CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

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CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

CANADA'S LEADING INFORMATION SOURCE FOR THE METALWORKING INDUSTRY

6 tips to consider when moving to automated plasma cutting

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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 “weld ready” cut parts, it’s time to automate. Here are six tips to facilitate the transition:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 

Thermadyne Industries

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