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Unread 01-07-2015, 07:04 PM   #1
Eric_S
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Eric's 4'X4' Plasma Table Build

Decided I need a CNC plasma cutter for my own projects as well as to make a few bucks on the side. Thought I would share the build here for others inspiration/feedback/ridicule
Fist problem was I do not have a garage or workshop. To remedy that without blowing all my funding I picked up a 20' Shipping Container that I am going to convert into a small workshop. I would have liked something larger but this will have to do for now. It's now installed and sitting on concrete peer blocks. Full conversion to workshop will wait until I get the Plasma built....I don't want to have a petty shop and no money left for a plasma. So on to the plasma table build!

I originally wanted to be able to cut full 4'X8' sheets but I've decided to cut that in half. It should better fit the sea can while still allowing a bit of space for a small work area . I'm going to have to be very organized! I will be adding a water table and plate marker as well.

For a good price I picked up a used Hypertherm Powermax 1000 that looks to be in great shape. It has a hand torch that I will probably use/convert until I can upgrade to a machine torch.

For electronics I have an order in at CandCNC for their kit: BladeRunner Dragon Cut 620-4 EtherCut + Digital Torch height control IV, Feather-Touch Sensor, and connection kit for the Hypertherm.

Software will be Mach 3 and SheetCAM

Decided to design and build my own Z axis. There are a few available to buy on ebay but I'm picky/OCD so I didn't want to risk it. Designing the Z axis (6 travel) has turned into a larger project that I expected. Most of it has been due to the fact I have decided to design it all in Solidworks. I'm a machinist and use Mastercam daily Solidworks is...different but so far I really like its capabilities.

Z axis design at the moment


Home switch Position. I'm also adding over travel switch. It is not needed when using stepper motors but I feel better using them for the small expense.


Stay tuned

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Unread 01-08-2015, 01:03 PM   #2
Eric_S
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X+Y axis will be driven by rack and pinion. Will need a reduction drive for the stepper motors. It will be a 3.75:1 reduction but it can be changed if I want something different in the future.
Using a 1" trailer spindle bearing kit since they are handy and come with a grease seal as well.





Y Axis Drive mounted on backside of the Z axis.
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Unread 01-09-2015, 01:12 PM   #3
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A axis, rails and rack mounted on gantry cross beam. Haven't decided on the material for the beam yet. Initially was thinking 3'X3" 3/16" steel but I'm getting worried about the 100lb max my gantry can wait so I might give 3'X3" 1/8" aluminum a try and see how it goes. With the 1/8" thick aluminum I would have to ditch just threading the beam and use nuts and washers. I'm not sure if M6 threads in 1/8" thick aluminum would hold up?


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Unread 01-09-2015, 04:34 PM   #4
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Figured I was okay keeping the reduction drive the way it is and am getting excited to start building something. So the machining begins!

1st side of the bearing block


2nd side. Sorry only photo I took.


3 complete. I should be able to heat them up and slide in the races tonight.


I also started the 1st side of the drive shafts. I'm waiting to commit on the end that the pulley mounts on since It's still in the mail. Also the final length may change yet.

Bearing and seal diameters turned manually


I've been spoiled by working with a CNC so I machined the threads and slot on the mill.

Drive shafts complete 1st side.


Bearing block covers. Done.



The cable drag chains showed up yesterday so at least now I can finalize the Z axis and gantry positions. I tried to find something with a large bend radius and within budget. These are 75mm rad and 25mm X 57mm internal.
Back to the CAD.
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Unread 01-11-2015, 06:53 PM   #5
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Extended the Y axle motor plate to make room for the drag chain. A little worried about the overhang. Thinking about adding a support bracket to keep the plate from wobbling.


1/2" thick Aluminum gantry uprights. Still a work in progress. At the moment there will be 7.5" clearance to bottom of Z axis to top of slats. Once I finalize positions of everything all cut some pockets in to remove some weight.



Going to use 3.5"X3.5"X.25" Angle for the water table perimeter. It will allow for a nice overhang to protect the ways and gear rack.
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Unread 01-17-2015, 01:45 PM   #6
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Parts for Z axis are in so I can start machining.

20mm Linear Slide Bearings and rod.



5mm pitch ball screw and mounts (may have to make a cover for it in the future).


Found a slightly used bellows type motor coupler on ebay. Over kill for a plasma but if I ever use the table with a router it will help improve things.


Picked up some material for the Z axis.
Z axis slide

Raw block


1st operation. I have added .25" bores and slots to help to line up anything that I mount to it.


2nd operation. Just for fun cut some weight off it. 2 whole ounces BUT it's off every axis lol


Lost two operations were the bearing bores and ball nut mount. Sorry I didn't take photo's on that machining.
Done
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Unread 01-17-2015, 01:54 PM   #7
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Also cut some speed holes in the underside of the three reduction drive bearing blocks. I'm sure I could take more off but I'm okay with the 2.25lb total weight savings at the moment.
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Unread 01-24-2015, 12:36 AM   #8
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Finished the Z axis motor mount.
Some pics.

1st Operation. Bottom side with locating bore/slot for 1/4" dowel pins. Machined the motor locating bore right though in this operation as well to ensure it all lines up.


Machining 2nd operation. No finished photo of this side but it was just faced and threaded for the motor to mount to.


A slot cut in two sides to save some weight and allow me to tighten the motor coupler screws.


Done
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Unread 01-29-2015, 07:25 AM   #9
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Dude, freakin ridiculous. That is awesome!!! You are doing something I couldn't. That is way over my head. Looks great!
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Unread 01-31-2015, 04:19 PM   #10
Eric_S
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Thanks for the kind words levergun.

Been working on the CAD. Table top is done except for some little bits. Still have to work on the legs, water table and slats.
I'm going with an aluminum gantry beam to keep the weight under 100lbs (it will be close) With the .25" aluminum angle for the drag chain support bolted to the backside it should be okay.



I added a 1"x1" steel angle iron inside threaded to bolt the linear rail to. I didn't think the M6 threads you have enough engagement with 1/8" wall aluminum. Also some speed holes to shave some weight.


Completed the magnetic break away floating torch mount. I will add a cable or something to keep the thing from dropping completely onto the table. It can't be good to just let the thing crash down.
The two limit switches up can see are for the Z tough off and an emergency stop if the torch breaks off.


And another tangible part complete Upper an lower Z axis linear rail and ballscrew bearing mounts.
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Last edited by Eric_S; 02-01-2015 at 01:31 AM..
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Unread 02-02-2015, 01:29 AM   #11
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Been working on the water table and the depth ended up ranging from 2.5" along the edges to 4.3" at the deepest point in the center. I'm a bit worried that the depth is too shallow. Any thoughts?
I could go deeper without much more work or material but if these depths will work I'll just leave well enough alone.

Some pic's for clarity.

Along the edge 2.50"


Deepest point at ends 3.42"


Middle of water table 4.30"
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Unread 02-13-2015, 10:49 AM   #12
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Wow.. nice work!

I think the depth will be okay. My table is about 3.5" deep. However, it'll eventually fill up with drops and dross. Right now, it's probably filled to within an inch or so from the top.. and I'm still cutting. When I clean it out, it fills a 55gal drum.
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Unread 02-13-2015, 12:12 PM   #13
Eric_S
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Thank you for the info. Nice to hear that the depth will work. I'm waiting in finalizing the pan design until I pick up or buy the water tank. Figure it would be a good idea to have the drain in a convenient location to work with the tank.

Picked up the CandCNC shipment yesterday!
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