Plasma Cutting Setup on X-Carve?

Waiting on a few more things for my 1000mm X-carve, but was wondering what it takes to successfully hook a plasma cutter up to one of these machines? I’ve searched on here but haven’t had much luck finding a completed successful setup. I have a Hypertherm Powermax 45 laying around that I’d like to put to use. I’m not too concerned with building shields to protect the belts, etc, and building a downdraft/water table for it as I have full access to what I would need to do that. I’m more wondering what it takes controller/electronics/program-wise to do this? Would like to get it setup in the short-term without torch height control, but if possible add that later on. Any help appreciated, thanks!

I would say the reason you have not seen a competed successful setup is because the x carve is not really suited for plasma cutting.

with that said it can be done, but not very well done. with all the EMI (electromagnetic interference) the system becomes unstable. when doing cuts you want the machine to work from start to finish without having issues and that is almost imposable and very rare on complex cuts.

with proper grounding it can be done but is not reliable.

with the proper upgrades it is more reliable but then the expense make it easier to buy the correct machine to begin with.

I am in same boat. I search and got grbl is not enough powerful to do plasma cuts. sheetcam is very
popular built in postprocessor for mach3. without torch height control also works most people do with floating head.

any good news let me know I am also wants upgrade.

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I know absolutely nothing about this from the mechanical angle, or really any angle, but Fusion 360 CAM has support for plasma cutters, and it has a post-processor for X-Carve.

I use that for normal milling. I guess in theory you could use it for plasma cutting. Though obviously I have no real idea.

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So what exactly is directly affected by the EMI? The controller? And if so what is the specific difference between the way this controller is setup and ones for plasma table, grounding? Would you be able to swap out the controller for one specifically designed for plasma and keep the same motors?

Excuse my lack of knowledge in the area, just trying to see if it could be done with a reasonable amount of effort.

This looks to be the most successful attempt at it that I have found. Anyone have more info on this?

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if you notice this setup is using Mach3 for the control software and the standard Xcarve will not work with mach3 with the stock GRBL. it uses a DSP based controller system that runs on Ethernet or parallel port.

By the time you upgrade the stock system to do all this you would be better off designing a system from scratch the would handle the plasma cutter environment better.

not saying you could not use the xcarve, I have used it and succeeded for small cuts. but even with all the grounds and shields I could place it would eventually disconnect the USB every time at some point. some cuts would last longer but all that lasted more than a few minutes would fail at some random point.

not trying to discourage you in any way from experimenting. just relaying experience.

If I was to do it again I would build a system just for plasma and add a router as needed. that way it would have better placement of the belts (behind the rails not on top). better controller (not USB) connections. and better Z-axis (not aluminium) to much heat on that area.

All of this could be done and still function as a CNC Router but it would have a little higher cost than that of the xcarve but then again it would be made for something that the xcarve was not designed to do.

P.S. I still love and use the xcarve. but have accepted that it was not designed for everything.

Great, thank you for the detailed reply. Will just use it for its regular intended use then, and set up a different machine specifically for plasma cutting!

I haven’t posted in the forum yet and just saw this thread. I converted my X-Carve to a plasma cutter 2 years ago. I use universal g-code sender. I use fusion 360 to generate the code with the mach 3 post processor. You need to make some changes in the code but mine works great. I am using a harbor freight 40 amp plasma cutter. My only problem is no automatic torch height control. I have a short video of it cutting but I’m having trouble uploading it. will keep trying