Class 1 of 30 Recap: CNC Plasma Cutter Tool Training

June 2nd, 2014

CNC Plasma Cutter

CNC Plasma Cutter

1 down, 29 more to go in the 30 Classes in 30 Days Challenge!

CNC Plasma Cutter Tool Training at the Artisan’s Asylum was an awesome one to start with.  I have long been fascinated with metal art, and this was a first step toward building some of my own.  Plus with a plasma cutter you are basically using what my instructor called “controlled lightning,” which is amazing in itself.

Artisan’s Asylum is a non-profit community craft studio in Somerville, MA that is a fully equipped and professionally maintained manufacturing facility occupying 40,000 square feet. Walking through the facility, you can see a large mix of completed products and works in progress that are very fascinating and really get your imagination going. They also host a wide variety of classes on creating specific products and on general tool training.

My instructor, Rob Masek, competed on Comedy Central’s BattleBots three times and obviously has a passion for robots. He was thankfully very thorough, which I appreciated for 2 reasons.

    1. I have never done anything like this before and was starting from scratch
    2. I don’t like getting hurt, and there are plenty of ways to hurt yourself doing this

He took the class of five people through a presentation of:

    • All of the safety procedures
    • Tool maintenance
    • Sheet metal safety
    • CNC plasma cutting overview
    • Mechanical design for plasma cutting

I fully expected a thorough safety and machine setup overview, but what really surprised me were the many other things involved in identifying and maintaining issues with the consumable parts of the plasma cutter as well as troubleshooting poor cuts. Also, there are numerous things you have to think about when designing your piece so that you get the finished product you want, which I neglected to think of before and was happy to learn about.

When we started making some cuts using the torch, we actually encountered many of these issues which allowed us a good chance to learn why something went wrong or did not happen as expected. As you can see from my finished product, some of the thinner pieces were cut off because the design did not take into account enough room for the cut width (or kerf).

finished product

finished product

The next step for me is to schedule some time with Rob to get tested on the machine so I can start reserving time to use the machine on my own! I already have a few ideas of things I would like to create, including a sign for the office.

NOTE: I had a welding mask on when taking the pictures with my phone, so I was basically snapping pictures blindly.