Praxair ProStar® CNC Cutting Systems Give Customers Wide Range of Choices
Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) cutting machines fulfill a critical role for metal fabricators, from the home hobbyist to the world’s largest manufacturers building state-of-the-art ships and heavy equipment.
CNC cutting machines give users the versatility to create custom-design artwork or handle high-production tasks such as replicating a single part 500 times daily for mass-produced machinery. Praxair has developed its series of ProStar CNC automated cutting machines to satisfy the growing demand for high-quality, technologically advanced equipment that can save users valuable labor time and increase productivity. “CNC automated cutting machines are one of the most versatile, productive pieces of equipment for a metfab facility,” said Craig Camp, Distribution Sales and Marketing Manager, Cut Automation for Praxair. “The ProStar series machines come equipped with a number of standard features that customers across many industries are requesting, yet we can also customize each machine to meet their job requirements and broaden their production capabilities.” The ProStar line spans the range from the PRS 50 plate cutting machine designed for industrial training, job sites and small met-fab operations to the PRS 1000 robotic plasma cutting system, the most advanced structural steel fabricating machine on the market. It can perform the tasks of seven separate machines and cut any 2-D or 3-D structural profile up to 65 feet long powered by its advanced Human Machine Interface control station.
Small Package, Huge Productivity
Most metfab shops will never need the capabilities of the PRS 1000, but for owners like Mike Gayda, a ProStar cutting machine has opened up a whole new channel of business for his full-service metfab shop. Gayda started IronWorks Welding in Dickinson, N.D., in 2005, before fracking technology created an oil boom in the region. Now, he estimates that 95 percent of his business is generated by oil-related activities, from pipeline service and drill rig maintenance to fabricating custom parts on demand.
“CNC automated cutting machines are one of the most versatile, productive pieces of equipment for a metfab facility”
-Craig Camp Distribution Sales and Marketing Manager, Cut Automation for Praxair
With 16 employees stretched to complete jobs and demand for service still strong, Gayda saw the need to add a CNC cutting machine to his shop. He considered products from a few companies before choosing the ProStar PRS MS12 automated plate-cutting machine. “It really came down to pricing and performance,” he said. “The ProStar machine just seemed like the best machine for us.” Manufactured in the United States, the ProStar PRS MS 12 is a complete turnkey system designed for light and medium fabrication shops. The unit can cut up to 2-inch mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel using Hypertherm or Thermal Dynamics plasma and up to 6-inch material using oxy-fuel. Standard equipment also includes a choice of an adjustable water table or zoned downdraft exhaust, closed-loop servo motors for speed and precision, rack-and-pinion drive system with 10:1 low-backlash gearbox reduction and PC-based control software with USB interface. IronWorks uses its ProStar cutting machine primarily for manufacturing small parts requested by customers, and “it has definitely opened up a lot more opportunities for business with the companies that we do work for,” Gayda said. “It’s also made a significant difference in daily productivity and efficiency.” “We were cutting everything by hand before we installed the machine,” he added. “It’s obviously cut down on our man hours. We’ve basically eliminated a man every day with the savings”. “Before, it would take one man all day to cut 100 parts. But now, we set up the program and put in the material, hit ‘go’ on the machine and walk away. In 20 minutes, we’ll have the same 100 parts.”
Besides the performance of the ProStar PRS MS 12, Gayda pointed to the customer service that he received during the buying, installation and training cycles as a factor in his satisfaction. “Praxair’s service has been fantastic,” he said. “They set up the table for us and then stayed to walk us through training for a day or two to make sure we got started right. If we ever have a question, they stay on the phone with you to solve the issue. They will walk you through the whole process while you’re on the machine to figure it out what needs to be done.” That attention to detail is critical to helping customers maximize use of their cutting machine and increase opportunities for business, according to Josh Walton, Sales Manager for Elko, Minn.-based ShopSabre. “We pride ourselves on excellent afterservice and helping customers get the most of their machines,” he said. “With the standardized software package, we have the ability to log into a customer’s machine in the field and help them set the parameters to operate it properly,” said Walton. “If they have an issue, we can get on the phone and solve the issue in 30 minutes as opposed to a couple weeks if you have to wait for someone to physically check out the machine. “It actually cuts down on technical service visits and gets the customer up and running more quickly. In one instance, a customer thought he was having issues with his consumables. We were able to check the machine remotely, and we determined that the consumables were good but figured out that the plasma unit was not functioning properly. We were able to swap it out a day later to meet the customer’s need and keep the shop running.”
Large fabrication facilities, steel service centers and manufacturers can enjoy the same flexibility, performance and customer service with ProStar equipment. For instance, the PRS 500HD precision plate cutting machine facilitates multiple-oxyfuel torch cutting – up to 24 stations – on thick material used in building heavy equipment, ships and other large-scale steel services. Designed for the demands of 24/7 production, the PRS 500HD features advanced motion control for the use of conventional or high-definition plasma systems. It also serves all functions required for oxy-fuel, contour bevel plasma cutting and/or drilling, including file conversion. Standard equipment includes a dualside gantry with high-power 2,500-4,000 watt Bosch Rexroth AC brushless drives; floor-mounted 30 lbs./ft. matched rails with adjustable leveling pads, dual drive and digital synchronization; Hypertherm EDGE Pro control; and 18 homing positions and procedures to square the gantry during setup. The PRS 500HD has production cutting capacities (piercing) of up to two inches for mild steel, aluminum and stainless steel using plasma, and up to 24 inches using oxy-fuel. “The PRS 500HD really is an impressive machine that gives customers a wealth of capabilities,” Camp said. “These customers can be running production around the clock, so reliability is a must. Plus their projects typically demand precise, highquality cutting, which this machine can deliver.” Praxair’s ProStar CNC automated cutting machines might cut corners as part of a project, but not when it comes to customer satisfaction, increased productivity and enhanced profitability. The ProStar series is delivering value, performance and reliability to customers, whatever their size or production needs.
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