CNC Plasma cutting machine

This project is a 4' x4' CNC plasma cutting table. This will allow me to cut any precision shape out of metal up to 1 inch thick.

For those who have never seen one of these here is a brief YouTube video of a similar machine in action.

I've begun building the frame from 1" aluminum extrusion, known as 8020 extrusion. It is perfect for building lightweight frames and structures. You can visit 8020inc's Ebay store here. This type of extrusion works very well with 1/4 20 bolts which makes for very easy assembly
 

For the X Axis I used 1" Aluminum angle bracket 60" long. It needed to be longer than the table to allow the gantry to travel the length of the table allowing the cutter to use the entire surface area of the table. The bearings here are steel angle bracket with VX skate bearings. It was crude but performs well for this application.

Upgrade: I've replaced the algle brackets with hardened steel VXB linear bearings. They made A HUGE difference. The first thing I tell people when I demo the machine is, don't skimp on your bearings

X Axis:


The X axis is actuated with a NEMA23 425 Oz/In Stepper motor and #25 roller chain. I needed  idler sprockets for the chain but was not able to find exactly what I needed on the Internet. So I designed and printed #25 idler chain that would fix two VX bearings for the idler sprocket on one of my 3D printers using blue ABS. Pretty, aren't they? 

The same mechanism was done for the Y axis motor and chain assembly. Update :: I have added a second Y Axis motor assembly on the opposite side of the machine. It increased the accuracy by an order of magnitude.


The Z axis assembly was tricky. I went through a couple designs before this one until I was happy. I uses 2 lengths of 8020 with custom aluminum castings for the ends. The same angle bracket material was used for the bearing rails but this time I used parts designed and printed on my 3D printer for both the bearing supports and the lead screw support. This will allow for the plasma cutting head mount to fasten onto the front side of the bearing support.

The bottom lead screw support:

Stay tuned for the table top construction.....

For the tabletop I used 24 sheets of 18 guage 6" x 42". Each were cut and notched with the plasma cutter so they would fit together in a grid:

They slotted to each other to stand vertically. It was a pit of a pain to get them all together:

Once all of the sheets were assembled the table bed was ready to install in the machine:

I have to do some tweaking and fix all the parts that I bent from assembling them. Then I need to level the table with the gantry so that the cutting head stays true to the work piece.
 

 

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