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IndustryArena Forum > MetalWorking Machines > Uncategorised MetalWorking Machines > Finding Work plus Need Suggestions on Plasma Table Size
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Finding Work plus Need Suggestions on Plasma Table Size

    Hi Everyone,

    Slowly putting together a CNC plasma table. Will use a Hypertherm 1250 with hand torch, plus a MP3000 torch height control system with initial height sensing for piercing.
    I'm getting close to starting the table build and I'm a bit undecided as to what size table to make. I'm in Melbourne, Australia. I've been told that standard size sheets of steel here are 2.4 x 1.2 metres then the next size up is 3.0 x 2.0 metres. It also crossed my mind that I could consider building a table which can take the full 2.4 x 1.2 as well as half of a 3x2, i.e. 1.5 x 2.0 So in effect a max. cutting area of 2.4 x 1.5
    Is it wise to take the attitude of something small can be cut on a big table but something big can't be cut on a small table. Then what about steel prices. Is it more economical to buy big sheets as opposed to smaller ones.
    I have a few of my own things I would like to cut out, none of them requiring a large table (at this point in time). However I would like to try and make a back yard dollar here and there too from being a cutting service. I'm not exactly expecting to quit my present work with what I'd make from doing plasma cutting. I realise there's a lot of high class plasma and laser setups out there operating professionally whereas at this point in time I'm just a back yarder with a basic plasma setup using just air. I imagine the only advantage I may have is lead time and maybe price. Someone I know had to wait 3 weeks to get some small brackets laser cut. He said that plasma would have been perfectly OK though. Would I significantly increase my chances of picking up some pocket money if I had the capabilities of the bigger table. Would businesses shy away from me due to me being a back yarder or would they be more interested in lead time and / or price providing the cut quality and accuracy were acceptable to them. I wouldn't dream of looking for any work before I'd confirmed the accuracy and cut quality were consistent.
    Regarding handling 3x2 sheets, I could set something up to take care of this, perhaps a small gantry crane on wheels or something to transfer the sheet straight off my trailer and onto the table.
    Any feedback is welcome guys. Am I making a mistake or being sensible thinking big.
    Also something I think a lot of people with this hobby would be wondering is where would they start looking for work (just pocket money remember at this point). I also have a 1.5m between centre lathe, Bridgeport style mill, 330 amp mig, decent size press, horizontal bandsaw, pedestal drill and a general assortment of tools. I'm an industrial sparky by trade but for the last ten years I've been into excavation and it hasn't been nice to me at all. So I'm trying to get out of it and do something where my heart is. At least in engineering you shouldn't have someone standing there watching you telling you how to operate your machinery.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    I would go at least the size of a standard sheet of steel. 99% of the material I cut is from a USA standard 48"x96" sheet, rarely from a 48"x120"sheet. Next standard size is 96"x240" but our table is not that large. Material is typically sold by the pound, most often a standard sheet is your best buy unless you find a rem/drop or something at a discount.
    We offer an expedite service for a large local supplier if they need something for a customer and their tables are backed up, this actually does not pay that well or often, but in return they actually stock various sizes of sheet at our shop, which we are able to use as needed for our own products, and just call to let them know to bill us, this keeps us from needing to pay ahead and stock material ourselves.

    It doesnt hurt to go do some leg work and spread the word to local fabrication shops about what services you can provide. If you do good, they will come back for more.

    Good luck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    table size

    Hi Beefy

    I am about to build a table also, and know exactly what you are talking about.
    I have a small stainless steel fab shop, and have put alot of thought into the size.
    Our standard sheets are 1.2 x 2.4 we also use 1.2 x 3.2 and 1.5 x 3.6.
    Cost wise it is cheaper to buy the larger sheets.
    But you have a couple of pros and cons there.
    pros.... If you have a large sheet, you can put the thing on the machine, and if you have a few customers that want the same thickness of material you can nest it all together,press GO and forget about it...

    Cons.... transport, cost, handling, storage,

    But what I would also consider in your situation, and where abouts you are in melbourne, is what size tables the other guys have.
    If they dont have the larger tables you might have a advantage that you can use.
    If they do have large tables, and you are looking to get some of there work when they are too busy, then you are going to have to have a large table.

    I am going to build a table that will take a 1.5 x 3.6.

    My reasoning behind this is that we usually use 1.6mm thick material, so we can put a large sheet on there and leave it.

    Also we only have a 2.4m long guilotine, so it is a pain to cut the longer sheets buy hand.which we seem to have to do quite often.

    But we also have the capacity to cut larger sheets, and when the laser guys are strugling to cut aluminium, we can hopefully get that business.

    And you can bet money on it that if you build a 1.2 x 2.4 table, the first customer you will get will want a larger size sheet cut.

    Another thing to consider is space.... if you have the space i would build a large table, the cost invovled in building a larger table isnt that much.

    As for getting work, once you are up and running, I would run off a few nice profiles that show how well you machine will cut and then give a few samples out. If the sample looks good they wont care were you are cutting the work, so long as it is good.

    Well those are a few of my thoughts, hope they help in some way.

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