In recent years, robotic cutting techniques are becoming very popular; however, it is still the X-Y table that is the most commonly used automated cutting method. X-Y tables along with CNC are used in various industries to cut materials such as steel plates, flat stones or foam. Automated cutting machines comprise different parts.
Major Components of a Cutting System
Cutting Tool, Consumables, and Power Supply
The energy to the cutting system be it plasma, waterjet, or laser, is provided by the power supply. The energy is required to move the cutting tool i.e. the cutting head or the torch. The consumables are components of the cutting tool, for example, the waterjet cutting head contains a diamond orifice and the plasma torch has a copper nozzle.
Computer Numeric Control or CNC
It is the main interface that the operator uses to communicate with the cutting system. It instructs the components as well as the operator what to do. The CNC translates the part program into signals that control the speed, direction, and the process of the cutting machine precisely. The CNC receives and sends signals that help to control the process of cutting, functions of the machine such as height control, motion, and other safety processes. The CNC can also be utilised for part programming online or it may use a part program from CAD/ CAM software that is offline.
Wiring and Cables
Cables and wires are used to connect the CNC to the power source and other components of the cutting system.
Gear Rack and Drive Motors
To move the cutting tool in various directions on the cutting table, motors, drive amplifiers and a gear rack are required. These convert the instructions from the CNC into physical motion for cutting.
Slats and Table Frames
The slats and table frames support the motion of the cutting tools physically.
THC or Height Control
THC or Torch Height Control controls the movement of the cutting tool and ensures that it does not move too far away or too close to the workpiece. The THC performs the process of IHS or Initial Height Sensing. It begins at the retract height position used last and lowers to the plate to determine the position of the plate and then retracts to the pierce height. The THC adjusts the cutting tool height through the entire cutting process in order to achieve the desired cut quality. The THC also extends the life of the consumables by keeping the torch away from the molten material that is blown back during the pierce. Thus we can see that a cutting system, however simple or complex, has several components that work together and ensure that you get precision cuts and a high-quality finished product.