When you think of a CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machine, you probably think of a machine with a router attached to it, capable of cutting its way through wood, metal, and a variety of other materials.
Really, a CNC machine is a generic term for a family of fabrication devices. If you change the tool head, you can change the function and often the name. Add an extrusion head, and you have a 3D printer; a swiveling razor blade and you have a vinyl, paper, or cloth cutter; or add a plasma torch and you have a CNC plasma table capable of cutting through sheets of metal.
While we have seen numerous CNC routers and 3D printers come to market, very few DIY or kit plasma tables have found their way into Makers’ hands.
CNC Router Parts took the opportunity at Maker Faire Bay Area 2015 to show off their new plasma table. The base of this — and most other plasma tables — is called a water table. It contains vertical slats of steel to hold a sheet of steel, which is then cut above a trough filled with water. This prevents damage to the rest of the machine, as well as the surface below it, from the hot jet of plasma or any molten material falling down from the cut sheet. Capable of cutting through up to ½” thick sheets of steel with safety and precision, this plasma table could open up a wide range of possibilities for Makers.
Also on display was CNC Router Parts’ new 3D printing head. Capable of attaching to any large-format CNC machine, this print head is designed for use on large format machines that will need to extrude a lot of filament to complete their tasks. While I’m sure they hope you attach this head to one of their machines, any CNC running Mach3 or 4 can be setup to work with this head.
Leave a comment below and let us know what you would make if you could precisely cut thick sheets of steel!