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uncsamococlass Sun 17 January 2010 13:33

MechTorch! The First Mechmate Plasma #58 - Winston-Salem, US
We are starting a mechmate as a class project for Motion Control II and III class project at University of North carolina School of the Arts. the course is part of the graduate level Stage Automation program.

We are currently working towards a machine with a Plasma Torch and a 4'x4' cutting area.

We are in a research ad development phase getting all the parts and information together, we hope to begin building the structure soon.

domino11 Sun 17 January 2010 13:53

Welcome Guys!

OBXCNC Sun 17 January 2010 17:42

Hey Guys,

Good luck with the build...I'll be watching with interest. I am a '93 MFA TD graduate student of NCSA (or UNCSA as ya'll know it) and my wife is a '92 BFA Scenic Artist. Miller and Grillo will remember me and probably, Booth (although Booth was just making his entrance as a faculty member as I was making my "grand" Grad School "exit"...long story about my final year...which I am sure you learned the "first" week.......).

Ya'll will learn a lot here...I don't have a MechMate but have earnestly studied this site (for over three years) and have a CNC based loosely on Gerald's Mechmate design; R&P using Gecko 203v's and a PMDX break out board which I have been running for nearly two years (mine is cheaply built out of 8020, steel and spruce). Not nearly as robust as a MM but it has been carving signs which I can sell to tourists and support my family for the whole of that two years (leaving me lots of time to lurk and read this website while the machine works).

You will learn a lot from Sean R. in this project. We overlapped only by a year in W-S but I have learned a lot watching my fellow NCSA student's multiple builds (and the rest of these great guys and their builds on this website) even many years later after graduation. Sean has a huge understanding of the control and building aspects of this project. Looking forward to watching your build as the principles "outwork" me...I wish it could learn to "out sell" me.

Good Luck,
Carl McCoy
'93 "tsmgo" MFA of NCSA

smreish Mon 18 January 2010 07:25

Hey Carl,
Nice to hear from you. If you get chance, late winter term we should have something to show off if you come by campus. Great to hear from you.

uncsamococlass Tue 02 February 2010 15:49

Mechmate Plasma - Winston-Salem, US
We have started our Mechmate Plasma.

We got the steel cut for the base table. And have most of the welding done.

We are finalizing the drawings for the control side of things.

domino11 Tue 02 February 2010 15:58

This should be an interesting build. Another Mechmate first. :) Good luck guys.

uncsamococlass Tue 02 February 2010 18:37

I had not realized Sean had already dubbed this MechTorch.

We keep finding more parts andmore ifo as we go.

oopz Tue 02 February 2010 18:41

Just curious ;-)
Will there be a pure plasma machine - or - with a router as an option - maybe even both :)? ..
- Yes, I know that plasma is/can bee "dirty", so it will be nice to see your table solution.
Regardless, I am still curious :D and GOOD LUCK !!!

/ oopz

smreish Tue 02 February 2010 21:26

The class can name the machine anything they want - as long as they finish it! I'll be watching for post's when I am not on campus. :)
As far as machine specifications, I will leave the real particulars to the class to post and keep you all informed of the progress. Class over the past 2 days has resulted in a machine table being fabricated, welded and electronics being chosen. I have donated an extra completed z slide from machine #5 for the build to speed things along.

Particulars for now (subject to change)
  • 48 x 48 net cutting area
  • x and y will be OM 7.2 geared steppers (heavy gantry)
  • z1 - nongeared stepper
  • z2 - nongeared stepper
  • z1 will be torch
  • z2 will be spindle/router engraving or metal cutting device
  • THC controller with arc control
  • "other electronics and i/o as we get fancy"

Drad98_98 Tue 02 February 2010 21:42

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Have fun on your build Moco, I built one a couple years ago, not from the MechMate plans, just my own design. One thing you might want to consider is that sheetmetal comes a variety of sizes, 4 x 8, 5 x 10, etc. (here in the us anyways) I made mine 5 x 6 cutting area beacuse I could get 5 x 10 sheets cheaper and I would cut them in half and be able to use the whole sheet (my cut area is 5 x 6). Just a thought and good luck. I had alot of problems with noise at the beginning, make sure everything is isolated.
Here is a pic of my plasma.

uncsamococlass Wed 03 February 2010 08:12

Table construction
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Base table under construction in shop

frame is 2"x3"x 1/4" rectangular tube

uncsamococlass Fri 12 February 2010 15:30

This week we have been getting purchases underway, about half done there. We spent some time on the table. And clarified some of the electrical drawings. Our batch of laser cut parts arrived today, very nicely done. Time to get some work done in the shop.

uncsamococlass Sat 20 February 2010 16:19

A good week
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We had a good week.

Purchasing underway, and parts coming in the door. Thanks to all those helping with the process..

A few minor purchases left to make, but ready for the shop to get rolling.

The table is up on its feet. The X Rails have been cut and ground.

Looking forward to more progress next week.

MetalHead Sat 20 February 2010 17:18

Looking good.

Are you going to use Airflow exhaust or are you going to use a water table?


uncsamococlass Sun 21 February 2010 14:11

we are planning to use airflow exhaust. our metal shop has a decent exhaust system in place, so we are going to let that handle the fumes.

KenC Mon 22 February 2010 02:08

pardon my ignorant, what is airflow exhaust?

MetalHead Mon 22 February 2010 05:01


On a plasma table basically they will place a skirt around the bottom of the table and slats across the working area where they will lay the steel that will be cut.

Then they will hook a "vacuum hose" (Large suction pipe) to the skirt. When the plasma is cutting this suction will then pull air down into the table along with the smoke that is created when cutting with Plasma. This "Exhaust" system is then vented outside or ran through some kind of filter system.

Plasma generates a nasty smoke. What looks like smoke is actually vaporized metal and left unchecked can cause all kinds of strange problems in your shops electronics and is toxic to breath.

Hope that helps explain it.


Johannescnc Mon 22 February 2010 05:47

I hope the Green police don't find out about these fumes going into the atmosphere... :rolleyes:

KenC Mon 22 February 2010 21:53

Thanks Mike, I don't have much experience with CNC Plasma cutting. Always has the misconception that a overhead suction hood over the table like those in Chinese restaurant & water bath tray beneath the table/grill but apparently it is not as easy.

John, I'm neither a tree huger nor avid intentional polluting the earth. BUT lets be realistic, we human are the biggest pollutant, any human activity will contributes to polluting the earth, BUT what can we do? Sometimes, making things green actually contributes to more devastating effects... Cow fart & burps Methane, padi field emits methane as well, we upset the CO2 balance just by having metal & plastics objects around us, don't forget about flying & driving around... how about heating & refrigeration.... the list goes on & on.... I never believe in so call "green police"... this is solely a personal opinion, you may have opinions of your own.

Johannescnc Wed 24 February 2010 11:34

Okay... :rolleyes: I am an Amerikaner living in Germany. We don't get NFL broadcast here... sooooo. I had a friend send me a copy of the program... :D
This thread reminded me of this commercial from Audi...

uncsamococlass Wed 03 March 2010 21:55

Midweek progress report
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The team has been hitting it pretty hard the past couple days. We have most of our parts in house and fabrication well in hand. The control cabinet is underway.

Very exciting these days.

Gerald D Wed 03 March 2010 22:46

Notice that you have the rails cut & ground - that was a major hurdle. Nice progress!

domino11 Wed 03 March 2010 23:09

Nice progress!

gooberdog Fri 05 March 2010 13:17

Looks like you are making great progress Moco. As a Class of 82 D&P TD grad it does me proud.

uncsamococlass Fri 05 March 2010 13:40


We are plugging away pretty strongly. This is the last full week of winter term. We are a mixed class of second and thrid year grads, and fourth year undergrads.

It is a pretty fun project too.

uncsamococlass Mon 08 March 2010 20:11

progress on a monday
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we made quite a bit of progress on the project today.

managed to get most of the brackets mounted today, hoping to get the cable chain mount attached, and the moutn squared away for the control box.

wiring on the control box goes well. more to follow soon

smreish Tue 09 March 2010 04:43

I am very happy to see so much work on my visit for instruction this week. The winter storms kept my last visit from happening.

If you all look closely, you will see the 2 Z slides in the y-car. A premamba slide with the short stroke on the "away from 0,0" side and the Mamba long slide on the "near o,o" side of the car.

Very proud of the MOCO teams' accomplishments this week.

MetalHead Tue 09 March 2010 06:05

So is there a reason for two Z slides? Or is this just a fit test?

How is the range of motion on the table. ie how big is the work area?

Have you decided on a THC (Torch Height Control) ?

A few to look at.


smreish Tue 09 March 2010 06:24

I will chime in for the MOCO class.
The Net cutting area is nominally 48x48. But really 52x52.
The double z-slide is so the machine can do a few things well. (fairly multipurpose for the university's use)
- Torch with THC controlled Plasma head on Z1
- Router/Spindle/Drill on Z2 for engraving/marking and spot drilling of parts before cutting them out.
- Router for light aluminum plate milling if necessary.
- The Z2 will have the Quick Disconnect plate to allow changeout of the Porter cable 690 router or "other drill motor of the day" for making holes or center marks.
- The THC/BOB unit is the MP3000 from CandCNC.

All is going well and maybe have mechanical work finished today. (rack attachment on all axis', cable chain management and fingered table bed are on the short list this week) I will wait for the class to finish updating the thread!

MetalHead Tue 09 March 2010 09:41

I had hoped to be up this week to come for a visit. When will you be back there again? I will be in the area on the 1st and 2nd of April.

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