by Dirk Ott, vice president, Global Plasma Automation, Thermadyne Industries
If you cut the same shape repeatedly, have a high degree of rework, spend a lot of time grinding or need â€œweld readyâ€ cut parts, it’s time to automate. Here are six tips to facilitate the transition:
- If your hand-held plasma cutter features a CNC connection/automation interface and machine torch package, you can connect it to a plasma cutting table. This arrangement provides the flexibility to switch between hand-held and automated cutting as the job dictates.
- Conventional automated and high-precision cutting systems cost more, but they cut faster, lower the cost per foot of material cut and provide a higher quality cut.
- Consider both purchase price and operating cost. Printers are a good analogy. An ink jet printer doesn’t cost very much, but the cartridges are expensive and it prints slowly. If you print in high volumes, a laser printer always lowers cost-per-page and increases printing speed.
- It’s easy to modify a cutting power source and associated components if needs change, such as going from a system optimized to cut mild steel to one that also cuts non-ferrous materials. Upgrading the rest of the table is more complicated, and that’s where most of the costs are.
- Work with an automation supplier who will help you choose the right cutting system and table components so that you don’t over- or under-buy. They should also calculate cut cost per foot between your current and proposed system to demonstrate payback time and ROI.
- Insist that system installation also include a well-defined training and service package. Good training gets you cutting with optimized parameters as soon as possible.