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2 Ways to Adjust Z-Height on a CNC Table

Kevin had a question from a gentleman who was using a CNC plasma cutter table: How do you set the Z-height, which the distance from the work surface to the torch? How do you adjust that gap?

The first thing Kevin did was check his CNC table's plasma cutter manual to find the settings they recommend. That sent him to the Hypertherm manual, where there are a bunch of charts. These charts are set up in millimeters and in inches. The column you're interested in is the "Torch to Work Distance" column. Using the inches chart, Kevin shows that the manual indicates that you set the height to .06 for 1/8" stainless steel, which is perfect for this example.

But what do you do with that information?

Kevin opens the Sheetcam software, which helps him tell the CNC table what to do. He shows how to go to the Tool section - this is where you put the parameters that you found in your instruction book. He clicks on "1/8" stainless steel" and selects "Edit."

Another window pops open that shows the settings for that particular tool. Kevin shows how to edit the Cut Height, which is the same as the Z-height. The software shows a diagram on the right indicating what you are setting. Now the next time he wants to cut 1/8" stainless steel, the Cut Height will be already set at .06.

You can also adjust the Z-height, though, right at the CNC table controls.

To show you how, Kevin goes out to his studio, where his CNC plasma cutting table is. He shows the program that he uses to control the plasma table, which is made by Dynatorch. He zeroes in on the Set Point control, which is set at 127. If you want to raise the torch head, you can click it up to, say, 130, which would pick up the torch a little bit. If you want to lower the torch head, you'd click that number down.

So that's how you adjust your Z-height "on the fly" while you're cutting. Maybe you're watching the tip and it looks like it's getting too close to the metal - the metal might be bowing up a bit from the heat. You can bump that number up to raise your torch, then lower it again once you get over that hump.

Or if it looks like you're not getting enough penetration - if it looks like it's not cutting all the way through - you can lower the tip a couple of clicks. These kinds of adjustments may help you save your cut.

Kevin hopes that answers the question about adjusting Z-height.

Before you go, though, you might want to enjoy an unscripted - and very cold - story time with Uncle Kevin ...

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