We have talked for years about wanting to add a CNC plasma cutter and sheet metal tools to Hive13’s arsenal. I’d like to propose that we plan for that to be our next big purchase, to be put up for vote in January. This thread is to get input on make/model selection and to narrow down exactly how much should be included in the vote.
There have previously been debates about how large of a CNC table we would want/need, with some folks arguing for a 5’ x 10’ table like the big wood router CNC, and others arguing that a small 24" x 24" table would be plenty to get us started. The following are a few different models that span the size range as well as representing various build quality and feature ranges:
- Baileigh PT-22 (24" x 24") - $7,800
- langmuir CROSSFIRE w/ extension (25" x 33") - $3,600
- langmuir CROSSFIRE XR (96" x 48") - $9,195
- Lincoln Torchmate 4400 (48" x 48") - $27,500
It’s easy to see that the prices, sizes, build quality, and features vary significantly. All of the systems above would allow us to cut anywhere from sheet metal to at least 1/2" thick steel, capability we don’t have now except freehand. The features I see as essential for a quality experience at hive13 are as follows (but absolutely up for debate):
- Table size of at least 36" x 36" to facilitate sheet metal signs and box flat patterns
- Water table to keep sparks and dust to a minimum
- Torch height control with a machine control plasma torch so that we do not have to hack a high voltage system like some DIYers do
- controller accepts standard g-code
Please add to that list if there is something I have missed.
I would also suggest that to get maximum usage capability with this type machine that we also get a sheet metal brake (bender) and a spot welder. This would allow members to design flat pattern parts that can be cut out on the plasma cutter, bent into shape with the brake, then welded together quickly to make very fast metal brackets, boxes, covers, etc.
For the brake, I’d recommend getting at least a 24" width model, but again, they vary a lot in thickness capability, possible bend geometry, and ease of use. some examples:
- LTS Tools 24" x 20’’ Sheet Metal Brake Pan and Box Brake - $400
- Grizzly G0950 48" Box and Pan Brake - $1,150
- Baileigh BB-4816M-V2 - MAGNETIC SHEET METAL BRAKE - $3600
For the spot welder, they are all fairly similar, just varying reliability:
I’d love to hear everyone’s input on what direction we go hear! My plan is to post a vote for this stuff in the first week of January, and I’d love to see some good discussion and build to a general consensus before the vote goes live.