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What is a CNC Plasma Water Table & How Does it Work?

When you invest in a CNC cutting system you will determine whether you want to utilize a downdraft, water table, or hybrid downdraft/water table.  The material you tend to cut and a few other factors will influence which option you choose. For the purposes of this article, we are going to look more closely at what a CNC plasma water table is, how it works, and why you would choose it for your means of fabrication.

When discussing a water table, we are talking about a CNC plasma system that utilizes a water table as a means of particle, dust, and fume filtration.  ESAB Knowledge Center explains what specifically makes up a water tank and how it is used in the cutting process, “Some water tables are simply a tank, filled with water, and burning bars on top. But that won’t get you the full advantages of under water plasma cutting. So this discussion is about the type of water table that has an adjustable water level, allowing you to submerge the plate and the plasma torch under water. Construction of the table is quite simple; a large chamber is built into the table, below the burning bars and a steel tray. The chamber only has openings inside the water table along its bottom edge, so air can be trapped inside, similar to submerging an upside down bowl. Then by putting air into or letting air out of the chamber, the water in the table is forced up or down.”  But, there are not just advantages in terms of filtration, there are also cutting advantages.”

The advantages to cutting under water include reduced heat distortion, eliminated arc flash, reduces noise.  The reduced heat distortion is very beneficial because it reduces the likelihood that you will waste material due to warpage which saves money and time.  Arc flash is dangerous and injures and kills people every year.  By cutting under water, you eliminate arc flash which is much safer.  Finally, a workshop is typically very noisy but by cutting under water you reduce the noise produced during the fabrication process.  There are certainly disadvantages such as increased cleaning, having to deal with water disposal, and occasionally dirty parts due to the process of cutting under water. But, water tables are less expensive than downdraft tables and offer many advantages that may appeal to the unique fabricator and workshop.

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