How To Repair A CNC Plasma Cutter:
5 Key Issues Solved By Experts
For most manufacturers, their CNC plasma cutting machine holds a key position in the production process. Often running at very high to max capacity it constitutes a bottleneck point.
So the moment this crucial machine isn’t working, production stops, which means costs start accumulating fast. Downtime is a manufacturer’s worst nightmare and if it happens repairing that machine immediately becomes a top priority.
So when broken, how can you repair a CNC plasma cutting machine asap? Can and should you repair the machine yourself, and where can you find expert help?
The fastest way to repair your CNC plasma cutting machine is to get an authorized technician, preferably one linked to a leading plasma machine producing company. An official mechanic will not only have the expertise to identify the issue or issues, but he will also have the needed spare parts at hand to enable a fast repair, enabling production to resume as fast as possible.
Plasma cutting machines are extremely complex machines, consisting of several intricate mechanical and software systems that rely on each other to deliver high-performance cutting results.
Therefore, proper repair is critical to ensure you avoid decreased cut-quality, excessive downtime or machine damage.
As there could be many different reasons why a CNC plasma cutter isn’t working, we will explain in this article what to do in case you experience one of the 5 most common issues with a CNC plasma cutter and how you can get the best expert help for the reparation of your machine.
What to do before repairing a CNC plasma cutting machine?
So if a plasma cutter isn’t working, there could be many different reasons why this is the case. So the first step is to try and figure out what the nature of the issue or issues so you can zero down on the components or systems that need repairing. In the next section we will help you diagnose the issue by going through the 5 most common problems.
Secondly, never forget that plasma cutting machines require adequate vigilance and precaution. Utilizing incredibly high voltages and generating powerful plasma arcs, these machines need to be handled in a responsible and safe way.
That is why before you start any repairs on your plasma cutting machine you should ensure the following safety precautions are in place:
1. Disconnect Power
Make sure all the power is turned off, and the different gas flows are secured.
2. Discharge Capacitors
There are extremely high voltages and currents inside a plasma cutter, so also make sure all the capacitors are discharged.
3. Foresee Ample Work space
Ensure you have ample working space around the machine. Make sure you are to work in a safe way (e.g. not in the path of passing forklifts). If possible effect repairs outside of production hours.
4. Foresee A Work Bench
Foresee a large and clean surface to place any components, bolts or tools.
5. Wear safety gear
Wear adequate protective gear such as a safety helmet, glasses and gloves.
Prepare yourself & foresee a clean working environment
1. Start-up issues
If your plasma machine doesn’t start up, don’t start panicking just yet and immediately opening up the machine itself. Always first check whether all the power and gas lines are properly connected. Also, check the fuse box to see whether power is still being supplied to the machine.
It would be the first time technicians have wasted significant time closely inspecting each interior components and system to eventually find out power wasn’t connected correctly.
Check if the power & gas lines are well connected
2. Issues with the plasma arc & torch
If your machine starts up normally but you are seeing inferior cutting quality this might be an indication that something burned up on the inside. In this case, a next step would be to open up the torch and check the leads.
The most common issues are those relating to the plasma torch & consumables. If certain components are damaged or burned out, the plasma arc will be disrupted or stopped, leading to quality issues or even a full shutdown.
A healthy arc is bright-white to light-blue in colour. If it starts to turn orange or purple, it could be a sign of contaminants in your gas.
A green arc is a red flag, indicating that you have burned through the tip on your electrode and are now burning (and melting) copper. If your arc turns green, replace your consumables immediately to avoid full torch failure.
However, the failure of one component can lead to more severe damage throughout the torch. In this case, you might need to replace the full torch.
To check this, carefully remove the torch from its mounting tube and open it up.
Remove any accumulated metal dust or other particulates using compressed air and if needed a cotton swab.
Closely inspect each component. Look for small cracks, burned areas or other signs of mechanical wear. If the wear-out is contained to a certain consumable or part, replace it. In case the damage is spread throughout the full torch replace it in its entirety.
When replacing consumables or torches, remember: only use the correct & genuine parts for the job.
Cheap unauthorized parts will usually not last very long and inferior quality might even cause harm to your machine.
Make sure all of your CNC plasma consumables are seated correctly in the right places and components are re-assembled correctly.
Consult your operator’s manual, and follow its recommendations for maintenance.
Genuine plasma cutting consumables are always prefered
3. Mechanical Issues
If you notice any motion of the machine is inhibited in some way this could indicate a mechanical issue, which is related to the hardware itself.
Examples include issues with the rail base system, X-Y movement problems, the torch not returning properly to its start position, deviations in torch height, or other movement constrictions and problems.
As a first step, a mechanical engineer could do a first check and if he or she is able to spot & repair the mechanical issues.
Check whether the rail system is still perfectly aligned as misalignment can cause drag of the drive motors. Also double-check gears and bearings for misalignment or obstruction by dirt or other particles.
If you are facing larger mechanical issues and you or your mechanics are not sure where exactly to start, it might be better to call in expert help.
Also, note that some mechanical problems can just be the manifesting symptom of an underlying software issue. Again this calls for professional expertise to ensure proper repairs.
Check whether the rail system is still perfectly aligned
4. Plasma system Issues
If rebooting doesn’t work, always contact an authorised technician
5. Software Issues
Machine Health information with IRIS
Where To Get Expert Help?
Let’s face it, a mechanized plasma cutting machine is a very complex piece of machinery.
Although you might be able to repair minor mechanical issues yourself (e.g. a broken plasma torch, removing obstructions from bearings and rails), more severe problems such as problems with the drive motors, the plasma system or the software are better left to experts.
When it comes to issues with the internal mechanics of the machine, you can find many small companies as well as independent contractors online that offer their services for a range of machinery.
However, we would strongly recommend opting for the service support of your plasma cutting machine manufacturer.
Their service might be a little more expensive vs. independent contractors, but they have two major advantages:
- They can count on highly specialised technicians specialized with years of experience in repairing plasma cutting machines. Most of them even support on a range of brands, not just their own.
- They also have stocks of replacement parts at hand which means they are able to resolve the issues very fast or even on the spot, while independent service technicians might need to order specific components.
Service support from a CNC Plasma cutting machine manufacturer
Preventative Maintenance Service
- You will have ease of mind knowing your machine is getting the best possible care by expert technicians,
- You don’t need to train your own people as thoroughly.
- if the machine manufacturer works with its own technicians he will have immediate access to any replacement parts if needed.
Like this you ensure your production remains interrupted and running at max capacity.
Preventative maintenance service support
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