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Economics of plasma cutting


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#1 crquack

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 08:47 PM

I have been getting various quotes for plasma cutting jobs. I understand that there are disposables involved with tangible costs.

It occurred to me that there has to be a figure that would price out the cost of a plasma cut perhaps in terms of dollars/inch of cut/thickness of a given material, thus isolating the procedural costs from others such as workshop rent, labour etc.

Has anyone done this?

#2 Kenji

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 09:58 PM

I have been getting various quotes for plasma cutting jobs. I understand that there are disposables involved with tangible costs.

It occurred to me that there has to be a figure that would price out the cost of a plasma cut perhaps in terms of dollars/inch of cut/thickness of a given material, thus isolating the procedural costs from others such as workshop rent, labour etc.

Has anyone done this?


I'm not sure about this, but plasma cutters can cut any metal? If they can then it wouldn't really matter per given metal. But dollars/inch of cut/thickness could have its own figure price. I haven't done this, but sounds possible that someone out there might have done this.

edit: sorry this didn't help your question at all, I just felt like replying with my thoughts.

#3 dano87

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Posted 28 June 2012 - 07:58 PM

Yeah I think that would be the case.

#4 schmidty

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 03:24 AM

I'm not sure about this, but plasma cutters can cut any metal? If they can then it wouldn't really matter per given metal. .



Cutting speeds vary per material type. For example, 1/2" mild steel cuts faster than 1/2" aluminum when using the same amperage setting.

To answer the OP's question: Yes, I'm sure there are some who have done this. It would be the easiest way to quote. But, (as we are learning where I work) figuring out this "magic formula" can be difficult. You have all the different material types and thicknesses to figure out separately. Then you have different choices of cutting amperage, which ultimately determines the cut quality. Then you have to consider that a pierce reduces consumable life as much as "X" number of cutting inches (we're still trying to solve for X). And to make matters worse, as the consumables wear, cut quality is affected. Depending on the level of quality needed, a reduction in cutting speed may be necessary.

We are new to plasma, so others with more experience certainly have found ways to deal with all of this and quote effectively. Some day - hopefully soon - we will too.

I know I didn't really answer your question, but I just wanted to give some insight into trying to quote plasma work.

edit: Oh, and I didn't even get into different assist gasses...there's different choices there, too.
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Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value. -Louis L'Amour

#5 crquack

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Posted 29 June 2012 - 01:21 PM

The hard answer may not be there but it sure goes a long way to clarifying the question :-)

I do not use a plasma cutter myself but often wish I did. I do wander around the local galleries which are full of 1/16"-1/8" steel pieces carved up with a plasma cutter, cleaned after a fashion and sold as art pieces. As many of the designs are somewhat rudimentary I assume that the main overhead cost component is the plasma cutter and its use (the steel is often "recycled"). The prices for these pieces vary greatly which got me thinking along the lines I asked about.

If I have learned anything it is that artists do not always do a rigorous analysis of their production costs :-)

#6 schmidty

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Posted 30 June 2012 - 09:55 AM

I think I should clarify that my experience with plasma is with an industrial CNC plasma cutter. I assume that it is easier for people with "hobbyist" machines to quote work, just because they have less options when it comes to cutting parameters. I repeat, I assume that...I don't know for sure.

To your comments about some of the plasma-cut pieces at shows; Many of those "artists" selling the plasma-hacked pieces of clip-art are not (in my mind at least) true metal artists. As with most technology, the bad comes with the good. Thanks to plasma (and laser) cutting technology, and the CAD/CAM software that goes with it, it has become very easy for artists of all stripes to get their ideas produced. Which is good.

On the flip side, the simple clip-art files that come free, or low cost, with some of these machines has made everyone an "artist". I have nothing against clip-art..it can be a great time saver. I have designed some items for people that I'm very proud of using clip-art as a starting point. But you should modify it and make it your own.

Some unsolicited advice for anyone reading this rant: If you are going to pay the money for the machine and the software, do yourself a favor and learn the CAD software so you can do something other than cookie-cutter art. For it to truly be art, you should put some of your own "creative juices" into the final product.

I will now step off my soapbox... Posted Image
-Mike
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Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value. -Louis L'Amour

#7 crquack

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 11:09 AM

It seems to boil down to two questions:

1) Is it art? That one is universal as is hotly debated by more than just people who work with metal. I do not presume to make that judgement. I can only judge if the piece is original and what is the quality of execution and the degree of difficulty involved. In fact the question "Is it art?" is really of little interest to me. Is the piece pleasing and well executed? That matters.

I have seen "art" in Parisian musea which was neither pleasing nor well executed and could not help wondering what made it art. Name recognition may well have been the most important factor.

2) Does it sell? I suspect that "art" is a highly elastic commodity. Cheap garbage will outsell high quality-high price items. Hence the metal clip art. If the low end items sell it is hard to argue against producing them even if this may compromise one's "artistic integrity".




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