Metal fabrication has been around for centuries in one form or another. Handheld metal cutting has been used for decades as a way to cut metal to specific parameters and produce everything from small machine parts to large works of art. A metal fabrication shop may consist of one person or a team of people but, regardless of how many people are involved; automation can dramatically improve the metal fabrication process. With handheld automation the room for human error is significant. If you hold the torch at the wrong angle or distance from the metal the cut can be ruined which wastes time, materials and ultimately, money. If you make an error with cutting parameters, more waste occurs. Automation helps reduce the margin for error, speeds production an provides more pristine cuts.
So, what exactly is automated metal fabrication and how does it differ from handheld metal fabrication? With automated metal fabrication, the torch is attached to an arm that moves the torch around over a sheet of metal. It controls where it goes as well as provides automatic torch height control so that you know the torch is always the right distance from the metal to provide the best cut. The cuts are automated with the use of computerized software including CAD and CAM software. Many customers may think it sounds great but wonder when is the right time to make the investment in an automated CNC cutting system. The Fabricator provides some helpful clarification and tips to determine if you should implement an automated CNC plasma cutting system, “When the requirements for cut quality, cut quantity, cut capacity, and cut complexity begin to surpass the capabilities of your manual system, that’s when you should start looking into making the investment in an automated system. Mechanized cutting allows you to cut with higher amperages, which allows you to cut a broad range of material thicknesses of 3 inches or more. Some of the present-day precision plasma systems can yield a cut quality that is near that of laser cutting. Additionally, automated CNC motion controls allow you to cut complex shapes with consistent dimensional accuracy and increased part throughput. The end result is more parts per shift and a faster return on investment (ROI).” If you are ready to make the switch to automated CNC cutting, we at Machitech Automation highly recommend that you do your research and invest in a high quality machine that is durable and choose a complete system that comes with all necessary software, training and support to ensure that you have an optimal automated cutting experience.