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CNC plasma machine?


I found out today that three of our schools programs are considering a joint purchase of a CNC plasma machine. I think they are looking at a entry level machine that will give them the ability to actually produce some of their CAD designs and to make some ornamental student projects. I hope they will make some custom parts for auto service.:) The questions to the group are what entry level machine would you suggest or shy away from? How tuff are these machines? What skills would a student have to master to operate safely? What should we know about this types of machine before we spend the our limited resources? PM if something negative needs to be said.
I own a plasma cam. It paid for itself in the first 6 months I owned it. It has an easy interface and converts your drawings into G-code for you on the fly so you don't have to learn it. I am a software programmer and can program g-code so this is much easier.
Machine looks neat! Thanks for the input. We do not get to charge for their work so we never get anything to pay for its self. We can charge a fee to help offset wasted material and supplies. Off the top of your head, Can you give me a idea of how many Ks that machine is worth?
here is a little something we made up this morning. Some spider webs for the rat rod crowd.

RPM said:
We have a CNC Plasma in the shop. It is great, the learning curve is fast. It should not be a problem for students to learn how to use it.

Ron, Webs look great! Hope to have the ability someday. Who's machine are you using?
UVU street rod program shop has the one that follows the white paper patern you lay on the table. It is hard to get schools to spend the money to keep up with what's out there. A couple of years ago A college dean in Calif Called me to come and teach 3 different 3-4 hour night classes. I looked at the catalog description and said ok. They did not have the material or equipment. outlined in the course description. No hands on. I didn't go back the next year, students were protesting because they needed classes to graduate and the college did not have instructors to teach them.

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