The plasma cutting torch is among the most common tool used to cut materials for a range of purposes. On the other hand, a hand-held torch is a great tool to cut through a sheet metal quickly. It also cuts straps, metal plates, pipes, bolts, etc. A hand-held one also makes it an exceptional gouging tool for removing defective welds or back-gouging weld joints. This is even used to cut a small shape from a steel plate. However, it is not possible to achieve the best edge quality or part accuracy for the majority of metal fabrication. This is the reason which makes a CNC cutter a must.

A CNC plasma system is the machine that carries the plasma torch and it can move the torch in a way directed by a computer. CNC is computer numerical control. This means that a computer is utilized to direct the motion of the machine based on numerical codes in the program.


Mechanized Plasma Versus Hand-Held

A CNC plasma machine often makes use of different kinds of plasma systems compared to hand-held cutting applications. A mechanized plasma system on the other hand uses a straight barreled torch that can be carried by a machine and it has some interface that could be automatically controlled by the CNC.

There are some types of entry-level machines that could carry a torch that is designed for hand-held cutting like a plasmacam machine. Any machine that is designed for fabrication or manufacturing would make use of a plasma system and mechanized torch.


System Parts

The CNC can be the actual controller specifically for machine tools that comes with proprietary interface panel and a designed control console. It can also be in a form of a simple Windows laptop computer that runs a special software program and communicate with the machine drive through an ethernet port. A lot of HVAC machines, entry-level machines, and some precision unitized machines utilize a desktop computer or laptop as the controller.

Additionally, the machine needs a drive system which consists of motors, drive amplifiers, cables, and encoders. At the least, there will be two motors. One of it will be for the Y axis and another one for X axis. Moreover, there will be a drive amplifier for every motor. This takes a low-power signal coming from the CNC and then turns it into a high-powered signal to move the motor. Every axis has its own feedback mechanism, most of the time an encoder that creates a digital signal which indicates how far the axis moved. The cables will get power from the amplifier to the motor and carry the signals from the encoder to the CNC.

The computer numerical control reads the part program and will then output the signals to the drive system of the machine that moves the torch in the desired direction at a speed that has been programmed. It also reads the encoder feedback and makes the necessary corrections to drive signals so it keeps the motion of the torch on the programmed path. All electronics in a CNC and drive system works and quickly communicates, usually measuring and updating the position information. This lets the CNC cutter motion to be smooth and exact enough to produce cut parts with a straight, smooth, precise dimensions, and consistent edge quality.