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Discussion on Metal Fabrication Machinery including Q&A on maintenance and repairs. Plasma, Lock Formers, Brakes, ect.


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  #1  
Old 12-03-2006, 11:22 PM
Kreb Kreb is offline
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Default To plasma table or not?

I work for an old school shop where the better fabricators can layout using traditional techniques quickly enough that any sort of automated system hasn't been needed. Unfortunately our top guy is nearing retirement, and I'm thinking that it may be time to adopt the new technology. here are some questions:

-Would the same piece of machinery be appropriate for both heavy plate (Up to 1/2" - maybie even 3/4") and light copper/stainless/galvanized?

-How much of an issue will the dross (slag) be on the thin stock? I'm concerned about cleanup time and whether the hardened edges will play hell with my other tooling.

-Is anyone using these systems for architectural metalwork and kitchen hoods? Any stories?

-How many hours will it likely take to get up to speed? I know some Solidworks, and there's another estimator who's OK with Autocad. Would we be better hiring someone with experience? Or try to figure it out in house?

I have more questions about equipment and software, but this is plenty to chew on just now.
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Old 12-04-2006, 07:52 AM
ccrayjr ccrayjr is offline
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Kreb...yes you can have a plasma cutting system that will accomidate all of your needs in one machine. The lighter gauges you will not see much slag at all. When you get to cutting some of the thicker materials, you notice more slag. When we install a plasma cutting system we will train you for a week, but after the sale we give you free telephone, fax, and techincal support for the life of the machine. Our systems will cut anything from ductwork, kitchen hoods, signs, architectural, and custom parts in your choice of metals. If I can answer any more questions or direct you to one of our customers to see a machine please let me know!

Thank you...Clinton Ray (205) 337-8520
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:01 AM
LeadHead LeadHead is offline
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Kreb, I did everything by hand for about 15 years. About 5years ago we got a plasma table. This thing is the biggest money-maker we have in our shop. We used to have 5 or 6 foremen who cut all their own jobs and were in each other's way all the time in the shop. Now we have one plasma operator and a helper full-time in the shop keeping up with all the jobs at once. The guys can call in pieces from in the field and pick them up next morning. I do have to replace the backstop on the pittsburgh machine once a year because of the groove cut into it from the plasma cut edge, but it doesn't affect the rolls.
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Old 12-06-2006, 02:26 PM
Kreb Kreb is offline
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Well leadhead, your response certainly is encouraging. What equipment and software do you use? And what line does Clinton rep? There are certainly a lot of options out there. It'd be easier to sell the boss on something like a Torchmate III with a 5' x 12' bed than some of the more costly systems. On the other hand, we've already got a bunch of $$$$ wrapped up in top notch equipment, so it might be foolhardy to cheap out.

Any more feedback would be gratefully accepted.
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:14 PM
ccrayjr ccrayjr is offline
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I am the National Sales Manager for Advance Cutting Systems. We have been doing plasmas for almost 20 years! We sell a turn key package and table sizes from 5'x10' to unlimited. If I can help you or you need some technical advise let me know!
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Old 12-06-2006, 06:44 PM
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Bud Bud is offline
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Thanks for helping C- Ray.
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Old 12-10-2006, 10:18 AM
tanner tanner is offline
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We bought a plasma table about a year and a half ago for some of the same reasons. Our layout man retired. The software package we got for the system has been extremely easy to learn, even for a couple of guys who do not own computers at home. The machine has made it so that unskilled labor can enter fittings and produce them. We are leasing the machine for five years with a dollar buy out at the end. The machine in the short time we have had it has increased our profits to where the machine has already paid for itself. Our shop overtime hours have dropped and our turn around time on fittings have gone from hours or days to minutes. We even layout and cut curb adapters and louvers, 2 items that always had a long lead time in our area. The cam software ( the program for the cutting table ) has a cad version in 3d for shop drawings. Once the drawing is done for a ductlayout in a building you just import it to the cam software and then you can cut the whole job without doing anything else. Most of the better software out there will be able to download any cad file format,
but you should be able to do almost any layout in the cam.

The first question we asked ourselves after the first month was, Why did we not do this sooner?

The Second question was, How do we get more help for the field installers to keep up with the shop?

We use a table with automatic torch height adjustment This is important for thicker metal and also a plate rider option for 16 gauge and lighter.

We looked at about 6 different brands traveling and seeing the machines in use and talking with the guys running them.

We had a few sales people tell us Accuracy was not important to ductwork. We eliminated them from the running, We also eliminated the older version machines that had not been kept up with the computer windows based software versions.
The Top three from our evaluation and our criteria, and feedback from the users of these machines.

Esab with METALLAB software
ACS
SDS

We looked at used equipment to save money but the first place we went they could not get the machine running and I feel the training and Warranty until you are familiar is very important. We bought brand new and the final decision was made when we had our office manager layout a small duct run on the software. She has worked in the office for years but has never layed out a piece of metal in her life. Hands down the ESAB With the METALLAB software was the easiest with the most advanced features. For us the best choice. I would imagine any machine out there could be your best choice and any of them will make you more money then table layout.
The thicker the metal the slower you cut, on lighter gauge metal say 24guage we cut at 375 ipm and get almost no slag.
The hardened edge cuts into the angle iron on our Pittsburgh, where we feed it into the rollers. The rollers have no wear from the plasma but the opening die is lasting half as long. Thinking about it though it may be because we have doubled our work.
On heavier metal say 16g and up we slow down and use automatic torch height adjustment, we get a slight slag that people refer to as finger nail slag. It pops off quickly for welding or running through the machines.
We don't allow any plasma cut edge to go into the shear scrape pile. We don't think it will dull the blade but why chance it.
Talking about scrap that is money in the bank, we have about 65% less scrape and the computer software keeps track of all this.
We have cut 3/8" plate and we can cut up to 1/2". if real quality cuts are needed with less slag then look at high definition or laser. The cost of operating and start-up was such that it did not make sense for what we do.

We love our table so much we are adding a vaporjet attachment for cutting liner and wrap on the machine. This option was quoted in the beginning, but we were unsure if we could afford the machine. If I left tomorrow and opened my own shop, Plasma table would be right there next to the brake on my list for must have equipment
If you want to talk about the machine I will, I was giving time from other people when I had questions and I will do the same for you. Send me a PM and I will send you my contact information.
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Old 12-19-2006, 07:46 PM
metalbelle metalbelle is offline
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we do have slag on the edges of all our " burned out " fittings. it will take its toll on all your tooling back gauges. our pittsburgh, swedge, bead, crimp, and so on all have " grooves" worn in the back gauge. we have a computerized brake that we dont form anything that has been burned out. but compared to a layout man, the plasma would win. just keep up with maintenance on the other tools.
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Old 01-12-2007, 02:40 PM
Kreb Kreb is offline
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Quote: "If you want to talk about the machine I will, I was giving time from other people when I had questions and I will do the same for you. Send me a PM and I will send you my contact information."

This forum will not allow PMs. Tanner: if you read this, please e-mail me at "kromman at USA dot net"
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