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Last updated: June 21, 2021
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For hobbyist and professional metalworkers alike, there’s simply no tool more important than a CNC plasma table. With this machine, you can make precise cuts in a wide variety of materials that are virtually impossible by any other method. Even for cuts that could be done using a traditional plasma torch, a CNC plasma cutting table offers faster and more precise cuts.
We set out to find the best CNC plasma table on the market today and reviewed dozens of popular models. We looked at key features like the dimensions of the table and the cutting area, as well as the quality of construction for the cutting table and the plasma torch controls. We also considered the CNC software included for each table, which controls the machine’s cutting movements, and whether or not the table comes with a water table. Continue reading for our full reviews of the four best CNC plasma tables!
"An extremely durable table that shares some of the great features of our top pick, but has a more compact footprint.4’x 4’ cutting area.Durable industrial cables on both axes.Automatic torch height control."
"Another 4’ x 4’ plasma cutting table that is relatively inexpensive, considering its three-axis control and durable materials.Up to 500 inches per minute of cutting speed.7-inch z axis travel.Automatic torch height control."
More features: automatic torch height control; 600 in/min max cutting speed; 6-inch max Z axis travel; steel-slat table surface; water table included; USB connectivity; 1-year warranty and lifetime support
This high-end CNC plasma machine from STV Motorsports is perfect for industrial-scale metalworking and small shops alike. It offers a massive 5-foot by 10-foot cutting table and up to 6 inches of vertical torch travel. The torch’s z-axis can be controlled by the CNC motor, giving you precise control in three axes.
Several aspects of the construction of this 5 x 10 CNC plasma table help it stand out in a crowded field. First, the table surface is built with replaceable steel slats. The fact they can be removed and replaced greatly adds to the longevity of the table. On top of that, all table axes slide on precision ball bearing carriage guide rails. These make for smoother movement and more accurate cuts. We also liked STV Motorsport’s cable management system, which gives the table a clean look and eliminates wiring that could get in the way of loading.
The table has a maximum cut speed of 600 inches per minute, which is quite fast. If you slow things down, it’s able to reach an accuracy of 0.002 inches per foot. The table can easily cut metal sheets 3/4-inches in thickness and can handle sheets up to nearly 1.5 inches. Plus, it comes with a water pan and the powerful MyPlasmaCNC design software.
Why is it special? STV Motorsports offers a one-year warranty and lifetime technical support for this plasma cutting table. The tech support is extremely helpful since it includes a number of tutorial videos and a library of .dxf design files you can use.
What are the flaws? This table isn’t designed to handle an oxy-acetylene torch. While it can accommodate this torch, you’ll need to work with STV Motorsports to build a custom bracket for your particular torch model.
This compact CNC plasma cutting table from Baileigh is perfect for the hobbyist or small metalworking shop. It offers a 2’ x 2’ cutting area and is just over 2.5’ long on its side. It also comes with a water table with a simple ball drain, making it perfect for small work areas where a dust vacuum won’t easily fit.
The 110-volt CNC stepper motor offers a long duty cycle and plenty of precision. We especially liked the industrial cable track on the x axis, which adds to the longevity of this machine. The pre-cut flat bar grates are extremely durable as well, and the machine’s entire frame is made from welded steel that makes it virtually indestructible.
The plasma table comes with BobCAD-Cam Express software which you can use to design and export .dxf files. The table has a USB port so you can upload files from a flash drive or connect your computer directly. There’s also a control pad with a jog dial, which allows you to manually control the x and y movement of the torch.
What are our favorite features? If you’re looking for a compact CNC plasma cutter, it’s hard to beat the price and accuracy of this model from Baileigh. It offers precision control even for quick projects thanks to the manual control pad. The industrial cable track on the x axis is also a nice touch for durability.
What could be better? This CNC plasma table offers some vertical torch movement, but it can only be adjusted manually. Users found that this isn’t a big problem for most projects, but if you need z-axis control this cutting table might not be the best choice for you.
The SparX4400 shares many of the same design features as its bigger brother from STV Motorsports, the SparX510. This 4×4 CNC plasma table offers a square cutting area that’s more than spacious enough for most projects.
The table surface is made from slatted steel bars, which can be replaced after a few years to keep your cutting table fresh. In addition, it is built with industrial cables on both the x and y axes. These are extremely durable, and STV Motorsports designed the cabling so that it should never be in the way of loading or unloading materials. The cutting table also features six inches of z-axis travel with automatic torch height control.
The table is equipped with a stepper motor that can operate at either 110 or 220 volts. We appreciated that adaptability, since it means this table can work equally well in a home workshop or in a machine shop with 220-volt outlets.
Why did it make our list? This table comes with STV Motorsport’s MyPlasmaCNC software, which is very easy to use even for CNC beginners. In addition, there’s a USB port built into the table. So, you can connect the table directly to your computer to control cutting or upload a .dxf file from a flash drive.
What is not ideal about it? The water table that comes included with this cutting table doesn’t offer any tubing or plumbing for recirculation. On larger projects, that means the water can heat up quite a bit. Adding a recirculating water system to the table is possible, but requires quite a bit of customization.
This budget-friendly plasma cutting table from Firebird is surprisingly inexpensive considering all the features it packs in. To start, it’s a 4×4 table with a whopping seven inches of z axis travel. The torch height is automatically controlled by the design software, giving you precision cuts in three dimensions.
The table itself is made with aluminum stays and steel legs. The linear guide rail system is made from durable industrial-grade steel and offers top cutting speeds of around 500 inches per minute. Another thing we liked about this table is that it’s compatible with both 110- and 220-volt electrical systems, making it adaptable to any workshop.
One thing that’s important to note is that this cutting table doesn’t come with a water pan, even though it’s designed to work with one. You’ll need to purchase a water pan separately, although this is hardly a big deal given how inexpensive the table itself is.
Another downside is that the design software included with this cutting table is relatively weak. Firebird offers Inkscape, which is a free design software that anyone can download online. qCAD is also free and open-source, so it can be somewhat complex to get started with and doesn’t offer all the powerful design features as some proprietary software packages.
What stands out? For the price, you won’t find a better 4×4 cutting table. Firebird built this cutting table with three-axis control and durable materials. It’s highly adaptable to any metalworking projects and can produce precision cuts at up to 500 inches per minute.
What cons did we manage to find? The design software that comes with this cutting table are free, open-source programs. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they’re not particularly easy to use nor all that powerful. You can get more bang for your buck by investing in a professional CAD software to use with this machine.
Things to Consider
Now that you know more about our four top-rated CNC plasma tables, how do you decide which one is best for your needs? In our buying guide, we’ll take a look at why you should get a CNC plasma cutting table and what factors to consider when making a selection.
Benefits of a CNC plasma table and how it works
A CNC plasma table can completely change the way you work with metal. These cutting tables have a computer-guided plasma cutting torch. The computer guidance enables you to achieve highly precise cuts that would be impossible with any manual cutter.
Simply create a design in a CAD (computer aided design) software and import it to the CNC software. The software will translate your design into instructions for the plasma cutting table and move and trigger the torch at the appropriate moments. The end result is a fast, accurate cutting process.
Another benefit to a CNC plasma table is that it can cut through almost any type of conductive metal. Steel, aluminum, copper, and iron materials can all be cut using a CNC plasma table.
Things to consider before you buy a CNC plasma table
A CNC plasma table is a major investment whether you’re a hobbyist or a business owner. So, it’s critical to make sure you get a table that will suit your needs both now and in the future.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the features you need to consider when choosing a CNC plasma cutting table.
The cutting dimensions of a CNC plasma table are the measurements of the largest piece of metal it can cut. In a world where you have unlimited space and an unlimited budget, larger is always better – that way, if you have a particularly large project, your cutting table will be able to handle it without a problem.
Of course, you need to be realistic about the maximum dimensions you’re likely to need to cut. You can get a huge table like the 60” x 120” SparX510 or a much smaller table like the Baileigh PT-22.
While it’s easy to forget about software when considering a cutting table, remember that any CNC machine is worthless without high-quality software to run it. Most modern CNC tables come with CAD software that allows you to create custom cutting patterns or import design files from your CAD software of choice.
It can be hard to know if an included CAD software will have everything you need. At the very least, you should make sure that the software is flexible enough to import a wide variety of files from other design programs.
All of the CNC plasma tables we reviewed use a stepper motor, which is the same highly precise motor you’ll find in 3D printers and other high-tech machinery. A stepper motor allows the plasma torch to move along the table axes in highly precise increments.
Of course, there’s a lot more to think about when it comes to the motor driving your CNC plasma cutting table. Motors can vary in amperage and duty cycle – the longer the duty cycle, the more material your table can cut before it needs to cool off. The motor will also impact your machine’s cutting speed, which is typically measured in inches per minute.
Many modern CNC plasma tables include a water table, which plays an important role when cutting metal. By placing the metal you’re cutting in a pan of water, you can eliminate the need for a dust collector to pick up metal shards and fumes. A water table also reduces noise and arc flash, and keeps the metal cool so that it’s easy to remove immediately after cutting is finished.
There are a couple things to consider when it comes to the construction of different plasma cutting tables. The first is whether the table has two or three axis control. All of the tables we reviewed offer three axis control, which allows the torch head to move up and down as well as side to side. That’s important for controlling your cut depth.
Of course, not all z-axes are made the same. The STV Motorsports tables offer six inches of maximum vertical travel, while the Firebird table offers seven inches. The Baileigh table offers an adjustable z axis, but it must be controlled manually. As a result, you have to enter different cutting programs for cuts of different depths.
The material the table is made out of is also important. You’ll be placing heavy metal panels on the CNC plasma table, so it needs to be sturdy and durable. Look for table surfaces that are made from industrial-grade steel, like on the Baileigh and STV Motorsports tables. A welded steel frame, like the Baileigh table features, can also help give your plasma table a longer lifespan.
With any major purchase, a warranty is important for peace of mind and to ensure that you’re getting a high-quality product. Somewhat surprisingly, warranties aren’t all that common or that long for CNC plasma tables. The Baileigh and Firebird tables don’t come with warranty policies, and the STV Motorsports tables only come with one-year warranties.
Some manufacturers offer technical support in addition to or in lieu of warranties. For example, STV Motorsports offers lifetime support for all of the company’s tables.
As you might expect, CNC plasma tables aren’t cheap. A budget-friendly table like the model from Firebird, which is arguably one of the best CNC plasma tables under $10k, costs around $4,200. A large model like the SparX510 costs nearly $7,500, and that’s before you buy a plasma torch to go with it.
How to use a CNC plasma table
The first step in using a CNC plasma table is to create a design. You can use the CAD software that comes with your plasma table to make your design or use another software and export it as a .dxf file.
Next, initialize your plasma cutter and get your material aligned to the correct spot on the cutting table. Move the torch on the computer to get the alignment right, and then you’re ready to start cutting. Of course, before you start, make sure that you’re wearing appropriate safety gear (including a welding helmet if you will be watching the torch) and that you have a water table and ventilation.
When the cut is finished, use pliers or tongs to remove your part from the cutting table. You can allow it to cool on the benchtop or drop it in water for faster cooling. Then just file down the cuts to get a smooth finished product.
The main purpose of a water table is to prevent dust and fumes from getting into your workspace. You can use a dust vacuum instead of a water table, but water tables also help to keep your working surface cool and prevent heat distortion. In addition, a water table can make your workspace safer by reducing arc flash.
You can use another software for your CNC plasma table as long as it has a way to interface with the machine. Most plasma tables can connect to your computer via USB, which means you can use any compatible CNC or CAD software.
An aluminum table will be slightly lighter than a steel table, but it otherwise does not have many benefits. Aluminum tends to be more expensive than steel and doesn’t have as long a lifespan, especially if you use your table heavily.
CNC plasma tables are typically easy to assemble, although they do require some tools and patience. All of the tables we reviewed take about half a day to set up, and testing and calibrating the table may take an additional day.
Our three overall favorite CNC plasma tables on the market today are the STV Motorsports SparX510, the Baileigh PT-22, and the STV Motorsports SparX4400.
The SparX4400 is our favorite 4×4 CNC plasma table since it includes a number of high-end features like industrial-grade cables on both axes and six inches of automatic torch height control.
If you’re looking for a compact CNC machine for home or a small shop, we recommend the Baileigh PT-22. It offers a small 2×2 cutting space with an extremely durable welded steel construction, as well as a dial pad for manual torch control.
We think the STV Motorsports SparX510 is the overall best CNC plasma table since it offers a spacious cutting area for your biggest project. We also liked that this table comes with replaceable steel slats, a durable all-steel table construction, and lifetime technical support from STV Motorsports.