If a wood CNC router just isn’t enough for you, you’re going to need something a little bit more powerful. Relatively speaking, the next most affordable step up is a CNC plasma cutter. Mhmm… Plasma…
[Maker Works] of Ann Arbor decided it was time to add some serious metal working capabilities to their already impressive mech shop. The design is based on of [JoesCNC], however they’ve opted for some seriously beefy servo motors, instead of steppers.
The frame is made out of 8020 aluminum extrusions, which certainly adds to the cost, but results in a very professionally built machine. X and Y axis’ make use of NEMA 34 Servo motors, driven by Granite Devices VSD-E servo drivers. The Z-axis uses a NEMA 23 with a Gecko 320X driver. To further increase the power of these guys, 10:1 reduction gearboxes are used on both the X and Y.
All in all the project cost approximately $8,000, though after lessons learned, they think they could redo it for around $6,000.
When they first started testing it, they were dismayed with how dirty the room got from the fine dust created by the plasma cutter — so they’ve upgraded to a water tray bed (2″ deep), which helps immensely. In fact, the part doesn’t even need to be fully submerged in water for it to cut down pretty much all of the dust. The water also helps prevent damage to the aluminum bed underneath.
The actual plasma cutting head is just a Hypertherm PowerMax 45 amp handheld plasma cutter. A friend graciously donated a custom holder complete with adjustments and built in limit switches for it to mount onto the machine.
Just take a look at some of the results — nice work guys!