I was thinking of buying a plasmacam. I have never really worked with metal
that much in the last 10 years and I am looking for both a hobby and a way
to make some money with creative design.
I have the money to but this straight out but I wondering if I am being
complusive here (I love to draw and would love to see those drawings in
metal) I know it's very costly and I don't even have a plasma cutter yet.
Is this a dumb idea?
What steps should I consider before doing this? School maybe?
let me know what you think?
Try one at a welding shop. You will be hooked. On sheetmetal it cuts like
butter. There is nothing to describe it other than to do it hands on for
yourself. Make sure you have room in the trunk on the way there, It's most
likely coming home with you. It's one of the coolest tools on the planet. If
you can draw, you can cut. It's really that easy. It's money well spent,
heck, it will keep you out of the bars for sure!
All the best and I hope you like it,
Fraser Competition Engines
To sell this to my wife it would mean showing her that a profit could be
made here both with online sales and direct local marketing of my
finished product. Is it feasable to see this make some kind of money in a
short term like maybe a year or two?
Where do you get you sheetmetal? Prices and such if you can
Also, what cutter do you use and how often do you have to replace and or
fuss over it?
You can definitely spin a profit. No question about it. One of the
better features is you can also do demolition work too, cutting down an old
rusty shed is like childs-play and it's way faster and quieter than a cutoff
saw or a Sawzall. mine took down a neighbors chain link fence and cut the
posts and chain-link into manageable pieces that went to the scrap yard for
a few bucks in the pocket. So there is that to consider as well. Anything
metal that need to be scrapped, i.e. gutters, siding anything off the house
already is a market. Sheet steel, aluminum sheet, any type of steel needed
for say "lawn decorations" can be had at Home Depot, Menards, Ace hardware
or a local steel supplier. I have a entry level Miller 125c with a built in
compressor and it runs on 110vac house current and works fine on a 100'
heavy gauge extension cord as well as a generator without problems. I have a
lot of time on it and I'm still on the original electrode and nozzle. (They
come with 5 of each from the factory) and the maint. kit is about $30.00usc
I found mine on E-bay and I went with the 125 as I have a huge unit at my
disposal but we never got to hooking it up as I can slice 1/4" plate without
any problems. I just clean the gun and nozzle when done for the day and
that in itself will keep the failure rate on the consumables down. I paid a
bit under $1000.00 shipped at no charge to my shop with a three year
warranty. I barely ever use my gas rig anymore, frankly I don't think I have
had a cutting head on it since I switched over to the Plasma cutter.
Weighing in at about 50lbs and using household current is a huge plus. You
don't need to spend a fortune on a machine but do yourself a favor and stay
away from Chicago Electric or Harbor Freight. Go with ESAB, Miller, Lincoln,
Hobart or a recommendation from the welding shop. I'm sure a few others will
append my list here in future comments and they can also name good units. I
make all sorts of one-off parts with it in my race shop. I even made lawn
stuff for my girlfriend who then started making them herself. The sky is
really the limit on this. Free-bee steel from scrap yards is the best, then
instead of buying it from a store you can usually get a lot more for a lot
less at a scrap yard. One piece of advice I want you to not forget is get
full face and eye protection and a respirator. The fumes can be toxic and
the eye protection is self explanatory.
Fraser Competition Engines
One thing I would have to consider is I don't have a shop. An attached
garage and small shed in back. I quess I could rig a blower fan to vent
and fireproof the entire space. Fire and fumes has me concered about
You have been a big help. I am going crazy working for jerks who don't
have a clue.I have more to offer then working for them. I am 42 and
looking for an outlet to be creative and make some money at the sametime.
Could you use the same unit for laser ethching? just wondering. Big $$$$
there I know.
any chance you could send a picture of you setup?
Your the coolest
Sure I'll E-Mail you some pictures Your E-mail bounced back as no good...
Send the correct one to me and
I'll mail them off
I have it on a $30 blue welding cart that matches it perfect, underneath it
a small 220/110vac buzz box I use with cutting rods and sticks when need be
the back has the cord coil for the AC feed and two fire extinguishers where
you would put the inert gas bottle if there was a MIG or TIG on the cart.
It's in my apt. now I use it over the sink, filled with water to catch the
slag and soot, (works remarkably well) I just have the vent on too. I
needed it for a remote project for an artist and I have not had time to run
it back to the shop. It's that portable... As far as Laser work, I'm
clueless. anything with "laser" on it means I'll prob. break it on accident
or cut my arm off. I'm sure some of the guys here can answer that perfectly
Thanks for the kind words, I'm just a guy who has the same interests as
you and you will find this newsgroup is a wealth of knowledge from all over
the globe. I have learned more from the guys and girls on here than any
book. Your at the right place if metal & fire are your hobby or profession.
Fraser Competition Engines
Sorry about that.
(..... the dot don't exist)
I have a child. She is 11yrs old. I am somewhat concerned about the
possible impact of the slag and soot on her health. If I were able to put
this into the shed that would be ideal. No power there as of yet. But
i'll work on that. Could you cut this? I would pay for your time and
materials of course.(paypal maybe)
If so, how would you get the coloring close to the pic itself? I know the
plasma cam is not used for coloring metals, but I was wondering how you
would go about getting the color gradiants in pics like this.
Do you have ICQ or messenger?
Hope all is well
Plasma machines won't and can't do the subtle wavelets and color gradients...
YOU don't want Millions of starts and cuts for pixel cutting.
The Black outline is obvious to be in metal or cut out of metal.
@ home at Lion's Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net
The laser etching question is a little more complicated.
I have a Amada Pulsar 2000 watt laser that will cut 1/2 steel I do
some laser etching with it, but its probably now what you are thinking
about. This machine will etch lines on the surface of the metal and
can be rub of with scotch bite or kitchen cleaning pad. The thing you
have to remember about any kind of etching the that the metal you
remove has to go someplace, in this case if I tried to etch deeper
into the metal slag would form on the top of the sheet.
I also have what they call a laser etching machine it a 75 watt
machine. It will not make any kind of mark on bare metal. It will
etch and cut wood, plastic, etc..
There is chemical that you can buy that you paint onto the metal and
then do the etching. It burns the chemical onto the surface and is
pretty hard to remove. It bond to the metal rather than etching into
None of the above machines can do what a cnc router, mill, engraving
machine, or chemical etching machine can do. These machine can remove
the metal to any depth you want.
I also have 3 Chemical etching machines varying in size for different
type of jobs.
Hope that helps a little
I was looking at the gradient changes such as this pic
What would be the best approach for this with metal?
Also, etching like done with the products you can see here
I don't plan on making cockpit panels but what Peter
does here interests me. I would like to know if the Plasma Cam could use a
Laser etching instead of the plasma cutter.
Let me know your thoughts
Still considering the PlasmaCam..
The only way you are going to get that picture on metal is if you
paint it by hand like painting a picture on canvas. Or find a really
good auto body painter. Etching metal does not work that way. We
have etch George Bush Sr. face in 1/4 stainless before, but we had to
take the picture and turn it into little dots. (I forgot what that is
called) Then you etched all the dot into the metal and filled with
black paint. Turned out really nice. Its mounted on a park sign here
in Houston, Tx. Been out in the weather for many years now and still
The control panel picture is not a problem that's the kind of stuff we
do everyday. Mostly for the oil industry and some graphics sign
industry. That could be etched or silk screened. If I had to take a
guess I would say that the picture you show is silk screened. We
normally try to stay away from etching steel because it needs to be
real deep. You have etch it then paint the entire background and then
hand fill the etching. Its just to much work and not just anyone can
do it. It takes allot of practice. 1 person has to take it from
start to finish instead of just sending it along like a assembly line.
Laser etching I don't think will ever give the results your looking
for in metal. And I'm not aware of any plasma cutters that can etch.
(I might be wrong, but never heard of one.) I have seen one laser
etching machine that would etch pretty deep in aluminum but it was
really slow and had a small work size. Also a big price tag, I think
somewhere around 60,000 usd.
What I think you are describing as laser etching may really be photo
etching. A process used in the printing industry. A photo sensitive
material is spread over a zinc plate and a negative image is projected
or contact exposed onto the plate and then developed like a photo.
Depending on the image, some areas will retain the coating others will
not. Then acid is apllied and the image is burned into the zinc. On
pictures and gradients, the picture must be halftoned or converted to a
series of dots. Something we now do in photoshop type computer
programs. From Photoshop, you would have to make a real negative and
use it to expose your image. Making the negative would require a film
output device also still in use in the printing industry. I am pretty
sure you can still buy the presensitsed plates and then expose and
develope them yourself. After etching, you can fill in colors by hand.
You might check out an art printmaking class in your area, as the
process is rarely used commercially anymore. However, for the cost of a
computer and program capable of producing your images and finding a
source for the negatives and plates, you're in business. Good luck.
Put your money where your mouth is.
Before you buy - Go and sell/find $5K worth of business. That means:
1. Find a customer
2. Get a purchase order or cash in hand for you to make their parts
3. Buy your plasma cam to make those parts with
Better than no money down. And don't feed me the line that you need the
plasma cam before you get the business - that line only works on the wife.
lf you can really BS as good as you claim in your post then you'll be a
I have met quite a few people who think they want to buy a CNC plasma
cutter. I suggest to them that they should buy a CAD program, draw the parts
they need and bring the file to a company that has a CNC plasma or waterjet
or laser and have them cut the parts for them. You are looking at a $12,000
investment by the time you buy a system and a compressor and dust collection
Just to be clear from your post and some of the responses I'm not sure if
you want just a plasma cutter or a CNC plasma table but I have both so maybe
I can shine some light on the issue.
Plasma cutter... excels at custom shapes and cutouts in sheetmetal (will
cut any conductive metal) A good quality unit (hypertherm) that cuts up to
3/8" will cost about $1200 one that cuts 1" will start about $2500 depending
on duty cycle (if you plan on using your cutter in a cnc table pay close
attention to the duty cycle rating of the plasma source). Most of the time
the ability and need to cut metal parts is closely coupled with the need to
join them together as well, this said I don't know anybody that offers or
hires out "Plasma cutting services" exclusively. There are shops that just
cut parts but they usually work on a large scale with a variety of
Fume.. metal dust is bad (some is just irritating some is toxic) you need to
protect yourself and those around. Short freehand cutting done outside a
dust mask is good, a cnc process inside and you need to pay close attention
to ventilation and possibly dust collection. A lot of this depends on what
your cutting and how thick it is (thicker material makes more dust).
CNC Plasma table.. all the machines are designed for a certain max work load
so you need to have some idea of your needs before you can decide what fits.
Another big variable is the software that runs the table, some is easy to
learn some is not so payclose attention. You will also need some supporting
equipment so the cost of the table is just a starting place. Entry level
tables start about $5000 add in the computer , plasma cutter, air compressor
(Industrial service not Craftsman) air dryer,piping, electrical, dust
control and ventilation, software and digital artwork...... and so on. It
adds up quick. Can you make a few bucks..absolutely will the world beat a
path to your door because you set up a plasma table probably not. It takes
time If you have $15-$20000 and want to jump in go ahead, but you could also
sketch out some designs on some scrapyard steel and rent a plasma cutter,
see what you end up with and if you can sell it.
Don't under estimate the value of homework.
Enjoy the research
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