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  • Plasma for 1/8" aluminum?

    Can the Hypertherm 190C/Spectrum 125C (as I understand it, these are the same machine basically) for 1/8" aluminum? I realize that a plasma is something that you want to error on the side of more capacity, not less, but in my case I do not have an air compressor and I'm looking to slide by with one of these self-contained units. Right now I use a cut-off wheel to cut "outside the lines" on my sheet of aluminum, then use my beverly shears to make the final precise cut before welding. I was hoping that a plasma would allow me to make that rough cut a lot quicker than the cut-off wheel. But with this being such a small machine, I didn't know if it might end up just being a break-even deal (for example, if I can only move the torch at 5" per minute or something).

    Anyone used one of these machines for this material/thickness?

    Thanks,
    Jeff

  • #2
    The Spectrum 125C is rated for 10" per minute on 1/8" steel. It will be a bit slower on aluminum, which means it won't be at the speed that is considered a rated cut. But for the rough cut that you describe, it should do the job. But, like you say, that's a big investment for the bottom-end machine. A bigger machine will cost more, and require a separate compressor, so you've got some figuring to do.

    My Spectrum 375 did well on steel up through 5/8", with a rated cut of 3/8". It struggled on 1/4" aluminum diamond plate. Aluminum significant reduces the machine's capabilities.

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    • #3
      I just did a small job for a buddy with a Bosch 1590 jigsaw with a bi-metal blade. I cut two 6" radiused corners on a 4 x 8 sheet of 1/4" thick marine aluminum. Cut real nice and smooth. I didn't go as fast as I could have because I was following a line trying to hold within a half a blade width. I could have sped up the saw and pushed a little and cut 8-10" in a minute I think. Anyway, it's another option to consider. I could have used my plasma but it would have required a bit more grinding to get the finish his customer wanted.

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      • #4
        I agree with wb5jhy. I have a Spectrum 625 plasma, but when it cam to building my .093 aluminum fuel tank, I used my jigsaw. Sure it is slower than the plasma, but I could cut to final size and cleanup was easy. It will scratch the finish though as the chips get run over by the jigsaw sole, so keep that in mind.

        I would really like to get a beverly shear, than maybe I would change my method (rough out with plasma, then cut). The other option is a shear (stomp maybe). Would that be easier? Finally, maybe pay someone to cut your aluminum for you on a waterjet, shear, or CNC punch if you have a bunch of parts to do.

        Joshua

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        • #5
          Originally posted by jolane
          <snip>Sure it is slower than the plasma, but I could cut to final size and cleanup was easy. It will scratch the finish though as the chips get run over by the jigsaw sole, so keep that in mind.<snip>
          Last time it did some cuts with my saw I used some blue painters tape and marked the cut line on that, when I pulled off the tape no scratchs.
          Regards, George

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          • #6
            you will find that the more amps the better when cutting aluminum.
            The 30 amp machines just does not seem to cut it, so a 12 amp
            machine would really suck. I always love about 50 amps to get a
            clean edge by hand. I generaly cut .250 at 80 amps for the cleanest cut
            with a machine.

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            • #7
              Sounds like the plasma would be a bit iffy in my application... question about the jigsaw... this is probably stupid, but is there such a thing as a stainless jigsaw blade? I mean, on wire wheels and other things that I use to prep aluminum, I have always been told that they have to be stainless to not contaminate the metal. For a rough cut followed by the shear, it wouldn't matter, but it sounds like I could turn two steps into one with a proper jigsaw setup.

              Thanks,
              Jeff

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              • #8
                i have the 125c and love it, but don't think it would fit your bill to well. another thing to consider is the $$ of the consumables, by stepping up the the spec375 the consumables are less $$$ then the 125c's not shore why but it should be considered when purchasing.

                as for the blades for the jig saw in SS seems like my dewalt blades are SS but i would have to check.

                another thought about using plasma ( if you cut to fit) is it may cause you to need a different filler to weld the aluminum. just had a thread about it a bit back I'll see if i can find you a link if ya missed it.
                thanks for the help
                ......or..........
                hope i helped
                sigpic
                feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. [email protected]
                summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
                JAMES

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                • #9
                  2JZFan
                  No problem sawing with the steel blades (HSS actually). I welded up some 1/4" x 3" wide bar stock that was saw cut. Just used some degreaser to remove the cutting oils and it welded fine. Plasma cut edges would definitely have to be ground down and cleaned to remove the oxide layer formed by the hot gases before welding.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 2JZfan
                    Sounds like the plasma would be a bit iffy in my application... question about the jigsaw... this is probably stupid, but is there such a thing as a stainless jigsaw blade? I mean, on wire wheels and other things that I use to prep aluminum, I have always been told that they have to be stainless to not contaminate the metal. For a rough cut followed by the shear, it wouldn't matter, but it sounds like I could turn two steps into one with a proper jigsaw setup.

                    Thanks,
                    Jeff
                    Your Beverly shear doesn't have stainless steel blades, does it? & doesn't it weld OK after you use it? A jigsaw seems like a good option. Actually ANY woodworking tool will work aluminum pretty-good, they cut smoother & last longer with a lubricant (WD-40) but the clean-up is fairly quick & easy!
                    HTH
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                    Cya Frank

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                    • #11
                      Good Point Frank. Use a wood blade on the aluminum, not a metal cutting blade. The metal blade, in my experience, just clogged too easily. I use the courser toothed blades (Hilti and Bosch) for aluminum and they work great.

                      Joshua

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                      • #12
                        I ordered the Bosch 1590 jigsaw tonight, so i'll be giving this approach a shot (at 1/10 the cost of a plasma, what's not to love?). I see that Bosch makes jigsaw blades that they label specifically for "thin aluminum" (1/16 - 1/8")... have you guys tried these and still found them to not work well or is it just that a "normal" metal blade doesn't cut it (pun intended)?

                        thanks,
                        jeff

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                        • #13
                          now all ya gotta do is figure out what to spend all the $$$ ya saved on now. i suppose that wont be too hard.
                          thanks for the help
                          ......or..........
                          hope i helped
                          sigpic
                          feel free to shoot me an e-mail direct i have time to chat. [email protected]
                          summer is here, plant a tree. if you don't have space or time to plant one sponsor some one else to plant one for you. a tree is an investment in our planet, help it out.
                          JAMES

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            2JZfan

                            Your going to like that saw. I got one a couple years ago and it's the best jig saw I've ever used. It features a blade backing roller, 3 orbital stroke settings, vari-speed, and the best feature, a pair of carbide side guides to keep the saw blade straight.
                            Use some cheap masking tape over the aluminum and cut your profile and peel off the tape. The Bosch site lists the blades made for cutting aluminum.

                            Good luck with the project.

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