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Tactical CNC Plasma Tables Blog

How the CNC Drive System Influences the CNC Plasma Cutting Process

CNC plasma cutters allow manufacturers and workshops to make cuts of exceptional accuracy in their materials. But not all cutting tables are created equal: some are of a higher quality than others.

One of the most critical systems in the cutting table is the drive system. The drive system is the part of the machine that controls the movement of the cutting torch and is what allows manufacturers to exert fine control over their devices. Without a good CNC drive system, the plasma cutter cannot operate to its potential, and the quality and accuracy of cuts can suffer.

A typical CNC drive system comprises several components which much all work together to facilitate the movement of the device over the table below. Plasma tables come with individual motors which power the X, XX, Y and Z axes. The higher the quality of these motors, the faster and more accurately the torch head can move.

Many CNC plasma cutters also come with electronic proximity optical sensors. The purpose of these sensors is to provide information to the computer about the edges of the cutting surface so that the torch does not overshoot. These sensors can be calibrated to make sure that the gantry never goes outside of its predetermined specification, preventing damage to the cutter itself and ensuring that the table boundaries are well-defined.

Plasma cutters also frequently come with gearboxes. The purpose of the gearbox is to transfer energy from the motors to the drive system in a way that is useful for the particular application. Different styles of gearboxes cater to various markets, from cheap and cheerful to the high-end. Expensive gearboxes use components machined from single pieces of metal, providing exceptional longevity and performance.

When choosing a CNC plasma cutting machine, the choice of materials matters a lot. Higher quality, solid materials, such as cast iron and aluminum, help to minimize vibration during operation. Less vibration from moving parts – such as the motors – helps manufacturers achieve stunning cut accuracy. Some machines can achieve accuracies up to 0.001 inches, or a thousandth of an inch.

The quality of the gantry and side rails is also an essential part of choosing a good CNC plasma cutter. Side rails and gantries need to be perfectly straight so that when they receive instructions from the computer, the straight lines in the computer code can be translated reliably into physical cuts on the material. If the side rails and gantries are slightly warped or misaligned, costly cutting errors can occur, compromising the rest of your manufacturing process.

The way the gantry and torch move over the table is important. If the movement isn’t smooth or is interrupted by the presence of dirt on the rails, this can make cuts less accurate. Sophisticated drive systems feature grooved bearings which automatically sweep dirt and debris from the tracks, keeping the torch true.

The CNC drive system has a profound impact on the plasma cutting process and influences its quality. Prudent manufacturers check the drive system before installing machines to ensure that it can tolerate their particular working environment.

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