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How does PlasmaCAM compare to other machines?

"We were given a job by someone who has a $100K machine - his machine wasn't accurate enough to do it but ours [PlasmaCAM] did."

-Shane, Budrich Industires

click here to see how our customers think we compare

If you're thinking about buying another metal shape cutting machine, read the questions below first. Know what you're getting into!

If you think you've found another system that compares to PlasmaCAM, click here.

What's the cost of the system?
What is the total cost of the system - including all required software, accessories, installation, and construction?

PlasmaCAM is a complete machine - ready to cut parts. All you need is a hand plasma torch and a PC. There are no extra parts to buy or build. There's no need to buy and learn extra software. Look carefully at what's missing from any alternative.

Can you use a hand-held plasma torch?

The PlasmaCAM machine holds a hand-held plasma torch, giving you flexibility and best performance for the dollar. Plasma "machine" torches are much more expensive and have no performance advantage over handheld torches (according to Hypertherm). Also many small plasma cutters are not available with machine torch options. With PlasmaCAM you'll save as much as $1500 on the plasma cutter alone, and you'll be able to use it for hand cutting as well (if desired).

What are the operating costs?

PlasmaCAM is the easiest to use CNC system available. Training, setup times, operating costs, and maintenance are all minimal. No programming is required.

How well designed is the machine?
What type of motors does the machine have?

PlasmaCAM uses precision servo motors with optical encoder feedback (widely known for superior performance over stepper motors). Not only is greater accuracy allowed (see below), but also higher speed capabilities - greatly affecting productivity. Without PlasmaCAM's speed and acceleration, you cannot cut fine detail in medium to thin materials. (Look at our sample part photos and see the difference.)

What type of control system feedback is used?

Many control systems (including stepper systems) use "open-loop" feedback, meaning that vibrations and load fluctuations can cause the motors to skip steps, without the controller realizing that position has been lost. PlasmaCAM's servo controller uses "closed-loop" feedback, meaning that the encoders always report the machine's true position back to the controller - so that perfect positioning of the machine can be maintained regardless of the conditions.

Does the machine have a Z-axis included?

PlasmaCAM's unique, patented Z-axis reliably controls the height of the torch during cutting. Because the Z-axis is an integral part of the machine design (included at no extra cost), its motion is intelligently coordinated with X-Y cutting motion by the same controlling software. Other designs require lots of manual intervention and are prone to malfunction.

How does the rigidity of the machine compare to its weight?

Only PlasmaCAM is designed with moving parts that are both lightweight and rigid - giving maximum acceleration and superior accuracy at high speeds. This also means finer, more detailed cutting - especially in thinner materials (see our sample parts). Other designs use unreasonably heavy beams, drive components and linear bearings, diminishing performance.

How is the machine's gantry driven?

PlasmaCAM's 5-ft long gantry is synchronously driven at both ends - allowing the machine to cut accurately anywhere on the table. Other designs use cantilevered beams driven only at one end, so beam flexing deteriorates accuracy when cutting away from the driven end.

How does the craftsmanship and engineering of the machine look?

PlasmaCAM's design utilizes the best of modern manufacturing processes, for an accurate, high performance machine. Look closely at the pictures.

How reliable is the machine?

PlasmaCAM has the highest reputation for reliability. Save time and expense down the road by starting with the machine that has been designed well and tested.

Does the machine have memory limitations?

Unlike other machines, the PlasmaCAM system has no memory limitations. Modern PCs have lots of RAM and virtual memory capability when operating under Windows, allowing the PlasmaCAM system to breeze through the same complex art scenes that make all the other machines choke.

How good is the software and control system?
Does the machine have to be programmed?

Conventional CNC cutting machines must be programmed in G-Code, HPGL or some other language. This time-consuming and complex process rules out flexibility. Only the PlasmaCAM system has the design software linked to the machine controller, always giving you a visual picture of what the machine is doing. The software communicates directly with the machine, cutting images without the need for a program.

Is the software a graphical, Windows-based user interface?

The PlasmaCAM software is Windows-based and is very easy to use. You work directly with the images that you want to cut. No other software does this.

Can you work directly with scanned images?

The PlasmaCAM software allows you to directly import, convert and cut scanned pictures and drawings. Automated features clean up and fix imperfect images, allowing you to quickly prepare them for cutting. These features were designed purely for plasma cutting and are so impressive that other software companies frequently call us and try to find out how they work.

Is all the necessary software included?

Only the PlasmaCAM software is complete. The same program that imports pictures, CAD drawings, and fonts is used to draw and edit shapes - and even control the machine during cutting! Other systems require you to purchase and use extra software in order to do these functions, making everything more expensive, complex, and time-consuming.

How committed is the company?
How well does the company support the machine?

We stand behind our product 100%. Whether you need replacement parts or help getting the system up and running, PlasmaCAM agents are standing by to help.

How good is the Instruction Manual?

The PlasmaCAM Instruction Manual is both clear and comprehensive, providing all the information you need. Don't be left in the dark with a machine that doesn't want to work.

click here to see an example page from our manual

If your machine breaks down, will the company have to send a field service rep?

Field service reps are expensive and tough to retain. Instead of providing field service, PlasmaCAM provides a more reliable design. Should a problem occur, the modularity of the design allows any troublesome component to be quickly identified and replaced as needed. Help is just a phone call and next-day-air away.

Has the entire system been designed specifically for plasma cutting?

Only the PlasmaCAM system has been designed purely for CNC plasma cutting. The cutting table, electronics and software have all been engineered from the ground up for this one specific purpose. This makes the PlasmaCAM system vastly superior to and more efficient than any system based on conglomerations of multi-purpose parts.
PlasmaCAM works to provide the whole system, not just bits and pieces. We try to provide you with what you need to work and make money most effectively. For this reason, we have an ongoing program to contract, buy and distribute various projects that can be cut on our system.

How many other products is the company trying to sell?

Only PlasmaCAM is committed to building one CNC plasma cutting system and nothing else. There are no alternate models or attachments to choose from. We focus all of our resources in order to make this one product the best in the world. Other companies are distracted in trying to make multiple products and as a result, never really perfect any of them.
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