Plasma Cutting System and Water Table Tips

If your shop is going to buy a CNC plasma-cutting system, you need to weigh several key factors and answer critical questions to make a wise purchase.

Megan McNew outlines many of them in a Fabricating & Metalworking article, “What You Must Know Before Buying a Plasma Cutting System.”

The machines can be good investments and additions to other shop equipment. A CNC plasma-cutting table includes a robotic arm that directs the torch for an array of sophisticated cutting patterns.

As her story notes, shops can create:

  • Metal art
  • HVAC ductwork
  • Mechanical parts

Here are some of the tips:

  • Look at the quality of the materials used, such as aluminum or steel
  • Determine whether the systems will be strong enough for your anticipated projects
  • Evaluate the weight of the gantry, which can affect speed and accuracy
  • Keep in mind that rolling surfaces with sealed ways can’t guard against all of the plasma dust

“Because it’s sealed, you’ll have to replace the entire component. Unsealed parts, however, are much simpler.” McNew writes. “An unsealed roller on a simple way can be wiped completely clean in a second, and should a part need to be replaced, it can be accessed without replacing the entire component.”

Additional factors include:

  • Motors (servo or stepper motors)
  • Software (design of the piece and guiding the table and plasma cutter)
  • Planning for dust and smoke in an enclosed room

A water table, located just beneath the cutting areas, is a practical way to deal with the inevitable dust and smoke. “As the machine is cutting the metal, sparks and dust are blown down into the water where they are quickly doused.”

In her piece, McNew also emphasizes that shop owners should review the warranty, including the length and what parts it covers. Given that the warranty will expire, it’s also a good idea to know what to expect with the costs of replacement parts.

Contact Stevenson Oil today about Plasma Quench, a liquid material that shop owners can use to protect cutting equipment, eliminate corrosion and control odor.

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Industrial Oil Resources

Stevenson Oil created a growing list of resources that shops and manufacturers may want to use to help grow their business.

The FPDA Motion & Control Network – FPDA

FPDA is an association for fluid power, automation and motion technology companies that want to improve their performance.
The International Fluid Power Society – OFPS

IFPS is an organization that focuses on quality certifications, other educational opportunities, and technology for professionals in the fluid power and motion control industry.

National Fluid Power Association – NFPA

The NFPA promotes education, technology and innovation among members of the organization, including manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and educators.

PMMI – The Association for Packing and Processing Technologies

PMMI, a trade association, supports businesses that manufacture packaging, processing and packaging-related converting machinery, commercially-available packaging machinery components, containers and materials.

Hydraulics Online

Hydraulics Online features a forum and a directory to help engineers and others in the industry find the products, technology and tools that they need.

FPSI – Fluid Power Safety Institute

Founded by Rory S. McLaren, FPSI occupational safety within the fluid power industry (the web site includes articles and links to additional resources).

Would you like to learn more about outstanding industrial oil, greases, fluids, lubricants, coolants and related products? Contact Stevenson Oil today.


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5 Things to Consider When Purchasing Gear Lubricants

Whether you’re dealing with motorized machinery that is mobile – such as tractors or other heavy-duty vehicles that require serious lubrication as part of their transmission/engine systems – or you’re maintaining machinery in industrial settings – such as conveyor belt systems or large devices with many moving parts like moving arms or engines for generating heat or mechanical power – lubrication for gear boxes is very important for operational efficiencies and ongoing performance.

There are several questions one should ask that will help you determine the type of lubrication as well as the grade of lubrication that is needed. Gear speed, gear load, and the type of gears are just a few of the considerations that, when addressed, will allow you to select the right lubrication for your specific industrial or mechanical needs. The following set of questions can serve as guidelines to help you select the proper lubrication for gears and gear boxes.

  1. What type of gear(s) are in the gear box? The first questions to ask are some very basic ones. Are the gears open or closed? Is it an automotive or industrial application? Does the gear lubricant have to be synthetic or mineral oil based? These are just a few of the questions to determine the correct product to use. It is important to drill down as much as possible.
  1. What type of load does the gear box operate under? Getting as much information as possible about the load will determine which gear oil to use. There are very basic rust and oxidation gear oils, gear oils with extreme pressure additives to help coat and protect the metal, and compounded gear oils which work with heavier loads such as with helical and bevel gears.
  2. What is the gear speed? The gear speed will determine which viscosity a lubricant should have. Generally, low speed gears will use high-viscosity lubricants and high-speed gears will use low-viscosity lubricants.
  3. What is the operating environment? This is probably one of the most important questions in any lubrication evaluation. Is the environment dusty, hot, wet or cold? Particle contamination is a major factor in keeping a gear lubricant clean and running at an optimal level. If the gear lubricant comes in contact with water, the lubricant may require water separation properties. Temperature is always a factor; low temperatures may determine the best base oil to use. High temperatures may require extreme pressure additives to assist with friction.
  1. What does the manufacturer recommend? The best way to begin evaluating gear lubricants is to see whether there is a manufacturer’s recommendation. Often the information will be in a manual or a tag on the gear box with an “AGMA” specification.


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