Five Axis Plasma Cutting
- August 26, 2012
Fabricating shops with plasma cutting processes are looking at five axis technology to gain a competitive edge
by Daniel Austin
Five axis CNC plasma cutting allows fabricators to incorporate bevel cutting into their automated production processes.
Bevel cutting is possible via a five axis torch head that uses A and C axes, enhancing the motion of the plasma torch. With fluid swiveling motions, this mechanism allows the torch to cut on all sides of a piece, reaching complex angles while providing a high level of detail and accuracy.
Why is it popular?
Five axis machining opens up a range of possibilities and applications for companies. While this technology is still early in the product life cycle, shop owners are finding that automating their bevel cutting process improves significantly their existing operations and creates new opportunities not possible with three axis plasma cutting. Companies that have outsourced aspects of their production will find they can perform more functions on their own machine due to its high level of flexibility. It means faster turnaround times for customers and the ability to produce new offerings and increased product diversification.
Five axis technology improves operations and streamlines processes. By integrating it into your production, you reduce various secondary production processes. In a typical production run, you have multiple steps where the machine cuts one component or section of a piece and then you must use a manual process to bevel the cut part. For example, in metal parts manufacturing, often the machine first cuts the required part from the material and then the part goes to a secondary station to add beveled edges. With the five axis technology, the machine has the ability to work on a piece of material in a single run. It can cut and bevel parts at the same time, and increase overall productivity.
Expanding plasma cutting applications
Five axis plasma technology opens new possibilities for fabricators.
Bevel cutting: allows for extensive bevel cutting for fabricated items that require angled components. The machine is extremely efficient because it performs the beveling function as it cuts the material.
Unique designs: the technology’s flexibility allows for creative designs to be brought to life, such as custom furniture or original items.
Complex and detailed parts: The large range of motion enables the machine to capture the detailed parts of your design with increased precision.
Five Axis Plasma Cutting: The Future
This technology will enter the growth stage of the product life cycle in the coming years. While it has only been feasible for early adopters, price points are starting to be justifiable to a larger group of manufacturers. In the next three to five years, the technology will take off as companies select CNC plasma technology over more costly processes. It will become the industry norm within the next 10 years.
Further automation of production processes will allow Canadian companies to remain competitive on a global scale as manufactures require productivity enhancements.