How Does A Computerized Plasma Cutter Work
Many people assume that a CNC or a computer numerical control machine is a relatively new invention. However, the basis of CNC technology goes back to NC or numerical control, a technology that was first used in the 1940s.
Today’s CNC machines are much more advanced than those early prototypes. The first equipment that used the NC and then CNC technology were lathes and mills, but today this has expanded to a much wider application including the use of a computerized plasma cutter. The use of this equipment tends to expand with updates to the software as well as the actual cutting capacity.
The Basics of Operation
In essence, the use of the CNC technology turns any machine into a type of robot, but it is limited to only being able to do certain tasks. To accomplish this, there is a computer component, which may be incorporated into the equipment or used from a computer connected to the specific machine.
The computer itself holds the programs, or the instructions, that tells the computerized plasma cutter just what to do. The design and the specifics of the type of cutting required will be very specific and can be developed to tolerances that are bound only by the cutting tool itself.
The computer will create a 2 or 3D model or representation of the image that is used by the designer. However, the computer actually generates a mathematical representation of that original design to the plasma cutter when the operator loads the program.
This allows an original of the model or computer program to be created each and every cut. This limits issues such as the gradual degradation of a jig or even issues with user or operator error. For production lines, it is possible to fully automate the system including feeding material to the computerized plasma cutter and moving the finished product away.
With most systems, however, the CNC plasma cutter will still be operated by a live person. He or she will monitor the equipment, change nozzles and make adjustments to the system as well as maintain the equipment as needed.
The great news is that the modern designs of quality CNC plasma cutters required very little in the way of maintenance. New technology that limits the number of settings that have to be performed manually make these a time and cost saving addition to any shop or fabrication facility.