The Umbilical Cord of CNC Plasma Tables
The igus 240 series Energy Chain is central to making plasma tables from Arclight function as they should by effectively guiding and protecting machine cables for overall optimal system performance.
Arclight Dynamics (Bend, Oregon), a small, family-owned maker of computer numerical control plasma tables, is doing their part to help small businesses succeed by producing high quality yet affordable CNC plasma tables that allow their customers to focus on manufacturing the best products they can while staying within budget.
“It’s a very turnkey system,” said Scott Cunningham, owner of Arclight. “What other companies consider options, we include standard, rather than try to start out with a really low price. Then, by the time you have a functional system, the cost of the table has doubled. We just try to give everyone the same quality as far as features, (and) what you really need to have to have an attractive cutting system.”
“Our average user is a small business between four to ten employees, and generally they are either a job shop or specifically manufacture one piece of equipment,” Cunningham said.
“A lot of welding shops, a lot of fabrication shops; folks that are doing artwork, (and) a fair share of folks that are just in their garages.” Arclight also provides equipment to some larger companies, and high schools featuring on-site welding and fabrication shops.
A brief demonstration of the wide range of capabilities of igus Energy Chains.
In addition to Arclight’s competitive pricing, the overall build quality of the company’s CNC plasma tables shows a strong commitment to their end user, taking into account potential budget limitations without sacrificing quality.
“Generally in our price range, we build a much heavier more durable table compared to a lot of companies,” said Cunningham. The price point of the CNC plasma tables range from around $9,000 for a basic model, with fully functioning models topping out at about $18,000. “(We are) really just building an industrial quality table that can be afforded by small companies and small shops and individuals,” Cunningham said.
That focus on fine workmanship extends to the most fundamental elements of the machines themselves. The 240 series Energy Chain from igus (East Providence, RI), billed as “the umbilical cord of modern machines”, is central to making Arclight’s plasma tables function as they should. An easy-to-assemble line available in seven widths with nine different bend radii, the Energy Chain protects cables for optimal performance.
The decision to use the igus Energy Chain was simple one, said Cunningham. “It’s very widely accepted in the industrial realm as kind of being what quality equipment uses,” he said. “There’s a lot of different ways you can guide your cables, and other manufacturers have different methods. But if you go look at all the $100,000 plus plasma cutting systems, they all use the igus chain.”
Cunningham initially tried using a different cable band, with limited success. “What was better about (the Energy Chain) from what we were doing was it was very compact, very easy to work with, kept everything nice and clean, everything looked really good, and I knew it was going to function for a long period of time, repeatedly. I’ve never had an issue with the chain since we’ve started building this system,” he said.
The customer’s perception also played a role in choosing the cable carrier. “I knew that it was a good product, and I knew if I could afford to have it on my system, it made sense,” said Cunningham. “It gives people that perception that, yeah, ok, this cable looks like the $100,000 cable, and it’s got a lot of the same parts. It gives (the customer) more confidence, really.”
Arclight’s CNC plasma tables are easy to operate, according to Cunningham, requiring only a basic knowledge of computers. That does not mean Arclight leaves the customer to their own devices, however.
“The table is pretty straightforward, (but) we do provide a lot of training,” Cunningham said. “We have dozens of training videos on how to run the table; we have a manual. Every customer is able to come and get a free training from us, a full day training, with each of their tables.”
Cunningham, who started Arclight after a career as mental health counselor working with youths struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, knows that taking care of the customer benefits both them and his business.
“There are a lot of companies out there that once you buy the table, they really don’t have any interest in you after that,” he said. “You’re kind of more or less on your own, especially some of the bigger companies. It’s very helpful for our customers to know how to use the table,” he said.
A well-informed customer allows Cunningham to manage his company more efficiently, giving him room to create new products and refine existing ones.
“We are a small shop, and if everybody didn’t know how to use the tables, I’d be swamped with tech calls all the time,” he said.
igus® Inc., PO Box 14349, East Providence, RI 02914, 401−438−2200, Fax:401–438-7270, www.igus.com.