Common Problems Reported with other CNC Cutting Machines
“I wish I had known this before buying my machine…”
A surprising number of distressed customers call us for help after buying other brands of machines. Usually, they made the mistake of choosing a machine based on price or how it appeared in photos on a website, without understanding how well it would actually work. In the new Internet “age of misinformation,” many are fooled through contrived “word-of-mouth” and the falsified appearance of established companies with quality products and happy customers.
We could share numerous reports from real customers explaining specific problems with other machines, but we prefer not to name and criticize every competitor (some of whom are honest companies doing the best they can). Instead, we’ve identified the three most common complaints that apply to other machines, with a detailed explanation of why these problems inevitably occur. These facts (which you can verify yourself) will help you make an informed buying decision.
“This machine is not easy to use like a PlasmaCAM machine.”
This is the main complaint from customers of other machines, especially if they have used our machine or know someone who does. Many claim that the software for other machines is so difficult or limited that it’s unusable for their purposes. They often buy our software to help them design for and program these machines. But since this adds unanticipated cost and still doesn’t give them a fully integrated system that works as well as ours, they wish they had started with a PlasmaCAM machine instead.
Schools that buy other machines end up not using them because teachers and students simply can’t devote so much time and expense just to one difficult piece of equipment. This is why nearly all schools that teach CNC plasma cutting today do so with PlasmaCAM systems.
The reason PlasmaCAM machines are so versatile and easy to use compared to all other machines is because we are the only company in the world to engineer a fully integrated CNC plasma cutting system (including the cutting table, electronics, and CAD/CAM software) from the ground up, purely for plasma cutting. This revolutionizes how you can go from ideas to finished parts. Everyone else pieces together various general-purpose, third-party software and controls that don’t work together seamlessly (a fact often hidden by private-labeling pieces under one brand). This unavoidably results in a lower performance system with a cumbersome design and programming process that takes longer to learn and use.
The PlasmaCAM system lets you operate the machine directly from the graphical user interface without having to program it. The interactive, real-time link between the computer and machine provides key functionality that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, as shown in our demo video. Click here for full technical details showing how PlasmaCAM is different from conventional CNC.
This is why we strongly encourage everyone to take the time to watch our demo video before buying any machine. The video shows all the steps required to design and make several example projects with our machine, and it covers the gamut of what you might want to do.
A live, unscripted demonstration can reveal the true differences between machines. For example, you could request a demonstration of another machine and bring a flash drive with a font you want to use for a custom sign, along with a digital photo of a shape you want to be part of the sign. Watch the entire design and programming process, and don’t leave until you have the physical sign in your hand. (You can even come to our facility and put us to the same test, and we’ll show you how easily anyone can do the same kinds of things that are shown in our demo video.)
“The company didn’t stand behind the product like PlasmaCAM does.”
PlasmaCAM is the original company making an affordable CNC plasma cutting machine. People like them so much that some want to build and sell their own machines. They confuse the large, untapped market of what you can do with the machine with the small market of people buying machines. They also underestimate the problems with cheap, third-party CNC components that are based on old, hard-to-use technology. This is why most of our competitors go out of business, leaving customers with no way to get help or fix their machines. The few surviving companies can’t keep up with the support demands of a growing customer base trying to use troublesome machines. Eventually their customers must figure it out themselves or abandon the effort. Only PlasmaCAM makes complete systems that are so reliable and easy-to-use that we are still able to support everything from our latest models to machines that are more than 20 years old.
Major technical obstacles make it impractical for any other company to stand behind its products the way PlasmaCAM does. We make standardized machines on a large scale, whereas other companies make small numbers of frequently changing designs that are hard to track and differentiate. A hodge-podge of third-party software and electronics makes their systems very complicated, difficult to use, and difficult to support. They cannot simply improve these components as needed because they are not under one roof. Customers often find themselves passed around between vendors who won’t support them or take responsibility for a technical problem. Many companies even distribute illegal copies of software to their customers in order to add functionality and cut costs. This puts the company and its customers at risk, and it ultimately hurts customers by discouraging legitimate companies from investing in innovation and redirects their resources toward legal actions. Click here for a specific example.
“The machine doesn’t cut as good of parts as a PlasmaCAM does”
Customers often say they bought a machine that looks nice and seems well built, but it runs slower and is too heavy and sloppy to produce the same accurate, detailed cuts as PlasmaCAM machines. People don’t realize that by cutting faster, our machine doesn’t just increase productivity. It also cuts the material more efficiently with less heat buildup, minimizing warping and preserving detail that melts away on other machines. (Slow machines often use water tables to help cool the material, but this is less effective and introduces significant maintenance and corrosion problems.)
In this industry, heavy moving parts are often confused with quality. Other machines are designed in the shop based on what looks or seems good, without anyone doing the engineering required to optimize motion control or develop integrated electronics and software. Our comprehensive engineering makes a difference in the results you get from your machine. The difference is obvious not only in the software and usability of the system, but also in the faster cutting of more accurate and intricate detail.
We use closed-loop, optically-encoded servo motors for higher performance cutting whereas other machines use less expensive but slower and less reliable open-loop stepper motors. For maximum agility and precision, we also use lightweight but rigid moving parts with no backlash. As shown in our specifications, PlasmaCAM machines can cut up to 1000 inches per minute and accelerate at up to 1G.