing files, or just getting ideas. Since there are so many other table users in that group, I would suggest asking your question there.

    Up next for me is getting a refrigerated air dryer to handle the moisture. I currently have a separator, two water filters filled with dessicant and then a motoguard filter. The water filters are something I saw member "acourtjester" use and it seems to work. We are just starting summer and humidity so we will see how it goes.

    Edit: I also suggest reaching out to acourtjester for advice. Since I wanted a turnkey solution, I went with Arclight. Those guys who can build a system are great, I just don't have that knowledge or time.
    Last edited by psacustomcreations; 05-28-2021 at 05:17 PM.
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  11. #11
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I only used it for simple stuff, it functioned like a very basic cad program, but cut quality on half inch was phenomenal if you didn't try to rush it. I would suggest a gantry style crane with a couple sets of either chains and a magnet for loading and unloading. The gantry would only have to extend about 5 foot beyond the unit. As once off forks you can spin it.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I just finished cutting this with my table.

    These are flowers out of 18g for my dogwood sculptures.

    I have not cut material thicker than 1/4" so far, but the HT65 should have no problem with that.



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  14. #13
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    You guys are great!!

    I know the whole "buying a plasma table" topic is a very broad and deep subject.

    You guys with experience are super helpful for me - many thanks
    Dave J.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Dave, I would say the Torchmate as a turn key is ok, but the propitary software is clunky compared to Catia. I know that isn't a fair comparison for software, but that is what I have to use at work. The Torchmate software will use Dxf file but you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get there.

    If I spent enough time working with it, I may have changed my mind.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I cannot help with which table to buy, but one of the main things is software, I would not buy anything with proprietary software. That puts you in a narrow position as to what you can use with it for inputs. There have been stories of computer crash, to bad for you, buy a new software package the only fix. Join Plasma Spider.com there is so much info there, table venders are grouped so you can look at what users say or experience with different tables. I would only buy a table setup with a HYpertherm Plasma, the PM 65 will cut 1/2" no problem. Do get both hand and machine torches, you can hand cut sheets for easier handling and removing sections with scraps.
    Do research for tutorials and more info before making your choice. A table will be a great addition to your program. Try to formulate the big picture of the CNC Plasma process so you can be ready when you get yours. Also go to this site they have many tutorials about Plasma CNC and the connected software. https://arclightcnc.com/legacy-videos/
    Last edited by acourtjester; 05-29-2021 at 02:36 PM.
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I have a friend who really knew his stuff, and bought an Arclight, and he liked it a lot. Small company, easy to deal with.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I have a JD2 5x10 plasma. I dont use it often as I get a lot of items laser cut, but it does a nice job. I think it was 18k 4 years ago. Good skid for shipping, but will need for extensions to unload. I got the stainless water table.

    The software isnt the easiest to learn, and nesting isnt that great, but one and two cut parts, it's great for a lower cost table.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Hopefully you can get the power source ordered now so you can use it second semester.
    No I am not joking.

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Great to see a school keeping up with the latest technology and having a good instructor to help them in their possible career path. Most schools have done away with the trades programs. I would agree a system using a Hypertherm plasma would be the best. Not that there aren't other good machines but Hypertherm has the best reputation. Perhaps Jim Colt could recommend a compatible system?

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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by vwguy3 View Post
    Hopefully you can get the power source ordered now so you can use it second semester.
    No I am not joking.
    Dave,
    This is a valid point. When I ordered my table, the company said there are starting to be issues with getting plasma cutters. On some of the Facebook groups, members mentioned that the tables they ordered are taking longer to receive simply because of the problem with getting Hypertherm plasma cutters. Several said the Hypertherm 85 was on a 4-6 week backorder.

    That may be an issue due to whether the plasma table company is a small volume or larger volume company and how they are ordering and receiving from Hypertherm.

    If you have to use a school purchasing system, I imagine the procurement process may take weeks or months to complete. You may need to pad that time or some cost increase into the quote to ensure you receive the table within your budget. Additionally, don't forget the tax exempt status. I was able to save over $1,000 on my table by purchasing the table in my business name and sending them my company info.
    Last edited by psacustomcreations; 06-03-2021 at 05:13 AM.
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I know Miller and I believe Lincoln as well offer huge discounts for tech. schools and training centers so it is certainly worth looking into discounts for high school/ trade schools. It might be a case to go with a package system from a major supplier. Also for a school you probably want the easiest system to program and use.

  25. #22
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    Great to see a school keeping up with the latest technology and having a good instructor to help them in their possible career path. Most schools have done away with the trades programs. I would agree a system using a Hypertherm plasma would be the best. Not that there aren't other good machines but Hypertherm has the best reputation. Perhaps Jim Colt could recommend a compatible system?
    Quote Originally Posted by Welder Dave View Post
    I know Miller and I believe Lincoln as well offer huge discounts for tech. schools and training centers so it is certainly worth looking into discounts for high school/ trade schools. It might be a case to go with a package system from a major supplier. Also for a school you probably want the easiest system to program and use.
    You are correct, this school has let their program slide but are ready for someone to ramp it back up
    The kids are chomping at the bit for it as well.

    I had the business office set up the Lincoln School Portal so I can get a quote from them. Hopefully it's deeply discounted
    Dave J.

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  26. #23
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by psacustomcreations View Post
    Dave,
    This is a valid point. When I ordered my table, the company said there are starting to be issues with getting plasma cutters. On some of the Facebook groups, members mentioned that the tables they ordered are taking longer to receive simply because of the problem with getting Hypertherm plasma cutters. Several said the Hypertherm 85 was on a 4-6 week backorder.

    That may be an issue due to whether the plasma table company is a small volume or larger volume company and how they are ordering and receiving from Hypertherm.

    If you have to use a school purchasing system, I imagine the procurement process may take weeks or months to complete. You may need to pad that time or some cost increase into the quote to ensure you receive the table within your budget. Additionally, don't forget the tax exempt status. I was able to save over $1,000 on my table by purchasing the table in my business name and sending them my company info.
    The school purchasing system does take time. I'm hoping to get approved, and the order submitted, within a month.
    Dave J.

    Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. ~George Bernard Shaw~

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  27. #24
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I have a JD2 MAD 4x8. It is the model before they added the tube cutting.....thing. It is extremely well built. Servos instead of steppers really makes it a cut above most tables in its price range. The control board is made in-house. The interface PC is solid state of which I haven't had a single issue with in 4 years. The gantry is a one piece weldment. The table frame is over built. The stainless water table is impressive. The machine is VERY easy to operate. I really like the user interface software. It has real time control where you can pause the operation and choose your restart point anywhere you want. This is very handy when needing to grab a drop out that tips up in the path of the torch head. It uses SheetCAM which I haven't had any issues with. As with any good cnc system there is a learning curve and you have to be vigilant in learning the details of operation. From CAD to CAM to the table operation. No JD2 doesn't provide CAD software because they make cnc equipment not design software. I use QCAD, Inkscape, and Fusion360.

    I demo'd several plasma tables. I was almost ready to pull the trigger on ArcLight(which is a good option IMO) until I toured the JD2 facility. The tech support is a cut above the rest I believe. They will help you with anything period. I have made a couple dumb mistakes on weekends. Called and left a message and they always call right back. If it was my day off I wouldn't bother but Fred is awesome.

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  29. #25
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    Re: Plasma table recommendations

    I watched and posted a couple videos of the JD2 tables a couple of years ago. I liked what I saw in the videos. Hearing from and end user makes it even better. Do you have any images or videos you can share of the table and cut quality?
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