Don’t have $100k to drop on an abrasivejet? This CNC plasma cutter kit from Torchmate will give you at least a tiny bit of the ‘jet’s functionality at a fraction of the cost. But this kit isn’t for beginners: you’ll need to bring your own steel — and fabrication skills.
Torchmate’s most modestly-priced option at just shy of $3,600, the “Torchmate One,” provides motors, control electronics, and software only. Specifically, it includes two 135 oz-in motors with a 3.4:1 reduction via pulleys and belts. You also get all cables and even nuts, bolts, and washers. You bring about $400 of raw steel to the party, and fabricate the gantry and table to Torchmate’s specs. You’ll also need to bring your own plasma cutter or oxy-fuel cutting rig.
Once you’ve assembled the unit, you can cut pretty much anything you can draw — within the limits of your cutter, of course. Plasma’s (and oxy-fuel’s) kerf can be pretty large, so you’re not going to make earrings with this. But signage should be a cinch.
To put final cost in perspective, Torchmate offers turn-key (read: bolt-together) versions of their larger Torchmate Three units starting at around $10,000, which means you should put be able to assemble a One model for around $5k to $7k. You can also option these out with numerous add-ons such as mutlipe motors per axis and additional control channels to handle gas valves, etc.
According to Torchmate, their units are in use in many countires throughout the world as well as by organizations such as Kohler, Lennox, and the U.S. military. (Then again, they say FEMA’s got one, too.) Check out the Torchmate site for lots more information and pictures.