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April 21, 2020

Why your CNC plasma machine needs torch collision detection

By scribe


There are a number of key factors that contribute to high-quality production in CNC work, from maintaining your equipment and upgrading your capabilities to understanding how to best execute designs and cuts.

In working with CNC plasma cutters specifically, torch height control is among the most important contributors of success. Here’s a breakdown of what torch height control is and how torch collision detection can help achieve better results in your CNC plasma work.

What is torch height control?

Plasma cutter torch height control is used to maintain a consistent tip height above the cut material. When executing cuts with a CNC plasma, the greatest part consistency is typically obtained by keeping the torch tip close to the material surface throughout the cut.

In some instances, however, a part can unexpectedly tip up and cause the torch to strike it, especially if the torch is operating close to the material. This can cause major issues for your production efficiency, part quality, and waste reduction.

Fortunately, there are two ways to handle this issue.

Breakaway torch mount

A standard breakaway torch mount knocks the torch away from the material if it strikes something, giving the operator time to stop the machine and reset the cut. This solution is effective in theory, but there’s one key obstacle that limits its upside.

Sometimes, the part contact may move the torch ever so slightly to a degree not even noticeable to the naked eye and that won’t trigger the breakaway, keeping the machine in operation and causing the part size to change until corrected. This creates issues for the rest of the project.

This is one of the primary reasons torch collision detection is the better solution.

What is torch collision detection?

Torch collision detection for your CNC plasma cutter leverages some of the same technology typically found in high-definition cutting applications. It is, in essence, a fixed torch with a proximity sensor mount that can detect even the slightest strike in any direction and immediately prevent damage to the tool or the material by automatically executing an emergency stop.

Not only does torch collision detection ensure your plasma cutter stops immediately before causing damage, but it also makes restarting work incredibly easy. Simply clear the problem object and press restart and the machine picks up right where it left off, saving time and material throughout the project.

Competing “collision detection” claims

Many ShopSabre competitors have added a switch to their breakaway mounts and refer to this as “collision detection,” with the thought being that if the torch is moved off the mount, the switch will activate an emergency stop function.

There’s an issue with this thought process, as well. The reality is that most collisions are very minor and will move the torch enough to change the part size but not enough to activate the switch. So from that point on, the parts will be the wrong size until the torch alignment is corrected. This leads to poorly crafted parts and more wasted materials.

True torch collision detection provides reliability and increased precision so you can achieve better results on every cut.

Optimize your CNC plasma work with ShopSabre

ShopSabre’s industry-leading torch collision detection quickly pays for itself in material savings alone and will improve the efficiency and quality of your CNC plasma work from start to finish.

Our world-leading CNC machines provide precision, efficiency, and total versatility to help aspiring hobbyists and full-time commercial shop owners alike produce truly outstanding results with a fraction of the labor. Shop our unmatched collection of CNC routers and plasmas today to take your shop’s quality and productivity to the next level.

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