Plasma Table Maintenance
A plasma cutting machine is a piece of precision equipment, and that precision doesn’t come cheap. With a price tag that can top $100,000 for a setup, even the smallest failure could lead to major repair costs and expensive downtime. In order to maintain a clean cut, extend the life of your consumables and keep your operating expenses down, it’s important to be diligent and consistent with maintenance.
If your plasma table is in need of some TLC, you may begin to notice rough operation or a decrease in your cut quality, especially at higher speeds. Follow these tips to get your table back to optimal performance, and then be sure to revisit your list at regular intervals to keep it there.
1. Ensure A Clean Machine
One of the best ways to keep your plasma table at peak performance is to ensure that the table, torch, leads and power supply are clean. Start by taking apart the torch and inspecting the inside for signs of damage, leaks, or metal dust accumulation. Then, check for any hose kinks, cracks or exposed wires in the leads. Keep the table and surrounding workspace pristine. And finally, check the air filters on your power supply and make sure that you blow out any accumulated metal dust with compressed air — it’s a huge killer of power components. Most cleaning can be done with a cotton swab and either hydrogen peroxide or electrical contact cleaner.
2. Run System Checks
Conduct an end-to-end check of your coolant system, including filters and pump screens, and check for signs of reduced flow or aspirated air in the tank. Insufficient coolant flow can cause overheating, so make sure your gallons per minute match your manufacturer’s specs. Next, make sure your water is soft and free from slag and metal dust — buildup here can cause hard starts with your torch. Finally, one of the most critical checks is the quality of your plasma gas. Turn on test mode and purge air through the system, then use a clean paper towel under the torch to check for water, oil mist, or particulate contamination.
3. Check Alignment
Your plasma table alignment is kind of like your car — once something gets out of place, the whole thing starts to shake. In this case, misalignment could cause drag. Check your rails and joints with a precision level, and file down any misalignments that you feel until they are even. Next, your gears. Make sure they are exactly aligned with the racks and that you don’t feel any play between the two. Also make sure that the gear rack and pinion does not have any chipped or missing teeth. Then, adjust your bearings until there’s no light between them and the rail surface, but don’t over-tighten.
You’ll also want to stay on top of your torch position and mount, make sure your safety trips are working, and consult your manual for other recommended maintenance for your setup. It’s a good deal of work to be sure, but that old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has never been truer.
We recommend running through all three of these items at least once a week. For best results, you should check your manufacturers manual for information regarding table maintenance or repair.
For an easy-to-follow schedule, download our Plasma Maintenance Checklist for troubleshooting problems, solutions and tips for extending the life of your consumables.