Plasma cutter is commonly used in welding shops, metal industries, construction sites, fabricators to cut metals like steel, aluminum, copper, brass etc. But you can use a plasma cutter for home use because it is cheap, portable and has lower risk than oxyfuel cutters. You can get better cutting performance if you use a plasma cutter for cutting metal.

During the cutting of metal, it produces haze, temperature, and light. If you want to reduce those problems and increase productivity and profitability, you should select proper worktable for cutting. But, it depends on your working place and production rate. Today, I’m going to tell you that which worktable is suitable for your home workshop.​

​Bit more about Plasma Cutter

​Commercial plasma cutters are expensive and made for heavy duty. But there are portable plasma cutters in the market which can be used for home and small shops. The portable plasma cutters can cut up to 16 mm mild steel and 12 mm stainless steel aluminum.Portable plasma cutter is cheaper than oxyfuel cutters and easy to operate and maintain. If you want to buy plasma cutter for your home job, You can buy it from Amazon or local shop.

Cutting worktables​

  • There are many cutting table designs but Water table and dry/downdraft system is the most common worktable for plasma and oxyfuel cutting. Those work tables are easy to operate and cheap. If you’ve intermediate experience in metal cutting, you can build those worktables on your own. Otherwise, You have to buy one.
  • The water table system can be used both for plasma cutting and oxyfuel cutting. In this table, work plate is put under 2 to 4-inch water. So, the torch and arc stayed bellow water. And the water absorbs most of the plasma smoke.
  • The downdraft system contains a blower to extract the smoke which stayed under the work plate. This table is used for small CNC machine. It is also used for large machines. Small machines have a single zone to extract the smoke. But, the large machine contains multiple zones.
  • Before selecting any worktable, you should consider six key features to get the perfect work table.

1) Noise level

Plasma cutters make noise during cutting. The sound can be as loud as 120 decibels. Downdraft tables can’t reduce the noise. But, Water tables reduce the noise up to 40 decibels. Reducing the noise may keep the environment little bit calm.

2) Arc Brightness

Plasma cutter makes arcs during operation which makes a band spectrum of electromagnetic radiation and ultraviolet ray which causes harm to health.If you use water table, the arc totally stays under the water. It reduces the brightness and radiation. Bellow the water, the arc shows like a candle light so it can’t cause any harm to the eyes. But, wearing glasses is necessary for everyone during work time.

But, you can’t reduce the radiation and light with downdraft table.

3) Heat distortion

When a heat work plate cools down after cutting, it makes heat distortion which causes expansion and contraction. This can cause problems with welding fit up. The heat distortion can affect the skeleton and machine gantry.

In the water table, work plateremains under the water so that the metal stays cool. Water reduces the temperature and, for this reason, the heat distortion reduced. The cutting parts can be moved immediately from the downdraft table.But, the skeleton and cutting plates become hotter in a downdraft table which causes hit distortion. And the cutting parts stay hot more than an hour. So, they can’t be handled immediately.

4) Table Cost

For a large CNC Plasma machine, the initial investment of a water table is lower than the downdraft table. The water table design is very simple. But the downdraft system is difficult than the water table. The downdraft system contains damper doors, actuator switches, a dust collector which filters the air pulled from the table. For this reasons, the water table costs 40 to 60 percent less than the downdraft system.

5) Smoke and dust containment

The water table can absorb up to 95 percent smoke and dust which are generated by the cutter during operation. If the plate is cutting under 1-inch water, the metal contains most of the smoke and dust so that there is no need to use any dust collector. If you cut the metals under 2 or 3-inch water, the water can absorb all the smoke but you’ll need a dust collector and air curtain.

In downdraft table, the smoke moved to an open area by the pump under the table. When a full-size sheet placed for cutting, the downdraft system works perfectly because there is no open place in the table. But if small sheets are placed or much of the sheet has been cut and removed, the air velocity gets reduced which causes smoke on the table. The downdraft table can extract more than 70 to 75 percent of smoke to an open area.​

6) Cleaning and maintenance

Cleaning and maintenance of work table depend on production rate, material thickness and the type of parts. Some shops need to clean their tables every month and others may work for ayear without cleaning. For home users, it depends on their working time.

Most water table trays can be removed from the table and lift outside for cleaning. Some water table has tilting slat frames which can be pulled up with an overhead crane for cleaning and washing.

Water table needs periodic water replacement. Some water losses during operation because of evaporation splashing and dripping. Mostof the water table has a regular water supply to refill the water when necessary. There is no need to drain the water because it reduces constantly.​

Cleaning downdraft table is not so difficult as thewater table. It can be cleaned by removing the slat and empty the slag bucket.

Maintenance of thewater table is very simple. Because, it is just a water tank. But a less amount of watertable has solenoid valves, float switches, electrical switches and few cylinders.​


  • April 3, 2017
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